Santos in Oaxaca's Ancient Churches

A study of santos in 16th-century and other churches in Oaxaca, Mexico


By Claire and Richard Stracke
Funded by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation

In Teotitlán del Valle:

Christ Child
Christ in a coffin
Christ: Ecce Homo
Crucifix (1)
Crucifix (2)
Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Lady of Sorrows (Soledad)
Our Lady of the Rosary
Palm Sunday Christ
Resurrection of Christ
St. Francis of Assisi
St. Hyacinth
St. John the Baptist
St. John the Evangelist
St. Joseph (?)
St. Mary Madgalene
St. Peter the Apostle (1)
St. Peter the Apostle (2)
St. Sebastian

Unidentified Franciscan saint
Virgin Mary (1)

Virgin Mary (2)

Other santos not photographed

Teotitlán del VallePhoto of
              exterior of the church in Teotitlan del Valle
Our informants at Teotitlán were Sr. Luís Mendoza and Sr. Silvestre Lázaro Mendoza. The former explained the ceremonies taking place on the day of our visit, which he said was the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the first Wednesday of July. Other sources say that the first Wednesday in July is celebrated in Teotitlán as the feast of the Preciosa Sangre de Cristo, the Precious Blood of Christ.

On the day of our visit, the church was filled with thousands of gladioli which had been purchased by a comité of 13 men, each of whom had set aside 10,000 pesos a week (at the time equivalent to about US$3.40) throughout the previous year. Everyone in the area was then welcome to come and use the flowers in blessing themselves and their families. Usually this was observed to involve breaking some blossoms from a stalk, rubbing them on a statue or glass case, and then taking home the rest of the stalk. Most people would take just three stalks.

Our informants referred to the church as Santa María de la Natividad. The 
Natividad in the name is the birth of Mary herself, which Teotitlán celebrates with a fiesta each September 8th. Many online sources also use this name, but the name Preciosa Sangre de Cristo is applied to the church – and the July fiesta – by some other sites, including one posted by the Mexican government.

Our tour begins with El Señor de la Muerte.

Photo: Gengiskanhg. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.