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

St. Joseph

Saint Joseph
The figure has no emblems or symbols suggesting St. Joseph, but Sr. Luís Mendoza identified it as such and specified that it is called San Joao. The figure is seated, with the hands in an unusual position. They are held palms up at the clavicle, the fingertips almost touching. The polychrome design has worn almost completely away; the wood is carved in dense, waving folds. The neck of the robe has three buttons. No carved hair is visible under the modern wig.

Local Name: San Joao.

Basis for Identification: Identified as St. Joseph by Sr. Luis Mendoza, who also noted that it is called San Joao. The figure has none of Joseph's usual attributes.

Other characteristics: White cape.

Site: Church of Santa María de la Natividad (Preciosa Sangre de Cristo), Teotitlán del Valle.

Location: Midway along the south wall of the nave, just before the south portal (see note).

Media and construction: Polychrome, fabric cape. Eyes: glass. Hair: wig.

Size: Less than 3 feet (90 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle, Cuilapan1, Cuilapan2, Mitla1, Mitla2, Ocotlán, Díaz Ordaz, TeitipacZimatlán.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Saint Joseph in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Joseph
Wikipedia: Saint Joseph
Christian Iconography: Saint Joseph, Father of Jesus

Next: Moving to the right, we find a statue of St. Peter the Apostle.

Previous santo

Introduction to Teotitlán del Valle

Santos Home Page

Note: On this site, references to the cardinal directions always assume that the main altar is at the east end of the church, the narthex or entry area at the west end, and the two walls of the nave on the north and south. (The nave is the long central section.) Actual orientations may differ.

The photo shown here is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. You are free to share or remix it on two conditions: first, that you attribute it to the photographers, Claire and Richard Stracke, without implying any approval of your work on their part; second, that if you alter, transform, or build upon this photo, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.