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

Saint Sebastian

Saint Sebastian:
The wig has fallen back from the forehead, revealing a painted cranium. The feet are large and almost shapeless. The legs are encrusted with wax, presumably from devotions. The flesh of the right hand has darkened almost to black. The right leg is slightly raised and the stand currently in use provides a block to support it.

Local Name: San Sebastián

Basis for Identification: The figure, naked but for a red loincloth and a narrow white pectoral sash, stands in the characteristic Saint Sebastian pose (right hand raised, left down, eyes up). The tree is in the usual stylized form that follows the outline of the body. The arrows are gone, but one can still see holes and blood flowing from them.

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

Location: Right of the first altar along the south wall of the narthex (see note).

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint. Eyes: glass. Hair: wig. Closed mouth.

Size: About 4 feet (120 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, OcotlánTilantongo, Xoxocotlán, Yanhuitlán.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Saint Sebastian in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Sebastian
Wikipedia: Saint Sebastian
Christian Iconography: Saint Sebastian, Martyr

Next: Also in the narthex, a statue of St. Mary Magdalene

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.