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
Trinity (Throne of Mercy)

Trinity (Throne of Mercy):
The figures are dissimilar in style. The dove is crudely carved, the wings too small for the body. The Christ is stiffly posed, the body arced in a bow. It is less detailed than might be expected in older work, but the skin has an excellent natural color and sheen and the loincloth is carved of one piece with the body.

The Father is of polychrome and though stiff in execution seems to be the work of a skilled artist. It is tied to the throne by a white cloth at the waist and may therefore have once sat on another throne. The figure wears a cape of black and gold stripe and a white robe with a heavy gold design similar to paisley. The hem is finished in a wide band of black and gold.

Basis for Identification: Crucifix on a mappa mundi orb surmounted by a dove and held up by the Father, seated and in a triple crown.

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

Location: In a glass case on the altar at the east end of the north wall of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Polychrome (Father), wood/gesso/paint (Son), painted wood (dove). Eyes: glass (Father only). Hair: carved.

Size: About 4 feet (120 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Diaz Ordaz, Mitla, Tamazulapan, TeitipacTlacolula, XoxocotlánYanhuitlán 1,
Yanhuitlán 2.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Throne of Mercy in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: The Blessed Trinity
Wikipedia: Trinity
Christian Iconography:
The Trinity

Next: A statue of the Virgin Mary on the main altar

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.