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 Teposcolula:

Angel 1
Angel 2
Bishops group (two bishops, one monk)

Christ: Ecce Homo

Christ fallen with the cross
Christ in a coffin
Christ in a crown (with crowned infant Christ)
Christ seated in the pretorium ("Pensive Christ")
Crucifix 1 (Calvary group)
Crucifix 2
Crucifix 3
Crucifix case (with Mary, the Magdalene, one other saint)
Crucifixes (two, with two unidentified saints)

Crucifixion Group

Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Our Lady of Sorrows (Soledad) 1
Our Lady of Sorrows (Soledad) 2
Our Lady of the Rosary (with St. Dominic and a crucifix)
Palm Sunday Christ
Resurrected Christ
Sacred Heart of Jesus
St. Anthony of Padua
St. Isidore the Laborer
St. Mary Magdalene
St. Michael 1
St. Michael 2
St. Michael 3
St. Paul
St. Peter
St. Veronica
Saints Peter and Paul (?)
Unidentified Dominican
Unidentified female saint 1
Unidentified female (?) saint 2
Unidentified Franciscan
Unidentified monk 1
Unidentified monk 2
Unidentified monk 3
Unidentified monk 4
Unidentified priest 1
Unidentified priest 2
Unidentified saint 1
Unidentified saint 2
Unidentified saint 3
Unidentified saint 4
Unidentified saints (two in a cell)
Unidentified saints (three in a cell)
Virgin Mary

Other santos not photographed
Our Lady of the Rosary

Obscured by the front left corner of the case: Saint Dominic:
The right ring finger is missing, but otherwise the statue is in excellent condition. The cape is almost certainly stiffened cloth; the robe could be wood. The bone structure of face is angular. The halo, positioned vertically behind the head, is carved in an elegant pattern of rays of alternating length.

Local Name: Santo Domingo.

Basis for Identification: Star in forehead. Dominican habit with rosary, halo, tonsure.

Site: Church of San Pedro y San Pablo, Teposcolula.

Location: At the lower left (obscured by wooden edge of case) of a glass case at the center of the retablo at the south end of the south transept (see note).

Media and construction: Polychrome.

Size: About feet (75 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Teotitlán (St. Peter?)Yanhuitlán (Church) 1, Yanhuitlán (Church) 2, Yanhuitlán (Museum).

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

In the front of the case: Crucifix

Local Name: El Señor de la Misericordia.

Location: Leaning against the case.

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint.

Size: About 3 feet (90 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle1, Santa Ana del Valle2, Santa Ana del Valle3, Cuilapan, Etla, Guelavia, Mitla, Nochixtlán, Tamazulapan1, Tamazulapan2, Teitipac1, Teitipac2, Teitipac3, Teitipac Our Lady of the Rosary, Teotitlán1, Teotitlán2, Teposcolula1, Teposcolula2Teposcolula Convento1, Teposcolula Convento2, Tilantongo1, Tilantongo2, Tlacolula1, Tlacolula2, Xoxocotlán1, Xoxocotlán2, Xoxocotlán3, Xoxocotlán4, Yanhuitlán1, Yanhuitlán2, Yanhuitlán Convento1, Yanhuitlán Convento2, Yanhuitlán Convento3, Yanhuitlán Convento4, Yanhuitlán Convento5, Yanhuitlán Ayuxi Chapel, Zimatlán.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Crucifixes in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: Archaeology of the Cross and Crucifix
Wikipedia: Crucifix
Christian Iconography: The Crucifixion

Not captured in this photograph: Franciscan saint (St. Francis of Assisi?)
This is a companion piece to the Saint Dominic statue described above, the halo having been carved in the same distinctive pattern and the face having the same angular bone structure. Judging from this, and from the cowl, one could suppose it to be Francis of Assisi.

Basis for Identification: Brown habit with cowl.

Location: Not seen in the above photograph, the statue is in the rear right of the case.

Media and construction: Polychrome?

Size: About feet (75 cm.)

Comparable Francis of Assisi santos in Oaxaca: Ejutla, Teotitlán.

External Links possibly relevant:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Francis of Assisi in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Francis of Assisi
Wikipedia: Francis of Assisi
Christian Iconography:
St. Francis of Assisi

Rear center of the case: Our Lady of the Rosary:
In both the Virgin and Child, the skin has a fine, lifelike sheen. The child has a natural baby-like blush. The moon is on a wooden stand shaped like the capital of a square pillar.

Local Name: La Virgen del Rosario

Basis for Identification: Rosary in the Virgin's right hand, crowns on both figures. The Virgin is in a blue mantle and stands on a horned moon supported by an angel's face.

Location: Center of the case.

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint, fabric garments, metal crowns. Eyes: glass. Hair: wig on Virgin; Child is bald. Closed mouth.

Size: About 5 feet (150 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, Coixtlahuaca, Cuilapan, Teitipac1, Teitipac2,

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Our Lady of the Rosary in Mexico
Wikipedia: Our Lady of the Rosary
Christian Iconography: Our Lady of the Rosary

Next: On the right side of this same retablo, a statue of a Franciscan saint

Previous santo

Introduction to Teposcolula

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. Some churches are shaped like a cross; the "arms" of the cross constitute the transept.

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.