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 Santiago Tilantongo:

Christ: Ecce Homo
Christ seated in the pretorium
Crucifix 1
Crucifix 2
Holy Week Group (3 santos)
Our Lady of Sorrows (Soledad)
St. James as Moor-slayer 1
St. James as Moor-slayer 2
St. James as Moor-slayer 3
St. James as pilgrim
St. Sebastian
Virgin Mary 1
Virgin Mary 2

St. James as Moor-Slayer (Child)

Saint James as Moor-slayer (child):
The skin is unusually white, with a blush on the cheeks. Gesso shows where the five fingers of the right hand have been broken, but the painting is so crude one might have thought it was simply paint on wood, having nothing of the sheen and natural appearance of older statues.

Local Name: Santiago Matamoros.

Basis for Identification: This is most likely a version of the Matamoros, because of the helmet, the hand raised as if holding a sword, and the saint's status as patron of this church. However, is should be noted that the lace cuffs and the amplitude of the robe and cape make it resemble the kind of garments often provided for the Christ Child (at Achiutla, for example).

Other characteristics: White robe and cape.

Site: Church of Santiago Tilantongo.

Location: In a glassless case in the first bay of the south wall of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint, fabric garments. Eyes: painted. Hair: sculpted.

Size: About 1 1/3 feet (40 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: CuilapanTilantongo 2, Tilantongo 3.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Santiago Matamoros in Mexico
Wikipedia: Saint James the Moor-slayer
Christian Iconography: St. James the Greater, Apostle

Next: In the same bay, a statue of the Virgin Mary

Previous santo

Introduction to Tilantongo

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.