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 Tlacolula:

Christ: Ecce Homo
Christ in a coffin
Christ in the pretorium (Pensive Christ)
Crucifix 1
Crucifix 2
Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Lady of the Assumption
Palm Sunday Christ
St. Anthony of Padua
St. John the Evangelist
St. Peter of Verona (Peter Martyr)

Other santos not photographed

Christ in the Pretorium (Pensive Christ)

Christ in the Pretorium (Pensive Christ):
The crown is woven of hair and silver into the basketweave pattern. The feet are burnished by the repeated rubbing of the faithful. Sr. Jescas says it is solid wood. The figure wears white cotton bloomers, a red velvet loincloth, and a red velvet cape. On the bloomers and the lower part of the loincloth the faithful have pinned scores of votive photographs, amulets, and other objects. The artist has expressed depression and loneliness more than physical agony. The treatment of the blood is perfunctory and what most strikes the viewer is the spiritual exhaustion in the gaze. The resulting emotional power of the figure may explain its popularity among those seeking healing.

Local Name: El Dios de la Peña.

Basis for Identification: Seated with the head on the right palm, right elbow on the knee, mock scepter, crown of thorns, red loincloth and cape.

Other characteristics: White bloomers.

Site: Church of the Assumption, Tlacolula.

Location: West end of the transept of the Chapel (see note).

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint, fabric garments. Eyes: glass eyes. Hair: wig.

Size: 3 feet 9 inches feet (115 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Ejutla, Etla, Guelavia, Tamazulapan, Teitipac1, Teitipac2, Teposcolula, TilantongoYanhuitlán.

External Links:
The episode of the scourging and mockery of Jesus in the pretorium is in Mark 15:16-20.
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of the Man of Sorrows.

Next: Also in the west transept, a Palm Sunday Christ

Previous santo

Introduction to Tlacolula

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.) In the case of the Chapel of the Lord of Tlacolula, which is at right angles to the south wall of the church, the altar is thus at the south end and the transept (the two wings that give the building the shape of a cross) comprises an east and west 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.