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 El Tule's Church of Holy Mary of the Assumption:

Our Lady of the Assumption
St. Hedwig
Unidentified female saint
Unidentified male saint

Other santos not photographed

Our Lady of the Assumption

Our Lady of the Assumption:
This statue representing the Assumption of Mary is lovely in its composition and in the glowing freshness of the gold and paint. The very young face is a delicate triangle of wide-open, round eyes, long, narrow ears and a small mouth. The smooth cranium has been painted black and is covered by a long wig. The Virgin stares straight ahead, the slender neck balancing her small head.

Her hands are joined in the symbol of prayer, palms together, fingertips aligned, just at the meeting point of the clavicles. The hands and forearms form two nearly 90 degree angles, as do the bends of the elbows. The effect is of formality and innocence.

The statue wears a robe of gold polychrome with a molded lace collar and a heavy mantle that is caught at the left hip, wraps around the front of the body, and then drapes over the left arm in geometric folds. The mantle is painted deep blue with gold stars, bordered in gold. The obverse is decorated in the same blue with narrow stripes of gold, the stripes grouped in broad bands.

Within the case, Easter lilies and large pink roses are on either side of the statue. behind her, above her head is a white cloth on which American bills have been pinned.

Local Name: La Virgen de la Asunción.

Basis for Identification: Standing on a horned moon. Blue mantle with stars.

Other characteristics: Gold robe. Full, silver crown.

Site: Church of the Assumption, El Tule.

Location: At the center of the main altar.

Media and construction: Polychrome.

Size: More than four feet (120 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Coixtlahuaca, Ejutla1, Ejutla2, Mitla1, Mitla2Teitipac, Tlacolula, possibly Tlaxiaco.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of the Assumption of Mary in Mexico
Wikipedia: Assumption of Mary
Christian Iconography: The Assumption of the Virgin Mary

Next: An altar featuring a statue of St. Hedwig of Poland.

Introduction to El Tule

Santos Home Page

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.