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 the church of Santa Elena de la Cruz, Xoxocotlán

Christ: Ecce Homo
Crucifix 1
Crucifix 2
Crucifix 3
Crucifix 4
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Our Lady of  Sorrows
Our Lady of Sorrows (Soledad)
Our Lady of the Rosary 1 and 2
St. Mary Magdalene: see Our Lady of Sorrows
St. Helena
St. John: see Our Lady of Sorrows
St. Sebastian: see Our Lady of the Rosary
St. Therese of Lisieux
Unidentified saint

Other Santos at Xoxocotlán

El Sagrado Corazón

The face and hands have a rubbery look but the veins glow through realistically.

Local Name: El Sagrado Corazón.

Basis for Identification: Christ with heart on sunburst, cruciform halo, stigmata.

Site: Church of Santa Elena de la Cruz, Xoxocotlán.

Location: In a glass case on the second of the altars between the north entrance and the apse (see note).

Media and construction: Fabric clothing. Eyes: glass, with lashes. Hair: wig.

Size: About feet (165 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, Cuilapan, Huitzo, Tamazulapan, Teposcolula, Yanhuitlán, Zimatlán.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Sacred Heart of Jesus in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Wikipedia: Sacred Heart

Seated Young Boy

The santo is seated in a throne-like wooden chair on the altar of El Santo Nazareño, above. There is an engaging balance in the design of the whole. The raised right hand and uplifted face correspond to the raised left foot, which seems to have originally rested on some object. The carved folds of the robe lead the eye upward toward the face. This may be a representation of Christ in the Temple, considering the robe, the sphere (perhaps a mappa mundi), and the chair.

Basis for Identification: Chair, sphere in left hand, fingers of right hand positioned as if about to make the sign of the cross.

Site: Church of Santa Elena de la Cruz, Xoxocotlán.

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint, carved robe.

Size: About 2 feet (60 cm.)

Previous santo

Introduction to Xoxocotlán

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.