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

Angels
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
Trinity
Unidentified saint

Other santos not photographed

Altar of Our Lady of Sorrows

Altar of Our Lady of Sorrows

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

Location: Along the south wall of the nave, past the south chapel.

Center: Our Lady of Sorrows

Fine painted face. The veil is of blue velvet trimmed in gold, the wimple is of white satin and lace, and the robe is red and gold brocade. The face does not have tears.

Local Name: La Madre de los Dolores

Basis for Identification: Hands clasped at the breast, eyes upward, only hands and face showing.

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint. Fabric robe, wimple, and veil. Eyes: glass, with lashes. Open mouth.

Size: Life size.

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle, Coixtlahuaca, Cuilapan1, Cuilapan2, Ejutla, Mitla, Nochixtlán, Ocotlán, Díaz Ordaz, Tamazulapan, Teitipac, Teotitlán, Teposcolula (in Calvary group), Tlacolula, Yanhuitlán (?), Zimatlán.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Mater dolorosa
Wikipedia: Our Lady of Sorrows
Christian Iconography: Mater Dolorosa, The Sorrowful Mother


Right: St. John the Evangelist

The hands and neck are well detailed. There is a five o'clock shadow. No carved hair is beneath the wig. A crack runs along the top of the neck, where it meets the head. The left hand shows signs of repair. The halo is of carved wood, painted gold. The chalice is a narrow goblet painted gold.

Basis for Identification: Shown as at the Cross: head cast back and to the left with eyes uplifted, left hand open on chest, halo. A chalice is in the right hand.

Other characteristics:
red robe, green cape.

Media and construction: Frame body, gesso, paint, fabric garments. Eyes: glass, with lashes. Hair: wig.

Size: Life size

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Ejutla, Huitzo, Mitla (Calvary grouping), Ocotlán, Teotitlán, Teposcolula, Tlacolula.

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


Left: St. Mary Magdalene

The face is girlish, with a small, round chin. The texture and finish of the face are very much like those of the St. John at the right on the same altar. The mantle is gold velvet and the robe is purple.

Local Name: La Santa Magdalena.

Basis for Identification: Eyes cast up. Long, light-colored hair. Left hand open on the breast. Halo.

Media and construction: Frame, gesso, paint, fabric garments. Eyes: glass, with lashes. Hair: wig.

Size: Life size.

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, Coixtlahuaca, Ejutla, Huitzo, Ocotlán, Tamazulapan, Teotitlán, Teposcolula.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Mary Magdalene in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Mary Magdalene
Wikipedia: Mary Magdalene
Christian Iconography: St. Mary Magdalene, Follower of Christ

Next: A statue of an unidentified saint

Previous santo

Introduction to Xoxocotlán

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.