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
Altar of Our Lady of
| 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
Size: Life size.
Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla,
Santa Ana del
Ejutla, Mitla, Nochixtlán,
(in Calvary group), Tlacolula, Yanhuitlán (?), Zimatlán.
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.
Size: Life size
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.
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.
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photographers, Claire and Richard Stracke, without
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