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 Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán:

Christ carrying the Cross
Christ Child
Christ Child (with Crucifix 1)
Christ seated in the pretorium ("Pensive Christ")
Crucifix 1
Crucifix 2
Main altar
Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Sorrows
Palm Sunday Christ
St. Dominic 1
St. Dominic 2
St. Michael
St. Michael (with Crucifix 1)
St. Peter
St. Raphael (with Crucifix 1)
St. Sebastian
Soledad (?)
Trinity 1
Trinity 2
Unidentified Dominican nun

Unidentified Franciscan
Unidentified saint 1
Unidentified saint 2 (Christopher?)
Unidentified saint 3
Virgin Mary 1
Virgin Mary 2

Other santos not photographed

Tour of the Museum
Tour of the Ayuxi Chapel

The crucifix has powerful, wild look greatly due to the coarse grey/blond wig that rests unevenly on the very dark head. There is agony in the drooping head and the dramatically bent knees. The effect of death is somehow heightened by the incongruity of the fragile white lace that is bunched into golden bands at the waist and at the knees to make a loincloth.

Pinned to the loincloth are silver figures kneeling and a winged figure. At the right hip a blue and white lace scutum extends rigidly from the body. The corpus is tied to the cross at the ankles and attached at the hands with gleaming red nails. The cross is in the shape of thick rope, painted gold and deep burgundy. "INRI" is lettered in a scrolled sign on the vertical cross piece. The cross is set in an inverted double bowl-shaped stand.

Also in the case, to the right of the crucifix is a monstrance shaped like a flower and circled in glass stones. Set into the back of the case is a traditional Calvary painting (or print?), with the crucifix, Mary and John standing, and Mary Magdalene clinging to the foot of the cross, which is portrayed in the same twisted gold-and-green pattern so often seen in Oaxaca crucifixes.

Local Name: El Señor de la Misericordia.

Basis for Identification: Crucifix with INRI plaque.

Site: Church of Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán.

Location: Glass case set into second of the four retablos along the north wall of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Stained wood, lace loincloth. Hair: wig.

Size: 15 inches (38 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, Santa Ana del Valle1, Santa Ana del Valle2, Santa Ana del Valle3, Cuilapan, Etla, Guelavia, Mitla, Nochixtlán, Tamazulapan1, Tamazulapan2, Teitipac1, Teitipac2, Teitipac3, Teitipac Our Lady of the Rosary, Teotitlán1, Teotitlán2, Teposcolula1, Teposcolula2, Teposcolula3 (in Rosary case),  Teposcolula Convento1, Teposcolula Convento2, Tilantongo1, Tilantongo2, Tlacolula1, Tlacolula2Xoxocotlán1, Xoxocotlán2, Xoxocotlán3, Xoxocotlán4, Yanhuitlán1Yanhuitlán Convento1, Yanhuitlán Convento2, Yanhuitlán Convento3, Yanhuitlán Convento4, Yanhuitlán Convento5, Yanhuitlán Ayuxi Chapel, Zimatlán.

Wikimedia Commons: Crucifixes in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: Archaeology of the Cross and Crucifix
Wikipedia: Crucifix
Christian Iconography: The Crucifixion

Next: On the same altar, a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Previous santo

Introduction to the church at Yanhuitlán

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.