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
Altar with Unidentified Saint and Trinity

Site: Church of Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán.

Location: South wall of the narthex (see note).

Unidentified saint

Blue robe

Media and construction: Face and hands: wood, gesso, paint. Body: frame and cloth.

                  statue of the Trinity in a glass caseIn a shadow box below the unidentified santo is a Trinity. This Trinity is a highly unusual grouping. The Son, on the left, is dressed in a short red robe with a cape swirling out behind him, his hands out from his body and his feet planted in a pose of action and youthful power. He looks toward the Father who is seated in majesty, in the usual triple crown and in a gold and blue cope closed over the chest. Both figures have triangular halos and are supported by clouds held up by cherubs; a circle of cherubs is between Son and Father, above their heads.

A dove may once have been in the empty space within the circle. In that case, this work would be an adaptation (missing not only the dove but the cross) of a somewhat later iconographic type exemplified in this stained glass from the U.S. and this sculpture from Navarre. This latter type has the advantage of illustrating Catholic doctrine regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit. The triangular halos are from another tradition especially favored in Latin America, in which all three persons have the same face (for example, this work from New Mexico).

Basis for Identification: Christ with Father in cope and triple tiara, standing on Clouds, supported by angels. Triangular halos.

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint.

Size: 12 inches (30 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Diaz Ordaz, Mitla, Tamazulapan, Teitipac, Teotitlán, Tlacolula, Xoxocotlán, Yanhuitlán 1.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Throne of Mercy in Mexico. Sculptures of Holy Trinity.
Catholic Encyclopedia: The Blessed Trinity
Wikipedia: Trinity
Christian Iconography:
The Trinity

Next: Also in the narthex, a group of santos with a crucifix

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.