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 San Lorenzo Zimatlán:

Christ carrying the Cross
Christ fallen with the Cross
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Lady of Sorrows (Soledad)
Sacred Heart of Jesus
St. Isidore the Laborer
St. John the Baptist
Virgin Mary

Other santos not photographed

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Our Lady of Mount Carmel:
One of the most elegant and lyrical of the santos in Oaxaca. Extremely good condition: only one chip (toward the bottom of the pedastal) where the gesso is showing. The Child figure is carved as part of whole statue; it is naked but for a polychrome pale green "cloth," with arms outstretched to hold the scapular and eyes fixed on the mother. The Virgin's habit has a floral design, blue petals with gold centers and brown and gold stripes in the background, edged with a red and gold floral design. On the right side, toward the bottom, the paint has worn away, leaving bare gold patches. The mantle is pale green/blue bordered with a polychrome gold and blue floral design. The Virgin stands on a "rug" whose design seems more 18th-century than 16th; this and the good condition of the statue would suggest that this is not one of the original 16th-century santos.

Local Name: La Virgen del Carmen.

Basis for Identification: Scapular, brown robe adaptation of the brown Carmelite habit, holding child, halo embellished with stars (11 visible).

Site: Church of San Lorenzo Zimatlán.

Media and construction: Polychrome. The garments are so well preserved that it is impossible to say whether they are part of the  carving or are real cloth that has been stiffened. Eyes (both figures): glass.

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Coixtlahuaca main altar, Cuilapan, Ejutla, Etla, Guelavia, Huitzo, Teitipac, Teposcolula, Tlaxiaco, Xoxocotlán, Zaachila.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Nuestra Señora del Carmen in Mexico
Wikipedia: Our Lady of Mount Carmel,
Virgen del Carmen (in Spanish).
Christian Iconography: Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Next: Our Lady of Sorrows

Previous santo

Introduction to San Lorenzo Zimatlán

Santos Home Page

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.