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
Crucifix
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 at San Lorenzo Zimatlán

Unidentified Dominican Saint


In good condition.

Basis for Identification: Black and white habit. Holds a basket of plastic fruit in the left arm. Left hand holds a cross.

Site: Church of San Lorenzo Zimatlán.

Location: 1st dais along the north wall of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint. Eyes: glass.

Size: About 4 feet (120 cm.)


Sacred Heart of Jesus

The statue is designed to wear its red and white fabric garments: under them it is painted green without detail. In good condition.

Local Name: El Sagrado Corazón de Jesús

Basis for Identification: Heart pinned to chest, cruciform halo.

Site: Church of San Lorenzo Zimatlán.

Location: 3rd dais along the north wall of the nave (see note).

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint, fabric garments. Eyes: glass, with real lashes. Hair: real.

Size: About 7 feet (210 cm.)

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Achiutla, Cuilapan, Huitzo, Tamazulapan, Teposcolula, Yanhuitlán, Zimatlán.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Sacred Heart of Jesus in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Wikipedia: Sacred Heart


Angels

In a rather charming touch, two angels can be glimpsed leaning onto the two front corners of the choir railings and looking down into the nave. Other angels stand in the choir in short tunics, their bare arms raised.


Christ in a coffin

Raised knees under the velvet coverlet would suggest that this statue is taken out during Holy Week to be hung on a cross. The eyes roll back under half-closed lids.

Site: Church of San Lorenzo Zimatlán.

Media and construction: Eyes: glass, with lashes. Hair: wig, no hair beneath the wig. Parted lips show teeth.

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: Huitzo, Mitla, Tamazulapan, Teitipac, Teotitlán, Teposcolula, Tlacolula, Xoxocotlán (in Soledad group), Zaachila.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of suffering Christ in a coffin.


Saint Lawrence

According to a plaque on the wall nearby, the statue was donated to the church on August 10 by El Club Base Ball "Union Zimateca."

Local Name: San Lorenzo Mártir

Site: Church of San Lorenzo Zimatlán.

Location: Center of the retablo of the main altar.

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: We found none.


Unidentified female saint

Basis for Identification: Holds a martyr's palm in the right hand, a shell in the left. A large conch shell is placed at the feet.

Site: Church of San Lorenzo Zimatlán.

Location: In a glass case.

Media and construction: Painted and gilded but not polychrome.


Note: On this site, references to the cardinal directions in a church 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.