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.
San Juan Bautista Coixtlahuaca:
Christ at the Pillar
Christ Child (1)
Christ Child (2)
Christ Fallen with the Cross
Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Lady of Sorrows (Soledad)
Our Lady of the Rosary
St. Anthony of Padua
St. Isidore the Laborer
St. Martin de Porres + 2 angels
St. Peter of Verona (Peter Martyr)
Unidentified Dominican saint
Unidentified, possibly St. Lucy
Unidentified saint (1)
Unidentified saint (2)
Unidentified saint (3)
Virgin Mary (1)
Virgin Mary (2)
Virgin Mary (3 - in a coffin)
Santos not photographed
Saint (St. Lucy?)
The figure's garments are partly carved from the wood, partly formed of stiffened cloth.
Basis for Identification: The
slash in the neck is clearly an intended part of the
composition, with the blood forming an inverted triangle
at the midpoint, where the Adam's apple would be. St.
Lucy was beheaded. Most images of her
show the neck intact, but a portrait by
Fra Lippo Lippi shows a sword plunged into her throat,
and Tiepolo's painting of her last communion shows a
healing but still nasty gash in the throat. The church
or tower in the saint's left hand could refer to St.
Barbara, who was decapitated and whose most common
attribute is a tower with three windows, but we have
found no images of that saint showing a slit at the
throat. St. Cecilia also suffered a blow to the neck
that led to her death, and Maderno's statue of her
incorrupt body in her church in Trastevere shows a gash
at the back of the neck; but we have found no other
image that does so, nor is it usual to show her with a
Other characteristics: Criss-crossing necklace, blue veil back from the forehead.
Site: Church of San Juan Bautista
Location: Left end of the lowest tier in the retablo in the second bay in the north wall of the nave (see note).
Media and construction: Polychrome, stiffened cloth, metal necklace. Eyes: glass.
Size: About 4 feet (120 cm.)
Comparable santos in Oaxaca: No other statues identifiable as Lucy, Barbara, or Cecilia.
in this bay in the north wall, an unidentified Dominican saint.
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
of the nave on the
north and south. (The
nave is the long central section.)
Actual orientations may differ.