Subject descriptions on these pages include all the saints represented by New Mexico santeros from the eighteenth century until the end of the nineteenth. Each listing gives pertinent biographical and devotional information about the saint or holy person, his or her iconographic properties, and any information about patronage. The lists are illustrated with examples from the Regis University Santo Collection.
Descriptions are taken from: Thomas J. Steele, S.J., Santos and Saints: the Religious Folk Art of New Mexico, Santa Fe: Ancient City Press, 1994, and are used here with permission.
Patronage: probably a sort of patron of retaining baptismal innocence.
The last soul to remain in Purgatory after all others had been cleansed from sin and united with Christ in Heaven. See Lange, Santos de Palo, pp. 18 and 23-24 and fig. 31.
A standing or kneeling-and-floating figure of indeterminate sex in a white robe with arms crossed on breast; something like a star in the background. A parti-colored skirt may be meant to represent the supposed flames of Purgatory. This subject very much resembles # 41a except for that figure's crown of roses.
Feast day: no Feast day - or 2 November, El Dia de las Muertas
Patronage: a reminder of the passion and death of Christ.
These are allegorical reminders of death, sometimes occurring as attributes of saints, though here they occur solo.
Various skulls, possibly meant to serve as an altar frontal during funerals on November 2 and at other appropriate times.
Patronage: a reminder of the passion of Christ.
The emblem of the Franciscan Order.
A cross, with two men’s arms crossed in front of it, the one (of Christ) bare, the other (of Saint Francis) in the sleeve of the blue Franciscan habit, each palm marked with a nail wound.
A reminder of death, not to be prayed to; used as a penitential instrument in Holy Week processions. All death carts date from after the middle of the nineteenth century. Arrows symbolize epidemic sickness (cf. Iliad I). Death may bear the name "Sebastiana" because St. Sebastian was martyred with arrows.
An allegorical figure of death as a skeletal or corpselike woman with a bow and arrow or a club. Most often recognized as only a reminder, it was perhaps in some places superstitiously prayed to for longer life. Steele, "The Death Cart," Colorado Magazine 55 (1978), 1-14; Wroth, Images of Penance, Images of Mercy, pp. 149-59.
Patronage: for prompt fulfillment of duties.
A reminder to each Brother of Our Father Jesus to do promptly anything of obligation, or he might have to return after death to perform his duties.
A skeletal figure kneeling before a cross with a scourge in its hand; see Weigle, Western Folklore36 (1977), 135-47.
This seems to be a santero subject as such wherein the artist depicts the reliquary and its content, a relic of some saint, shown in the form of his or her body. See TM 1136 in the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, where a dead male Franciscan is shown lying in a monstrance-like reliquary. Reliquaries occur commonly in early eighteenth century New Mexican inventories.