Regis University Santos Collection

1. La Santisima Trinidad (The Holy Trinity)

RU758 / Santisima Trinidad / Catherine Robles ShawSource: Biblical
Feast day: The Sunday after Pentecost
Patronage: Enlightenment; favors of immediate need; thanksgiving; faith, harmony, and peace; protection against        all enemies and temptations; deliverance from locusts, earthquakes, and famine.

These three divine persons in numerically one nature constitute the deepest mystery of the Christian faith. The Father is the first person, the Word became man as Jesus of Nazareth, the Holy Spirit dwells in the Church and in each Christian.

1a. The Father as an old man sits at the viewer's right, the Son as a young man sits at the Father's right hand, and the Holy Spirit as a dove hovers between and above them. This is the mode of representation the Roman Catholic Church fostered.

1b. The "Pietà" Trinity with the Father holding the dead Christ while the Spirit as dove hovers overhead. The Church tolerates this depiction but does not foster it.

1c. Three equal or even identical men. When shown as three identical men, the emblem of the sun marks the Father, the lamb the Son, a dove or a tongue of fire the Spirit; they often hold a bar, chain, or lightning bolt. Until 1928, the Church did not foster but tolerated this depiction because of the Orthodox analogues (cf. Andrey Rublev's masterpiece of the 16th century) and because of the biblical source in Genesis 18; in 1928, the Church forbade it, no reason given.

1d. Three chests and heads growing from a single lower torso. Saint Antoninus of Florence (d. 1449) described this depiction as "a monstrosity by the very nature of things," and on 11 August 1628 Pope Urban VIII issued a condemnation which was repeated by Benedict XIV on 1 October 1745. See Chapter VI, endnote 2; Donna Pierce, "Holy Trinity," New Mexico Studies in the Fine Arts 3 (1978), 29-33.

2. Nuestro Padre Dios (God the Father)

RU 78 / Nuestro Padre Dios / Don Cash and Marie Romero Cash Source: Biblical-celestial
Feast day: No special Feast day
Patronage: Enlightenment, aid, and fortitude; paternity

A single man, bearded, often with a pointed crown, often with a triangular halo, holding his right hand in blessing, often with a book or power symbol in his left hand--a lightning-bolt or an arrow. Occasionally he holds a heart.

3. El Espiritu Santo (The Holy Spirit)

Source: Biblical-celestial
Feast day: Pentecost Sunday

The Church fosters only the scriptural images of dove and tongue of fire as depictions of the third Person of God. Shown as a dove, especially within a lunette which is supposed to be attached to a reredos; in association with Santos Felipe Neri [subject #78], José Patriarca [subject #92], and others, the Spirit becomes an attribute.

See also subject #1, Santisima Trinidad

3.3. Los Desposorios de la Virgen (Betrothal of Mary and Joseph)

Source: Biblical (Mt. 1:18)
Feast day: January 23 or November 26
Patronage: of the family

The legend was that the high priest assembled various eligible men to become the spouse of Mary and chose Joseph when his walking staff burst into blossom.

Joseph at Mary’s right holds his flowering walking staff, the sign by which the high priest chose him from among the group of eligible suitors; the Holy Spirit as a dove hovers above as they join hands.

3.5. La Anuciación (The Annunciation)

Source: Biblical (Luke 1:26-38)
Feast day: March 25

The Archangel Gabriel approaches Mary with God’s request that she bear the Son of God by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.

Mary, usually kneeling in prayer, the angel, often the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.

3.7. La Visitación (The Visitation)

Source: Biblical (Luke 1:39-56)
Feast day: May 31

Having learned from the Angel Gabriel that Elizabeth is with child, Mary goes to help her.

An “A.J. Santero” panel, Frank, New Kingdom of the Saints (1992), pl. 137, shows Elizabeth and Mary embracing in the center and Zachary and Joseph (with his flowering staff) on either side.

3.9 Nacimiento de Jesucristo (Birth of Jesus Christ)

RU 250 / Nacimiento / Ernie Lujan / 1995Source: Biblical (Matthew and Luke)
Feast day: December 25

The birth of Jesus at Bethlehem of Judea.

Mary and Joseph stand or kneel at either side of a manger in which the infant lies. The "reliquary" in the Córdova chapel is probably a Nacimiento; the moon presently attached to it belongs to a Guadalupe.


4. La Huida a Egipto (The Flight into Egypt)

RU 874 / Flight into Egypt / David Nabor Lucero / 2012Source: Biblical (Mt. 2:13-23, modeled on Genesis 47)
Feast day: 17 February
Patronage: for travelers

An episode in Matthew's infancy narrative where a dream instructs Joseph to take Mary and Jesus and escape into Egypt to keep Herod from killing the child.

Joseph leads the donkey, Mary rides sideways on it and carries the child; an angel sometimes accompanies them. A Rafael Aragon retablo adds at the bottom the massacre of the Holy Innocents as well as a great deal of obscure allegorical commentary; see E. Boyd in Houghland, American Primitive Art, pp. 24-25, 36-37.

5. La Sagrada Familia (The Holy Family)

RU 206 / Sagrada Familia / Jacobo de la Serna / 1994Source: Biblical
Feast day: first or third Sunday after 6 January
Patronage: of the family

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph; Jesus is shown as a child.

The Child Jesus in the center, usually holding hands with each of his parents. Sometimes in a retablo, the dove appears above the group. Rafael Aragon did a crib-scene "reliquary" for the Córdova Chapel.

5.5. La Santa Parentela (The Holy Extended Family)

Source: Biblical implicationFeast day: no Feast day
Patronage: for family

Mary, Joseph, and Mary’s parents, traditionally named Ana and Joachim. The cousins Elizabeth (Isabel) and Zechariah (Zachary) are not included here. Following Bernard of Clairvaux and Francis of Assisi, medieval spirituality had a great concern for and curiosity about the humanity of Christ. Golden Legend; Yvonne Lange, conversation of 11 January 1993; the main Santa Cruz altar screen includes an eighteenth-century oil painting of the Santa Parentela.

At the top of the panel, Mary and Joseph flank the Niño; at the bottom, Ann and Joachim flank a cross; the five are connected by vines originating with the grandparents.

6. El Santo Niño (The Christ Child)

RU 131 / Santo Niño / Follower of José Aragón / ca. 1840Source: Biblical
Feast day: No Feast day
Patronage: Protection for children, probably

Christ as an infant or as a young boy. 6a. A young boy kneeling in a long robe, with hands together in prayer.

6b, 6c. The Christ Child of the Passion, the Christ Child of the Resurrection: a pair of bultos in the Córdova Chapel identified by Donna Pierce; see Frank, New Kingdom of the Saints(1992), plates 219-20.

7. El Santo Niño de Atocha (The Holy Child of Atocha)

Source: Legendary
Feast day: no Feast day
Patronage: For travelers, for delivery of prisoners; more recently, against illnesses, especially those that cripple.


Yvonne Lange, "El RU 71 / Santo Niño de Atocha / Rafael Aragon (School): A Mexican Cult Is Transplanted to Spain," El Palacio 84 # 4 (Winter 1978), 2-7, tells the historically accurate story of this devotion, which arose in Zacatecas about 1800 when the Niño was removed from the arms of a statue of Nuestra Señora de Atocha and placed in a chair, and there has been influence from the Niño Cautivo legend; see Frankfurter, El Palacio 94 # 1 (Summer-Fall 1988), 30-39. The legend told in Boyd, Saints and Saint-Makers of New Mexico, pp. 126-27, and retold in the earlier editions of Santos and Saints, p. 109, was developed to rationalize this new advocation of the Holy Child. New Mexico possesses at least five Santo Niño de Atocha alabanzas.

A child, always seated, in pilgrim's garb (broad-brimmed hat, staff with gourd, shoes), with a basket which generally contains roses. The staff is often decorated with ribbons; the ankles are occasionally shackled together. For a standing figure, especially bearded, see Santiago (# 115 a or b).

8. El Niño Perdido (The Lost Child)

Source: Biblical (Luke 2:41-50)
Feast day: no Feast day
Patronage: for lost and kidnapped children; for travelers, especially pilgrims in danger.

Christ remained behind in the Temple at age twelve when his parents left, and they had to return to seek him; it is the fifth joyful mystery of the rosary.

A child, usually standing, in short trousers and no shirt or in a long robe, holding nothing.

9. El Niño de Praga (The Infant Jesus of Prague)

A devotion aRU 404 / Santo Nino de Praga / José Manuel Benavidesssociated with a 17th-century statue in the Carmelite church of Our Lady of Victory in Prague.

A celebration of the child in a full robe, usually red, almost always wearing a crown, and holding a globe with a cross on top and often a scepter.


10. Cristo el Divino Pastor (Christ the Good Shepherd)

RU 168 / El Divino Pastor / Patrocinio Barela / ca. 1936Source: Scriptural (John 10:11)
Feast day: no Feast day
Patronage: of shepherds

Christ referred to himself as "the good shepherd" in relation to his "flock," since he was willing to die to save them.

Standing, wearing a hat, carrying a lamb on his shoulders, with another by his feet, marked with the stigmata.


11. La Entrada a Jerusalem (The Entry into Jerusalem)

Source: Biblical (all Gospels)
Feast day: Palm Sunday

The brief triumph of Christ shortly before his death, when he entered Jerusalem surrounded by an admiring crowd.

Christ on a donkey, often with persons bearing palm branches.

11.5 Cristo Atado a la Columna (Christ at the Column)

RU 386 / Cristo a la Columna / Jay Seale / 1994Source: Biblical
Feast day: Good Friday

The second of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, when the Roman soldiers scourged Christ.

Christ with his hands tied, wearing a royal crown (not of thorns), stands before a column that often resembles a chalice and that catches his blood. See Wroth, Christian Images (1982), 56; Frank, New Kingdom of the Saints (1992), 257, 299; Taylor Museum 3892. A beardless Christ might represent the Christ Child in his passion, in the Guatemalan-Dominican tradition or its parallels; see Imagenes de Oro, passim. Moreover, artists sometimes mix the historical (the event of scourging) and the transhistorical (Man of Sorrows; see 13a) by showing the nail-wounds and the spear-wound.

12. La Coronación de Espinas (The Crowning with Thorns)

Source: Biblical (Mt. 27, Mk. 15, Jn. 19) Feast day: Good Friday

This is part of the passion of Christ, when the Roman soldiers mocked his claim to kingship; it is the second Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary.

Christ sitting or standing, clad in a purple robe, with a crown of thorns newly placed around his head. Can be a pose of a Jesús Nazareno hinged bulto.

12a. Cristo Sedente durante de su Pasion (Christ Seated during his Passion)

RU 418 / Cristo de la Burla / Lazlo B. Karol / 1974Patronage: Penitential associations.

Gertrud Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art(1972), 2:73-74, 85-86, describes "Christ in Distress" and "Christ in Repose" images from the European middle ages, the former more common in the north, the latter in the south. Both seem to find a distant echo in these rare images.

Christ sits, almost enthroned, marked with the wounds of the early part of the passion from the scourging and the crown of thorns; he may have a rope around his neck or his wrists, and he may hold the reed "scepter" of the soldiers' mocking. If the rope or the crown of thorns is lacking, it could be a santo of Job (# 90.5).

13. Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno (or, de Nazareno) (Our Father Jesus the Nazarene or Nazarite; or of Nazareth; the Ecce Homo)

RU 625 / Jesús Nazareno / José Benito Ortega / ca. 1890Feast day: Good Friday

The presentation of the scourged, thorn-crowned, purple-robed Jesus to the crowd; also, the bulto which can be put through most of the phases of the passion (see Chapter III of Santos & Saints).

Usually a bulto, nearly life-size, of Christ standing; it is hinged at the shoulders (and sometimes neck and knees), not bearing the marks of the nails or spear.

13a. El Varón de Dolores (The Man of Sorrows)

Source: Non-scriptural
Feast day: Good Friday
Patronage: Forgiveness of mortal sins, against evil and enemies; penitence, Penitential associations.

Under this title, Jesus stands (sometimes in his tomb, often with a rope around his neck) displaying all the marks of his passion, including the wounds of the nails and the spear (the last received after his death -- John 19:33-34). But neither is he dead (his eyes are open and fixed on the viewer), nor is he risen (he shows by his expression that he is in pain); instead, the figure presents a timeless, non-historical allegory of all the suffering Jesus endured in his passion and death. As Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art2:198, puts it, "The image of the Man of Sorrows is unambiguously a devotional image; it does not depict any event." It nicely exemplifies the late medieval spirituality of Western Europe as it flowed from Bernard of Clairvaux and Francis of Assisi.

14. Jesús es Cargado con la Cruz (Jesus Carries his Cross)

RU 762 / Cristo Cargado con la Cruz / James Cordova / 1992Source: Biblical (John 19:17)
Feast day: Good Friday
Patronage: For repentance and bearing suffering; this last would especially be suggested by Mt. 10:38 and 16:24, Mk. 8:34, and Lk. 9:23 and 14:27.

Roman custom had condemned prisoners carry their own crosses. Matthew and Mark neglect the issue, Luke is a bit vague, only John explicitly states that Jesus did so. It is commemorated by the second to ninth stations of the Way of the Cross and the fourth Sorrowful Mystery. Imitation of this event of the passion is of course a key practice of the penitential Brothers of Our Father Jesus the Nazarene, for several Brothers often carried crosses in the procession to the Calvario.

The examples in the sample are all retablos, though this subject could be a phase of the Jesus Nazareno bultos. The retablos show Christ in a long robe bearing the cross; he often has a rope around his neck.

15. El Divino Rostro (Veronica's Veil)

RU 176 / El Divino Rostro / Elmer Shupe / ca. 1955Source: Legendary (the sixth station of the Cross)
Feast day: Good Friday
Patronage: Imprint of Jesus on our hearts, miracles, converts, sexual purity. Also, through association of Santa Verónica with the woman in Mt. 9:20-22 and Mk. 5:25-34, for healing hemorrhages.

According to a pious legend, a woman wiped the face of Christ as he carried the cross, and he left an imprint of his face indelibly on the cloth. A Latin-Greek phrase, vera icon, was metathesized into "veronica," which soon came to he understood as the name of the kind lady in question. See Ewa Kuryluk, Veronica and Her Cloth(Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991).

The veil is occasionally shown by itself, but usually Santa Verónica is shown holding it.

15a. El Velo de Tres Rostros (The Triple Rostro)

RU 293 / Triple Rostro / Alcario Otero / 1993Source: Legendary (The Sixth Station of the Cross)
Feast day: Good Friday
Patronage: Imprint of Jesus on our hearts, miracles, converts, sexual purity. Also, through association of Santa Verónica with the woman in Mt. 9:20-22 and Mk. 5:25-34, for healing hemorrhages

This is a Taos-region variant of Veronica’s Veil, derived from the local custom that Santa Verónica in the passion play touches her veil three times to Christ’s face. See Steele, Denver Post Empire(8 April 1970), 23-25. Variants of the alabado “Venir Pecadores” describe Santa Verónica touching her veil to Christ’s face “y en tres partes pinta / Cristo su hermosura—and Christ paints his beauty in three places.”

16. Cristo Crucificado, Crucifijo (Crucifix)

RU 630 / Crucifijo / Santero of the Delicate Crucifixes / ca. 1830Source: Biblical (all gospels)
Feast day: Good Friday

The death of Christ.

Christ nailed to the cross, clad in a loincloth, with a crown of thorns about his head. A great decorative pouf often stands out from the loincloth to the viewer's left. A skull at the base of the cross would be Adam's; see Schiller, 2:130-33; see also E. Boyd, El Palacio58 (1951), 225, 234-36.


16a. Nuestro Señor de Esquipulas (Our Lord of Esquipulas)

RU 66 / Crucifijo de Esquipulas / Antonio Molleno / ca. 1830The cross to which the Lord of Esquipulas is nailed is a Tree of Life -- tinged with green, sprouting three branches from the upright and four from the crossbar; see Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art 2:133-34. --The black Christ of Esquipulas in Guatemala (see Stephen de Borhegyi, El Santuario de Chimayó[Santa Fe: Spanish Colonial Arts Society, 1956], pp. 2-4) is like any black Christ the male correlative of the earth mother (Cybele, Demeter, Black Virgin) as goddess-personification of the rich black fields; this part of the iconography got lost on the way to New Mexico.

16b. Nuestro Señor de Mapimí (Our Lord of Mapimí)

There is no iconographic difference between this and the regular crucifix, but the Brothers of Our Father Jesus identify certain crucifixes as Mapimí. There are three alabados to the Lord of Mapimí in Rael, The New Mexican Alabado(1951), 71-77, and an account of the history of the devotion.

The iconography should logically—-but does not—-include an arrow wound in one leg just below the knee.

16c. Nuestro Señor de Zacatecas (Our Lord of Zacatecas)

Patronage: Salvation of the world, pardon from sins, bearing of suffering; faith, piety, peaceful death; all needs.

Just above the crown of thorns, the crucified Christ seems to wear a halo with three sets of rays; his loincloth is large and very decorative. The background is a pattern of rectangles.

17. La Santa Cruz (The Holy Cross)

RU 328 / Santa Cruz / Charlie Sanchez / 1997Source: Biblical
Feast day: Good Friday; 3 May

The cross shown without the body of Christ. It is often decorated with designs made of straw.

Presumably the cross would have the same patronage as the crucifix.


17a. La Cruz Cubrida or Vestida (The Draped Cross)

RU 277 / Cruz con la Sagrado Corazon / Gustavo Victor Goler / 1996Source: Biblical
Feast day: Good Friday; 3 May

Sometimes the cross is shown with the cloth used in lowering the body draped over both arms. Presumably the cross would have the same patronage as the crucifix.


18. El Santo Entierro (Christ in the Tomb)

Source: Biblical (all gospels)
Feast day: Holy Saturday

The dead body of Christ in a latticework casket.

19. El Sagrado Corazón (The Sacred Heart)

RU 160 / Sagrado Corazon / Jose Rafael Aragon / ca. 1840-62Source: Biblical -- Mt. 11:29 ("Learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart") and John 19:34 ("One of the soldiers stuck a spear into his side, and immediately blood and water came forth").
Feast day: Friday after the third Sunday after Pentecost
Patronage: Forgiveness of sins; all petitions; protection of family and home; heath; against avarice, jealousy, and hatred

The medieval devotion to the five wounds spun off a devotion to the spear-wounded heart of Christ as the object or medium of mystical union. The better-known later devotion, promoted particularly by the Jesuits after it originated in 17th-century France, emphasized reparation.

The heart is often shown by itself, often encircled by a wreath of thorns, usually with a cross above it. It is occasionally shown at the center of the chest of Christ, who may have a triangular halo.

20. El Gran Poder de Dios (The Great Power of God)

Source: Allegorical
Feast day: no Feast day

A representation of the divine power operating in the world.

There is a unique piece in the Museum of New Mexico’s Charles D. Carroll Collection (N.M./4 CDC) showing Christ enthroned among angels, with the Blessed Virgin above him, and a priest, flanked by a deacon and subdeacon, elevating the host. It appears as an illustration in Boyd, Popular Arts of Colonial New Mexico (1959), 49.

21. Alegoría de la Redención (Allegory of the Redemption)

Since about 1985 this allegorical title has seemed a false identification of subject #5.5, the tableau of La Santa Parentela—the Holy Extended Family including Joachim and Anna.

22. La Resurrección (The Resurrection)

RU 353 / Risen Christ in front of Cross / Sabinita Lopez Ortiz  Source: Biblical (all gospels)
Feast day: Easter
Patronage: Promise of reward for fidelity to God’s will; perhaps for acceptance of suffering.

The rising of Christ to a new life after his death and burial.

An elaborate Rafael Aragon retablo in a private collection shows a very small figure (Christ dead?) poised at the edge of a very Byzantine-looking rock tomb, a large rising Christ in the center of the panel, and a middle-size figure seated at one side (Christ enthroned?). There are also three angels and a Roman soldier for a total of seven figures. A simpler Rafael Aragon panel shows only the main figure (Museum of New Mexico, International folk Art).

Santos in Regis University Digital Collections