Saturday, September 15, 2012

Guadalajara: more on Santa Monica

Besides its spectacular carved doorways, one of the foremost artistic treasures of Santa Monica is the archaic statue of St Christopher with the Christ Child perched on his shoulder, which stands in a niche on the exposed northeast corner of the church.

An elongated statue with a medieval cast, it may be a survivor from an earlier building on the site. 
Empty sockets—oval in the breast of the Christ Child and rectangular on the saint's chest—no doubt once contained jade or obsidian disks—a pre-Columbian device signifying the "soul" of the statue or icon, that was carried over into many Christian sculptures and crosses of the 16th century.

“El Cristobalón,” as the gigantic statue is familiarly known, is a traditional target of appeals by tapatías (the ladies of Guadalajara) for help, not only in finding desirable new husbands, but also in ridding themselves of the undesirable ones that they may already have.

text © 2012 Richard D. Perry.  images © Niccolo Brooker & Enrique López-Tamayo Biosca

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