San Jacinto or San José? The Mis/Recognition of Catholic Saints in Oaxaca, Mexico

San Jacinto or San José? The Mis/Recognition of Catholic Saints in Oaxaca, Mexico
14 February 2019, 5.30pm - 7.30pm
Room 333, UCL Rockefeller Building, 21 University Street, London WC1E 6DE

Alanna Cant, Kent and Cambridge

Locked away in the sacristy of the parish church in Santa Cruz Mixtepec, Mexico, antique carvings, crucifixes and paintings gather dust. Santa Cruz was one of the first sites of Christian evangelization in the region; the ruins of its 16th century Dominican monastery are currently undergoing restoration. This heritage project has increased locals’ interest in all of the church’s historical objects, including a carving that they identify as San Jacinto (St. Hyacinth of Poland), who is understood to have been the village’s original patron saint. However, the art historians/conservationists and the parish priest identify this carving as San José (St. Joseph). This paper argues that these divergent identifications do not represent competing regimes of knowledge (ie: art history versus local knowledge), but rather indicate different historicities, both of which are religious in nature, and which connect to particular Catholic modes of understanding the past. The paper further shows that because of the Catholic belief in the immanence or the ‘real presence’ of holy personages in their images, narratives about the mis/recognition of saints not only conjure the past, but also can affect the present and the future.

All are welcome. Attendance is free.

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Olga Jimenez
020 7862 8871