Santas: The Feminine Divine

Curated by Carol Lopez

Since the establishment of the Spanish viceroyalties, the state courts, religion, and daily living were dominated by the Catholic faith. In the process of conversion after the conquest, the Catholic Church produced religious artworks including venerations to Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Saints, and Angels. Colonists were subject to devotions, and women were specifically encouraged to devote and emulate their lives after the example set by the Virgin Mary and female saints.

Catholics in Viceregal Latin America had many ways to demonstrate their devotions to holy figures, such as setting aside pesos for capital funds to support the Church in honor of their patron saint. These Santas included: The Virgin of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Sorrow, the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Remedies, St. Claire, St. Theresa, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Veronica, St. Rita, St. Rose of Lima, and St. Ignacia.

Sacred rituals in colonial Latin America were infused with spirituality and ancient American and Catholic devotions. New Spain and Peru developed visual iconographies that embodied the interactions of European and indigenous traditions. It gave a way for the people to express themselves, through objects, images, and rituals to the divine.