San José con Niño
ca. 1800
33.5" x 11" x 6.5"
Bultos, wood, gesso and natural pigment
Region: New Mexico
Saint Joseph is the husband of Mary and the figurative father of Jesus. He is universally esteemed as the patron saint of the family. He usually is depicted holding the Christ child and a flowering staff. He is sometimes shown with a crown and is always bearded. The flowering staff refers to the miraculous blossoming of his staff during the courtship of Mary, which led to his being selected as her successful suitor.

In one of the legends about the Blessed Virgin's betrothal, the High Priest of Judea assembled all the widowers of the land and asked them each to put a staff upon the altar of the temple. When Joseph put his staff on the altar, it bloomed miraculously, indicating that he was divinely chosen to be the husband of Mary. He is typically crowned and bearded.

About the Artist
(1749 - 1831)
Pedro Antonio Fresquís, a santero believed to be of Flemish decent, was born at Santa Cruz parish on October 29, 1749. He married Maria Dolores Vigil in the 1760s and they had 5 children: Mariana de Jesus (Micela?), Juana Catarina, Ana Gregoria, Juan Bautista, and another child named Mariana de Jesus.

Works attributed to Fresquís span many years, dating up to the time of his death in 1831. He painted unusual retablo images such as the Martyrdom of Santa Apolonia, probably as a tribute to his grandmother Polonia Vigil; the Mass of St. Gregory, a panel on the small side altar of the churches at Truchas, probably as a dedication to the donor of the screen, Gregorio Sandobal {sic}; and Santa Coleta.

On March 20, 1831, Fresquís, who was then advanced in age, asked the parish priest at Santa Cruz that he be allowed to be buried in the cemetery next to the Chimayó Church, citing the work he had done not only at Holy Cross Church but also at Truchas and the Santuario de Chimayó. Chimayó was then in the parish of Santa Cruz, but prior to 1985 it was not known that the santero had painted the altar screen in the side chapel at Santa Cruz. Because of its visible stylistic traits, even in its over-painted state, the carved wooden crucifix displayed in the glass and wooden box in the room containing the holy earth could be attributable to Fresquís.