San Rafael – SOLD
ca. 1790
16.25" x 10"
Retablos, wood, gesso, natural pigments
Region: New Mexico
Saint Raphael is the third archangel to be mentioned by name in the canonical Scriptures. His name in Hebrew means "God has healed". In the book of Tobias he was the traveling companion and protector of Tobias in his journey to find a miraculous fish that would cure his father's blindness. As Physician of God he is accorded a merciful and restorative function, being invoked for eye or other ailments and for insuring a safe journey. He is often depicted in pilgrim's clothes, holding a pilgrim's staff and a fish.

The angel's iconography shows him with a tunic, open traveling sandals, a staff with a gourd for water tied to the top, and a fish. He guides and protects travelers and especially pilgrims, he protects against demons, and he is a source of health for mind and body, especially for the eyes.

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.