Friday, April 10, 2009


INRI is an acronym for the inscription IESVS·NAZARENVS·REX·IVDÆORVM (Jesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum), which translates to "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of Jews".

When I first saw this in the sacristy of our church, The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (which is located in the North Valley of Albuquerque), my jaw dropped open and I stared in disbelief. It was smooth and cold like a very fine bone china would be. I asked what medium it was made with as it is a life-sized figure. Father told me that it was (gasp) papier mache and that it was made in Mexico many, many years ago. When the church was remodeled in the '60's someone was wise enough to take it into their care as many of the church's statues and art was being given away. When the current priest took charge of this parish a decade ago, he began a very slow process of restoring everything to it's original state (as much as possible). We were lucky enough to get this unusual piece back.

It's is called a corpus. It resides in an open wooden 'coffin' and in the altar of the church is a cavity with a glass panel where it stays all year 'round. The glass panel allows access to viewing.

On Good Friday (that would be today), it is taken out and placed on a life sized cross for the Good Friday service.

It is a beautiful work of art. It is a shame that we do not know anything about the person who made it-these are some of the things that do get lost over time, but I am in complete awe at the level of craftsmanship that went into this 3-dimensional work of art.


Hey Harriet said...

Papier mache? Seriously? Wow! I would never in a million years guessed that! It's truly amazing.

moongipsies said...

I have seen it.. and it is stunning

rebecca said...

i have just returned from holy week in san miguel de allende. it is a tradition that the santero, maker of saints and religious icons, strives to convey deep emotion to include the viewer by inspiring a response...
it is also a tradition not to sign their work, but to offer it from a deeply holy place.
your church is so blessed to have protected such important examples of such remarkable work.


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