The ‘Lord of Patience’ is a gruesome 3’8″ tall statue that depicts a seated Jesus covered in blood and open wounds, and is costumed in a wig and clothes. This wooden 18th century figure is displayed at a church in San Bartolo Cuautlalpan, Mexico, but looks better-suited as a prop in a horror movie.
When the ‘Lord of Patience’ was due for restoration, the specialists from Mexico’s National School of Restoration, Conservation and Museology decided to x-ray the figure. The team was surprised to find that the top eight teeth seen between the grisly sculpture’s partially opened mouth are real human teeth.
Researchers found that the teeth were from an adult human and are in perfect condition. In the 18th century, people often donated human hair and clothes to be used on statues to make them look more lifelike. But the teeth and nails of sculptures were often made from animal bone.
Fanny Unikel, head of the restoration team, believes the figure may be an example of a tradition in which human body parts were donated to churches for religious purposes. “The teeth were probably donated as a token of gratitude,” says Unikel
The teeth could have come from a living or dead person or persons, but the restoration team does not believe they are holy relics. Unikel says, “Relics would be used in a different way to stress their significance.”
Usually Catholic churches will display the remains of a holy person in a reliquary or the skeletal remains of a saint will be preserved in a wax replica of the body. For example, after the Church exhumed the body of Pope John XXIII in 2000, his corpse was embalmed and his face was covered in a flesh-colored wax mask. The bones of Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini are encased in wax and displayed at a church in Manhattan. A silver mask covers the skull of Pope Celestine V, who is now buried at Santa Maria di Collemaggio, a church in central Italy.
Since there is no documentation describing the statue, it will be difficult for researchers and restorers to locate the original owner.
Click here to see a video of the ‘Lord of Patience’ displayed in Mexico in his full regalia.
Human teeth found in 18th century Mexican Christ statue. (2014). Retrieved on August 18th, 2014 from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/11025795/Human-teeth-found-in-18th-century-Mexican-Christ-statue.html
Mexico: Christ statue ‘has human teeth. (2014). Retrieved on August 18th, 2014 from: http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-28703877
Linning, S. (2014). Creepy X-ray shows 300-year-old statue of Jesus in Mexico has real human teeth – and they’re in perfect condition. Retrieved on August 18th, 2014 from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2720600/Creepy-X-ray-shows-300-year-old-statue-Jesus-Mexico-real-human-teeth-theyre-perfect-condition.html
Noel, A. (2014). A 300-Year-Old Mexican Jesus Statue Has Real Human Teeth, X-Rays Show. Retrieved on August 18th, 2014 from: https://news.vice.com/article/a-300-year-old-mexican-jesus-statue-has-real-human-teeth-x-rays-show