article-imageThe Christ statue with human teeth (screenshot via Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia/INAH TV)

Restoration workers in Mexico were in for a surprise when a recent x-ray of a bloody statue of Christ revealed its eight teeth were real human incisors. As National Institute of Anthropology and History restoration team member Fanny Unikel told the BBC, the teeth “were probably donated as a token of gratitude,” noting that although it’s the “first time human teeth have been found in a sculpture,” it’s not unknown for parishioners have given their hair as wigs to saint statues.

The “Lord of Patience” statue, as it’s known, is usually lodged in San Bartolo Cuautlalpan, north of Mexico City. Even without knowledge of the human remains gnawed beneath its lips, it’s a ghastly statue, absolutely drenched in blood, a wound to the cheek exposing skull. Created in the 18th century, it’s certainly a rather gruesome anomaly. However, compared to other religious sites of human remains like the Brno and Sedlec ossuaries or the skeleton of St. Vincent de Paul encased in a wax mannequin, it’s not terribly shocking. And bits of humans have turned up in other art to give an authentic air of life, such as Edgar Degas’ “Little Dancer of Fourteen Years” wearing a wig of real human hair. But what’s unique here is the anonymity of someone who wasn’t a saint being subtly immortalized as the icon of Christianity, possibly as a benediction for some blessing that we will never know. 

Below is a video (in Spanish) from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History showing the statue and an x-ray of the teeth:

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