Tuesday, November 13, 2012

129. Long Live the King: EL CRISTO REY

One of the more unusual santos I have seen is this 30 inch, wooden articulated figure representing Christ as King (“El Cristo Rey”). In the Philippines, Christ the King is commonly shown seated on a throne, wearing and holding the attributes of royalty—a tiered crown on his head, an orb on his palm and a scepter.

This Cristo Rey however, which probably dates from the early 60s, was carved in a standing position. One leg stood on the main base, while another is shown stepping forward, mounted on the lower level of the stand. One hand is raised in benediction, the other holds a blue orb. Overall, the santo was in good condition, saved for some facial nicks and dirt, which could be painted over. Missing was the wig and the crown. Surprisingly, the small orb held by the Cristo was carved in wood. The flaming heart was intact as well.

The Cristo, with its glass eyes, has a downcast gaze and quite an amiable expression. I have seen a similar standing statue of Christ the King in Vigan, documented in an old photo:

This became the basis for my santo restoration project, which I assigned to the prodigious Dr. Raffy Lopez. Metalworks were ordered from the workshop of Dodong Azares. It included a 3-tiered brass crown topped with a cross and a scepter.

 I had a deadline to beat—the image was scheduled for shipping to the U.S. as a devotional gift to a nephew, so the restorer and I agreed on a simple vestment consisting of red cape and a white tunic trimmed with simple embroidery on the hems of the sleeves, collar and the tunic itself.

 After 2 and a half weeks, the standing Christ was transformed from ragged to royal -- and was shipped in time to my nephew studying priesthood at the Catholic University of America.

Viva El Cristo Rey!

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