Many of the deeply rooted devotions are focused on the saints of the Franciscan, Dominican, Geronimo, and Carmelite orders and others that successively were established on the island. Apparently there is a correlation between the saints that have been frequently represented in the popular imagery and the patron saints of the towns of the island, which arose with the foundation of the churches in each town or diocese. Saints were selected based on the devotion of the religious orders established in each of the communities or the devotion that members of the community of Spanish or other foreigners brought with them when they settled in Puerto Rico.
In many cases, the popular variations reveal the use of traditional models to which a great sense of expressivity has been added. The theme of the Holy Trinity has been represented in various ways. One of them represents the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as three standing male figures, each similar to the others. In others, the Father and the Son are two men who are only differentiated by the presence or absence of a beard, or by the color of the beard, assigning the identity of the Father to the one with the gray beard. The Holy Spirit forms a triangle with the other two and is represented by the form of a dove, situated on a column, a wire or a cross imposed between the other two figures.
Other iconographic variations represent Jesus, the second personage in the Holy Trinity, as an adult in the crucifix; or as the Christ of the Passion, of Mercy, and the Powerful Hand, or as a child, at birth; the Sacred Family and Infant Jesus. The Powerful Hand is an interesting version that appears to have developed outside the mainstream of the church and is also worshipped in other parts of Latin America, such as Mexico, Colombia and the Dominican Republic. In Puerto Rico, it is presented as the right hand of Christ, open, showing the evidence of the stigmata, mounted perpendicularly on a base. On each finger is one of the images of the baby Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Joseph, Saint Joachim and Saint Anne.
The iconography of Mary is shown in the various depictions of the Virgin. These can be divided into three types: the Virgin enthroned, such as the Virgin of Montserrate and the Virgin of Hormigueros; or the Virgin standing with the infant Jesus, as in the case of the Virgin of Carmel, Virgen of Perpetual Help, the Virgin of Candelaria, and the Virgin of Pilar. The Virgin of Sorrows, the Virgin of Miracles and the Immaculate Conception are classified as Virgins without the infant Jesus.
The iconography of the devotion to the Virgin of Hormigueros is totally local in origin. It represents a typical Virgin of Montserrate seated on a throne in front of a mountain and a grotto and includes two figures that allude to the miraculous occurrences on the summit of a mountain where today the hermitage of Montserrate is located in the town of Hormigueros. The image includes the figures of the basket maker and the bull, the protagonists in the miracle.
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