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Angels & Santos

El Nicho has one of the largest folk art collections of Santos and Angels available for sale in Santa Fe.  Each item is hand-made by skilled artisans and no two pieces are the same. 

We feature works by the legendary Ortega family of Santa Fe carvers.   Following in the footsteps of their father, the late Ben Ortega, Pete,  Joe, Louise, Mary Agnes and grandson Angelo LeRouge proudly recapture the spirit of Spanish Colonial Santa Fe through their master works. 

Due to the tremendous popularity of these pieces, our santos and angels sell very quickly and our inventory is constantly changing.  While the exact carvings depicted our website may no longer be available,  similar items by the same artists are always on hand.


To see our most recent additions, visit our store in Santa Fe.

What is a Santo?

What is a Santo? 

A Brief History in New Mexico

Four hundred years ago the Spanish arrived in the New World and with their arrival came their Catholic faith.  The Spanish missionaries needed visual tools to help them communicate their religion with the indigenous population. They brought with them printed images of Catholic saints and Christ's passion but over time Santeros, the artists who painted and carved the images, began to supply their santos to New Mexican homes, churches and moradas (public holy spaces). Santos were either two-dimensional painted works (retablos) or three dimensional wood carvings (bultos).  The santeros tradition has endured for hundreds of years.  


In the 20th century, the Santeros movement grew in recognition as a serious art form. In the 1950s and 1960s Ben Ortega and Max Roybal were widely recognized as trailblazers of the modern movement. In the 1970s the santeros tremendous popularity and evolved into the contemporary scene we recognize today.  

Today's santeros are passionate about bringing this New Mexican art form to the world.  Santeros today carve both angels and Saints. Many santos today have contemporary meanings associated with them. For animal lovers, St. Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of animals, stands by to protect our four-legged family members, San Pasqual, Patron Saint of Cooks and Kitchens, is a trusted friend to the culinary enthusiast. Saint Joseph, Patron Saint of Real Estate Sales, will help you sell your home if the santo is buried head first in your front yard. Michael the Arkangel, symbol of protection, ensures that our homes and families are safe from harm. And of course St. Anthony, patron saint of lost things, is always a handy helper for a hectic life! 

For further exploration, by sure to visit El Nicho during your visit to Santa Fe to admire the Santos available for sale. And don't miss the Annual Spanish Market on the Historic Plaza in Downtown Santa Fe each July. This event, sponsored by the Spanish Colonial Society of Santa Fe,  draws crowds from throughout the world to celebrate the best in Spanish Colonial Art. 

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