Meet Esperanza, the newest addition to our household. Her name means “hope” in Spanish, as in the theological virtues of “Faith, Hope, and Love”. She was purchased in a shop in Summerland, California a week ago where Ogre and I had a little get away. She smiled down from the shelf at me and seemed to invite herself into my life. She needed a name, of course, and Esperanza rolled off my tongue as if she spoke it to me. It seems to suit her quite well.
Esperanza is a genre of art called a “Santo” or “Saint”. Originally common throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, and New Mexico, areas colonized by the Spanish and Portuguese, santos were used in churches and home altars. It was not practical to import religious art from Spain so the tradition of these wood carvings of saints and angels became prevalent. Early santo are thought to be carved by priests who imitated Spanish Baroque style. Later, these statues were made by local artisans who were influenced by their own native styles and themes.
Esperanza is not an antique but I don’t mind. Her face is quite pretty with large soulful eyes and lips that give way to a faint smile. Her arms and hands are articulated so she can appear to hold something. She has a cage skirt which can be covered in fabric for a special occasion. She will look lovely adorned with seasonal accents or dressed up for a religious holiday. But mostly, her quiet presence bestows serenity to her surroundings as she silently mouths the word hope.