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Puerto Rico's Wooden Saints: Images of
The Powerful Hand

The Powerful Hand
Carlos Santiago, saint-carver


┐What is The Powerful Hand?
It is an ancient talisman with a popularity that continues to this day ln holy cards and candles. The significance of the Hand is the same now as it was in antiquity: magical protection and benediction. It is a wonderful example of Puerto Rican cultural syncretism in that is linked to the symbolic hands of West Africa, as also the Fatima cults of the Moors and the Catholic veneration of Saint Ann.

How does The Powerful Hand appear in the Puerto Rican tradition of Wooden Saints?
The image shows a giant hand, palm facing forward with the fingers extended. The open palm shows a stigmatic wound made by a nail. It is the hand of Christ crucified with small statues on the tip of each finger of the Christ child on top of the thumb, followed y Mary, Joseph, Ann (the mother of Mary) and Joachim (father of Mary).