In the old town of San Germán, located in the southwestern region of Puerto Rico, the production of santos, colorful wooden images of saints that are prayed to in times of public and private devotion, was an important business. This is where Felipe de la Espada and his family lived and worked. Of African ancestry, he was one of the most respected santeros in colonial times. In addition to his great skill as a carver, de la Espada was one of very few in his community who could read—a notable accomplishment for a man of humble beginnings.
Jonathan Yorba Arte Latino: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (New York and Washington, D.C.: Watson-Guptill Publications, in cooperation with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2001)
Felipe de la Espada lived with his family in the old town of San Germán, in the southwestern region of Puerto Rico. The creation of santos, colorful wooden images of saints and biblical stories used for prayer, was an important business there. Of African ancestry, de la Espada was a highly respected santero (santos maker) who not only carved beautifully, but was one of the few in his community who could read.