LA SANTA MUERTE
The saint of death
Santa Muerte Tradition
A popular saint called 'Holy Death', venerated by drug dealers and well-meaning families alike, is gaining followers worldwide - while the Catholic Church warns of the "satanic" influence of Santa Muerte.
Santa Muerte is usually depicted as a female skeleton wearing a cloak and carrying a scythe.
She has earned a reputation for quick and efficient answers to prayers. Pendants give offers such as sweets, tequila, flowers or beer.
Many devotees celebrate their feast day on November 1, the same day as the traditional Mexican celebration of El Dia de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.
Their popularity began in Mexico, but quickly spread to Central America and the United States, even among the English-speaking population.
In the last decade, Santa Muerte has increasingly appeared in mainstream and pop culture, for example in the hit series "Breaking Bad".
R. Andrew Chesnut, professor of religious studies, wrote a book on the history of Santa Muerte. In his opinion, the skeletal saint was created from a mixture of Catholicism, European images and indigenous death deities
Santa Muerte followers believe that death is the great balance. The saint of death does not discriminate and appeals to those who are outcast by society.
Santa Muerte is especially revered by drug dealers and prisoners who ask for revenge or protection.
The Skeleton Saint
Santa Muerte - for some more spooky than divine. About 12 million people worship the Skeletal Saints in Mexico, the United States and Central America. The largest Santa Muerte figure in the world is on Mexican soil, where on Sunday in Mexico City hundreds of people pray for peace amidst the rampant violence that is shaking the country. Made of fiberglass, she wears black and stretches out her arms, revealing her bony hands and skull. Her appearance is sombre and protrudes from the low buildings. Followers of Santa Muerte find here an oasis of hope in a bloody country.
"Santa Muerte is a beautiful ancestor worship and I am proud to be a part of it, everyone here is welcome, they are seen as brothers and sisters, their skin color, social status or sexual preferences do not matter," once proclaimed Enriqueta Vargas, the "godmother".
For her followers, Santa Muerte is a saint with boundless healing powers, who brings prosperity and is an ally for revenge. Some ask her for lasting love, health, protection from violent drug cartels or immigration agents. Others ask them to punish rivals. They call her the Pretty Girl, the White Girl, the Godmother, the Huesuda and dozens of other names, including skeleton saints. Most say Santa Muerte.
Why is Santa Muerte revered in Mexico?
The tradition of Santa Muerte is a devotion that is becoming increasingly important in Mexico and around the world. Despite condemnation by the Vatican, many followers consider themselves Catholics and turn to Santa Muerte for special intercession. The skeletal saints do not care whether they are heterosexual or homosexual, rich or poor, drug dealers or drug addicts. The Santa Muerte tradition is not like the Catholic or Protestant churches. Death does not discriminate. It welcomes them all.
Where does the worship of death come from?
La Santa Muerte is nothing more than the result of several beliefs and practices. Since time immemorial there have been different deities in Mexico dedicated to death. In Guatemala and Chiapas people celebrate the cult of San Pascual or San Pascualito Rey.
Santa Muerte has power over everything that is touched by death and decay, which gives the skeletal saint an incredible influence. Santa Muerte cures disease and addiction by intervening quickly and effectively in the lives of her followers. She lavishes her believers with money and wealth and solves legal problems. She protects against disaster, cuts off the curses and curses of others with her scythe. Because death touches everything, her knowledge and wisdom is unprecedented. She enables her believers to deepen their understanding and strengthen their creativity.