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Santa Muerte gains popularity throughout Mexico - Will Pope Francis react during his visit?

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'Every Christian should be in favor of life, not death.'

Despite the Catholic Church openly saying Santa Muerte is not recognized as a saint, the death saint continues to spread in popularity among Mexican citizens.


Catholic Online (
2/10/2016 (8 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Santa Muerte, Mexico, Vatican, Catholic, Church

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Santa Muerte is an absurdity," Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Mexico's archbishop, told AFP, adding, "Every Christian should be in favor of life, not death."

Andrew Chesnut, a professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of "Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint," said he believes between "10 million and 12 million people follow Santa Muerte in Mexico, the United States and Central America."

Chesnut told AFP, "This is the fastest-growing new religious movement not only in Mexico, but in the entire Americas."

Santa Muerte, which means "Holy Death," is the image of a skeleton armed with a scythe. In Mexico, she is often decorated with beautiful dresses and jewelry and has alters dedicated to her despite the Church's refusal to acknowledge her as a real saint.

Santa Muerte has been traced back to the late 18th century, when Spanish images of the Grim Reaper became a folk saint. The Church destroyed chapels dedicated to it and did not resurface again until the 1940s, when Chesnut explained women began to pray to her in an effort to rid their husbands of their mistresses.

In 2001, a woman named Enriqueta, "Dona Queta" Romero displayed her Santa Muerte figure at a small alter in Mexico City's Tepito neighborhood.

Since the altar's erection, people come each day to kneel and pray for help from the would-be saint. Though Santa Muerte's popularity has skyrocketed, Romero explained she remains a devoted Catholic.

"On one hand I have God, and on the other I have Death. And when I die, God will tell the skinny one to take Dona Queta away. How great that the pope is coming. Glory be to God. How great that he is coming to give us many blessings."

Though Romero is grateful for Pope Francis' Mexico visit, it is unlikely the pontiff will appreciate the widespread praise of Santa Muerte.

Recall 1 Chronicles 10:13  - "Thus died Saul in the infidelity of which he had been guilty towards the Lord, in that he had not obeyed the word of God and because he had consulted a necromancer for guidance."

It is clear in Deuteronomy 18:1 and 1 Samuel 28:1-25 that speaking to the dead, which includes an unrecognized saint of death, is a sin.


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