GlobalPost has a fascinating photo series documenting the popular worship of St. Death in Mexico’s toughest barrios. A mixture of Catholic and Aztec religious elements, Santa Muerte, often depicted as a skeletal reaper cloaked in a tunic, has an increasingly large religious following in Mexico. The nation’s most famous St. Death alter is found in Tepito, a portion of Mexico City ruled by drug cartels that control who enters or leaves the neighborhood, including the police. Gang members and ordinary citizens pray at the alter, and worshipers will crawl for miles on bloodied knees before breaking into tears upon reaching it. Tales abound of reformed former gang members who renounced their lives of crime in order to devote themselves to Death worship.
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