R. Andrew Chesnut, Bishop Walter F. Sullivan Chair in Catholic Studies and Professor of Religious Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, and author of ‘Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint’, offers his personal observations on the development of her devotion in a fascinating photo essay hosted by Huffington Post:
“Having lived, studied and traveled in Mexico for almost 30 years, I can personally attest to the intimate and familiar nature of death in popular culture.
Long before Santa Muerte’s (Saint Death) public outing 11 years ago to the date (Nov. 1), images of death personified abounded. Most visibly, Catrina Calavera (Skeleton Dame), a high society woman depicted as a skeleton in fashionable early 20th-century attire, is omnipresent in Mexico. Created in 1913 by the great graphic artist and satirist, Jose Guadalupe Posada, La Catrina has curiously even made her way on to more than a few Santa Muerte altars.