Tag Archives | santa muerte

Catholic Church Officially Declares Devotion to Santa Muerte Blasphemous

Santisima Muerte(This summary originally appeared in an alternate form on SkeletonSaint.com )

The battle between the Catholic orthodoxy and devotees of Santa Muerte has hit a high water mark with a visit to Mexico from the Vatican’s Cultural Minister, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi. Sarah C. Nelson, writing for Huffington Post UK, reports on the news that Ravasi has given a charge of blasphemy to Santa Muerte in a series of talks he presented where he compared the devotional tradition to those held by Cosa Nostra organized crime families in Italy:

“A Vatican spokesman has declared Mexico’s folk Death Saint (Santa Meurte) is “blasphemous” and should not be part of any religion.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi said worship of the skeletal figure of a cloaked woman carrying a scythe was a degeneration of religion, the Associated Press reported.”

This is Ravasi’s third condemnation of the tradition in four days. Up to this point the Catholic Church’s standard response has, at times, favored the devotional fervor, and intent of Santa Muerte’s followers, while expressing concern over doctrinal issues. Quotes from a Spanish language AP report show that that the Cardinal has gone well past any tense acquiescence, and it seems likely that the Vatican is planning to highlight Santa Muerte as a negative foil during the development of upcoming cultural education initiatives:

“The mafia, drug trafficking, organized crime are not religious forms.

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Sante Muerte: Encountering Death

An article about personal expeerience with Sante Muerte from Modern Mythology by M.G,

“Popular in Mexico, and sometimes linked to the illicit drug trade, the skeleton saint known as La Santa Muerte in recent years has found a robust and diverse following north of the border: immigrant small business owners, artists, gay activists and the poor, among others – many of them  non-Latinos and not all involved with organized religion… The saint is especially popular among Mexican-American Catholics, rivaling that of St. Jude and La Virgen de Guadalupe as a favorite for miracle requests, even as the Catholic Church in Mexico denounces Santa Muerte as satanic, experts say.” - ‘La Santa Muerte gaining in popularity in the U.S.’,Associated Press

A friend of mine, (of dubious character but capable of remarkable scholarship), once told me that the more marginalized a people, the more powerful their magicks will be. If true, few figures must be more powerful than Santisma Muerte, the death saint of Mexico.… Read the rest

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Police Investigating Human Bones On Altar Found In Los Angeles Home

A spot of worship of the Saint of Death, constructed with human body parts found on eBay? NBC News reports:

Some of the bones and a skull found Sunday in a Pasadena backyard are human, the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office has confirmed. A man who left the house Monday said that his sister’s family had found the bones for sale on eBay, and that she purchased them for religious reasons.

Police said they were pursuing a trespasser when they spotted bones atop the outdoor altar. Steer horns and other animal bones were visible, along with the human bones, candles and incense.

Studying images of the statues on the altar, Andrew Chesnut, PhD, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and expert on Latin American folk religions, said: “What caught my eye was that [it] was obviously primarily an altar to Santa Muerte, the Saint of Death…whose cult has been mushrooming both in the United States and Mexico over the past decade.”

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Texas Town Concerned By Santa Muerte Statue’s Mysterious Appearance In Cemetery

I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of death spell that is this statue’s likely purpose. The San Benito News reports:

The identity of the owner of an oddly-placed statue of the Santisima Muerte in the middle of the San Benito Municipal Cemetery has become somewhat of a mystery. On Thursday, two local women expressed concern with the statue and called its presence “disrespectful” to the departed. City Manager Manuel Lara agreed that it should be removed if no one claims it.

The statue depicts Death atop a crushed pile of skulls, wielding a bronze globe in its left hand and a scythe in its right. It’s also accompanied by a bronze owl perched near the base and a tag tied to the scythe that displays a crowned Winged Death dangling a heart from a string.

Dr. Antonio N. Zavaleta, a renowned expert on the occult at the University of Texas at Brownsville, believes the statue’s purpose is malicious.

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Viva la Muerte! Holy Death Comes to Brooklyn

Morbid Anatomy Library Acquisition Number 1,352: New Lot of Santa Muerte Related Materials from Mexico

The Morbid Anatomy Library’s most recent acquisition brings the Boney Lady to Brooklyn, NY:

“The Morbid Anatomy Library is delighted to announce the acquisition of a new lot of materials related to Santa Muerte, which is, depending on whom you ask, a Mexican-based “cult” or “new religion” which worships death as a female saint.

Santa Muerte,” which literally translates to “Holy Death” or “Saint Death,” is popular in Mexico and the United States with disenfranchised populations for whom conventional Catholicism has not provided a better or safer life. It is thought to have its roots in the rich syncretism of the beliefs of the native Latin Americans and the colonizing Spanish Catholics.

The artifacts donated to the library, many of which you see above, include sacred books and pamphlets, devotional statues, magical soaps and oils, charms, incense, and even “La Biblia de la Santa Muerte.” They were generously donated by Friends of Morbid Anatomy Tonya Hurley and Tracy Hurley Martin as found on their travels in Mexico.”

These items have joined the library’s other “curiosities, books, photographs, artworks, ephemera, and artifacts relating to medical museums, anatomical art, collectors and collecting, cabinets of curiosity, the history of medicine, death and society, natural history, arcane media, and curiosity and curiosities broadly considered,” and are now on display in their collection.… Read the rest

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Love, Magic and Holy Death – A Conversation with Dr. R. Andrew Chesnut

Every month there seems to be another horror story in the media regarding the devotional traditions associated with Santa Muerte, the American folk Saint of Holy Death.  One of the most recent news story details the discovery of a weathered human skull and jaw bone, along with what police are saying are remains of a Santa Muerte altar, in a dumpster in Oxnard, California. Another item announces that true-crime author John Lee Brook has been commissioned to write a  “tell-all” book on Santa Muerte and her “occult” connections to the Mexican drug trade. The title of his last book,  Blood In Blood Out: The Violent Empire of the Aryan Brotherhood, probably gives a good idea for where the focus will be.  There is, however, another side to Santa Muerte, whose associations with love magic predate any ties She has developed to narco-trafficking and murder.

I recently had the opportunity to discuss this in more detail with Dr.… Read the rest

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Devoted to Death – The Development of a Skeleton Saint

Catrina Calavera

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.

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Muerte, Mi Amor

In a culture, such as ours, that does everything it can to deny our inevitable mortality, when a folk Saint appears clothed in the visage of death it can cause a bit of a stir. Santa Muerte, for her devotees, is an all encompassing friend, a beneficient mother, giver of gifts that no other Saint would sanctify, and available to all who seek her favor. The Western media, however, only sees her as an archetypal image to promote fear mongering over the complex issues of immigration, drug trade and violence.

Last Friday I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. R. Andrew Chesnut, Endowed Chair in Catholicism at Virginia Commonwealth University*, whose recent book, Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint, is one of the only (if not THE only) in-depth resources on La Niña Blanca (The White Lady) available in English. The book is a fascinating look at one of the 21st centuries most nuanced devotional traditions, which Dr.… Read the rest

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Eight Santa Muerte Followers Arrested For Occult Sacrifices In Mexico

SantaMuerte deathMormonism or worship of the goddess of death? Which of the two major fast-growing religions will you pick? Via the Daily Mail:

Eight people have been arrested in northern Mexico over the killing of two 10-year-old boys and a woman in what appears to be ritual sacrifices. Prosecutors have accused the suspects of belonging to the La Santa Muerte (Holy Death) cult, which has been growing rapidly in the last 20 years, and now has up to two million followers.

The victims’ blood has been poured round an altar to the idol, which is portrayed as a skeleton holding a scythe and clothed in flowing robes. ‘They sliced open the victims’ veins and, while they were still alive, they waited for them to bleed to death and collected the blood in a container,’ said Jose Larrinaga, spokesman for Sonora state prosecutors.

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