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They Call Her La Santa Muerte, But She's No Saint

Mary Rezac - Eurasia Review
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November 3, 2016
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Condemned by the Catholic Church – Saint Death Gathers Devoted Followers (AJ+)

They call her Santa Muerte (‘Holy Death’ or ‘Saint Death’), but she’s no saint. Literally.

The skeletal female figure has a growing devotion in Mexico, Central America, and some places in the United States, but don’t be fooled by the Mary-like veil or the holy-sounding name.

She’s not a recognized saint by the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, in 2013, a Vatican official condemned devotion to her, equating it to “the celebration of devastation and of hell.”

“It’s not every day that a folk saint is actually condemned at the highest levels of the Vatican,” Andrew Chesnut, a Santa Muerte expert who has been studying the devotion for eight years, told CNA.

Chesnut is the Bishop Walter F. Sullivan Chair in Catholic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of “Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint,” the only English academic book to date on the subject.

Despite her condemnation from on high, Santa Muerte remains increasingly popular among criminals, drug lords and those on the fringe of society, as well as cultural Catholics who maybe don’t know (or care) that she is condemned by the Church.

“She’s basically the poster girl of narco-satanic spirituality,” Chesnut said.

According to Chesnut’s estimates, Santa Muerte is the fastest growing religious movement in the Americas – and it’s all happened within the past 10-15 years.

Read the rest at Eurasia Review

Related: In Mexico City's Home of the Holy Death Cult, Day of the Dead Celebrations Have a Distinctly Darker Edge (ABC.au)

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