A folk “saint” associated with traditional death cults known as La Santa Muerte is growing in popularity in Mexico and may be arriving in the U.S., drawing a following among both criminal elements and those seeking protection from such danger.
The Los Angeles Times (March 19) reports that “Saint Death” has become so popular in some parts of Mexico that she is becoming a rival in popular affection to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the image of the Virgin Mary in that country. “She is a Virgen de Guadalupe in negative: That which one can’t ask of the Virgen, one can ask of her,” says Mexican novelist Homero Aridjas.
Thanks to the media, the unofficial saint, condemned by the Catholic Church, has gained a national following among the poor and desperate, and it is spreading to other parts of Latin America. The veneration of this saint of “secret desires and furtive causes,” has found a place in the “global marketplace of spirituality [where] Mexicans mix and match beliefs…” writes Reed Johnson. Already there have been reported images of La Santa Muerta along the “frontera. Some believe the skeleton queen will soon be enroute to Texas, Chicago, Los Angeles — if she’s not there already.”