In recent years, the popularity of the worship of Santa Muerte has exploded across the globe like a raging wildfire. As much as police, local authorities, the Catholic Church and news media organizations, have tried to dampen the flames with one-sided interpretations, there are people around the globe taking comfort and joy in worshiping the supernatural folk saint. The statues used in her worship depict a tunic-draped skeleton, often holding a scythe and a globe, a sort of female Grim Reaper.
“From Chile to Canada, Santa Muerte has no rival in terms of the rapidity and scope of its expansion,” said Andrew Chesnut, a professor of religious studies and author of Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint.
If you believe the Catholic Church, worship of Santa Muerte is evil, blasphemous and satanic.
The FBI has compiled many cases where murder victims have been decapitated as sacrificial offerings to the mysterious Skeleton Saint. In some cases the evidence is clear, in others definitely suggestive.
It’s no secret that drug cartels and assassins worship the Skinny Lady, often praying to her using symbolically colored candles for safe passage of drugs, or death to their enemies.
The media often sensationalizes reports of Sante Muerte worship, favoring the news-grabbing, macabre and negative aspects of those convicted or suspected of worshiping with evil intentions.
But to her supporters, the Skinny Lady has the power to heal illness, protect, bring prosperity and abundance, and help them find love and happiness.
According to Enriqueta Romero, one of the people credited with taking Santa Muerte mainstream in Mexico around the turn of the 21st century, worshiping her is anything but doom and gloom. “She shouldn’t be feared. She is not vengeful, she will not hasten your death. She is part of life and she protects those no one else will.”
Often referred to as a high priestess, Romero has a shrine to Santa Muerte at her home in Tepito, Mexico, where people come from around the globe to worship and give offerings to their saint. Often these offerings include tequila, marijuana cigarettes, votive candles, incense, sodas, chocolates, flowers, tacos, pastries, amulets, etc. Often devotees arrive on their knees to visit the Santa Muerte alter.
Considered to be morally neutral and more forgiving than the Catholic Church, Santa Muerte now has an estimated 10 to 15 million followers.
Romero defends her skeleton saint. “Everyone thinks the Santa Muerte is for narcos, (drug traffickers)” she said. “But it can be whatever you want and for whoever wants to have faith in her.”
Worshipers from all walks of life relay their inspirational stories after forming a pact with the saint. One man, a reformed alcoholic who claimed eight months of sobriety, said: “I’ve tried to get sober for a year but she was the only thing that has kept me sober this long.”
A few years ago, Manuel Zavala was assaulted so badly he almost died. Then he discovered the Skeleton Saint. “Honestly, I’ve been very bad. I did things I shouldn’t have, but God gave me a second chance and thanks to God, I discovered Santa Muerte.”
According to Zavala, Saint Death does good deeds for those in need of help. “I go to a church and like the priest says: ‘Life is death and death is life.’”
Zavala credits Santa Muerte for putting him on a morally upright path. “Thanks to a person I love a lot, my White Girl, my life has changed and now I’m not the second-rate guy I was before.”
You don’t have to look too far to see other examples of Santa Muerte’s popularity. There are a number of groups on Facebook. One called Santa Muerte Grupo at last count had 51,888 members and 151,325 likes. Members often post images of Santa Muerte that quickly generate hundreds, if not thousands, of likes and comments, most of them simply “amen.”
One image depicts a skeleton with angel wings holding an hourglass. Its message: “Today I come to you to do that miracle that you need so much. If you believe in me, comment amen.”
In another group called Santa Muerte an image of the Skeleton Saint proclaims: “Santa Muerte of my heart, do not forsake me and give me your protection.” That group, at last count, had 70,010 members.
Life is never black and white. There are always shades of gray It’s obvious the worship of Santa Muerte is not all bad; she has followers from all walks of life—looking for prosperity, protection, healing, happiness and love.
In my latest horror release Freaky Franky, I examine both aspects of Santa Muerte worship—the gruesome and macabre murders committed in her name, as well as the benevolence she bestows upon those who revere her in a positive fashion. Painstakingly researched, Freaky Franky is more than an examination of the horrifying consequences of worshiping Santa Muerte with evil intentions. It offers a message of salvation, redemption and hope for people who are willing to change for the better.
Here’s the link to buy it on Amazon.com, the American site:
Here’s the link to buy it on Amazon.ca, the Canadian site:
So please, just buy it already.