La Santa Muerte: the dangerous devotion to Saint Death

From around the 20th century till now, the cult of “La Santa Muerte,” Saint Death or Holy Death has grown considerably in Mexico and parts of the United States. It has been practiced clandestinely until around 2000 when the worship has become more public. This dangerous cult has been disguised to look like a Catholic devotion, calling an unknown demon a “saint”, and praying for all sorts of things through it’s “help”. It has also been made to resemble devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary as many dub it “Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte” –  Our Lady of the Holy Death.

Other names it is known by include: Lady of the Shadows, Lady of the Night, Lady of the Seven Powers, White Lady, Black Lady, Skinny Lady, Bony Lady, Mictecacihuatl (Lady of the Dead).

“Santa Muerte generally appears as a skeletal female figure, clad in a long robe and holding one or more objects, usually a scythe and a globe. Her robe can be of any color, as more specific images of the figure vary widely from devotee to devotee and according to the rite being performed or the petition being made” From Wikipedia

Idolatry in disguise

Bishop Emeritus Michael Pfeifer of San Angelo, Texas:

“People are always looking for a new devotion as a way of acquiring something for themselves… (they) turn to this devotion for worldly help, for money, material benefits — even to commit crimes and to keep them from being caught for their terrible deeds. So it’s really a devotion to Satan to gain material favors: money, prestige, power,”

Pope Francis during his visit to Mexico:

“particularly concerned about those many persons who, seduced by the empty power of the world, praise illusions and embrace their macabre symbols to commemorate death in exchange for money.”

Father Jorge Luis Zarazúa Campa:

For the help of Catholics, it should be noted that this false devotion is against the 1 st Commandment, which commands us to love God above all things. It is, then, a form of idolatry, because the “devotees” of Santa Muerte believe that images have power, which does not depend so much on the size of the image, but on the rituals that are made to “consecrate” it.

Those who promote this cult point out in detail the ritual necessary to “consecrate” it and place it in the most appropriate place. According to them, the «Lady», as they also call it, will be in charge of notifying the «believer» if he likes or not the chosen place. This will be done through a dream or a strange event. If she wants to be moved, there is nothing more to please her, repeating all the necessary ritual.

Ceremonies in honor of this odd ‘deity’ is often mixed with authentic Catholic prayers and sometimes resemble a Catholic prayer gathering:

Image of Santa Muerte statues along side Jesus and Mary

Santa Muerte statues alongside other items of Mexican veneration (Jesus, Marian) on sale at a shop on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles.

“Prayer groups, directed by a leader — generally the owner of the altar of the principal statue — organize rosaries in homes or stores, overflowing sometimes onto the street, in which they pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary and numerous Catholic prayers,”

“Perhaps what favors the extension of this cult is its resemblance to Catholic devotion to the saints and to the images of the saints. But do not go with the feint. While the images of the saints represent people who lived the Christian faith heroically, the Holy Death does not represent anyone, since death is not a person” Fr Luis Campa


Understandable problem

The spread of this devotion is understandable especially at this time when people are besieged from all sides by all sorts of problems. The socio-economic situation of the world has encouraged the spread of this false devotion since it speaks to the needs of people. However, there is need for Catholics to dissociate themselves from this cult and also help those who have fallen prey to the lies of the Enemy who promises fulfillment though such practices but takes away our true Joy.

Priests should see this as an opportunity to infuse true devotion in such places:

The undeniable fact of the cult of Santa Muerte is, in this perspective, a magnificent opportunity to promote authentic devotion to saints and their images, to purify popular religiosity, adding the biblical foundation and the Magisterium of the Church, so rich in teachings. Fr Luis Campa

Share your thought brethren !