Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint
R. Andrew Chesnut offers a fascinating portrayal of Santa Muerte, a skeleton saint whose cult has attracted millions of devotees over the past decade. Although condemned by mainstream churches, this folk saint's supernatural powers appeal to millions of Latin Americans and immigrants in the U.S. Devotees believe the Bony Lady (as she is affectionately called) to be the fastest and most effective miracle worker, and as such, her statuettes and paraphernalia now outsell those of the Virgin of Guadalupe and Saint Jude, two other giants of Mexican religiosity. In particular, Chesnut shows Santa Muerte has become the patron saint of drug traffickers, playing an important role as protector of peddlers of crystal meth and marijuana; DEA agents and Mexican police often find her altars in the safe houses of drug smugglers. Yet Saint Death plays other important roles: she is a supernatural healer, love doctor, money-maker, lawyer, and angel of death. She has become without doubt one of the most popular and powerful saints on both the Mexican and American religious landscapes.
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Angel Argentine Aridjis black candle Bony Lady border botanicas Calderón cartels Catholic Church Catholicism colors crime cult of Saint cult’s David Romo devotional candle Doña Queta’s effigy Elena enemies Eva Aridjis faith Felipe Calderón female figure figurines Girl’s Godmother gold Grim Reaper Grim Reapress Guatemala Guillermo’s healing Holy Death home altar Homero Aridjis Houston identity indigenous Jesús Malverde Lady’s love magic Malverde Mauricio Mexican Mexico City Michoacán miracle Morelia Muerte’s narcos novena offer ofthe cult paraphernalia patron saint percent petitions police popular Powerful Lady prayer Pretty Girl prison protection Raquel religious Rey Pascual ritual robe role Romo’s rosary service sacred space Saint Death Saint Jude saint of death Santa Muertistas Santería scythe sell seven-color shaman shrine skeletal skeleton saint Skinny Lady Spanish spiritual statue statuette supernatural symbol tattoo Tepito tequila tion United Virgin of Guadalupe votive candle White Girl White Sister worship