Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint

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Oxford University Press, USA, Jan 3, 2012 - History - 221 pages
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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Contents

Blue Candle Insight and Concentration
3
History and Origins of the Cult
27
Beliefs and Practices
50
Protection and Harm
96
Love and Passion
121
Prosperity and Abundance
134
Healing
163
Law and Justice
177
SevenColor Candle Multiple Miracles
187
Notes
201
References
207
Index
209
Copyright

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About the author (2012)


R. Andrew Chesnut is Bishop Walter F. Sullivan Chair in Catholic Studies and Professor of Religious Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. He is the author of Competitive Spirits: Latin America's New Religious Economy (OUP, 2003) and Born Again in Brazil: The Pentecostal Boom and the Pathogens of Poverty (1997).

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