Santa Muerte (Saint Death)

 Wikipedia Commons D Dc Mercado De Sonora México Df 20 04 07

(Maurice Marcellin/Wikimedia Commons)

Santa Muerte (literally "Saint Death") is a deity worshipped by millions of people in Mexico. According to an article in The Economist, Santa Muerte has become something of a patron saint in the nation's drug underworld.

(Santa Muerte) accepts offerings of beer and tequila, and is thought by believers to protect criminals and the law-abiding alike and to be amenable to all petitions. “Death to my enemies” is inscribed on the candleholders in Mr Romo’s church. She is very popular in jails. She is sometimes portrayed smoking a joint.

Mexico’s Catholic bishops have denounced Santa Muerte as a satanic cult that promotes violence. The government withdrew official recognition from Mr Romo’s church after he incorporated her into its rituals. Last March the army destroyed some 30 Santa Muerte altars in the northern state of Nuevo Laredo, saying they were linked to drug traffickers. In response, devotees staged rallies in Mexico City demanding religious freedom, and insisting that they come from all walks of life. Indeed, some police and soldiers fighting the narcos ask Santa Muerte to bless their weapons.

"Death in holy orders" (The Economist, thanks Chris Arkenberg!)

Santa Muerte (Wikipedia)


  1. It’s true but not entirely accurate. Also policemen, taxi drivers, truck drivers, firemen, etc seek Santa Muerte’s help. It’s mostly worshiped by people who are in constant danger of dying, but because it looks rather ominous it also attracts some shady crowds. The real saint for drug dealers is San Malverde (he was a Robin Hood-esque drug trafficker who is now worshipped as patron saint for drug dealers). Greetings from Mexico!


  2. Give me Terry Pratchett’s character, “Death” who is ulcer ridden because people don’t like him. Pratchett, in the cruel way of things has Alzheimers but is still writing and “death” will no doubt play a part.

  3. “Santa Muerte accepts offerings of beer and tequila.”
    So I can buy some time with an old fashioned bribery, eh?

  4. So if I get a letter from Santa, with a return address in Mexico, I should probably burn it?

  5. My local bodega sells saint candles, La Santa Muerte among them. On the back is printed an oracion (prayer). I seem to remember the translation going a little like:
    “Most Holy Death
    Please protect me from my enemy (NAME)
    Torment him nightly with thoughts of me
    Let him be made a harmless as a lamb
    And deliver him into my hands”

    That was the gist of it. More info on La Santa Muerte

  6. A short intro in ingles,
    Si hablas español, listen to Beto Quintanilla

    Muchos tienen un corrido
    el bueno, el malo y el fuerte
    hay de narcos y de damas
    y de ilegales sin suerte
    hoy le canto ala patrona
    a la santísima muerte

    La muerte esta en todos lados
    de ella no quieren hablar
    no hay que olvidar que nacimos
    y un día nos van a enterrar
    diosito nos da la vida
    y ella no las va a quitar

    Yo adoro y quiero a la muerte
    hasta le tengo un altar
    hay millones que le rezan
    la iglesia empieza a temblar
    abiertamente ya hay curas
    que la empiezan a adorar

    Mafiosos y de la ley
    se la empiezan a tatuar
    Políticos y altos jefes
    también le tienen su altar
    yo le prendo sus velitas
    no es un delito rezar

    A la santísima muerte
    muchos la usan para el mal
    es bueno que te defiendas
    pero nunca hay que abusar
    la muerte es muy vengativa
    si no la crees no hables mal

  7. Santa Muerte is a powerful folk saint who is a personage that the oppressed, downtrodden and hopeless who are living in desperate and abject poverty can completely relate to on their own terms.

    She makes no judgement about a person’s lifestyle or chosen occupation as the Catholic church would, she is open and accepting of all her devotees. She can grant favours, answer prayers and perform great miracles for her devotees. A lot of her worshippers in Mexico revere her more than Jesus or the Virgin Mary. Saint Death is growing in popularity all the time and her veneration is becoming more and more mainstream and public in it’s expression. Santa Muerte’s cult flourishes and continues to grow all the time, her followers often split away from the Catholic church and focus their worship purely on Saint Death. Also a documentary called “Saint Death” narrated by Mexican actor Gael Garcia Benal is all about the cultus of Santa Muerte, and will probably raise awareness and knowledge of Santa Muerte to western audiences.

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