7 Pieces Rosary Beads Catholic for Woman Artificial Pearls Rosary Necklace Mexican Rosary Necklace Fake Pearl Pray Beads Necklaces with Medal Cross Pendants
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|Package Dimensions : ||7.09 x 7.09 x 0.63 inches (18 x 18 x 1.6 cm); 6.35 Ounces (180.02 grams)|
|Department : ||Womens|
|ASIN : ||B09F633643|
|What is in the box||7 Pieces Rosary Beads... For more details, please check description/product details|
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Color: mixed colors
Material: artificial pearls and alloy
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7 x Rosary artificial pearls necklaces
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Small parts included and winding risk, please keep them away from little kids.
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Mexican cult image, female deity, and folk saint
|Our Lady of the Holy Death|
Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte
Close-up of a Santa Muerte south of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas
|Other names||Lady of Shadows, Lady of Night, White Lady, Black Lady, Skinny Lady, Bony Lady, Mictecacihuatl (Lady of the Dead)|
|Affiliation||A wide variety of powers including love, prosperity, good health, fortune, healing, safe passage, protection against witchcraft, protection against assaults, protection against gun violence, protection against violent death|
|Major cult centre||Earliest temple is the Shrine of Most Holy Death founded by Enriqueta Romero in Mexico City|
|Artifacts||Globe, scale of justice, hourglass, oil lamp|
|Symbol||Human female skeleton clad in a robe|
|Region||Central America, Mexico, the (primarily Southwestern) United States, and Canada|
Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte (Spanish: [ˈnwestra señora de la santa mweɾte]; Spanish for Our Lady of the Holy Death), often shortened to Santa Muerte, is a cult image, female deity, and folk saint in Mexican Neopaganism and folk Catholicism. A personification of death, she is associated with healing, protection, and safe delivery to the afterlife by her devotees. Despite condemnation by leaders of the Catholic Church, and more recently evangelical movements, her following[a] has become increasingly prominent since the turn of the 21st century.
Originally appearing as a male figure, Santa Muerte now 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.
The cult of Santa Muerte began in Mexico some time in the mid-20th century and was clandestine until the 1990s. Most prayers and other rites have been traditionally performed privately at home. Since the beginning of the 21st century, worship has become more public, especially in Mexico City after a believer called Enriqueta Romero initiated her famous Mexico City shrine in 2001. The number of believers in Santa Muerte has grown over the past ten to twenty years, to an estimated 10–20 million followers in Mexico, parts of Central America, the United States, and Canada. Santa Muerte has similar male counterparts in the American continent, such as the skeletal folk saints San La Muerte of Paraguay and Rey Pascual of Guatemala. According to R. Andrew Chesnut, Ph.D. in Latin American history and professor of Religious studies, the cult of Santa Muerte is the single fastest-growing new religious movement in the Americas.
Santa Muerte can be translated into English as either "Saint Death" or "Holy Death", although the professor of Religious studies R. Andrew Chesnut believes that the former is a more accurate translation because it "better reveals" her identity as a folk saint. A variant of this is Santísima Muerte, which is translated as "Most Holy Death" or "Most Saintly Death", and devotees often call her Santisma Muerte during their rituals.
Santa Muerte is also known by a wide variety of other names: the Skinny Lady (la Flaquita), the Bony Lady (la Huesuda), the White Girl (la Niña Blanca), the White Sister (la Hermana Blanca), the Pretty Girl (la Niña Bonita), the Powerful Lady (la Dama Poderosa), the Godmother (la Madrina),Señora de las Sombras ("Lady of the Shadows"), Señora Blanca ("White Lady"), Señora Negra ("Black Lady"), Niña Santa ("Holy Girl"), Santa Sebastiana ("Saint Sebastienne", i.e. "Holy Sebastian") or Doña Bella Sebastiana ("Beautiful Lady Sebastienne") and La Flaca ("The Skinny Woman").
Main articles: Mesoamerican religion and Pre-Columbian Mexico
Further information: Population history of indigenous peoples of the Americas and Spanish colonization of the Americas
After the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, the worship of death diminished but was never eradicated. Judith Katia Perdigón Castañeda has found references dating to 18th-century Mexico. According to one account, recorded in the annals of the Spanish Inquisition, indigenous people in central Mexico tied up a skeletal figure, whom they addressed as "Santa Muerte," and threatened it with lashings if it did not perform miracles or grant their wishes. Another syncretism between Pre-Columbian and Christian beliefs about death can be seen in Day of the Dead celebrations. During these celebrations, many Mexicans flock to cemeteries to sing and pray for friends and family members who have died. Children partake in the festivities by eating chocolate or candy in the shape of skulls. Perdigón Castañeda, Thompson, Kingsbury, and Chesnut have countered the argument proposed by Malvido, Lomnitz, and Kristensen that Santa Muerte's origins are not Indigenous, suggesting that Santa Muerte derives from authentic Indigenous beliefs. For Malvido this stems from Indigenist discourse originating in the 1930s. Nevertheless, through ethnoarchaeological researches by Kingsbury and Chesnut as well as archival work by Perdigón Castañeda, proof has been established that there are clear links between pre-Columbian death deity worship and Santa Muerte supplication. As Kingsbury has pointed out, to deny the Indigenous roots of Santa Muerte is to promote neo-colonialism and the denial of Indigenous influences and cultures as important still in the current context.
In contrast to the Day of the Dead, overt veneration of Santa Muerte remained clandestine until the middle of the 20th century. When it went public in sporadic occurrences, reaction was often harsh, and included the desecration of shrines and altars. At the beginning of the 20th century, José Guadalupe Posada created a similar, but secular figure by the name of Catrina, a female skeleton dressed in fancy clothing of the period. Posada began to evoke the idea that the universality of death generated a fundamental equality amongst man. His paintings of skeletons in daily life and that La Catrina were meant to represent the arbitrary and violent nature of an unequal society.
Modern artists began to reestablish Posada's styles as a national artistic objective to push the limits of upper-class tastes; an example of Posada's influence is Diego Rivera's mural painting Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central, which features La Catrina. The image of the skeleton and the Day of the Dead ritual that used to be held underground became commercialized and domesticated. The skeletal images became that of folklore, encapsulating Posada's viewpoint that death is an equalizer.
Skeletons were put in extravagant dresses with braids in their hair, altering the image of Posada's original La Catrina. As opposed to being the political message Posada intended, the skeletons of equality became skeletal images which were appealing to tourists and the national folkloric Mexican identity.
Veneration of Santa Muerte was documented in the 1940s in working-class neighborhoods in Mexico City such as Tepito. Other sources state that the revival has its origins around 1965 in the state of Hidalgo. At present Santa Muerte can be found throughout Mexico and also in parts of the United States and Central America. There are videos, websites, and music composed in honor of this folk saint. The cult of Santa Muerte first came to widespread popular attention in Mexico in August 1998, when police arrested notorious gangster Daniel Arizmendi López and discovered a shrine to the saint in his home. Widely reported in the press, this discovery inspired the common association between Santa Muerte, violence, and criminality in Mexican popular consciousness.
Since 2001, there has been a "meteoric growth" in the size of the Santa Muerte beliefs, largely due to her reputation for performing miracles. Worship has been made up of roughly two million adherents, mostly in the State of Mexico, Guerrero, Veracruz, Tamaulipas, Campeche, Morelos, and Mexico City, with a recent spread to Nuevo León. In the late 2000s, the founder of Mexico City's first Santa Muerte church, David Romo, estimated that there were around 5 million devotees in Mexico, constituting approximately 5% of the country's population.
By the late 2000s, Santa Muerte had become Mexico's second-most popular saint, after Saint Jude, and had come to rival the country's "national patroness", the Virgin of Guadalupe. The cult's rise was controversial, and in March 2009 the Mexican army demolished 40 roadside shrines near the U.S. border. Circa 2005, the cult of the Santa Muerte was brought to the United States by Mexican and Central American immigrants, and by 2012 had tens of thousands of followers throughout the country, primarily in cities with high Hispanic and Latino populations. As of 2016-2017[update], the cult of the Santa Muerte is considered to be one of the fastest-growing new religious movements in the world, with an estimated 10 to 12 million followers, and the single fastest-growing new religious movement in the Americas.
Attributes and iconography
Our Lady of the Holy Death is a personification of death. Unlike other saints who originated in Mexican folk Catholicism, Santa Muerte is not, herself, seen as a dead human being. She is associated with healing, protection, financial wellbeing, and assurance of a path to the afterlife.
Although there are other death saints in Latin America, such as San La Muerte, Santa Muerte is the only female saint of death in either of the Americas. Though early figures of the saint were male, iconographically, Santa Muerte is a skeleton dressed in female clothes or a shroud, and carrying both a scythe and a globe. Santa Muerte is marked out as female not by her figure but by her attire and hair. The latter was introduced by a believer named Enriqueta Romero.
The two most common objects that Santa Muerte holds in her hands are a globe and a scythe. Her scythe reflects her origins as the Grim Reaper ("la Parca" of medieval Spain), and can represent the moment of death, when it is said to cut a silver thread. The scythe can symbolize the cutting of negative energies or influences. As a harvesting tool, a scythe may also symbolize hope and prosperity. The scythe has a long handle, indicating that it can reach anywhere. The globe represents Death's vast power and dominion over the earth, and may be seen as a kind of a tomb to which we all return.
Other objects associated with Santa Muerte include scales, an hourglass, an owl, and an oil lamp. The scales allude to equity, justice, and impartiality, as well as divine will. An hourglass indicates the time of life on earth and also the belief that death is not the end, as the hourglass can be inverted to start over. The hourglass denotes Santa Muerte's relationship with time as well as with the worlds above and below. It also symbolizes patience. An owl symbolizes her ability to navigate the darkness and her wisdom; the owl is also said to act as a messenger. A lamp symbolizes intelligence and spirit, to light the way through the darkness of ignorance and doubt. owls in particular are associated with Mesoamerican death deities such as Mictlantecuhtli and seen as evidence of continuity of death worship into Santa Muerte. Some followers of Santa Muerte believe that she is jealous and that her image should not be placed next to those of other saints or deities, or there will be consequences.
There are a lot of artists, particularly Mexican-American artists, who have played with Santa Muerte's image. One of the images considered to be the most controversial in Mexico is the fusion of Santa Muerte and the Virgin of Guadalupe, into what is sometimes known as GuadaMuerte. This image has been very polemical for many Mexicans as it features Santa Muerte dressed like the Virgin, in blue veil with stars on it, red dress, with a fiery yellow halo behind her head and often in praying pose. It has, according to news sources, been so upsetting to the Catholic Church that Santa Muerte leaders in Mexico have advised against its use, while in the Santa Muerte community some leaders and devotees are angered that their powerful, formidable folk saint would be conflated with a completely separate entity and suffering female figure, the Virgin of Guadalupe, as the practices are different on many levels.
Rites associated with Santa Muerte
Rites dedicated to Our Lady of the Holy Death include processions and prayers with the aim of gaining a favor. Some believers of Santa Muerte remain members of the Catholic Church, while millions are cutting ties with the Catholic Church and founding independent Santa Muerte churches and temples. Altars of Santa Muerte temples generally contain one or multiple images of the lady, generally surrounded by any or all of the following: cigarettes, flowers, fruit, incense, water, alcoholic beverages, coins, candies and candles.
According to popular belief, Santa Muerte is very powerful and is reputed to grant many favors. Her images are treated as holy and can give favors in return for the faith of the believer, with miracles playing a vital role. As Señora de la Noche ("Lady of the Night"), she is often invoked by those exposed to the dangers of working at night, such as taxi drivers, bar owners, police, soldiers, and prostitutes. As such, devotees believe she can protect against assaults, accidents, gun violence, and all types of violent death.
The image is dressed differently depending on what is being requested. Usually, the vestments of the image are differently colored robes, but it is also common for the image to be dressed as a bride (for those seeking a husband) or in European medieval nun's garments similar to female Catholic saints. The colors of Our Lady of the Holy Death's votive candles and vestments are associated with the type of petitions made.
White is the most common color and can symbolize gratitude, purity, or the cleansing of negative influences. Red is for love and passion. It can also signify emotional stability. The color gold signifies economic power, success, money, and prosperity. Green symbolizes justice, legal matters, or unity with loved ones. Amber or dark yellow indicates health. Images with this color can be seen in rehabilitation centers, especially those for drug addiction and alcoholism. Black represents total protection against black magic or sorcery, or conversely negative magic or for force directed against rivals and enemies. Blue candles and images of the saint indicate wisdom, which is favored by students and those in education. It can also be used to petition for health. Brown is used to invoke spirits from beyond while purple, like yellow, usually symbolizes health. More recently purple, yellow and white candles have been used by devotees to supplicate Santa Muerte for healing of and protection from Coronavirus as documented by Kingsbury and Chesnut, the leading researchers on Santa Muerte.
Devotees may present her with a polychrome seven-color candle, which Chesnut believed was probably adopted from the seven powers candle of Santería, a syncretic faith brought to Mexico by Cuban migrants. Here the seven colors are gold, silver, copper, blue, purple, red, and green. In addition to the candles and vestments, each devotee adorns their own image in their own way, using U.S. dollars, gold coins, jewelry, and other items.
Santa Muerte also has a "saint's day", which varies from shrine to shrine. The most prominent is November 1, when the believer Enriqueta Romero celebrates her at her historic Tepito shrine where the famous effigy is dressed as a bride. Others celebrate her day on August 15.
Places of worship
According to Chesnut, the cult of Our Lady of the Holy Death is "generally informal and unorganized". Since worship of this image has been, and to a large extent still is, clandestine, most rituals are performed in altars constructed at the homes of devotees. Recently shrines to this image have been mushrooming in public. The one on Dr. Vertiz Street in Colonia Doctores is unique in Mexico City because it features an image of Jesús Malverde along with Santa Muerte. Another public shrine is in a small park on Matamoros Street very close to Paseo de la Reforma.
Shrines can also be found in the back of all kinds of stores and gas stations. As veneration of Santa Muerte becomes more accepted, stores specializing in religious articles, such as botánicas, are carrying more and more paraphernalia related to the cult. Historian R. Andrew Chesnut has discovered that many botanicas in both Mexico and the U.S. are kept in business by sales of Santa Muerte paraphernalia, with numerous shops earning up to half of their profits on Santa Muerte items. This is true even of stores in very well known locations such as Pasaje Catedral behind the Mexico City Cathedral, which is mostly dedicated to stores selling Catholic liturgical items. Her image is a staple in esoterica shops.
There are those who now call themselves Santa Muerte priests or priestesses, such as Jackeline Rodríguez in Monterrey. She maintains a shop in Mercado Juárez in Monterrey, where tarot readers, curanderos, herbal healers, and sorcerers can also be found.
Shrine of the Most Holy Death
The establishment of the first public shrine to the image began to change how Santa Muerte was venerated. The veneration has grown rapidly since then, and others have put their images on public display, as well. In 2001, Enriqueta Romero built a shrine for a life-sized statue of Santa Muerte in her home in Mexico City, visible from the street. The shrine does not hold Catholic masses or occult rites, but people come here to pray and to leave offerings to the image. The effigy is dressed in garbs of different colors depending on the season, with the Romero family changing the dress every first Monday of the month. This statue of the saint features large quantities of jewelry on her neck and arms, which are pinned to her clothing. It is surrounded by offerings left to it, including: flowers, fruits (especially apples), candles, toys, money, notes of thanks for prayers granted, cigarettes, and alcoholic beverages that surround it.
Enriqueta Romero considers herself the chaplain of the shrine, a role she says she inherited from her aunt, who began the practice in the family in 1962. The shrine is located on 12 Alfarería Street in Tepito, Colonia Morelos. For many, this Santa Muerte is the patron saint of Tepito. The house also contains a shop that sells amulets, bracelets, medallions, books, images, and other items; the most popular item sold there is votive candles.
On the first day of every month Enriqueta Romero or one of her sons lead prayers and the saying of the Santa Muerte rosary, which lasts for about an hour and is based on the Catholic rosary. On the first of November the anniversary of the altar to Santa Muerte constructed by Enriqueta Romero is celebrated. This Santa Muerte is dressed as a bride and wears hundreds of pieces of gold jewelry given by the faithful to show gratitude for favors received, or to ask for one.
The celebration officially begins at the stroke of midnight of November 1. About 5,000 faithful turn out to pray the rosary. For purification, the smoke of marijuana is used rather than incense, which is traditionally used for purification by Catholics. Food such as cake, chicken with mole, hot chocolate, coffee, and atole are served during the celebrations, which features performances by mariachis and marimba bands.
Sociology of the cult
The cult of Santa Muerte is present throughout the strata of Mexican society, although the majority of devotees are either underemployed workers or from the urban working class. Most are young people, aged in their teens, twenties, or thirties, and are also mostly female. A large following developed among Mexicans who are disillusioned with the dominant, institutional Catholic Church and, in particular, with the inability of established Catholic saints to deliver them from poverty.
The phenomenon is based among people with scarce resources, excluded from the formal market economy, as well as the judicial and educational systems, primarily in the inner cities and the very rural areas. Devotion to Santa Muerte is what anthropologists call a "cult of crisis". Devotion to the image peaks during economic and social hardships, which tend to affect the working classes more. Santa Muerte tends to attract those in extremely difficult or hopeless situations but also appeals to smaller sectors of middle class professionals and even the affluent. Some of her most devoted followers are outcasts who commit petty economic crimes, often committed out of desperation, such as prostitutes and petty thieves.
The worship of Santa Muerte also attracts those who are not inclined to seek the traditional Catholic Church for spiritual solace, as it is part of the "legitimate" sector of society; many followers of Santa Muerte live on the margins of the law or outside it entirely. Many street vendors, taxi drivers, vendors of counterfeit merchandise, street people, prostitutes, pickpockets, petty drug traffickers and gang members who follow the cult are not practicing Catholics or Protestants, but neither are they atheists.
In essence they have created their own new religion that reflects their realities, hardships, identity, and practices, especially since it speaks to the violence and struggles for life that many of these people face. Conversely, both police forces and the military in Mexico can be counted among the faithful who ask for blessings on their weapons and ammunition.
While worship is largely based in poor neighborhoods, Santa Muerte is also venerated in affluent areas such as Mexico City's Condesa and Coyoacán districts. However, negative media coverage of the worship and condemnation by the Catholic Church in Mexico and certain Protestant denominations have influenced public perception of the cult of Santa Muerte. With the exception of some artists and politicians, some of whom perform rituals secretly, those in higher socioeconomic strata look upon the veneration with distaste as a form of superstition.
Further information: LGBT-affirming Christian denominations
See also: LGBT-affirming religious groups
Santa Muerte is also revered and seen as a saint and protector of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) communities in Mexico, since LGBTQ+ people are considered and treated as outcasts by the Catholic Church, evangelical churches, and Mexican society at large. Many LGBTQ+ people ask her for protection from violence, hatred, disease, and to help them in their search for love. Her intercession is commonly invoked in same-sex marriage ceremonies performed in Mexico. The Iglesia Católica Tradicional México-Estados Unidos, also known as the Church of Santa Muerte, recognizes gay marriage and performs religious wedding ceremonies for homosexual couples.
Association with criminality
In the Mexican and U.S. press, the cult of Santa Muerte is often associated with violence, criminality, and the illegal drug trade. She is a popular deity in prisons, both among inmates and staff, and shrines dedicated to her can be found in many cells.
Altars with images of Santa Muerte have been found in many drug houses in both Mexico and the United States. Among Santa Muerte's more famous devotees are kidnapper Daniel Arizmendi López, known as El Mochaorejas, and Gilberto García Mena, one of the bosses of the Gulf Cartel. In March 2012, the Sonora State Investigative Police announced that they had arrested eight people for murder for allegedly having performed a human sacrifice of a woman and two ten-year-old boys to Santa Muerte (see: Silvia Meraz).
In December 2010, the self-proclaimed bishop David Romo was arrested on charges of banking funds of a kidnapping gang linked to a cartel. He continues to lead his sect from his prison, but it is unfeasible for Romo or anyone else to gain dominance over the Santa Muerte cult. Her faith is spreading rapidly and "organically" from town to town, such that it is easy to become a preacher or messianic figure. Drug lords, like that of La Familia Cartel, take advantage of "gangster foot soldiers'" vulnerability and enforced religious obedience to establish a holy meaning to their cause that would keep their soldiers disciplined.
Santa Muerte is a multifaceted saint, with various symbolic meanings and her devotees can call upon her a wide range of reasons. In herbal shops and markets one can find a plethora of Santa Muerte paraphernalia like the votive candles that have her image on the front and in a color representative of its purpose. On the back of the candles are prayers associated with the color's meaning and may sometimes come with additional prayer cards. Color symbolism is central to devotion and ritual. There are three main colors associated with Santa Muerte: red, white, and black.
The candles are placed on altars and devotees turn to specific colored candles depending on their circumstance. Some keep the full range of colored candles while others focus on one aspect of Santa Muerte's spirit. Santa Muerte is called upon for matters of the heart, health, money, wisdom, and justice. There is the brown candle of wisdom, the white candle of gratitude and consecration, the black candle for protection and vengeance, the red candle of love and passion, the gold candle for monetary affairs, the green candle for crime and justice, the purple candle for healing.
The black votive candle is lit for prayer in order to implore La Flaca's protection and vengeance. It is associated with "black magic" and witchcraft. It is not regularly seen at devotional sites, and is usually kept and lit in the privacy of one's home. To avert from calling upon official Catholic saints for illegal purpose, drug traffickers will light Santa Muerte's black candle to ensure protection of shipment of drugs across the border. Nevertheless, black candles may also be used for more benign activities such as reversing spells, as well as all forms of protection and removing energetic blockages.
Black candles are presented to Santa Muerte's altars that drug traffickers used to ensure protection from violence of rival gangs as well as ensure harm to their enemies in gangs and law enforcement. As the drug war in Mexico escalates, Santa Muerte's veneration by drug bosses increases and her image is seen again and again in various drug houses. Ironically, the military and police officers that are employed to dismantle the White Lady's shrines make up a large portion of her devotees. Furthermore, even though her presence in the drug world is becoming routine, the sale of black candles pales in comparison to top selling white, red, and gold candles.
One of Santa Muerte's more popular uses is in matters of the heart. The red candle that symbolizes love is helpful in various situations having to do with love. Her initial main purpose was in that of love magic during the colonial era in Mexico, which may have been derived from the love magic being brought over from Europe. Her origins are still unclear but it is possible that the image of the European Grim Reaper combined with the indigenous celebrations of death are at the root of La Flaca's existence, in so that the use of love magic in Europe and that of pre-Columbian times that was also merging during colonization may have established the saint as manipulator of love.
The majority of anthropological writings on Santa Muerte discuss her significance as provider of love magic and miracles. The candle can be lit for Santa Muerte to attract a certain lover and ensure their love. In contrast though, the red candle can be prayed to for help in ending a bad relationship in order to start another one. These love miracles require specific rituals to increase their love doctors power. The rituals require several ingredients including red roses and rose water for passion, binding stick to unite the lovers, cinnamon for prosperity, and several others depending on the specific ritual.
Opposition and persecution of Santa Muerte
Since the mid-20th century and throughout the 21st century, the cult of Santa Muerte and her devotees have been regurarly discriminated, ostracized, and socially excluded both by the Catholic Church and various evangelical-pentecostalProtestant churches in Mexico and the rest of Hispanic America.
The Catholic Church has condemned the cult of Santa Muerte in Mexico and Latin America as blasphemous and satanic, calling it a "degeneration of religion". When Pope Francis visited Mexico in 2016, he repudiated Santa Muerte on his first full day in the country, condemning Santa Muerte as a dangerous symbol of narco-culture.
Latin American Protestant churches have condemned it too, as black magic and trickery.Mexico's Catholic Church has accused Santa Muerte devotees—many of whom were baptized in the Catholic religion despite the difference of belief and the fact that Santa Muerte churches and temples have instituted a separate baptism practice—of having turned to devil-worship.
Catholic priests regularly chastise parishioners, telling them that death is not a person but rather a phase of life. However, the Church stops short of labeling such followers as heretics, instead accusing them of heterodoxy. Other reasons the Mexican Catholic Church has officially condemned the worship of Santa Muerte is that most of her rites are modeled after Catholic liturgy, and some Santa Muerte devotees eventually split from the Catholic Church and began vying for control of church buildings.
Despite the many attempts from the Catholic Church and Protestant churches to undermine the devotion to Santa Muerte in Mexico and elsewhere, along with the religious discrimination and accusations towards her followers, the cult of Santa Muerte has enjoyed a steady growth and spread in the American continent since the mid-20th century, and is considered by scholars of religion to be the single fastest-growing new religious movement in the Americas.
Santa Muerte in the United States
The cult of Santa Muerte was established in the United States circa 2005, brought to the country by Mexican and Central American migrants. Chesnut suggests that there were tens of thousands of devotees in the U.S. by 2012. This cult is primarily visible in cities with high populations, such as New York City, Chicago, Houston, San Antonio, Tucson, and Los Angeles. There are fifteen religious groups dedicated to her in Los Angeles alone, which include the Temple of Santa Muerte on Melrose Avenue in East Hollywood.
In some places, such as Northern California and New Orleans, her popularity has spread beyond the Latino community. For instance, the Santisima Muerte Chapel of Perpetual Pilgrimage is maintained by a woman of Danish descent, while the New Orleans Chapel of the Santisima Muerte was founded in 2012 by a Non-Hispanic White devotee.
As in Mexico, some elements of the Catholic Church in the United States are trying to combat Santa Muerte worship, in Chicago particularly. Compared to the Catholic Church in Mexico, the official reaction in the U.S. is mostly either nonexistent or muted. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has not issued an official position on this relatively new phenomenon in the country. Opposition to the veneration of Santa Muerte took a violent turn in late January, 2013, when one or more vandals smashed a statue of the folk saint, which had appeared in the San Benito, Texas, municipal cemetery earlier that month.
- ^The term "cult", when used in the context of religion, refers to the worship or veneration of certain deities, and the rites associated with them. It does not always hold the negative connotations that the word has in colloquialism. For more information, see Cult (religious practice). Also, cultus is the Latin term for worship veneration extended to any religion. As such, when the word "cult" is used in this article, it refers to the devotion, veneration, and rituals associated with Santa Muerte. The reason the word "cult" is used rather than "religion" is because the veneration of Santa Muerte is its own religion.
- ^Chesnut, R. Andrew (2016). "Healed by Death: Santa Muerte, the Curandera". In Hunt, Stephen J. (ed.). Handbook of Global Contemporary Christianity: Movements, Institutions, and Allegiance. Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion. 12. Leiden: Brill Publishers. pp. 336–353. doi:10.1163/9789004310780_017. ISBN . ISSN 1874-6691.
- ^Kingsbury and Chesnut 2019, The Church's life-and-death struggle with Santa Muerte, The Catholic Herald
- ^Kingsbury and Chesnut 2020, Colonizing Death -American Evangelist Crusades Against Santa Muerte at Landmark Shrine in Tepito, Global Catholic Review
- ^ abcdChesnut, R. Andrew (26 October 2017). Santa Muerte: The Fastest Growing New Religious Movement in the Americas (Speech). Lecture. Portland, Oregon: University of Portland. Archived from the original on 7 February 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
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- ^ abChesnut, R. Andrew; Borealis, Sarah (2012-02-20). Santa Muerte - Cronica de la Santa Muerte - Santa Muerte Timeline. World Religions & Spirituality Project VCU, Virginia Commonwealth University, 20 January 2012. Retrieved from http://www.has.vcu.edu/wrs/profiles/SantaMuerte.htm.
- ^CNN Wire Staff (2012-03-30). "Officials: 3 killed as human sacrifices in Mexico". CNN.com. CNN. Archived from the original on 2012-04-02. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
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- ^ abKingsbury, Kate and Chesnut, R. Andrew 2019, Mexican Folk Saint Santa Muerte – The Fastest Growing New Religious Movement in the West
- ^ abChesnut, R. Andrew; Yllescas, Jorge Adrián (2018). "Santa Muerte". In Blancarte, Roberto (ed.). Diccionario de Religiones en América Latina (in Spanish). Mexico City: El Colegio de México/Fondo de Cultura Económica. pp. 573–585. ISBN .
- ^ abBromley, David G. (June 2016). Chesnut, R. Andrew; Metcalfe, David (eds.). "Santa Muerte as Emerging Dangerous Religion?". Religions. Basel: MDPI. 7 (6: Death in the New World: The Rise of Santa Muerte): 65. doi:10.3390/rel7060065. eISSN 2077-1444.
- ^Gaytán Alcalá, Felipe (January–June 2008). "Santa entre los Malditos: Culto a La Santa Muerte en el México del siglo XXI". LiminaR: Estudios Sociales y Humanísticos (in Spanish). Tuxtla Gutiérrez: Centro de Estudios Superiores de México y Centroamérica (CESMECA) - Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas. 6 (1): 40–51. doi:10.29043/liminar.v6i1.265. eISSN 2007-8900. ISSN 1665-8027. S2CID 142525950.
- ^Perdigón Castañeda, Judith K. (January–June 2008). "Una relación simbiótica entre La Santa Muerte y El Niño de las Suertes". LiminaR: Estudios Sociales y Humanísticos (in Spanish). Tuxtla Gutiérrez: Centro de Estudios Superiores de México y Centroamérica (CESMECA) - Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas. 6 (1): 52–70. doi:10.29043/liminar.v6i1.266. eISSN 2007-8900. ISSN 1665-8027. S2CID 143388890.
- ^"BBC News - Vatican declares Mexican Death Saint blasphemous". Bbc.co.uk. 2013-05-09. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
- ^Kingsbury, Kate and Chesnut, R. Andrew 2019 The Church’s life-and-death struggle with Santa Muerte
- ^Garcia Meza, Daniel (2008-11-01). "La "Niña blanca" mejor conocida como La Santa Muerte" [The White Girl, better known as Santa Muerte]. El Siglo de Torreon (in Spanish). Torreon, Mexico. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
- ^"Templo a la Santa Muerte". Archived from the original on 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
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- ^"The New Orleans Chapel of the Santisima Muerte". Retrieved 2014-03-05.
- ^Martin, Michelle (2012-02-19). "Our Lady of Guadalupe battles 'Holy Death' for devotion of Mexican faithful". Our Sunday Visitor. Archived from the original on 2012-02-17.
- ^Lorentzen, Lois Ann (2009-05-28). "Holy Death on the US/Mexico Border". The University of Chicago Divinity School.
- ^Rodriguez, Michael; Jimenez, Francisco E. (2013-01-25). Q&A – Occult experts weigh in on Saint Death's 'desecration'. San Benito News, 25 January 2013. Retrieved from https://news.yahoo.com/q-occult-experts-weigh-saint-015947105.html.
- Bastante, Pamela; Dickieson, Brenton (Winter 2013). "Nuestra Señora de las Sombras: The Enigmatic Identity of Santa Muerte". Journal of the Southwest. Tucson: Southwest Center at the University of Arizona. 55 (4): 435–471. doi:10.1353/JSW.2013.0010. ISSN 2158-1371. JSTOR 24394940. S2CID 110098311.
- Bromley, David G. (June 2016). Chesnut, R. Andrew; Metcalfe, David (eds.). "Santa Muerte as Emerging Dangerous Religion?". Religions. Basel: MDPI. 7 (6: Death in the New World: The Rise of Santa Muerte): 65. doi:10.3390/rel7060065. eISSN 2077-1444.
- Gaytán Alcalá, Felipe (January–June 2008). "Santa entre los Malditos: Culto a La Santa Muerte en el México del siglo XXI". LiminaR: Estudios Sociales y Humanísticos (in Spanish). Tuxtla Gutiérrez: Centro de Estudios Superiores de México y Centroamérica (CESMECA) - Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas. 6 (1): 40–51. doi:10.29043/liminar.v6i1.265. eISSN 2007-8900. ISSN 1665-8027. S2CID 142525950.
- González, César R. (2019). "La Santa Muerte: symbole et dévotion envers "la reine des épouvantables"/Santa Muerte: Symbolism and devotion to the "Lady of Holy Death"". Sociétés (in French). Paris: De Boeck Supérieur. 4 (146): 91–103. doi:10.3917/soc.146.0091. ISSN 0765-3697. S2CID 213290072 – via Cairn.info.
- Higuera-Bonfil, Antonio (July–December 2015). "Fiestas en honor a la Santa Muerte en el Caribe mexicano". LiminaR: Estudios Sociales y Humanísticos (in Spanish). Tuxtla Gutiérrez: Centro de Estudios Superiores de México y Centroamérica (CESMECA) - Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas. 13 (2): 96–109. doi:10.29043/liminar.v13I2.395. eISSN 2007-8900. ISSN 1665-8027. S2CID 143369628.
- Kingsbury, Kate; Chesnut, R. Andrew (March 2021). Oleszkiewicz-Peralba, Małgorzata (ed.). "Syncretic Santa Muerte: Holy Death and Religious Bricolage". Religions. Basel: MDPI. 12 (3: Syncretism and Liminality in Latin American and Latinx Religions): 220. doi:10.3390/rel12030220. eISSN 2077-1444.
- Kingsbury, Kate; Chesnut, R. Andrew (December 2020). Boudreault-Fournier, Alexandrine (ed.). "Santa Muerte: Sainte Matronne de l'Amour et de la Mort". Anthropologica. University of Toronto Press. 62 (2): 380–393. doi:10.3138/anth-2019-0004. ISSN 2292-3586. LCCN 56004160. OCLC 610393076. S2CID 231625165.
- Kingsbury, Kate; Chesnut, R. Andrew (September 2020). Usarski, Frank (ed.). "Holy Death in the Time of Coronavirus: Santa Muerte, the Salubrious Saint". International Journal of Latin American Religions. Berlin: Springer Nature. 4 (1): 194–217. doi:10.1007/s41603-020-00110-6. eISSN 2509-9965. ISSN 2509-9957. PMC 7485595. S2CID 221656092.
- Kingsbury, Kate (July 2020). Usarski, Frank (ed.). "Death is Women's Work: Santa Muerte, a Folk Saint and Her Female Followers". International Journal of Latin American Religions. Berlin: Springer Nature. 4 (1): 43–63. doi:10.1007/s41603-020-00106-2. eISSN 2509-9965. ISSN 2509-9957. S2CID 225572498.
- Kingsbury, Kate; Chesnut, R. Andrew (February 2020). Usarski, Frank (ed.). "Not Just a Narcosaint: Santa Muerte as Matron Saint of the Mexican Drug War". International Journal of Latin American Religions. Berlin: Springer Nature. 4 (1): 25–47. doi:10.1007/s41603-020-00095-2. eISSN 2509-9965. ISSN 2509-9957. S2CID 213417007.
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- Marrero, Roberto Garcés (December 2019). "La Santa Muerte en la Ciudad de México: Devoción, vida cotidiana y espacio público/La Santa Muerte in Mexico City: Devotion, everyday life and public space". Revista Cultura & Religión (in Spanish). Instituto de Estudios Internacionales (Universidad Arturo Prat). 13 (2): 103–121. doi:10.4067/S0718-47272019000200103. ISSN 0718-4727. S2CID 213065454.
- Martin, Desirée A. (March 2017). Chesnut, R. Andrew; Metcalfe, David (eds.). ""Santísima Muerte, Vístete de Negro, Santísima Muerte, Vístete de Blanco": La Santa Muerte's Illegal Marginalizations". Religions. Basel: MDPI. 8 (3): 36. doi:10.3390/rel8030036. eISSN 2077-1444.
- Michalik, Piotr Grzegorz (January–March 2011). "Death with a Bonus Pack: New Age Spirituality, Folk Catholicism, and the Cult of Santa Muerte"(PDF). Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions. Paris: Éditions de l'EHESS. 153 (1): 159–182. doi:10.4000/assr.22800. ISBN . ISSN 1777-5825. JSTOR 41336081. S2CID 144847868.
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Mexicans will tell you that 90 percent of them are Catholic but 100 percent are Guadalupan.
While the proportion of Catholics in Mexico isn't accurate anymore, the Virgin of Guadalupe remains a cherished part of Mexican national identity, reflected in the fact that millions of women and men are named Guadalupe, many going by the nickname "Lupe."
As a specialist in Latin American religion, I've always been fascinated by the number of devotees to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The Virgin purportedly appeared to an Aztec peasant, Juan Diego, for the first time on a hill called Tepeyac on Dec. 9, 1531, and told the Christian convert, in his native language of Nahuatl, that she wanted a church built in her honor on the site of her apparition.
Diego sought out the archbishop of Mexico City to share news of the miraculous apparition but was met with skepticism. The brown-skinned Virgin appeared to the Aztec peasant a second time, in which Diego recounted what she already knew, that he’d been rebuked by the archbishop. Determined to have her church built and named Guadalupe, the Virgin instructed the middle-aged Aztec to try again with the top prelate in Mexico.
The dubious bishop asked for a sign of the Marian apparition at Tepeyac. During her third apparition, Guadalupe told Diego to gather some Spanish roses that had miraculously bloomed in his “tilma,” or cactus-fiber cloak. The determined convert returned to the bishop and unfurled his tilma revealing not only the unseasonable roses but a miraculous image of the Virgin imprinted on the cloak, which can be seen today at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
La Virgen Morena (the Brown Virgin) is not only patroness of Mexico but also Empress of the Americas, from Chile to Canada. While other manifestations of Mary claim at most a region or country, Guadalupe is the only one to reign over two continents. And if that's not enough, for a brief period in the mid-20th century she was also declared patroness of the Philippines, home to the world's third-largest Catholic population.
Before Mexican folk saint Santa Muerte caught my scholarly attention in 2009, I had conducted two years of research on the Mestiza Virgin for a book project that was put on hold. On her feast day, Dec. 12, I thought I'd share 10 fascinating facts about the Virgin who led Mexicans to independence from Spain:
1. Many Mexicans aren't aware that the original Guadalupe is from Extremadura, Spain.
In fact, Christopher Columbus was a devotee and even named the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe in her honor, after she purportedly saved his fleet from a storm at sea. The Spanish Guadalupe is one of several black European virgins, so in her Mexican incarnation she actually became lighter-complexioned as the Virgen Morena.
2. Prior to Guadalupe's alleged appearance in 1531, an Aztec goddess had been worshipped at the same site.
The Aztec goddess's name, Tonantzin, means "Our Mother" in the Aztec language of Nahuatl, so some skeptics contend that the Spanish colonial church concocted the story of Guadalupe appearing to Juan Diego as a way to convert his fellow Aztecs and other indigenous groups to Christianity.
3. Despite his canonization in 2002, there is no hard evidence St. Juan Diego ever existed.
In fact, at the time of the controversial canonization the abbot of the basilica, Guillermo Schulenberg, resigned, claiming that Juan Diego had never existed and "is only a symbol." The Aztec peasant was canonized, nonetheless, as part of a strategy to retain indigenous Catholics in Mexico and across Latin America who have been defecting in droves to Protestantism, especially Pentecostalism.
4. Art historians have discovered that depictions of the Virgin's skin color have become progressively darker.
Studies on her historical development, such as those by historian Stafford Poole, demonstrate that contrary to legend, it was Mexican creoles (people of Spanish descent born in Mexico), and not indigenous converts, who were the first devotees of Guadalupe and the primary propagators of her cult.
Artistic renditions of Guadalupe became noticeably darker on the heels of the Mexican Revolution (1910-20), which led to the exaltation of the mixed-race mestizo as the new model of Mexicanness.
5. Mexico's independence from Spain in 1810 transformed her into the national patroness.
Independence leader Father Miguel Hidalgo launched the campaign for independence with the battle cry "Death to the Spaniards and long live the Virgin of Guadalupe!" The image of the Mexican Virgin emblazoned on flags, banners and peasant sombreros became the insignia of the armed rebellion against Spanish rule. Spanish troops, on the other hand, were led by the Virgin of Remedies, who was the pre-eminent advocation of Mary in Mexico until eclipsed by Guadalupe.
6. La Morena remained relatively unchanged in artistic renditions until as recently as the 1980s.
The first artists to experiment with novel depictions of the Empress of the Americas were Mexican-Americans who didn't feel as culturally and religiously constrained as their Mexican counterparts in exploring new ways of representing her, using all kinds of media.
A bare-breasted Guadalupe created by artist Paz Winshtein was the object of considerable controversy when it was displayed at a gallery in Santa Fe, N.M., in 2014.
7. The etymology of her name is the subject of considerable debate.
Some linguists and historians point to Nahuatl origins while others, more convincingly, remind us that the name "Guadalupe" already existed in Spain, and thus we should look there for its etymological genesis. There is little doubt that the prefix "Guada" comes from the Arabic "wadi," or river valley. The jury, however, remains out on "lupe," which many assert comes from the Spanish "lobo" ("lupus" in Latin), or wolf.
8. Guadalupe was an integral part of the Mexican Revolution (1910-20).
Fighting under the slogan "land and liberty," revolutionary peasant leader Emiliano Zapata and his fighters carried the Mestiza Virgin on banners into battle against Mexican oligarchs. Some Zapatista guerrillas carried on the tradition during their uprising in 1994 in the southern state of Chiapas.
9. In 1929 the official photographer of the basilica discovered an image of a bearded man in her right eye.
Two decades later another "expert" not only confirmed the presence of the original bearded man but also claimed to see it in both her eyes. Since then, the "secret of her eyes" has expanded to include images of an entire family supposedly visible in both of her pupils. For believers, the images are reflections of what Guadalupe saw when she appeared almost five centuries ago to St. Juan Diego.
10. The tilma upon which the Virgin's image is imprinted is held to be miraculous by devotees.
Some scientists claim an absence of brush strokes on the cloak while others report that the coloration contains no animal or mineral elements. Perhaps the most spectacular miracle, according to devotees, is the tilma emerging unscathed from a bomb blast.
In 1921 an anti-clerical radical detonated 29 sticks of dynamite in a pot of roses beneath the cloak. The blast destroyed a marble rail, twisted a metal crucifix and shattered windows throughout the old basilica but the tilma itself was untouched.
(Andrew Chesnut is a professor of religious studies and holds the Bishop Walter F. Sullivan Chair in Catholic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University)
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Juan Morlete Ruiz, Sacred Heart of Mary, Mexican Religious Art, Catholic Pendant Bronze Necklace
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Our Lady of Guadalupe Medal
BEST SELLING OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE PENDANT
Our Lady has appeared to many faithful in a variety of apparitions, but one which has truly given the faithful a glimpse into the brilliance of our Creator is that of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
A Mexican convert to the faith, Juan Diego, a poor farmer, walked to Mass every morning. This morning in 1531 was no different, except that a dazzling figure appearing to be the Blessed Mother in native clothing appeared to him while he trekked the long way to Mass. Our Lady asked Juan Diego to tell the Bishop to build a chapel in her honor on that very spot. The highly skeptical Bishop demanded a sign. In this cold wintry weather, Juan Diego found roses blooming and brought them back to the Bishop as a sign from the Blessed Mother. When he turned the roses out of his tilma onto the floor, both men were astonished at the appearance of Our Lady's image painted exquisitely on his cloak. The iconic image is of the Immaculate Conception dressed in traditional Mexican clothing, standing on the Aztec moon, with 12 stars around her head, and the stars on her gown in the position which exactly matches the sky's constellations from that date.
The astounding details which Our Lord included in His painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe were not lost on the 8 million Aztec converts who came to the Faith from this miraculous apparition. The tilma itself, of inexpensive canvas material, remains in excellent condition to this day. Our Lady's eyes in the apparition hold Divine mystery as well: 13 people appear painted in her iris, including the reflection of Juan Diego himself, and are visible only with extremely high magnification. The engineer who has studied the image for decades summarizes: "[the image] has not been painted by human hand."
Share this remarkable appearance of Our Lady in the form of a medal; converts, those of Mexican heritage, and many others especially revere this appearance of the Blessed Mother.
The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe is December 13.
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Religious Scapular Necklace
The scapular necklace, known as an escapularios in Mexico and other Latino cultures, is a religious necklace worn by devoted Catholics across the world. Similar to Edgar’s story whom this particular escapularios belongs to, these necklaces are blessed by the priest and worn as a sign of commitment to one’s religious beliefs. As Catholics believe, wearing this necklace will keep Virgin Mary and Christ with you protecting you from any and all hard times one wearing it may face. This particular escapularios has been blessed in Mexico and passed down for generations on his maternal side. The tale of the Catholic escapularios goes back ages to around the twelve century however different stories and versions can be traced depending on the style, design, and color of the particular necklace. The black escapularios is an ode to the Seven Sorrows of Mary which was created in the thirteenth century by Pope Alexander IV when he made up a confraternity to honor the Virgin Mary. To tell if someone was part of the group, black escapularios were established and worn. While wearing it, those were to devote their lives and religion to the sorrows.
Despite the escapularios being a necklace for Catholics all over the world, it seems to carry much more meaning and tradition to those Mexican Catholics, especially after they immigrated to the United States. Church and religion, in general, was used as a way to help Mexican immigrants cope with the racism and blatant marginalization that plagued them in their barrios upon entering the new country. Church was one of the few ways they knew they would be able to keep Mexican culture alive in the new country. This sentiment can be traced back to this particular escapularios.
After the settlements of a few Mexicans in the United States and during the time of more immigrating, many of the Mexican Catholic Church culture started to be adapted by the American citizens. The Mexican immigrants used church as a community based activity, slowly inching this tradition into to lives of other American Catholics. The praise and glory of the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whom is immensely special in Mexico, started to gain respect in the United States, particularly the south western states where a lot of the Mexican immigrants were settling.
To show both United States and their individual respect for Mexicans and their religious culture, First Lady Jackie Kennedy and President JFK traveled to Mexico in the early sixties to attend mass. While there, First Lady Jackie Kennedy could be seen after mass in an induction to the Mexican Catholic Church where she knelt in front of the prominent Mexican Catholic figure, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and was given a gold escapularios. This proves just how important Catholicism is to the Mexican culture and how they were able to keep these specific traditions as they immigrated to United States, slowing altering these American Catholicism cultures.
 Saunders, Friar William, and Arlington Catholic Herald, "Catholic News, Commentary, Information, Resources, and the Liturgical Year," Catechism of the Catholic Church | Catholic Culture, October 28, 1999, Accessed May 09, 2018, http://www.catholicculture.org/.
 "First Lady Inducted Into Catholic Order," The Hartford Courant (1923-1992), 1962, Accessed May 9, 2018, https://ccsu.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ccsu.idm.oclc.org/docview/547815792?accountid=9970.