Encyclopedia of Latin American Religions

Living Edition
| Editors: Henri Gooren

Santa Muerte

  • Andrew Chesnut
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-08956-0_518-1

The Fastest-Growing New Religious Movement

Santa Muerte is a Mexican folk saint of death. Saint Death, in English, is now the fastest-growing new religious movement not only in North America but throughout the entire Americas. There are no surveys of the number of devotees, but with 8 years of research experience, I estimate some 10–12 million, with 70% in Mexico, 15% in the USA, 10% in Central America, and the remaining 5% mostly in South America. Devotion to the skeleton saint only went public in 2001, so the great majority of adherents have become devoted to death only in the past decade and a half. In the USA, devotees are concentrated in Texas, California, and the Southwest, so it’s no coincidence that the first American bishops to rebuke the Bony Lady (one of her common monikers) are from this region.

Folk Saint of Death

Saint Death is a skeletal folk saint whose cult has proliferated on both sides of the US-Mexico border over the past decade and a half. The Grim Reapress (she’s...

Keywords

Santa Muerte Saint Death Grim Reapress Folk Saint Culture of Death 
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Aridjis E, dir (2008) La Santa Muerte. NavarreGoogle Scholar
  2. Chesnut RA (2017) Devoted to death: Santa Muerte, the skeleton saint, 2nd edn. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Chesnut RA, Metcalfe DB. Skeleton saint. Word Press. https://skeletonsaint.com/
  4. Del Toro P, dir. (2007) La Santa Muerte. Armagedon ProduccionesGoogle Scholar
  5. Graziano F (2007) Culture of devotion: folk saints of Spanish America. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. La Biblia de la Santa Muerte. Editores Mexicanos Unidos, Mexico City. (2008)Google Scholar
  7. Lomnitz C (2008) Death and the idea of Mexico. Zone, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Perdigon C, Katia J (2008) La Santa Muerte: Protectora de los hombres. Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, Mexico CityGoogle Scholar
  9. Soref D, dir. (2009) Not forgotten. Skyline PicturesGoogle Scholar
  10. Thompson J (1998) Santisima Muerte: on the origin and development of a Mexican occult image. J Southwest 40:405Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Humanities & Sciences, School of World StudiesVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA