Santa Muerte — Mexican Saint of Most Holy Death
Who is Santa Muerte?
Santa Muerte (“Holy Death”) is a folk saint whose cult is centered primarily in Mexico and the southwestern United States.
She is an anthropomorphic representation of death, typically in the form of a skeletal Grim Reaper figure wielding a scythe and carrying a globe. Her devotees pray to her for protection and healing. She is also the patroness of martial fidelity.
Santa Muerte’s feast days are 01 November (All Souls’ Day) and 15 August (shared with the Feast of the Assumption of Mary).
Santa Muerte statues
Origins of Santa Muerte
Like many Hispanic folk saints, she is the result of a syncretism between the native folk religions of what is now Mexico and the arrival of the Spanish Catholics with their European-style worship. Meso-american culture had always maintained a high reverence toward death as being a natural part of life and the universal equaler, and their beliefs reflected this reverence.
Despite the Spanish conquest, these beliefs were not eradicated but rather fused with the newer Catholic worship. The worship of Santa Muerte remained clandestine until the early 20th century. She has become one of the most popular saints in Mexico, even rivaling Our Lady of Guadalupe in popular worship.
Santa Muerte novena prayer candles
Attributes of Santa Muerte
- A human skeleton in long robes: Her robes can be any colour, depending on the intent of the figure.
- A globe: Held in the left hand, in token of the universality of death. It is also a symbol of the vastness of her power.
- A scythe: Held in the right hand, as a symbol of hope and prosperity.
- A set of scales: A symbol of balance, justice, and impartiality.
- An hourglass: A symbol of the time one might remain on this earth.
- An owl: Her holy animal, acting as a messenger in the darkness.
- A lamp: A symbol of a light in the darkness of despair.