Mexican folk saints

So my trips to the Hispanic market are becoming a little more perturbing. In addition to the traditional crucifixes, la virgian, and rosaries, I’ve been noticing quite a few non catholic “saints” many associated as patrons saints of illegal or evil activities. Most disturbing is the figure of Santa Muerte, which in my mind seems to be pretty darn close to devil worship. But it seems that the cult of Santa Muerte seems to be gaining traction on both sides of the border and her statues seems to be a top seller at the local market. Is the church taking a particularly strong stand against this? If so, it doesn’t seem to be working.


Hi Michael, not knowing anything about Santa Muerte, I wonder could that be a way to honor Mary as Our Lady in relation to the Day of the Dead celebrated by the Catholic Church November 2nd each year?

Santa Muerta as far as i know has absolutely nothing to do with the Virgin Mary.You might want to google it.It seems I believe to stem from one on the ancient Aztec godesses.Don’t recall her name but she was depicted in art wearing a necklace made up of human hands and or hearts as well.
There are various catholic shrines to the Virgin Mary ,Guadalupe of course,as well as Our Lady of San Juan de los Lagos,and several others.These are very old statues of the Blessed Mother who are known for their miraculous cures and such.They are approved by the Church,and many go back to the 17th and 18th centuries.

You see the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe everywhere on both sides of the border.
The Mexicans know the difference between the two. Santa Muerte is mainly the patron of drug dealers and the criminal element.

Santa Muerte… Cocaine gets offered to it/her. Yeahhhh not Catholic, just satanic/pagan with Catholic flare.

I’m curious to know as well what the Church is saying about this stuff specifically. We are told to stay way from fetishes, magic charms, etc… But this is getting prevalent with regards to Santa Muerte (or yemara, or whatever new-old pagan thing being dug up).

I believe that Archbishop Gomez of LA, among other bishops of dioceses with large Hispanic populations, has condemned the cult of Santa Muerte. It is not authentic Catholicism.

“La Santissima Muerte” (LSM) has nothing to do with our Blessed Mother. She, unlike Our Mother IS worshipped by those who follow her. Where we revere BVM because through her submission to God, the Word became incarnate and dwelt among us; the LSM cult believes that by promissing the souls of their enemies to LSM, she will grant them protection, good fortune, and curse their enemies. Just like the old Aztec gods, she is demonic and will feed her needs if the petitioner does not make good on his promises. :eek: The increase of violence on the border is directly due to the blood oaths these cartels make. :frowning: I know that the Father at St Vincent de Paul parish has spoken out against LSM and other “folk heroes” like Malverde.:thumbsup:

Malverde was a cartelero (Drug kingpin). Sure he used some of his ill-gotten money to build clinics and repair schools, but on the backs of countless addicts, mules and peace officers and their families.

It’s appropriate that I’m about to go pray for Our Lord’s Divine mercy. Join me, please!

There are several folk ‘saints’ that are not really saints that are venerated in Mexico and Texas. It seems like most of them were curanderos or you could say unkindly ‘witch doctors’ they were healers without Doctors licenses. You see candles with their pictures in markets. Nino Fidencio and Don Pedrito come to mind come to mind right away. There was one who had a chapel healing center just two blocks away.

Yeah I didn’t think for a second that these folk saints were remotely catholic, but the greatest tragedy is that so many of the faithful see no harm in it. I kid you not when I say I think her candles are out selling the virgin of guadalupe in the local market. I’m just surprised that there hasn’t been that strong of a push within my own diocese to discourage it.

Maybe a little off topic, but also in line with folk superstitions: like getting the BVM tattooed on your back so you won’t be betrayed, or wearing a rosary, scapular or medal as an amulet of protection. This seems to run rampant around where I’m from. S. Phoenix.

Santa Muerte translates as: Saint Death.

Not Catholic at all…

I think holy is a closer translation for the word Santa
For example La Santa Biblia is the Holy Bible.

It depends on context. Take the names of California cities: Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, Santa Ana. Those are saints. Santa Cruz, on the other hand, is Holy Cross.

Just as hagia in Greek means ‘holy’ but is also applied to saints, and in Latin as well, English translations need discretion.

In this context, Santa Muerte is the personification of Death. This can be contrasted by a faithful Catholic’s wish for a holy death. That is not what Santa Muerte is about: it is demonic cult worship by drug dealers and homosexualists who, lacking God on their side, seek some power that they think will overcome good.

In both cases of hagia and santa, they denote a holiness to them. In specific, the Spanish is rooted in the Latin sanctus


early 12c., from Old French saint, seinte “a saint; a holy relic,” displacing or altering Old English sanct, both from Latin sanctus “holy, consecrated” (used as a noun in Late Latin; also source of Spanish santo, santa, Italian san, etc.) :, properly past participle of sancire “consecrate” (see sacred). Adopted into most Germanic languages (cf. Old Frisian sankt, Dutch sint, German Sanct).

Couldn’t agree more, however the difference is between La Santa Muerte, and “una muerte Santa.” Which is the correct Spanish for a holy death.

Yes, thank you for the etymology lesson - where do you think we get the English word, saint?

From the French. But unlike in Spanish, where Santo is both noun and adjective, in Saint is a noun and holy, its counterpart is an adjective.

If this is getting heated, I will back out of the conversation. Thank you.

As I look up information on this demon, the full title is “Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte” so “holy death” is a more accurate translation - context, context.

Yeah isn’t there even a Jesus Malverde, the patron saint of the drug cartel?

Catholic Answers had an interview with Father Gary Thomas in its radio show. He’s a prominent exorcist, and he said that these are clearly occult, and they even consecrate their drugs to demons so it would make their trade more profitable.

I don’t the the Church can do anything aside from verbally condemning it. Shops will sell whatever makes them money. There was one shop owner featured on a news report who sells this stuff because it was good for business even though he doesn’t believe in it and says he’s Catholic.

Occult mingling with Catholicism isn’t new nor is it unique to Mexico. Italy and France have people like that too. The Philippines has a bunch of mediums or psychics or whatever they are who claim their working for Catholic causes, even though anyone educated in theology will tell you that it isn’t so, and that what they’re doing is wrong. It’s just, the Church can’t do much to stop it. The people who believe in that stuff will just dismiss our Bishops’ condemnations as them being closed-minded.

The Church can’t stop free enterprise or free speech, so these occult people can do this as much as they legally want to.

Could be… except the Bible is an inanimate object where as death is used as a person. That is why the holy cross is santa - an inanimate object as well.

The only 2 exceptions that I know are:

Holy Mary in the prayer is translated as Santa Maria and the Holy Ghost/Spirit is translated as Espiritu Santo - both of which are persons but their uniqueness place them outside language limitations.

Also, a Holy Death should carry the blood of a martyr or a Christian cause. The fruits of crime are seldom Holy…

I don’t know that much about St. Death, but I do know that Mexicans are pretty obsessed with the Day of the Dead and all the celebrations that go with it. I imagine this “saint” appeals to them because of the Day of the Dead connections. The Aztec culture was a very bloody death-filled culture, that never really completely left the Catholic Mexican culture today.

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