Is Santa Muerte compatible with Catholic beliefs? Why have catholic priests in Chicago had to tell people to stop venerating this, Santa Muerte?
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September 30, 2007
author: Margeret Ramirez
The abstract does not tell you much. You have to pay for the full copy.
I guess its that time of year, because I stumbled upon one of these gruesome things in a thrift shop. I did some research on it, and it seems to be something that is popular in some stores outside of my area southeast. This item was just being sold as a Halloween piece. But, after some searching information about this item, I see it does have a following.
Saint Death (also known as La Santísima Muerte, and Doña Sebastiana), is a religious figure who receives petitions for love, luck, and protection. Saint Death is often depicted as a female figure. In some Mexican traditions, most notably among the descendants of Austrian immigrants, Saint Death is believed to be the wife of Krampus (a sort of incubus, one of the companions of St. Nicholas in northern European folklore).
Although the Catholic Church has attacked the worship of Saint Death as a pagan tradition contrary to the Christian belief of Christ defeating death, many people insist on praying to this figure for miracles. Saint Death is venerated by a wide variety of people from many different backgrounds. Often, those who pray to this figure are seeking the recovery of health, stolen items, or kidnapped family members.
It has been theorized that Santa Muerte is some sort of folk ‘adaptation’ of the Aztec god of death, Mictlantecuhtli (“lord of Mictlan”), along with his wife, Mictecacihuatl into pseudo-saints. Some say that Santa Muerte may simply represent a reinterpretation by folk religion of the Catholic practice of prayer to receive a blessed death in a state of grace.
As for why some Catholics are devoted to her, there is not a single reason. A priest in this article attributes Santa Muerte’s popularity to three factors: ignorance, commercialization and the devotion given to the saint by the criminal sector that uses symbols of power to dominate others. The article also says that:
People have been swayed by the propaganda that is spreading in different parts of the country and have allowed ignorance to trump their good sense. The growing popularity of the symbol means the church must intensify its efforts to evangelize and teach people the truth about their Catholic faith.
Families need to energize their faith in the church, he said.
“***Many people are Catholic because they were baptized but beyond that, they don’t know much about the faith,***” the priest noted. “The inclination to (worship) death has been encouraged by organized crime, raising it to a level of fantasy because they think that the death saint will free them from death.”
These men are always immersed in danger, and, in their ignorance, they succumb to the ill-founded belief that they will be saved from death if they worship la Santa Muerte, he said.
Not that this is unique to Mexico; in Western Guatemala there is also a ‘saint’ called Maximón, which is also believed to be a folk reinterpretation of the pre-Colombian Maya god named Mam.
Pray for the people who engage in this superstitious act.
I became interested in learning what maximon was, because I saw something about a so-called saint named San Simon & found out it was the same. Does anyone know if this folk saint was ever accepted by the church? I saw on a site where someone said S. Simon was accepted by the church, but that it had too much power & that they have made attempts to destroy it. From what I’ve read is that it may just be a form of worshipping a “Mayan God”, but it also seems like it’s supposed to be a spirit & that this spirit might be inside of a mask or sculpture from what they did. It is real freaky & I can’t help but be curious on what it is, but I read someone say they went to see this thing & they felt like it was staring them down like to say they better give an offering. This thing does seem evil like some Catholics say & people give it offerings of things like tortillas, liquor, cigars, money, etc…
First of all, let’s answer the question using common sense: why would the Church attempt to ‘destroy’ a saint, someone who is in Heaven (after all, all those now in Heaven are, in the technical sense, saints, since they are believed to be completely perfected in holiness)?
Plus, the way it was phrased (“it had too much power”) sent warning signals tingling a bit in my head. As far as I know - someone correct me if I am wrong - all saints get their power from God, who alone is the ultimate Source. The phrasing makes ‘San Simon’ sound like a magic genie-esque being.