A startling new trend in Mexico, our neighboring country, is death worship. While death worship may conjure up images of sacrificial acts or some kind of morbid fascination with the dead, it is actually much more difficult to define. Claiming to be an extension of the Catholic Church, inmates and drug cartel members began the worship of “saint death” as a way of retaining the traditional Catholic belief systems of most Mexicans. After all of the atrocities that these prisoners and gang members have committed, the idea of a divine presence that never leaves one’s side is all too appealing. The instances they face everyday involving death serve as a constant reminder of La Santa Muerte‘s presence. This new method of “religious devotion” at first seemed harmless and strange, but has quickly spiraled out of control. Worship of Saint Death at one time followed very traditional Catholic practices, but it has evolved to include any type of practice or action that attributes such worship to death’s ever-inclusive religion. This change in religious practice allowed people light up weed instead of incense to make a holy place so that an idol of Saint Death could breathe in the smoke. Here we see a direct connection to the drug cartels from which Saint Death stemmed, but it doesn’t stop there. More recently, the arrest of eight people for the murder of two children and a woman are alarming progressions for a religion that claims to be an offshoot of the Catholic Church.
Mexico has seen dark times, and death has been rampant in a country at war with its drug cartels. However, the danger that resides in the uprising of La Santa Muerte lies in its inherent spread. An idol that applies to everyone and forgives anything has an obvious appeal, but without rules or preachers to guide its growth, more cases like the arrest of eight people and the death of three are bound to grow. Its popularity is obvious to any who know to look, to the point that worship of death has almost become mainstream. It’s not just the people of Mexico who’ve taken note of such happenings. The Vatican has officially denounced such actions as heresy, even though many of the practitioners still consider themselves devout Catholics. While it may be an isolated case at the moment, the traffic and migration between Mexico and the U.S. will spread the worship of La Santa Muerte to our country. A problem in Mexico will quickly become a problem for the U.S., and when it does, it’ll come with a fury.
Thanks to National Geographic News and Alma Guillermoprieto’s “The Vatican and Santa Muerte“.