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La Santa Muerte: Mexico’s Saint of Sacred Death

This morning I was catching up on various essays at Religion Dispatches and I came across one that especially caught my attention. It was titled “Death Couture: Not for Halloween Only,” with the byline “De-exoticizing Mexico’s patron saint of death,” by Stephen Andes. This fascinating essay describes La Santa Muerte, translated as “Holy Death” or “Sacred Death,” a figure connected to Mexico’s celebration of the Days of the Dead, and mistakenly equated by the American media only with alleged drug lord cults. A Google search for this saint reveals a number of fascinating images, and the one included with this essay is reminiscent of the representations of death in Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Read Death (1964), while others also give the figure wings. The Religion Dispatches essay describes this saint as

…a feminine representation of death—a fate that, like it or not, awaits all people. She is clothed in long grim reaper-styled robes and often carries a scythe in one hand, and either a globe or scales in the other. Often mistakenly translated as “Saint Death,” La Santa Muerte is closer to orthodox Catholic devotion to spiritual entities such as archangels, not physical human beings. She is the personification of the inevitable, with the hope that the end might not be so painful: “The Lord Almighty grant us a quiet night and a Holy Death,” goes the liturgical prayer.

Given my interest and research in Halloween and related death celebrations by various cultures I found this saint of particular interest. In my view she would make for a wonderful monsterous figure in a new horror film directed by Guillermo del Toro. Would someone pass along the idea and give me credit?

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