“Holy” Death

29 05 2008

Okay, this is just getting out of hand…

I was going to write another post, but this came up. While I still intend to write a longer, more theoretical post on the phenomenon of “La Santisima Muerte”, I will say here that I find this profoundly unsettling. According to my preliminary investigations, the cult of Death in Mexico only dates back to the 1960’s, if not a bit earlier. While skeletons have always been present in Mexican popular religious consciousness, the idea that one should pray to Death is a total novelty.  As a theological refutation of this, I have found this as a common response out of the mouths of even the most simple, devout Catholics:

Didn’t God defeat death? How can death be a saint? To me, that is no saint.

Exactly. We should pray for our misguided brethren.


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10 responses

21 12 2009
Arturo Vasquez

Hey, I agree with some of your sentiments. That is why this post, the first of many on this blog regarding la Santa Muerte, is not really where I stand anymore. I think such a figure addresses a whole slew of issues to which the contemporary Catholic Church is insensitive or clueless. La Santa Muerte takes too far many sentiments within Catholicism that were both traditional and popular with the people. But the imagery was always there.

20 12 2009
Ossi

Santa Muerte! Those who worship her both fear death and seek to come to terms with it in a society where ever fewer people die of natural causes and where most priests die in their beds.

9 02 2009
mataroki

holy death is just as such.death leads the lost souls of the dead to where they belong.

16 08 2008
panchito

For more information on La Santa Muerte o Holy Death visit http://www.yazteca.wordpress.com

4 08 2008
A Debate About Syncretism « Reditus: A Chronicle of Aesthetic Christianity

[…] think the Christians of Kerala have taken their syncretism too far (as have some Mexicans in their cult to Holy Death), I do not see these actions as part of a process that is contrary to the Gospel, but rather as one […]

5 06 2008
Arturo Vasquez

“People–including a number bishops–were saying the same thing about the cult of the saints when it was developing, no doubt because it had more in common with pagan demigod cults than with anything of apostolic origin.”

Really, like who? The cult of the saints and their relics goes back to the cult of the martyrs in the catacombs. If you want to assert your judgment over the Church of the Martyrs, be my guest. Such hubris is typical of Protestant heretics.

5 06 2008
Josh S

People–including a number bishops–were saying the same thing about the cult of the saints when it was developing, no doubt because it had more in common with pagan demigod cults than with anything of apostolic origin. As a Catholic, shouldn’t you hold your judgment on this one until the pope infallibly either anthematizes or dogmatizes this, whether by encyclical or ratification of a conciliar decree? You wouldn’t want to find yourself on the wrong side of new developments in Tradition.

2 06 2008
Jonathan Prejean

Christianizing pagan death figures has something of a history (see the Ankou tradition from the Prejean ancestral homeland). But revering them is another matter entirely. This has more in common with contemporary Satanism than anything past, and it is scary.

31 05 2008
The Shepherd

Whats the deal with ol’ homeboy in that article. I don’t think I would want any spiritual advice from a guy who decides to kit himself out like a gothy 70’s era Miami hustler…

30 05 2008
R.Shackleford

Quote: “He says Santa Muerte’s popularity is proof that the Catholic Church has failed its followers.”

Unfortunately many Catholics fail the Church…

I pray this will not lead people away from the Church.

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