With the approach of Holy Week, the archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico, has once again warned the faithful against a macabre devotion to Our Lady of Holy Death, which threatens to become an autonomous cult in Central America.
“This devotion constitutes a true danger for souls,” explains Bishop John Wester in remarks reported by the Associate Press on March 24, 2019. The prelate thinks that this heterodox cult does not mislead the faithful, because it conveys “a false vision of death, which goes against the teachings of the Church.”
The devotion to Santa Muerte seems to go back to the 1960s in Tepatepec; but it was in Mexico, in the Tepito quarter, that the first public altar appeared in 2001. Decorated with a female skeleton dressed in long tunic and crowned with a halo, the figure appropriates Marian iconography.
In several years, the cult has spread throughout Mexico, and beyond, in the context of an economic, political, and religious crisis.
Santa Muerte is a particular devotion towards death personified, which is presented as an effective recourse in order to ward off threats, risks, and immediate danger. It is interesting to note that this cult, which is a mixture of Christianity and pre-Columbian beliefs, is not based on any hierarchy and takes on an individualist characteristic.
Presenting itself as the saint for the desperate, Santa Muerte turns many souls away from the truth. It is proof that it is time to set aside a certain naturalist irenism that regards all religious manifestations with goodwill, in order to reaffirm that the Church is truly the unique ark of hope and salvation, willed by the true God, that far from any macabre representation, there is no other salvation than in Jesus Christ and His mother, the most holy Virgin Mary, the most beautiful and all powerful protectress of souls who entrust themselves to her. In the country of Our Lady of Guadalupe, there is no need to turn towards phantoms and idols.