Encyclopedia of Latin American Religions

2019 Edition
| Editors: Henri Gooren

Santa Muerte

  • R. Andrew ChesnutEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-27078-4_518

The Fastest-Growing New Religious Movement

Santa Muerte is a Mexican folk saint of death. Saint Death, in English, is now the fastest-growing new religious movement not only in North America but throughout the entire Americas. There are no surveys of the number of devotees, but with 8 years of research experience, I estimate some 10–12 million, with 70% in Mexico, 15% in the USA, 10% in Central America, and the remaining 5% mostly in South America. Devotion to the skeleton saint only went public in 2001, so the great majority of adherents have become devoted to death only in the past decade and a half. In the USA, devotees are concentrated in Texas, California, and the Southwest, so it is no coincidence that the first American bishops to rebuke the Bony Lady (one of her common monikers) are from this region.

Folk Saint of Death

Saint Death is a skeletal folk saint whose cult has proliferated on both sides of the US-Mexico border over the past decade and a half. The Grim Reapress (she...


Santa Muerte Saint Death Grim Reapress Folk Saint Culture of Death 
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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Humanities and Sciences, School of World StudiesVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA