The cult, which reveres death, has been growing rapidly in Mexico. It is represented by a cloaked female skeleton clutching a scythe. It is particularly popular in areas of Mexico that have suffered from extreme violence carried out by the country's drug cartels. The cult is believed to date back to colonial times.
It merges indigenous beliefs with the tradition of venerating saints introduced by Christian missionaries after the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Devotees pray to the saint at home-made altars and often offer votive candles, fruit and tequila in the hope Santa Muerte will grant their wishes....
Cardinal Ravasi said a country like Mexico, where more than 70,000 people are estimated to have been killed in drug-related violence over the past six years, had to send out a clear message to its young generation.
May 10, 2013
Speaking in Mexico city, the president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, called the worship of Santa Muerte — Saint Death — the "degeneration of religion." ""Religion celebrates life, but here you have death."