January 6, 2024

In a shocking incident that has gone viral in Mexico, an American Baptist pastor destroyed statues of the Virgin of Guadalupe and Santa Muerte with an ax, sparking widespread controversy and debate across the country. The extreme act of iconoclasm was performed by Pastor Kevin Wynne of Iglesia Bautista Fundamental Monte Sion in Mexico City during a recent service at his church. The axing of two of the three giants of the Mexican religious landscape has led to a storm... Read more

December 13, 2023

By guest contributor Dr. Alejandro Frigerio* The sanctification of death and the similarity of their imagery often leads to confusion between the Argentine and the Mexican skeleton saints. However, there are significant differences between the two, due to the very different social contexts in which they developed and the different roles that “death” plays in the social imaginary of each society. Although nowadays there may be some overlap between the two devotions through the internet and social media, where it’s... Read more

December 8, 2023

By guest contributor, anthropologist Luciano Martucci  The unprecedented ethnographic exposition in Bologna, which revealed the synergy between two unique religious expressions in Latin America, has sparked growing interest among Europeans. The exhibition “The Two Saints,” was the first of its kind in Europe, offering unique perspectives on Santa Muerte and San La Muerte in a singular exhibition in Bologna, Italy. Held at the Plug Radio Spazio Arte, Via Cartoleria 4°, the exhibition welcomed more than 260 visitors from November 14... Read more

October 23, 2023

Practically unknown in Mexico before the 1980s, Saint Jude Thaddeus has catapulted to the top position among Catholic saints in the country with the world’s second largest Catholic population, which will soon surpass Brazil for the top spot. No other Catholic saint rivals the popularity of San Judas in Mexico. Only the Virgin of Guadalupe and folk saint Santa Muerte can compete with St. Jude for Mexican souls. And over the past decade or so, competition between the nation’s number... Read more

October 1, 2023

Umbanda is a syncretic Brazilian religion that originated in Rio de Janeiro in the 1920s. Combining elements of African, Catholic, and Spiritist beliefs and practices, Umbanda has developed into a unique religion with its own rituals, spiritual entities, and cosmology. Umbanda emerged in the context of Brazil’s rich cultural diversity, characterized by the second largest Black population on the planet after Nigeria, Indigenous peoples, citizens of European descent and millions of multiracial individuals. During the late 19th and early 20th... Read more

July 28, 2023

By guest contributor Emma Cieslik* Content warning: This piece mentions self harm and suicide.  Caption: At the 2015 Gay Pride march in Mexico City, a statue of Santa Muerte decorated in a rainbow flag cloak and butterflies as the saint for LGBTQ+ people of faith. Photo credit: Toni Francois Santa Muerte, a folk saint of death, opens her arms to all LGBTQ+ people. Although there are many queer-coded saints within the Catholic Church, from Saint Sebastian to Joan of Arc... Read more

July 5, 2023

Escrava Anastácia, or Slave Anastacia, is a fascinating figure on the Brazilian spiritual landscape who serves as both a vernacular saint in folk Catholicism and a spirit guide in the Afro-Brazilian religion of Umbanda. Her story encapsulates a tragic and compelling narrative that intertwines historical accounts of slavery, racial identity, gender oppression, and spiritual resistance. While the existence of Anastácia as an actual historical figure is dubious, her legend has endured and transcended time, symbolizing the resilience and resistance of... Read more

June 6, 2023

Dr. Andrew Chesnut:   Antonio – you just published this new book on one of the world’s oldest superstitions at a time when institutional religious affiliation is waning and secularization is surging. I have to ask: Why the Evil Eye, and why now? Antonio Pagliarulo: The Evil Eye has always been with us; it’s one of the few ancient beliefs that is truly ubiquitous, present in myriad cultures and countries. In the past few years, however, there has been a... Read more

April 25, 2023

By guest contributor Seamus Bellamy*   I found Santa Muerte before I came to Mexico. I had seen Her many times, in many ways, over the years. I spoke to Her before I even knew her name. She was with me at times when I did harm to others. She watched over me when I attempted to harm myself. “Not yet,” and I would stay a little longer. “Not yet,” and I stayed so long that I outlived the plans... Read more

March 29, 2023

My name is Carl Orosco* and I’m a Death Doula. A Death Doula is a individual who helps someone through their dying process and also helps to emotionally support the family through the death. I am told by people all the time that they don’t know how I have the strength to do what I do because they couldn’t handle being confronted with death and dying on a normal basis. What people don’t see is that this calling for me... Read more

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