June 8, 2022

There is compelling evidence of continued Catholic decline in Latin American, which is home to 39 percent of the world’s Catholics, during the papacy of Pope Francis, the first pontiff from the region. The religious landscape in Latin America is changing from hegemonically Catholic to a pluralistic one, said Dr. Andrew Chesnut, Professor of Religious Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. Latin Americans today have a wide range of options to choose from in the relatively free market of faith, which... Read more

January 7, 2022

By Guest Contributor Aaman Lamba* In the before times, when we were all free birds and wore our masks on the inside, I used to travel a lot – weekly trips to cities large and small, visiting business clients. I would land at some airport or another, pick up my rental car and drive to my hotel, which was often some distance away. There was typically little memorable about these trips other than the occasional good restaurant or bookstore and... Read more

January 3, 2022

By Dr. Kate Kingsbury* We are living in a time of much death, or what Mexicans might call mala muerte, bad death. Not only due to the casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic that has beset our world but also, in Mexico and elsewhere, due to the increased precarity created by pandemic conditions. Lockdowns and other such measures have worsened economic conditions, pushing those already living on the knife’s edge further into the parlous peripheries, where death roams in plain sight,... Read more

October 15, 2021

The season of death is upon us. October is here impending Halloween with its cavalcade of crones, ghosts and goblins together with the Catholic holy days of All Saints and All Souls, known in Latin America as Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) or Todos Santos on November 1st and 2nd. Included in these fall festivals are two familiar faces whose skeletal visages afford them special attention during the season, despite the fact that neither one is historically... Read more

September 3, 2021

Co-authored by Dr. Kate Kingsbury* and Professor R. Andrew Chesnut Having spent the past decade researching a Mexican folk saint whose name translates as both Holy Death and Saint Death, we have been compelled to grapple with the significance of the near universal desire for euthanasia whose original meaning derives from Greek. ‘Eu’ means ‘good’ and ‘thanatos’ means ‘death’, put together the term  means ‘good death’. Euthanasia is thus defined as fast and peaceful death preventing further sufferings. One of... Read more

August 18, 2021

By Guest Contributor Marvin J. Mijares* Since I can remember, I have heard of people contesting the religious beliefs of Venezuelans, whether it be related to our supernatural apparitions or our demonic possessions. However, religious beliefs are part of our national DNA, such as the cult of Queen María Lionza which dates back 200 years in Venezuela. María Lionza, accompanied by Pedro Camejo (Black Felipe) and Chief Guaicaipuro (an Indigenous Leader) constitute the Three Powers. These figures are the foundation... Read more

August 12, 2021

Por el columnista invitado Lic. Marvin J. Mijares* Desde que tengo uso de razón, he visto y escuchado muchos temas relacionados a las creencias religiosas de los venezolanos, en muchos casos llegando a los extremos, desde un relato de una aparición hasta una posesión demoniaca, cada uno de estos relatos se basan en creencias antiguas, algunas más fuertes y preponderantes que otras. Sin embargo, las creencias religiosas son parte de nuestros ancestros y el culto a la Reina María Lionza... Read more

August 11, 2021

Having contemplated hundreds of Catholic saints over the past decade for my research both on Santa Muerte and Catholic death culture, I am intrigued by one in particular whom I have seen in countless churches across Europe and Latin America. Saint Sebastian was a third-century Roman martyr who during the the intense Diocletianic Persecution of Christians was ordered to face a firing squad of archers for his monotheistic faith. Though shot full of arrows, Sebastian, a Roman solider, miraculously survived,... Read more

May 13, 2021

By Guest Contributor Dr. Kate Kingsbury* Across Mexico people are turning to miraculous holy healers for protection and healing from Coronavirus, while Santa Muerte as we have detailed is being prayed to for sacred sanation so is a rather more juvenile character who despite wearing extra small size clothing is said locally to be incredibly powerful. Holy Child Doctor of the Sick known as el Niño Doctor is one of the multiple manifestations of the Christ Child in Mexico and... Read more

May 11, 2021

Co-authored by Dr. Ana Keila Mosca Pinezi* and Dr. Andrew Chesnut One of the lamentable new trends on the dynamic religious landscape of Brazil is Pentecostal intolerance and even persecution of its religious rivals. Over the past five decades Pentecostalism has mushroomed in the South American giant to the point that now Brazil is not only home to the largest Catholic population on the planet but also the biggest Pentecostal one. Before the Pentecostal boom, which Chesnut has studied throughout... Read more

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