March 1, 2023

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) has found himself at the center of controversy following a recent social media hoax that involved a supposed elf sighting. On February 25 the president, who is known for his populism and quirkiness, tweeted “I’m sharing two photos from our directorship of the Mayan Train project: one taken by an engineer three days ago, it appears to be an Aluxe; the other (photo) by Diego Prieto of a splendid pre-Hispanic sculpture at Ek... Read more

January 31, 2023

Former Mexican Secretary of Public Security, Genaro Garcia Luna, is currently on trial in a Brooklyn court on charges of drug trafficking and making false statements to federal agents. The trial, which began on January 25, 2023, is the result of a multi-year investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into allegations that Garcia Luna took millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most powerful drug trafficking... Read more

January 11, 2023

Circa quattro anni fa, all’inizio del mio percorso di devozione alla Santa Muerte, mi sentivo anche io, come molti altri novizi, sperduta e confusa. Non esistono guide spirituali, chiese, templi o società ufficiali che possano indirizzare i nuovi devoti. Questo risulta ancor più complicato per chi non risiede nei luoghi dove il culto della Santa Muerte è più preponderante, ovvero il Messico e alcune zone degli Stati Uniti o del Sudamerica. Per nostra fortuna, i libri si rivelano anche in... Read more

December 9, 2022

Co-authored by Dr. Kate Kingsbury* and Dr. Andrew Chesnut Mexicans will tell you that they are 90 percent Catholic but 100 percent Guadalupan. While the numbers aren’t entirely accurate anymore, it is definitely the case that the Virgin of Guadalupe has been a constituent part of Mexican national identity, reflected in the fact that millions of both women and men are named Guadalupe, many going by the nickname “Lupe,” such as a colleague at the University of Houston, Dr. Guadalupe... Read more

November 23, 2022

On June 12, 1804, the edict of Saint-Cloud promulgated by Napoleon Bonaparte radically changed cemetery regulation and practices. Before the publication of the edict, it was customary to bury upper-class and deceased clergy inside the churches or in the adjacent land (the so-called “holy ground”). Wealthier families could afford to build sepulchers, altars and ornate chapels installed inside the places of worship of their religion (not only churches, but also temples and synagogues). The clergy, on the other hand, were... Read more

October 20, 2022

Dr. Andrew Chesnut writes in his book Devoted to Death: “If the association between Santa Muerte and matters of judgment and law is strong, it is probably even stronger for her Argentine male counterpart, San La Muerte. Indeed, one of the two main myths about the origins of the Argentine skeleton saint refers directly to justice. […] And that is why one of the nicknames of San La Muerte is San Justo (Saint Justus) – San Giusto.” I begin from... Read more

October 14, 2022

Co-authored by Dr. Kate Kingsbury*, David B. Metcalfe**, and Dr. Andrew Chesnut The season of death is in full swing. 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 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... Read more

September 9, 2022

Beatification News by Eduardo Lima In a country where people have revered folk religious figures for centuries, Padim Ciço — or Father Cícero Romão Batista (1844-1934) — has been the greatest of all Brazilian folks saints. Every year, 2 million devotees visit Juazeiro do Norte, the city he founded in Ceará state, in order to thank him for a cure or some other miracle granted through his intercession. Over time, practices became ritualized: People go first to the local churches... Read more

July 26, 2022

Co-authored by Dr. Kate Kingsbury* and Dr. Andrew Chesnut Those who aren’t Catholic or  familiar with the largest branch of Christianity might be surprised to learn that unlike Protestantism which offers a single generic Baby Jesus, Catholicism posits myriad advocations of the Christ Child. And Mexico, home to the second largest Catholic population on the planet, is where some of the most unusual representations of the Holy Infant are to be found. In what follows I offer a brief description... Read more

July 6, 2022

  Most street shrines in Mexico are dedicated to a single Catholic or folk saint. Makeshift public altars to the Virgin of Guadalupe, Saint Jude, and Santa Muerte figure among the most popular ones from Tijuana to Tapachula. Having seen hundreds of street shrines in my four decades of doing research, living in, and visiting Mexico, I can’t help but focus on one of the most unusual ones which unites the three most popular “thug saints” in one shrine. In... Read more

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