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Watch a Celebration of the Cult of ‘Saint Death’

“The skinny lady,” a skeleton in fancy dress, is an unconventional usher into the afterlife.

Santa Muerte is the unsanctioned folk saint of death within Mexican Catholicism. The icon has been condemned by the Catholic church as blasphemous.

Perhaps because she is one herself, Santa Muerte is considered the patron saint of outsiders. In popular culture she’s been painted as the patron saint of drug traffickers and gangsters, who are drawn to her for her deathly appeal. But she has also come to be known as a representative for trans and queer individuals, as well as undocumented immigrants. 

Though Saint Death has been around for some time in Mexico and the American Southwest (some link her to the Aztec queen of the underworld Mictecacihuatl), Santa Muerte sects have sprung up wherever there are Mexican enclaves. This short documentary from AJ+ follows the celebrations of a group of Santa Muerte devotees in Queens, New York who believe that since death comes for us all, it’s best to be on her side when she does.

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