"Portrait of Norman Vincent Peale," ink on sketch paper..jpg

“Relax and Concentrate. Visualize Santa Muerte in your mind and visualize the problem each of you has. We call on Santa Muerte to resolve it.”

– instructions given during the Santa Muerte Mass held at Dona Queta’s shrine in Tepito

When I read the caption on North Carolina-based artist and educator Tim Botta’s illustration of popular inspirationalist Norman Vincent Peale(1) it hit me as a perfect compliment to the intense digital images produced by la Santa Muerte’s ardent devotees:

Prayerize! Picturize! Actualize!‘ 

Peale’s maxim for manifesting prosperous living hits at one of the most prevalent sentiments surrounding the sanctified grim repress. Irresponsibly pigeonholed in the  media as a premier narco-saint, the popular movement orbiting around Santa Muerte’s iconography actually paints her as a polar axis for positive thinking. Within the continuous stream of digital devotional images dedicated to her, La Santisima Muerte emerges for her devout as a powerful patroness of prosperity (prosperidad), abundance (abundancia), health (salud), peace (paz), good luck (buena suerte) and blessings (bendiciones). One could easily say that she’s becoming a self-help guru as she moves fully into the public sphere.

Take a quick look at a few of these devotional images and you’ll see that la Nina Blanca may end up being a better representative for ‘positive thinking’ than a number of the controversial figures who populate the contemporary self-help milieu:

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Dr. R. Andrew Chesnut has identified this, in part, as a development of the dynamic spiritual marketplace where Santa Muerte emerges as a counter point and alternative to the growing strength of Charismatic and Pentecostal movements around the globe. As la Patrona Milagrosa – the Miraculous Patroness – Saint Death provides devotees with a powerful advocate for their spiritual experiences and her cultural narrative has become one of a miracle worker that goes above and beyond to help those who are sincere in their prayers.

To enjoy more of Tim Botta’s illustrations visit him at: 



(1) – Peale authored The Power of Positive Thinking, a major touchstone in the popularization of the positive thinking movement. As a pastor his philosophy also influenced the integration of positive thinking into evangelical circles.

One thought on “La Patrona de la Prosperidad – Santa Muerte, the Self-Help Guru

  1. At the very worst time of my life DEATH saved my life…Unable to self help Santa Muerte rescued me.Mil gracias por los continuos segundos de mi vida!!!


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