Have you heard of Santa Muerte? San la Muerte? or perhaps Rey Pascual?

Faith traditions in the Americas are as diverse and expressive as the many cultures they emerge from, but one particular set of traditions has captured the eye and ire of official orthodoxies in government, law enforcement and the Christian church, the passionate veneration of Most Holy Death.

Dr. R. Andrew Chesnut, Bishop Walter Sullivan Chair in Catholic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, in collaboration with David Metcalfe, and Liminal Analytics, presents a multi-faceted exploration of the sanctification of death in the popular faith traditions of the Americas.

Join us as we examine the complex faith traditions that develop around the sanctification of one of humanity’s oldest fears, and continue a conversation that began at Viva La Muerte!, a  lecture and panel discussion, hosted by the Morbid Anatomy Library at The Observatory in Brooklyn, New York.

slide_321301_3013984_free.jpgR. Andrew Chesnut, Ph.D., holds the Bishop Walter F. Sullivan Chair in Catholic Studies and is Professor of Religious Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. He is currently conducting research on the new religious economy of Latin America and the cult of Santa Muerte (Saint Death).

A specialist in Latin American religion, he is the author of “Competitive Spirits: Latin America’s New Religious Economy” (Oxford University Press, 2003), “Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint” (Oxford University Press, December 2012), and of “Born Again in Brazil: The Pentecostal Boom and the Pathogens of Poverty” (Rutgers University Press, 1997)..  He also blogs for the Huffington Post.

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David Metcalfe is a researcher, writer and multimedia specialist focusing on the interstices of art, culture, and consciousness. In 2011 he established the Liminal Analytics: Applied Research Collaborative to focus on testing and deploying a unique combination of applied scholarship, market intelligence, digital media and social network development in order to build strategic multidisciplinary lines of communication.

He is a contributing editor for a number of popular web magazines dealing with alternative culture and is currently working on a long-term transmedia project with Dr. R. Andrew Chesnut, Chair of Catholic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, to document the growth and global market presence of devotional traditions associated with Santa Muerte, and the sanctification of death, in the Americas.


3 thoughts on “* Who is la Santa Muerte?

  1. The idea of venerating death is very, very sad. Much better it is to venerate life, especially the eternal salvation of spiritual life that awaits those who live righteous lives by treating each other with love, respect, and compassion.


  2. You fear death and run away from it, block it out from view and try to forget about it. In other cultures different than yours they don’t do that. They accept death as a stage of life and that influences the way they live. Instead of judging a culture or viewpoint you don’t understand, try to be more accepting and even attempt to perceive their viewpoint, it may even make your life better.


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