Santa Muerte, the fastest-growing new religion

Santa Muerte, the fastest-growing new religion

Mexico's "folk saint of death"

The cult of Santa Muerte has grown exponentially in the last 15 years, seemingly out of nowhere. Santa Muerte is often lumped into the same category as santeria or voodoo, but this folk religion is very different. Although Santa Muerte is indeed the saint of death, she is also the patron saint of criminals, underdogs, LGBT people, and the disenfranchised.

Usually depicted as a skeleton holding a scythe, Santa Muerte has become the unofficial saint of the drug cartels. But she is also passionately worshiped by the  unemployed and working class in Mexico.

A prostitute might feel uncomfortable petitioning the Virgin Mary for help. Most Catholic saints can seem very judgmental. But Santa Muerte doesn't judge, and she doesn't discriminate, and that is perhaps her biggest draw. Whether you need a saint to help ensure the delivery of your drug shipment, or protect your children from street violence, Santa Muerte's got your back.

Santa Muerte is not an official Catholic saint. In fact, the Catholic church has specifically disavowed Santa Muerte as blasphemy. Although worship of Santa Muerte involves many trappings of the Catholic church (including candles, flowers, and rosaries), and despite the fact that she does bear a resemblance to Our Lady of Guadalupe.