They call it the religion of death, the cult of criminals, narcos and riff-raff. The Catholic Church doesn’t much like it, and neither does the government. All of this sounds suspiciously like a cult that started some two thousand years ago, doesn’t it? That’s Santa Muerte for you.
So, it was the day before Day of the Dead, and we’ve seen everything new there was to see in Patzcuaro. It was time to do some exploring, and we went off to the tiny burg of Santa Ana Chapitiro, nestled along the winding road between Patzcuaro and Erongaricuaro. On the lake side of the road sits a small chapel dedicated to Santa Muerte, and we went in, not knowing what to expect.
We were taken aback by what we saw. And fascinated. The chapel was filled with a refreshing sense of faith, mixed in with caring, devotion, and humor – more so than what we’d seen in ages and ages. A catrina sat waiting for the perfect man, and it’d been evident that she’d been waiting a damn long time. The people in charge weren’t the kind of folks who’re “not our kind.” For all I knew, they could’ve been actuaries, orthodontists and schoolteachers. They were amazingly normal. They were nice and gracious people, the kind of people you’d pick for neighbors.
So, why is everyone up in arms over Santa Muerte? Beats me. Maybe it’s the frank honesty that institutions really fear.
Many thanks go to Marisol Contreras of Morelia for supplying these photos when our camera didn’t work.