A figurine of Santa Muerte (Holy Death) seen outside the shrine in Tepito, a rough neighborhood of Mexico City, Mexico. A figurine of Santa Muerte (Holy Death) seen outside the shrine in Tepito, a rough neighborhood of Mexico City, Mexico.
A Santa Muerte icon seen in a temple in the historical center of Mexico City, Mexico. A Santa Muerte icon seen in a temple in the historical center of Mexico City, Mexico.
A statue of Santa Muerte (Holy Death) seen during the pilgrimage outside the shrine in Tepito, a violent district of Mexico City, Mexico. A statue of Santa Muerte (Holy Death) seen during the pilgrimage outside the shrine in Tepito, a violent district of Mexico City, Mexico.
A figurine of Santa Muerte (Saint Death) seen in a temple in the historical center of Mexico City, Mexico. A figurine of Santa Muerte (Saint Death) seen in a temple in the historical center of Mexico City, Mexico.
A religious icon of Santa Muerte (Holy Death) seen during the pilgrimage in Tepito, a dangerous district of Mexico City, Mexico. A religious icon of Santa Muerte (Holy Death) seen during the pilgrimage in Tepito, a dangerous district of Mexico City, Mexico.
Statues of Santa Muerte (Saint Death) sold in a witchcraft market in the center of Mexico City, Mexico. Statues of Santa Muerte (Saint Death) sold in a witchcraft market in the center of Mexico City, Mexico.

Santa Muerte icons

Mexico City, Mexico – May-June 2011

The religious cult of Santa Muerte is a syncretic fusion of Aztec death veneration rituals and Catholic beliefs. Santa Muerte, known by a number of names such as La Flaca (“The Skinny One”) or La Niña Blanca (“The White Girl”), usually appears as skeletal figure covered most often in a white or black robe and carrying a scythe and a globe. The scythe can symbolize both prosperity (as a harvesting tool) and the moment of death (as a cutting tool), while the globe, held in her hand, represents the Death's dominion over the world. Other objects that may appear together with Santa Muerte's icon include scales (justice - we all have to die), an hourglass (the limited time of life on the earth) and an owl (wisdom).

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