Among a small but growing portion of Los Angeles' vibrant Mexican spiritual community, a new but troubling object of worship is emerging: Santa Muerte, or "Holy Death." It is the latest, strongest and strangest sign of the powerful hold that the narcotics trade has on Latino culture.
A report in the Los Angeles Times this week outlines the still-developing worship services surrounding Santa Muerte. According to the Times, a handful of storefront churches have been set up in poor Latino neighborhoods to honor Holy Death, portrayed as a female grim reaper dressed in white with a skull for a face. Rites at these services that in some ways mirror Hispanic devotions to Mary.