La Calavera Catrina by Jose Guadalupe Posada
Santa Muerte (“Saint of Death” or the “Holy Death”) is a Mexican folk saint. Drawing from both Aztec and Catholic traditions, Santa Muerte straddles the line between saint and personification of death. Although a skeleton, she is often dressed as the Virgin Mary or as another Catholic saint. Despite condemnation by both the Mexican government and the Catholic Church for her association with cartel activity along the U.S./Mexico border, Santa Muerte is one of the most popular religious figures in Mexico and the Southwest United States. Her image draws heavily from Day of the Dead celebrations that take place across Mexico and the United States (including Utah). Images of the saint draw inspiration from popular imagery of the skull, known as la calavera, in rites associated with the Day of the Dead and All Souls’ Day.