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What is the Santa Muerte?

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Santa Muerte, also known as Saint Death in English, is a Mexican folk saint. This folk saint's origins come from the Spanish explorers who arrived in the New World. These men brought with them the figure of a Grim Reaper, which reminded the Mesoamericans of their own gods of death.

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Although Santa Muerte is not canonized, the folk saint has approximately 10 to 12 million devoted worshipers in the United States, Mexico and Central America. People connected to the cult of Santa Muerte include disillusioned Catholics, drug traffickers and criminal groups. In 2001, Enriqueta Romero built a public shrine to Santa Muerte in the Mexico City neighborhood of Tepito.

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