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  • Thumbnail for The cult of Santa Muerte : the domestication of sanctity
    The cult of Santa Muerte : the domestication of sanctity by Seto-Templeton, Rachel M.

    Santa Muerte is a contradictory, transgressive, immoral saint that is venerated and beloved by millions. Her cult following has mushroomed over the course of the past decade or so. She is unsanctioned by the Catholic Church as well as by the Mexican government. What causes people who claim to be practicing Catholics to continue to venerate her despite the official condemnation of her cult, and what is the cause of her immense popularity? I seek to interpret the cult of Santa Muerte through Georges Bataille’s Theory of Religion. In Bataille’s Theory of Religion, he explains how people are searching for lost intimacy with the sacred. By “the sacred,” he is referring to a state of consciousness in which humans experience a continuity in which they do not distinguish themselves as separate from everything else. People are only able to obtain momentary states of continuous consciousness through sacrifice, ritual, and subverting morality. Although Bataille wrote a complex and fascinating theory of religion, he does not test his theory on any specific real-life religious phenomenon. Through interpreting the cult of Santa Muerte using Bataille’s Theory of Religion, I seek to test his theory on a real-life religious phenomenon in order to explore the utility and limitations of his transgressive theory of religion.