A great spiritual war is rising.

Have you ever heard of “Santa Muerte”?

This is a perversion of things Christian which is on the rise in certain sub-cultures, especially criminal.

There is an article at the site of the FBI “Santa Muerte: Inspired and Ritualistic Killings (Part 1 of 3)
By Robert J. Bunker, Ph.D.

If you look at this material, keep in mind that much of it is quite dark. There is great evil here and the influence of the demonic.

One of the things I learned during the exorcism conference I attended is that incidents of demonic oppression and possession have been on the rise over the last few years.

Let us keep our eyes open.  Let us tune up our antennas and radar and be on the alert.

We have to learn to engage with our Holy Angel Guardians more, I think. Ask them for help with all manner of things in our lives.

Use sacramentals and GO TO CONFESSION.

A great spiritual war is rising.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, GO TO CONFESSION, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, The future and our choices, Year of Faith and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. acardnal says:

    “We have to learn to engage with our Holy Angel Guardians more, I think. Ask them for help with all manner of things in our lives.”

    I love that statement, Fr. Z. This is one important thing I learned from the priests of Opus Dei. They have a tremendous devotion to the Guardian Angels and preach about them often. Pray to your Guardian Angel many times during the day and pray to others’ Guardian Angels. Ask your Guardian Angel to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament for you during the day while you are at work or busy.

    Don’t neglect them.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    I came across this when I worked with the Latinos in Iowa. I had to try and convince them that the drug lords in Mexico were using this cult to create fear in the local communities. Thankfully, the Vatican made a statement years ago that this Saint Death was not a saint, but a modern invention using indigenous practices. It is found in Texas as well.

  3. Alan Aversa says:

    I had a friend in Tucson who worked for border patrol, and he said everywhere they’d bust, they’d find an altar to “Santa Muerte.” My friend ended up converting to Catholicism because he realized this drug war is at its roots a spiritual battle.

  4. PA mom says:

    Several years ago, pope Benedict put forth the seven modern deadly sins. Drugs was one of them.

    Ok, Father, the Prayer to St Michael and an overall discussion of angels is on the plate for the next class.

  5. acardnal says:

    Have you ever heard of “Santa Muerte”?

    This is a perversion of things Christian which is on the rise in certain sub-cultures, especially criminal.

    Sorry for a double post. But this is an interesting topic.

    As a fan of the TV drama “Breaking Bad” on AMC, there is a scene in the Season 3 premiere show in which two members of the Mexican drug cartel place a photo of their antagonist, a DEA agent, in a Santa Muerte shrine. It was a scary shrine! The cartel members later attempt to assassinate the DEA agent.

    According to Wikipedia – not always factual – there is a large following of Santa Muerte in Mexico; and they report that some members of the LGBT community invokes Santa Muerte’s protection. There are some interesting photos at Wikipedia’s site.

  6. mamajen says:

    I had never heard of this before. Creepy and disturbing!

    As a mom I have noticed a trend of putting skulls on kids’ clothing and accessories, even for babies. It has always struck me as morbid and maybe even satanic. I refuse to buy that kind of stuff for my son. Why people want to make a connection between innocent young children and death is beyond me. I just hate it.

  7. Rich says:

    The language in the article is pretty tame, though for certain reasons I understand that it has to be in order to sound objective and evidence-based. Nonetheless, I have been aware that members of the drug cartels invoke Santa Muerte often in their efforts to gain wealth, power, and the destruction of their enemies. And, as her adherents’ lives become more devoted to and intertwined with her, if it ever happens that they don’t do what Santa Muerte wants, demonic forces are unleashed on them, and the demonic oppression which has been increasingly growing in their lives becomes manifested in ways destructive to mind, body, and soul. Our Lady of Guadalupe – She Who Crushes the Serpent’s Head – pray for us.

  8. Julian Barkin says:

    I think the saddest thing with regard to all of this, Fr Z and others, is that overall the institutional Church including the clergy treat this as a joke and don’t believe in all this, so much that dioceses are superiorly blessed to be staffed with even one part or full time exorcist, and most of the time it is none. Not even the archdiocese of Toronto (to my knowledge) lists an “office of exorcism” or “spiritual affairs” or lists an exorcising priest on staff, to use an example. I seriously think well be in for a rude awakening in the future, and who knows mabye many more people might become possessed in the future. I do fear we will have one of those video game scenarios/zombie doomsday scenarios with all this unchecked demonic influence and possession. But I hope by the powers of Jesus Christ my imagination will never become a reality… then again …. Great chastisement ?????

  9. Supertradmum says:

    I cannot find the Vatican note on this, but here is part of the Mexican bishops on the subject and more from this site.

    I remember talking to students when this came out several years ago.

    Santa Muerte is no saint, say Mexican bishops
    The Roman Catholic archdiocese of Mexico City condemned devotion to Santa Muerte “Saint Death” that masquerades as authentic Catholic Christianity.
    By Martin Barillas
    Original Source
    According to a statement by Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico City on November 3, 2008, popular devotion to the so-called “Saint Death” is not compatible with the Catholic faith. It also noted that Saint Jude Thaddeus – known to Catholics worldwide as the intercessor for lost causes – is not the patron saint of criminals or drug traffickers.
    The statement noted that “many people who commit crimes believe that St Jude is their patron saint,” and added that “In no way would this saint be interceding before God in heaven for those who act contrary to the commandments of Christ, violating the precepts of Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
    While the statement explained that the Catholic Church encourages authentic expressions of devotion to St. Jude, it pointed out that “in some cases there are serious incompatibilities” with the teachings of the Church in popular devotion.
    The Archdiocese of Mexico noted that true devotion to St Jude “is completely the opposite of the devotion to ‘Saint Death,’ as Christ himself overcame death in his glorious rising from the tomb, promising eternal life to those who keep the commandments of the law of God.”

    and more

    “Santa Muerte” – Saint Death or Holy Death– is the focus of a deathly Mexican cult that has gained a so-far undetermined number of adherents on both sides of the illusory barrier that divides the United States from Mexico.
    It made news in the US in early March 2005 when its putative leader led a demonstration in Mexico City protesting against the Mexican government’s reconsideration of his group’s status as an officially registered “church.”


  10. Cecily says:

    Look what happens in a country where the Church has been decimated by Communism. Previously well-catechized Mexican Catholics fell into ignorance of the faith after the twentieth-century persecutions by the government. Ignorant Catholics are easy prey for syncretism and superstition. Now, the narcocultra is taking over parts of the southern U.S. It’s too dangerous to go camping and hiking now at some former vacation destinations. It appears we are slowly becoming like Mexico, with badly catechized Catholics, and a situation where nobody can enforce the law in certain parts of the country. Is this somebody’s plan?
    (I could be more specific, but it probably isn’t wise to do so online).

  11. fvhale says:

    “Oh, yes.” said the lifelong Californian with Mexican grandfather and wife.

    Being Californian and exposed to “world religions” (often at my Catholic parish in years past), I was immediately struck by the similarity between the demon goddess “Santa Muerte” with Catholic trappings, and the Hindu demon goddess Kali, “the dark mother and destroyer.”

    It seems that these female demon goddess always pop up: Lilith, Hecate, Isis, Kali, “Santa Muerte,” deities of voodoo. They are all about power, death, blood, darkness.

    It is unfortunate that so many (post-)modern Christians, and Catholics are no exception, are so engaged in (or catechised into?) a positivist death of metaphysics that they really refuse to believe in anything spiritual anymore. We can stop believing in heaven, hell, the Real Presence, angels, etc. But the demons are still real, and still working.

    I love the prayer at the end of Compline every night, and could not sleep without it:

    Visita quaesumus, Domine, habitationem istam,
    et omnes insidias inimici ab eas longe repelle:
    Angeli tui sancti habitent in ea,
    qui nos in pace custodiant;
    et benedictio tua sit super nos semper.
    Per Dominum.

  12. JacobWall says:

    I have witnessed adherence to Santa Muerte first hand (fortunately, I have never witnessed any of its rituals.) While this satanic devotion has been embraced by the drug cartels, as heavily emphasized here, it is not by any means limited to them.

    Santa Muerte shows up all over the place in Mexico. There is a close tie to crime, but not just large scale organized crime; many petty thieves will keep a figure with them. There is also a devotion for the “marginalized” – hence the connection to parts of the LGBT community acardnal mentioned.

    The main shrine is the heart of Mexico City, in a community called Tepito, which is a HUGE market full of stolen and pirated items. (There are also plenty of legitimate and very cheap items.) Theft is rampant, and it’s the kind of place police don’t go into.

    However, there are also shrines in quiet residential communities where you wouldn’t expect them, not too different from the ever-present shrines to the Virgin Mary. Not all of them are dark and ghastly, and some, from a distance, you might not be able to tell.

    Sadly enough, many stores which sell Holy Images and votive candles (which are plentiful in Mexico) will sell statues of Santa Muerte alongside of those of Christ, Our Lady and other true Saints. Many Mexicans don’t realize that both the Conference of Mexican Bishops and the Vatican have condemned this devotion and that it is outright satanic. In my RCIA class in Mexico, the catechist spent an entire session explaining what was wrong with this and what was at stake. (Yes, he spoke about “Satan” and “Hell.”)

    The biggest danger in Mexico is that the lines have been muddled; many people think Santa Muerte is a legitimate devotion.

    The “church” of Santa Muerte deceives people in this way. However, it’s not only Catholics gone astray that get picked up by this devotion; I’ve met supposedly devout Protestants in Mexico who, although they would never imagine showing the slightest reverence to Our Lady, keep a little Sta. Muerte statuette on hand.

    What for if they’re not drug lords, thieves or “marginalized?” For those who aren’t criminals, there’s an idea that Sta. Muerte can help with items that are not gained by good, honest hard work – i.e. gained by “good luck.”

    For example, my wife’s grandfather, a poor farmer who left the Catholic Church to become Pentecostal, is sure that there is gold hidden during the Mexican Revolution, buried on his farm. He has learned from his impassioned preacher that gold is of the devil. However, he’s also certain that if he could get his hands on this gold, that the devil wouldn’t have any more say in it, and he could live happily with it. As he gets older, he’s become more desperate to find this gold. Just last year, my mother-in-law was certain that she saw him hiding away a figure of Sta. Muerte as she entered his room. He obviously knows that there’s something wrong about it – but the lure of being to gain something that he hasn’t had to work for himself (buried gold) overrides this knowledge. Obviously he has no idea of what’s really at stake.

    Please pray for his soul; his life is now nearing its end. Pray for Catholics in Mexico that they are not led astray by the appeal of this evil.

  13. boko fittleworth says:

    I wouldn’t worry about it. We’ve been assured by our bishops that Latinos are some sort of prelapsarian beings, opening our borders to whom shall lead to a revitalizing of the Church in the US and an end to our cultural and moral decay.

  14. markomalley says:

    Sadly, those of us who live in or near hotbeds of MS-13 activity are all too familiar with the “Saint Death” cult (in other words, it’s not just a Mexican thing…)

  15. majuscule says:

    Our little church is in a rural area and visitors often walk around the grounds, since the church is not open and no one is around much of the time. We have some shrines and an outdoor way of the cross.

    I don’t know if this has anything to do with Santa Muerte or not, but several years ago when I was helping with the gardening I found a potted marajuana plant before our outdoor Divine Mercy shrine. I know there are “plantations” hidden away in our forests. Was this an “offering” to ensure an abundant crop?

    I really dislike seeing something like this on our church grounds, but I have also felt the effects of our prayers in counteracting this culture.

  16. OrthodoxChick says:

    I hope this is an OK place to wonder aloud about something that has been bothering me for many years. I apologize in advance for the length of this post.

    Back in the mid 1990’s, I went on a pilgrimage and humanitarian aid trip to a very well known, but not Church-approved apparition site. This was before the internet was what it is today and I went with no knowledge that the local bishop was discouraging pilgrimages there. I don’t think that anyone in our group, nor the leaders of it, including the priest we went with, knew of the local bishop’s wishes. We were told ahead of time that because we were traveling to a place that draws people from all over the world, that it was quite possible that some of the pilgrims we would be among could be from mission countries and might not have ever been Baptized. We were told that this left them open to demonic possession. We were also told that we should not fear that a demon could jump out of a posessed person and into us because as long as we had been Baptized in the Catholic Church, then our soul had been claimed for Christ and we could not become posessed. I have no idea if this is true or not, but that’s what we were told. Now that I’m beginning to learn about the traditional/EF rite here at Fr. Z’s, I’m thinking that this might be true if one was Baptized under the EF rite with the rite of exorcism, but maybe not under the OF rite that excludes the exorcism.

    While on this pilgrimage, we journeyed to another town in the area where a well-known priest (who was previously assigned to the parish of the apparition site) was then currently assigned. After this priest celebrated Mass (OF), the rosary was recited and there was a healing service, which I won’t detail. During the healing service, I could hear a weird, gravel-like voice. It seemed to be coming from a person or two away from me. It was sort of growling and mumbling simultaneously under its breath. I didn’t know what it was and tried to ignore it, but it kept distracting me. Then, I looked over my shoulder and I noticed a man from our group started praying over a man whom I had never seen before. Very quickly, a lot of people within earshot joined the man from our group in praying over this unknown man. I had no idea what they were doing or why. I went on this pilgrimage at the beginning of a reversion back to the Church after wasting several years of my young adulthood doing all of the stuipid, wordly things that teens and young adults who were poorly catechized tended to allow themselves to be led astray into doing – unfortunately. So, like a clueless, mindless, robot, I put up my hands and prayed over this stranger just as everyone else was doing. I was praying on auto-pilot though because I was more concerned with trying to figure out what was going on. And then, the well-known priest noticed the commotion and walked over to the now fairly large group of people praying over the stranger. There was no more than one or two people standing between me and the man being prayed over. I’ll never forget what happened then because I had never seen or heard anything like it before and I hope and pray that I never do again. The priest motioned to us all to back away. Then, he asked the demon spirit what it’s name was. The poor man who was possessed was shaking so badly, I thought that he was going to go into convulsions. And then a voice answered the priest, but it was a voice that I have never heard in my life. It didn’t even sound human. It was so deep and growling and hateful. But the deepness of it was such a low tone of voice that it didn’t sound like a sound/voice that a human could even produce. The demon told the priest that it’s name was “Krisnian” (my phonetic spelling of the name I heard it say). I’ll never forget the name either because it stuck in my head that it’s name was so close to the word “Christian”, that it seemed to me that it’s very name was mocking Christ and His Church. Once the demon answered the priest, he (the priest) started saying some things that I didn’t understand. I don’t know if he was continuing the rite of exorcism in Latin or saying something else. But as the priest was addressing the demon in whatever language the priest was using, he led the possessed man away to the sacristy. Based on the priest’s body language, I assumed that meant that the priest felt that whatever he needed to do (presumably, an exorcism) was best done in private.

    I relay this story because it brings me to a question. A day or two after this happened, I was walking around the village of the apparition site and I found myself shoulder-to-shoulder with the possessed man. Only, he didn’t look fine or normal to me. I assumed that he had had an exorcism so I also assumed that an exorcism would have “cured” him of his demon. The man was not shaking violently anymore, but he was definitely still trembling. He seemed “out of it” in general; like he was in some kind of a daze. To me, it looked like the exorcism didn’t “take” (for lack of a better word). So my question is, are there conditions, like if the priest is at odds with his bishop for instance, or if a priest knows the rite of exorcism, but maybe doesn’t have permission from his bishop to use it, are there conditions under which a priest could perform the rite of exorcism and it doesn’t free someone of demonic possession? Or can a soul actually resist an exorcism and will to remain posessed? I’m not sure why someone in such a state would have been in a Catholic Church, but I’m not educated about these things. I only know what I saw and heard for myself.

    All I know is 1.) demonic possession is real, and 2.) it’s nothing to fool around with. It’s terrifying and I hope I never see it again.

  17. Cecily says:

    OrthodoxChick: Exorcists often need to have many sessions with a person. Also, we don’t know exactly what the priest in question was doing, or whether or not he was authorized to do exorcism. Was he an appointed diocesan exorcist? Fr. Gabriele Amorth has written a book, “An Exorcist Tells His Story,” that would probably answer a lot of your questions.

  18. frjim4321 says:

    “As a fan of the TV drama “Breaking Bad” on AMC…” -acrdnl


    Best. Television. Ever.


  19. Geoffrey says:


    Rest easy! Baptism is baptism, regardless if it was OF or EF! I think the minor exorcism in the ordinary form is optional, but I am not 100% positive.

    Exorcisms can be a long process. One performance of the rite does not immediately expel a demon. Some exorcisms can take weeks, months, or even years. It depends upon the strength of the demon or demons in possession of the body.

    I just read and highly recommend “Interview with an Exorcist” by Fr. José Fortea. The book is in a very easy Q & A format.

  20. StWinefride says:

    Padre Pio often spoke and wrote very movingly about Guardian Angels. Below is an excerpt from a letter to a spiritual daughter, Raffaelina Cerase, dated 20th April, 1915:

    “…how consoling it is to know one is always under the protection of a heavenly spirit who never abandons us, not even (what an admirable thing!) when we are actually offending God! How delightful is this great truth to the one who believes! Who is to be feared, then, by the devout soul who is trying to love Jesus, when accompanied by such an illustrious warrior? Was he not, perhaps, one of the multitude who joined with St Michael up there in the heavens to defend God’s honour against Satan and all the other rebellious angels, to vanquish them in the end and drive them down to hell?

    Well, then, let me tell you that he is still powerful against Satan and his satellites. His love has not lessened and he can never fail to defend us. Make a habit of thinking of him continually. The fact that we have close to us an angelic spirit who never leaves us for an instant from the cradle to the grave, who guides and protects us like a friend or a brother, must really fill us with consolation especially in our more dreary moments.

    Let me tell you, Raffaelina, that this good angel is praying for you and offers to God all your good works, your holy and worthy desires. When it seems to you that you are alone and abandoned, don’t complain that you are without a friend to whom you can open your heart and confide your woes. For goodness sake, don’t forget this invisible companion who is always there to listen to you, always ready to console you.

    O delightful intimacy, O blessed companionship! If all men could only understand and appreciate the very great gift which God in His exceeding love has given us by appointing this heavenly spirit to guide us! Call to mind his presence very often. We need to fix our spiritual gaze on him. Thank him and pray to him. He is so considerate and sensitive. Respect him. You must always be afraid to offend the purity of his gaze.

    You should frequently invoke this guardian angel, this kindhearted angel. Often repeat the beautiful prayer: “Angel of God, my guardian dear…” What a consolation will be yours, when at the hour of death you will behold this good angel who accompanied you during life and was so generous in his motherly care of you! Oh, may this delightful thought make you increasingly fond of Jesus’ cross, as this is also the wish of your good angel! …” (Letters Vol. II, Correspondence with Raffaelina Cerase (1914-1915) edited by Father Gerardo Di Flumeri O.F.M. Cap.)

  21. GregH says:

    I would be more worried about a priest watching “Breaking Bad”

  22. Michelle F says:


    You brought up a lot of things in your post, and I cannot address all of them. Perhaps Fr. Z or another priest will explain things.

    I do know, however, that what you were told about validly-baptized people being protected against demonic possession is false. This is a major part of the reason that we, the Catholic Faithful, are told to stay away from things that pertain to the devil. Exhibiting too much interest in or curiosity about the devil and demons can act as an unintended invitation to their influence in your life – up to and including full-blown possession. No one knows exactly how that works or why God permits it, not even the Church, but it does work that way.

    I also have had the privilege of witnessing demons acting. The only thing I can say about it is that it is a privilege because seeing such things will prevent you from becoming an atheist. For me, an unbaptized non-Catholic at the time, it served as an impetus to join the Catholic Church.

  23. JacobWall says:

    @boko fittleworth, @majuscule,

    We need to take this seriously – very seriously; however, I think we also need to be careful of two mistakes. One is to be overly ready to assume that something is connected to it. It seems to me that many potheads look for nice secluded places that no one tends to regularly to grow a personal crop. Majuscule, I wouldn’t assume the plant on the church yard is an “offering” or anything connected with Sta. Muerte unless there is some other evidence.

    @boko fittleworth – I have no intention on commenting on illegal immigration here (which I 100% oppose, but from the other side of the coin, you might say), but in my humble opinion, it’s also dangerous to mock the way you are. Demonic possession and the Spiritual battle is not something that Latin Americans are bringing to us. Latin Americans are show more openly visual signs of their Faith or lack of it. Really devout Mexican Catholics will have shrines to and images of the Virgin everywhere, wear bracelets, cross themselves when approaching or passing a Church. Yes, there are some who “go through the motions” without the Faith behind it, but in general there is a stronger sense of private and communal devotion.

    The same is true for those who have turned their back on the Church, or joined a cult. Those who join a new church (i.e. Protestant) will change the way they dress to reflect their new choice. Those who are given to greed (and possibly violence) turn to Sta. Muerte.

    If every Canadian and American who had “sold out” their faith for ill-gotten money or goods had a statue of Sta. Muerte on their front lawn, this cult would be common place here. While Mexicans aren’t “pushy” about their religion, they do, quite literally, wear it on their sleeves.

    For this reason, the influence and signs of Sta. Muerte are seen most obviously in her Latin American devotees.

    However, I would say that the U.S. and probably Canada has already given itself to Sta. Muerte. The ill-gotten money and goods I’m talking about are specifically drugs. Canadian and American hippies, fun-seeking young people and even “decent” business-men looking for an easy way to relax on lunch break buy pot and other drugs without investigating where those drugs came from originally. The way things are now, I’m sure that most of their drugs come from Mexican drug mobs or groups connected too them. (Every time I ask my pot-smoking friends where their pot comes from, they’re absolutely sure that an old hippie north of town grew it. But they can never provide proof better than “that’s what the dealer told me” and “Oh, I’m sure it’s not worth their while to bring pot all the way from Mexico. They’d be surprised.)

    Mexican drug cartels have reached far with their business. Americans and Canadians who like to sit around and talk about politics, and how drugs should be legalized are in the mean time financially supporting the drug cartels. As we’ve seen, the connection between the drug cartels and Sta. Muerte is a strong one. Thus, you could say many North Americans are already “paying tithes” to Sta. Muerte. It may be indirectly, but like the direct adherents and devotees, they are doing for purely selfish (and perhaps evil?) purposes.

    In the post modern way of thinking, these same people probably aren’t too far off from accepting the cult as some expression of indigenous religion. (Which, personally, I don’t believe at all. I have seen brief glimpses of Mexican indigenous religion, and it looks nothing like this. I think this is just part of the “sales pitch.”) How long will it be till someone in the government makes devotees of Sta. Muerte a protected minority group? After all, they are being oppressed by the Catholic Church already, aren’t they? “President X guarantees religious freedom to group oppressed by Catholic Church” – makes a good headline. It would win a few votes, I’m sure. Especially if you could say something about indigenous roots.

    The road has already been paved. Certain Mexican immigrants (illegal or otherwise) may be bringing the most visual expression of Sta. Muerte to us. But North Americans have already chosen to send their money to her. They’ve opened the door. She’ll come in one way or another.

  24. I know a detective who has been into a room dedicated to Santa Muerte. He said it was quite….interesting. He said you could tell it was just an evil room ; this was from a talk he gave about the problems one can deal with being in law enforcement. Pretty scary stuff, thanks for sharing this!

  25. Shamrock says:

    I was baptized in the pre-conciliar church and grew up with every mass ever celebrated ending
    with the Leonine prayers, particularly the prayer to St Michael the Archangel. Following Vatican II and all those changes in the liturgy these prayers were dropped. ( among other things the recitation of those prayers were said for the conversion of Russia) It seems to me great evil entered the church when we ceased praying as a church for the protection of St Michael. There seems to be a general reluctance even among the clergy I have spoken to about reinstituting them. For the life of me ( as well as the spiritual well-being of the church) I cannot figure out why ….

  26. I have also seen Santa Muerte devotional candles at the grocery store, rubbing shoulders with St. Jude and the Sacred Heart. The image is of a skeleton dressed like the Blessed Virgin. This seems to be a new thing, at least where I live. I assumed it had some connection to the Dia de los Muertos, many aspects of which I also find unsettling.

  27. Bea says:

    Some untaught Catholics who hear about “Santa Muerte” confuse it as being legitimate because we were taught to pray for a Holy Death. We should all pray to die in the state of Grace with Mary and Jesus guiding us into eternity and in conformity with God’s Holy Will. Una Muerte Santa. A Holy Death.

    It is, indeed, satanic that this particular name was given to this unholy “saint” to confuse and mislead the elect and the untutored in their Faith. Mexican priests and Bishops do, indeed, speak often about it. In our own parish a priest who came from Mexico has spoken of this in his Spanish Masses.

    As Fr. Z says we should, indeed, pray often to Our Guardian Angel (and St. Michael the Archangel) for protection in these times. And don’t forget the scapular and St. Benedict Medal. Preferably the medal blessed with the Benedictine Blessing. It used to be that only Benedictine Priests could give this blessing (which has power of exorcism) but that stipulation has been lifted when any priest can give this blessing. If you wear or intend to wear the Benedictine Crucifix be sure to request the Benedictine Blessing. I wear it constantly and is a great consolation to me in times of stress and temptations.

    And as Fr. Z says GO TO CONFESSION often. I sometimes don’t go as often as I should and I soon feel the effects of this.

  28. Monica says:

    JacobWall, thank you for the well-reasoned comments. Our eldest son is 11 and so, sadly, it’s time for ramping up the parent-child conversations about drugs. This is one of the things we emphasize- buying “harmless” pot directly supports the murderous narco gangs. No, it’s not a Crunchy Con or sweet ol’ 60’s burnout growing and trafficking that pot.
    It’s extremely important to tell this to your kids. They do get it.

  29. Bea says:

    I know. I grew up with it too. Significant date, October 13, 1884, when Pope St. Leo XIII had a mystical experience and immediately composed the St. Michael Prayer to be recited after every Low Mass. These were prayers against the heresy of Modernism, in which we are in the middle of it now.
    We are fortunate in that we have a have a priest who recites this after his Mass. The others don’t but I pray it, myself, for the protection of Our Church.

    Miss Anita Moore OP:
    I have also seen the “santa muerte” depicted as a seated drug lord holding something in his hand.

    As to the “Dia de los Muertos” it has been taken beyond what it was called to be by the faithful. November 2 (All Souls Day) is the day that it is to be celebrated. What Mexicans did was visit the tombs of their dead relatives, clean up the tombs, bring flowers and pray for their immortal souls. Since they would usually spend a good part of the day doing these things and other relatives would come, it became a time to reminisce and tell anecdotes about those buried there and keep their memory alive. Also since they would spend a good part of the day, they would bring sack lunches to share. Unfortunately it got out of hand and the true aspect of this has been lost with ghoulish candies and other practices not in keeping with Catholicism but bordering on superstition.

  30. netokor says:

    “Look what happens in a country where the Church has been decimated by Communism. Previously well-catechized Mexican Catholics fell into ignorance of the faith after the twentieth-century persecutions by the government.” Cecily, your words are so true. I was born in Mexico City in 1959 and lived under the nanny state created by the PRI, the party of the Revolution. We were never persecuted, as were mid-19th Century Catholics under the liberal president Juárez and those under the regime of president Elía Calles in the 1920s. But the Church was isolated by the government. Added to that was the liberal Vatican II Influence and the result has been a terrible weakening of the Faith. We again sorely need Our Lady Of Guadalupe’s protection and intercession. By the way, some of the santa muerte images mock Her in horrible desecration. But, I am strangely at peace. The devil seems desperate, and we know Who wins the spiritual war. Come soon, Lord Jesus!

  31. Gus Barbarigo says:

    Fr. Amorth said (in one of his books) that some illicit drugs are actually and intentionally cursed, so as to spread demonic influence where the drugs are trafficked.

    As to the imagery, Fr. Z had posted (within the last year or so) about memento mori, which are used to remind the Christian faithful about The Four Last Things. Memento mori often use a skull as an image, even on vestments. It’s a shame that the Mexican cult twists this aspect of our tradition as well. Based on the description, the cultic figure seems to be an anti-Guadalupe.

  32. codefiend says:

    I know I’m late coming in on this conversation but anyway,

    My father was ordained an exorcist by our Bishop (temporarily, case-by-case basis sanctioned by the local Bishop, because of his experience in deliverance as a protestant pastor, and his study of the old latin rite of exorcism) in the late 80’s-to-mid 90’s in Louisiana (I don’t know Fr. Z’s policy on naming clergy in situations like this so I won’t say exactly where in La to keep his anonymity).

    Baptized Catholics and protestant Christians can become possessed… we are not exempt from it because of the effects of sin. I have heard many people teach others that if you’re a baptized Christian you can’t become possessed, and/or witchcraft can’t harm them. This is absolutely not true… and the same goes for “if you don’t believe in it, it can’t harm you” idea. (I tell people that say this: if you don’t believe in gravity, you won’t float away! :) …it doesn’t need your belief to exist)

    The priest was right to lead the man away from the crowd, because to expel the demon, the person has to confess the sins that led to the possession. In most cases the demon’s name will be whatever the sin was, if it isn’t a higher order demon (sometimes called “strongman,” although not that the “strongman” can’t be the sin itself, e.g. homosexuality, drug use, hate, lust, etc). Stronger demons can also masquerade under names of God, but it is just to mock His name, and when pressed by the exorcist will reveal their actual nature/name.

    A big part of the battle is finding out the name of the spirit–then the exorcist can rebuke the demon by it’s name. Most of the time the demon will fight hard to keep their name secret from the exorcist.

    I’m almost 100% sure the priest did not perform the (full) rite of exorcism, because he would have to present the case to his superiors (the Bishop), there has to be other clergy present (as well as medical doctors), and the exorcist in most cases prepares for the battle with days of prayer & fasting. That doesn’t mean that if they were to encounter a possessed person that they aren’t allowed to rebuke the demon and pray for the person.
    If the person is not completely possessed (there are degrees of possession; the most common are called oppression, depression, [partial and] full possession) the demon can be expelled with prayer and invoking the Holy Trinity…. demons especially are afraid of St. Michael and Our Blessed Mother.

    Sometimes a sanctioned exorcism can go on for weeks or months if the person has completely surrendered themselves/been taken over by force. This is just my speculation but it sounds like he could have still been suffering from the oppression of the demon.
    Anyway, I hope I was able to give a little more insight on the subject…
    God Bless

  33. OrthodoxChick says:


    Thank you for replying. I am still confused about this whole thing because I received conflicting answers. One commentator above agreed with you and another disagreed. At least I’m not the only one who’s uncertain of these things. After reading your reply though, I think it’s safer for me to assume that a demon is powerful enough to take over even a Baptized soul. Demonic possession is nothing to take for granted. On our pilgrimage, we were told the opposite and knowing/believing differently (now), I feel it was only God’s Grace that protected me that day. I was too ignorant to turn and run out of the Church, but to read your reply and some of the others, that’s probably exactly what I should have done. Instead, I stood there gawking like an idiot.

    As I remember it, the demon didn’t seem to fight too much about giving up it’s name though, so now I’m confused about that part of it. I think it was maybe a matter of a few minutes of the priest telling it whatever he was telling it before the demon said it’s name. It has been many years since this happened and the two things that stand out most clearly in my memory are the sound of its voice and the name it gave.

    I don’t know if you saw the other article or not here on Fr. Z’s blog, but lots of people were discussing the charismatic movement. Your comment today about exorcism, and the extensive info given yesterday by the Masked Chicken, caused me to connect the dots a bit. I don’t actually know if I witnessed the beginning of an exorcism or not. I assumed that to be the case because I was very certain that I was witnessing a demonic possession. But I don’t speak latin. I just know a few latin “keywords” that one hears in church like “Sanctus”. So I can’t truly vouch for whatever the priest did/did not say or do with this person, other than lead him away to the sacristy. I saw the priest lead the man away. The possession seemed to me (at the time and even now in my recollection) to be a spontaneous occurence and I don’t know if the priest had the Bishop’s permission to do exorcisms or not.

    I’m a little more confused by your reply than I was before because I saw the possessed man only a day or two after I originally saw him in the church. The man did not look 100% OK. I don’t know if he was planning to stick around for weeks or months to complete a lengthy exorcism process, and like I said, I can’t even guarantee that this man underwent an exorcism to begin with. But all of this took place at a charismatic healing service in the Catholic Church following a N.O. Mass and rosary. I didn’t know anything about the charismatic movement before this pilgrimage. I had just begun finding my way back to the Church at the time after having gone astray for several years. I joined a parish I had never belonged to before and the parishoners I got to know told me about the pilgrimage. The charismatic healing services are (or were when I made my pilgrimage) very, very commonplace at this particular pilgrimage site (which was not then and is still not Church-approved). That was my first pilgrimage, first contact with anything charismatic, and first (and only, thank God) time seeing a demonic possession. I hadn’t connected these things, the demonic, and the charismatic, before “The Masked Chicken” posted his comments yesterday about the charismatic movement. I always felt that the charismatic stuff was weird and it felt non-Catholic to me, but I never knew it had Pentecostal roots or any of that until yesterday.

    Now that I’m starting to piece things together (all these years later) I’m wondering if the possession that I witnessed might have been staged, because I strongly suspect that a lot of the “speaking in tongues” and “slaying in the spirit” that goes on at charismatic services is staged. Certainly, the fact that the demon gave up it’s name fairly easily when you say that goes against the norm, adds more weight to the possibility of the possession having been staged. The thing that causes me to think it might have been real was the sound of the demon’s voice. I really and truly never heard a sound/voice like that before.

    I guess all I can really do is pray for the possessed man that I saw. If he was really possessed, then he needs prayers. If he was perfectly fine and dandy and faked being possessed to scare or trick pilgrims from around the world (for what reason, I have no idea), then he needs prayers.

    The take-away from my story is 1.) stay away from people who seem to be possessed by demons, 2.) stay away from anyone and anything charismatic, and 3.) pray, pray, pray!

  34. codefiend says:


    I sure haven’t seen that post. I’ll look for it and check it out. I’m a new-comer to this blog.
    It may not have been staged just because of how easily the spirit gave up it’s name… the spirit may not have had a stronghold on the man. In any case, you were the witness not me :) The change of the voice is a big indication

    I grew up in a Pentecostal church and my dad was the pastor…so I guess you could say I have a (protestant) charismatic background. He converted Catholic before the Bishop ordained him with the authority of an exorcist. Speaking in tongues can be a real thing…but there are a lot of movements that try to “induce” it, which in my opinion is wrong.

    I remember hearing a radio interview around 3-4 months ago on a well-known Catholic radio station about this; the woman said she taught classes on “how to speak in tongues.” She gave an example over the air, by having the student repeat “la la la la la” … yeah, I’m not kidding… she was a self-described “charismatic Catholic.”

    But yeah, the full blown rite of exorcism isn’t always needed to free someone who is oppressed by a demonic spirit… sometimes all it takes is prayer and calling on the aid of our Lord and Blessed Mother …and sometimes it takes a lot more of it.
    I could tell you some stories!

  35. OrthodoxChick says:

    I only discovered Fr. Z’s blog over the past summer, so I guess I’m still newish myself. There’s a lot to learn, and the best of it can be learned here, IMHO.

    Thanks again for your reply!

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