Santa Muerte is a venerated religious figure in Mexico, possibly dating back to pre-Hispanic rituals revering death. Santa Muerte literally translates to “Holy Death” or “Saint Death” and is rejected in absolute form by the Catholic church in Mexico. Santa Muerte worship is often associated with the lower classes as well as drug-traffickers, prostitutes, thieves, gang members, street vendors, taxi drivers, and police officers.
In 2008, I photographed at Enriqueta Romero’s Sanctuary of the Santísima Muerte in Tepito, a small and dangerous neighborhood that is home to a booming black market in the heart of Mexico City. These images show a scene that is repeated every first of every month, filled with pilgrims that come from all parts of Mexico City to congregate in worship of the Santa Muerte.