La Santisima Muerte also known as Santa Muerte or the Holy Death is a Mexican folk saint associated with death, protection and love.
Santa Muerte is a misunderstood saint like most deities associated with darkness and she is not recognized by the Catholic church. She called to me recently after I was introduced to her by a friend and I felt compelled to paint and image of Her.
Like all deities, Santa Muerte has a back story.
Some scholars say that she is derived from the Aztec Goddess of Death, Mictlantecuhtli. Although because she is technically a saint, there is another story about her as well. It is said that the saint of death was born in Santa Ana Chapitiro in the sixteenth century. She was born the size of an adult woman with a light complexion and brown hair. Her parents were afraid that the Spaniards would steal her because of her beauty so they kept her locked up in their hut.
One night she escaped and began wandering from village to village.
People who came across her were afraid thinking that she was some kind of spirit because she wore a white robe. Eventually rumors spread of a beautiful woman clad in white who was wandering the villages and she was arrested on charges of witchcraft. She was tied to a stake upon which she was to be burned alive.
As the flames engulfed her and then turned to ash the crowd gasped in amazement as her skeleton was still completely intact.
A friar named Juan Pablo told the crowd not to be scared but grateful that God allowed them to see the Most Holy Death. That’s how she was known from that point on. Supposedly her skeleton is hidden away somewhere in the town of Santa Ana Chapitiro.
In this painting I wanted to portray her in her sacred colors.
There are seven colors associated with her but the three main colors are white, red and black. The others are green, blue, purple and gold/yellow. She is usually depicted holding a scythe and carrying a crystal ball which is also portrayed in this image of her. Roses (which are also associated with her) frame the outside of the glowing light around her.
Have you ever worked with La Santisima Muerte?