A Mexican folk religion involving human sacrifice and devoted to “Holy Death” is growing in popularity among drug traffickers and violent criminals, prompting Texas officials and the Catholic Church to warn about honoring the so-called “Saint Death.”

Authorities are speaking out about the religion devoted to La Santa Muerte, which translates to “Holy Death” and “Saint Death,” that has gained popularity steadily since the late 1980s among Mexican-American Catholics.

“She’s not a saint. There is nothing good that can come out of praying to her,” Sante Fe Archbiship John Wester said in February. “We have a lot of saints who represent the teaching of Jesus Christ. This is an aberration.”

Clad in a black nun’s robe and holding a scythe in one hand, Santa Muerte appeals to people seeking all manner of otherworldly help, from fending off wrongdoing and carrying out vengeance to people seeking protection for their drug shipments against law enforcement.

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