Religious Group Softens Image of Grim Reaper

August 13, 2007

Author: Staff Writer

Source: MSNBC

Wire Service: Reuters

MEXICO CITY - Death just isn’t what it used to be.

A small religious group that worships the grim reaper and is fighting for government recognition unveiled a softer image of its so-called Death Saint on Sunday: a woman with a porcelain face, brown, shoulder-length hair and long thin fingers.

Hundreds of [worshipers] filed into the Santa Muerte sanctuary in downtown Mexico City to see the statue in a flowing golden dress and veil, clutching a rose. She offers another option to followers who have traditionally prayed to figures of a skeleton dressed in a black cloak and carrying a scythe, or in a long flowing white gown.

David Romo, the Traditional Mex-USA Church’s archbishop, said the new incarnation of the saint appeared to a woman in a dream in December and told her to ask Romo to commission a statue so devotees could see her new look.

He denied the change is a publicity stunt to win government recognition and shed the group’s image as a cult dabbling in black magic.

“This image is one of justice, of freedom, but above all one that reveals the face of God,” Romo said. Believers say the Death Saint kills only on God’s orders.