The Church Adapts

We were interested in the relationship of the Catholic church and the Day of the Dead festival. Earlier in the week we visited the massive flower decorations for the festival in the Cathedral.


We saw many sandpaintings and altars featuring the Virgin of Guadalupe and other religious figures and iconography.

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Guadalupe grave

Until the late 20th century the Catholic church discouraged participation in the festival. We’re told it doesn’t approve of household altars and theologically it teaches that, with the exception of the resurrection of Jesus the dead do not return to earth. However, the church tries to be present in the cemeteries. At the Panteon General we paused where a catholic mass was being held in the covered walkway beside the niches.

We were told that catholic priests move between the graves saying prayers for the souls of the departed and blessing graves with holy water, but that wasn’t something we saw. There is a great rise of the Pentecostal religions in Mexico and people we spoke to wondered how this may in time affect the Day of the Dead in the future.

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