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Our readers asked:

What is Santeria?

Rachel Bundang Answers:

Question: Can you tell me a bit about “Santa Ria”?  What are its origins and does it have anything to do with the Catholic church?

Santería, also known as Lukumi, is an Afro-Caribbean syncretic religion, meaning that it combines multiple different forms of belief or practice. “Santería” itself means “way of the saints,” and it mingles Yoruba traditions of West African slaves from Nigeria and Benin with the Catholicism of the Spanish plantation owners who colonized the Americas.

Santería rituals often involve elements that use or closely resemble Catholic ones, such as prayers, or images of the saints, known as orishas. Scholarly consensus says that Spanish efforts to missionize the slaves succeeded only superficially.  Through the development of Santería over time, these uprooted people were consequently able to retain and practice their own Yoruba beliefs and traditional medicine semi-privately under the guise of being dutiful Catholic converts.  Santería is still practiced today, most often in Afro-Latino communities in the Americas.

[For more basics, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/santeria/ or Miguel de la Torre’s book Santería: The Beliefs and Rituals of a Growing Religion in America.]

Dr Rachel Bundang is an ethicist and an expert in religion and inculturation.

The Author : Rachel Bundang
Rachel Bundang is a writer and doctoral student in theology and ethics in New York City.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Cynthia Colon

    Hello, i am the director of the temple @ The Narrow Door Church. Their is something more to Santeria and Voodoo! You know how they say that money is the root to all evil, well in this case Satan is the root to all false religions, if you are familiar with the bible you would see that it sais that in order to get top the father you have to go through the son, one of the ten comandments sais you shall not worship any other gods, it also speaks of Gods constant mercy on the people of Isreal for their idolotrous nature. It never went unpunished, the rd permitted many things to happen because of thier constant prostitution to other gods. If you want to have a rewal investgation on your hands get urself a study bible you will have a background of all the different religions that are against God. The study bible you should get (Vida Plena, Reina-Valera)

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