On November 2nd, Day of the Dead, all of Mexico visits graveyards and brings gifts like flowers, bread, and alcohol to the relatives that have passed away. But in Tepito, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Mexico City, on the first day of every month people gather at an altar to pray to Holy Death herself. She's a pagan saint--obviously not recognized by the Catholic church--who looks like the Grim Reaper, dressed in flowy robes and often carrying a scythe and a globe. Over the past ten years the cult of the Holy Death has become increasingly popular, especially among Mexico City's lower classes. Holy Death also happens to be the saint of choice amongst drug dealers, criminals, and prostitutes. Worshippers show up to the religious celebrations sniffing glue.
We visited the altar of the Holy Death in Tepito on the first day of this month, right before the Day of the Dead. Toni François took these photos.