Experts says the skeleton folk saint known as La Santa Muerte will likely continue to grow in New Mexico and other U.S. states despite a Vatican official recently calling the saint a blasphemous symbol.
Andrew Chesnut, an author of a book on the underground saint, says La Santa Muerte's popularity will keep gaining in the United States and might even get more popular after the Vatican official's comment.
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the Vatican's culture minister, said this week in Mexico City that Mexico's folk Death Saint is a blasphemous symbol that shouldn't be part of any religion.
La Santa Muerte in recent years has found a robust and diverse following north of the border among immigrants, artists, gay activists and the poor.
Chesnut says that's unlikely to change regardless of the Vatican's position.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.