Max Gesner Beauvoir, the "Ati" or supreme leader of voodoo, Haiti's traditional Afro-Caribbean religion, died at the age of 79, his family said.
Beauvoir died on Saturday, his family said, without mentioning the cause of death. The Haitian government said he died in Haiti.
"Voodoo heals the mind, soul and body. The soul is what we are, which controls everything, all our actions and mind," Beauvoir told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a January interview at a voodoo temple inside his coral stone-walled home outside the capital Port-a-Prince.
Sometimes misrepresented in Hollywood and pulp fiction as a black magic cult, voodoo is widely respected and revered by millions of Haitians. It is closely identified with the nation's history of slavery and its struggle for independence from French colonial rule.
"Voodoo is the soul of the Haitian people and nothing can be done without that cultural basis. It is a way of life," Beauvoir said.
He was famous for holding well-attended voodoo ceremonies at his house where he made offerings, including bottled drinks, cows, goats and chickens, to the religious spirits.
Beauvoir played an important role in helping correct voodoo's sinister image in the world, said Canadian anthropologist, Wade Davis, author of the 1986 best-seller on voodoo, "The Serpent and the Rainbow."
"He welcomed everyone to his house and his perestil (temple)," Davis, 61, said in phone interview from British Columbia. "The man was the personification of charm. He was an ambassador, articulate in several languages, who moved easily between uneducated rural society and the highest intellectual circles in the city."