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Cleveland Catholic church's 'alfombras' take shape during Holy Week


  • Thelma Chavez, 60, a member of La Sagrada Familia parish in Cleveland, works on preparing a Holy Week "alfombras," or carpet, at the parish March 9. Father Robert Reidy, pastor, and parish member Roberto Alejandro Santiago, initiated the Latin American tradition at the largely Hispanic parish. (CNS photo/Judith Sudilovsky)
  • Miriam Hernandez, 55, and Millie Ortiz, 66, members of La Sagrada Familia parish in Cleveland, prepare sawdust to be used in Holy Week "alfombras," or carpet, by sifting, moistening and adding different colored paints March 9. Father Robert Reidy, pastor, and parish member Roberto Alejandro Santiago, initiated the Latin American tradition at the largely Hispanic parish. (CNS photo/Judith Sudilovsky)

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CLEVELAND (CNS) -- During Holy Week in her native El Salvador, Thelma Chavez, 60, would go and watch the elaborate Holy Week sawdust "alfombras," or carpets, being prepared in time for Good Friday evening.

This year for the first time in her life, she participated in the creation of the carpets at her parish church, Sagrada Familia, in Cleveland. It is the fourth year the parish, largely made up of Hispanic members, is following this Easter tradition.

"I remember when I was a child we would go see the 'alfombras' and they were so beautiful. They would start to prepare them during Holy Week," said Chavez, who moved to Cleveland two years ago. "It made me so happy to see the church doing it here too. Now what I never did in my own country I am doing here."

Following a Palm Sunday community lunch in the church auditorium, chairs and tables were pushed aside and the floor scrupulously swept before sheets of plastic were put down. This is where the alfombras would be made throughout the week.

A tradition which brought to the Americas possibly by the Spanish, the alfombras are a Holy Week custom in numerous countries in Latin America including Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Peru.

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