Saint Joan of Arc Catholic Community

We Welcome You Wherever You Are On Your Journey

Saint Joan of Arc

Catholic Community

4537 3rd Ave. So.
Minneapolis, MN 55419

Phone: 612.823.8205
Fax: 612.825.7028

The Symbols of the 2014 Alfombra

Starting with the cross and working outward:   

The cross is a Christian symbol, which unites all of us in the two sister parishes.  The cross, however is also a tree - this is another term widely used in Western Christianity when referring to the cross.  The cross symbol (the foliated cross) in Maya iconography also represents the Wacah Chan or World Tree (the Milky Way in the night sky) - the central axis of time and space in the universe.  It can also be represented as a Ceiba tree or a maize plant and symbolizes the Sak Bey or white road that the dead follow in their afterlife journeys (also in the Lakota - probably Dakota - traditions, as well). The sun also follows this white road in its travels from the time it sets until it rises again.  The sun or circle behind the cross also calls to mind the Celtic Cross favored in Western Catholicism.  The hollow at the bottom of the tree or cave represents the sacred space of entry or birth into the world, as well as a passage to the ancestors (Maya).

The Quetzal birds are the national bird and symbol of Guatemala and were placed at the southern end of the carpet.  They are also sacred animals.

The Lady Slipper is the state flower of Minnesota and these were placed at the northern end of the carpet.

The number 20 (as in the 20th anniversary) is represented both in the Hindu-Arabic system we use now in the West, as well as, in the Maya system (the white "shells" in the purple diamonds on the border).

The faces at each corner represent the four bearers of the world along with their corresponding colors, symbolic of the four directions in Maya iconography - red (east), yellow (south), black (west), and white (north).  Similarly, first nations in the US, including the Dakota in Minnesota, use these same four sacred colors to symbolize the four directions or four winds - their arrangement by direction varies from group to group.  Another important way to connect Minnesota and Guatemala -through indigenous pan-american traditions.

Other prevalent colors are the purple, yellow, and white of the Easter liturgy (at least, that's what I learned when I was Lutheran Emoji).

The border imitates the design and colors of Guatemalan indigenous textiles.  The chevron is a symbol commonly used in a variety of contexts in Mesoamerican iconography - ancient and contemporary.  The diamonds created by the chevrons along the side are God's eyes (like we make in Sunday school), but I have also heard/read that they are God's eyes in Maya patterns. They also symbolize the four quarters of the world/universe.

So much can be communicated in pictures...

A view of all of the symbols used in the alfombraA view of all of the symbols used in the alfombra
Another angle of the alfombraAnother angle of the alfombra
Quetzal birdsQuetzal birds
Lady SlipperLady Slipper
White shells representing the number 20 in MayanWhite shells representing the number 20 in Mayan