Salt and Light

On November 16, 1989, six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter were brutally shot to death by an assassination squad of the Salvadoran military.  Each year, on or around that date, a vigil of remembrance is held at the UCA (University of Central America in San Salvador).  Early in the morning, student groups from several universities, religious groups and social organizations send small teams of artists to the streets of the UCA campus where they begin to create colorful alfombras (carpets).  Using tinted salt and following paper sketches, the teams work their magic.  Each carpet is different.  Each carpet shares a message of faith, hope, love, reconciliation or peace.  By 4:00 PM most of the carpets are complete, and visitors begin to tiptoe around the edges, pondering the messages, taking photos, and admiring the beauty created in memory of an evil, ugly event.  As the sun goes down, the colors of the carpets fade to gray.  Later in the evening, candles will once again gently bring the colors of the carpets to life as pilgrims walk upon them.  The colors streak then blend until the designs are lost under the feet of pilgrims.  Despite the brevity of their existence, the images of light and hope shine brightly, like candles, like a mother and a daughter, like teachers, like priests, like those who cry out for justice, like those who work for good, like saints. 

These photos were taken prior to the vigil at the UCA
in November, 2016.  The roses in this carpet are remeniscent
of the roses which grow in the garden, where the bodies
of the Jesuits were found.

You are the salt of the earth.
You are the light of the world.


  1. Thanks, Linda!
    I remember this case very well. Having kept a close eye on El Salvador since autumn 1979, and visited in 1985 and again in 1987, the flareup in San Salvador and of course this case were stunning.
    I had returned from a meeting in London to Sheffield station, a journey which took about three-and-a-half hours in those days. I used the pay phone in Sheffield station to record a message on the answer phone of the Catholic Bishop, reading the names as carefully as I could against the background blare of the announcer.
    Needless to say, I got no acknowledgement, which was no surprise! However...
    Best wishes!


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