Creating Sacred Space: Altars in Hispanic Homes Have a Long and Rich History That Feminists and New Immigrants in the U.S. Are Reclaiming
Malcolm, Teresa, National Catholic Reporter
Altars in Hispanic homes testify to a centuries-old tradition that makes visible the link between the spiritual and the physical world. Combining crucifixes, statues of the Virgin Mary and saints with photos of family members who have passed away and objects associated with them, Hispanic home altars are about honoring family relationships and connecting the living with the dead, said scholar Lara Medina, assistant professor of Chicano and Chicano studies at California State University in Northridge.
The popularity of home altars is undergoing a revival, Medina and other scholars say, driven by an influx of new immigrants from Latin America as well as the attention given them by Latina feminists, who see the home altar as a way a woman in a patriarchal culture "claims her authority to name the sacred," as Medina puts it.
Depending on the Latino group, home altars may feature images of the Sacred Heart, the Virgin of Guadalupe, St. Martin de Porres or the Virgin of Charity of Cobre (patroness of Cuba), said David Abalos, professor of religious studies and sociology at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. "There is almost always a statue, candles around it, pictures of family, people who have died. It's a family altar as well …
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Publication information: Article title: Creating Sacred Space: Altars in Hispanic Homes Have a Long and Rich History That Feminists and New Immigrants in the U.S. Are Reclaiming. Contributors: Malcolm, Teresa - Author. Magazine title: National Catholic Reporter. Volume: 40. Issue: 4 Publication date: November 14, 2003. Page number: 16+. © 2009 National Catholic Reporter. COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group.
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