Handmade sawdust rugs celebrate Holy Week in Cleveland - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Handmade sawdust rugs celebrate Holy Week in Cleveland

The rugs are only on display during Holy Week. (Source: WOIO) The rugs are only on display during Holy Week. (Source: WOIO)

A colorful and symbolic celebration of Holy Week tradition is being kept alive by a dedicated young man.

At first glance, they look like carpet.  Look a little closer and you see they are made with sawdust. 

Last year, the Central American tradition came to Sagrada Familia Church on Detroit Avenue in Cleveland because of 14-year-old Roberto Santiago. He earned his Eagle Scout making sawdust rugs. 

"It brought in the community and it brought in the church as a family. And that was the hope for the project," explained Santiago.

A project started 20 years ago in the Lorain community by Father Rob Reidy inspired Santiago.

"People spend hours on this, but it doesn't bother them because they know that's the end of this. It's to be here for a while. But it's like our own life, it's here for a while, then we move on to something else," said Reidy.

These beautiful carpets are a sacrifice. 

"Very symbolic of Lent and putting a lot of effort forth and just offering everything up to God," said Joe Wollet, who came to see the rugs.

One design known as "Footprints in the Sand" have actual footprints made by a man who is disabled. It all symbolizes the sacrifices of Lent and Jesus' journey to the cross. 

Kathy Wilkens, from Strongsville, took the emotional walk. 

"Going back to my childhood thinking about the cross and just church in general," Wilkens said.

The handmade rugs each tell a story. A story that ends on Good Friday when the rugs are destroyed. 

Santiago was overwhelmed by the finished project. 

"We just looked upon these with the music playing, it was so beautiful," he said.

In Central America, the sawdust carpets are laid out on the streets. Obviously, weather provides that opportunity there. But the tradition continues here and you only have until noon Friday to get a closer look. 

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