Santos y cruzes

Some saints, the Virgin Mary, and Bible
Some saints, the Virgin Mary, and Bible

My abuelita (pronounced ah-bweh-lee-ta - a Spanish term of endearment for grandmother) moved from Arecibo, Puerto Rico, to the Bronx in the early 1970s with her three-month-old son, Jesus. She had lived with family on Long Island for two years when she was younger and fell in love with New York, preferring its excitement and activity to the quiet and solitude of her family's farm. Once she arrived, she settled in the Bronx, only a few blocks away from her current neighborhood, filled with Hispanic residents. Although she doesn't attend church, she is a devout Catholic, with crosses made of palms and pictures of saints placed throughout her apartment. Her faith comes from a place of love for her family. Her first son was still born in Arecibo, presumed dead and thrown in the trash. She prayed for him to live, and while she was being cleaned up from the delivery, she heard him crying, retrieved and resuscitated him, and named him Jesus for his miraculous rebirth. Faith has always been a vital part of who my abuelita is, how she taught her children her values and held on to part of her culture in New York. She learned her practices and beliefs in Puerto Rico and has kept them decades later, an essential part of who she is and her diaspora experience. Although she has few photographs of her childhood in Puerto Rico and no objects except tourist souvenirs, her faith is an intangible but visible expression of her upbringing that my abuelita carries with her, everywhere and always.

Place(s): Puerto Rico,the Bronx
Year: 1974

– Saadia Santos

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant