Local Parishes

Brazilian ‘tapete’ greets Corpus Christi procession

Kate Riley pats wet sawdust onto the street as she colors in her section of a “tapete,” a Brazilian tradition that prepares a beautiful welcome for the Corpus Christi procession that will follow the next day. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MATT MCCABE

by Matt McCabe
Special to The Leaven

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Preparation for the colorful and cultural celebration of Corpus Christi here at Blessed Sacrament Parish is a weeks-long community effort.

In its sixth year, volunteers from the parish and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas create a unique “tapete,” a Portuguese word for “carpet.”

It is made from sawdust, which is then dyed bright colors and patted down in small clumps. Those clumps create designs that stretch the length of an entire street.

“This tradition, the main purpose of it is to honor Christ,” said Brazilian Sister Mariana, Disciple of the Divine Master. “Because, when Jesus was entering Jerusalem, they laid down branches for the king to pass.”

Marta Martinez colors in the details of a “tapete” in preparation for the Corpus Christi procession the following day. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MATT MCCABE

Corpus Christi traces its roots back for many centuries. It celebrates the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

“When this solemnity was instituted, the pope wanted to highlight the meaning of the Eucharist. Now, in this time, all the bishops of the United States are saying that we have to have this eucharistic amazement — this is the body of Christ, this is the blood of Christ,” Sister Mariana said.

Blessed Sacrament’s enthusiasm for the solemnity is especially noteworthy.

Father Nick Blaha processes with the monstrance over the “tapete” created the day before. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MATT MCCABE

“We want to be known in this parish, named after the Eucharist, as the place where the love for the Eucharist is most visible, most consistent,” said Father Nick Blaha, pastor of Blessed Sacrament.

Father Blaha has been at the parish for three years. But before he came, he first experienced the “tapetes” and their significance during a trip to Guatemala for Holy Week.

“It just expresses to me this joy of being so spoiled by God, that you just take what you have and throw it at his feet,” he said. “It’s so beautiful.”

Guadalupe Alejo, wearing her first Communion dress, participates in the procession to celebrate the solemnity of Corpus Christi. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MATT MCCABE

The parish adds to its own eucharistic amazement by celebrating the first Communion of its youngest members as part of the solemnity and procession.

“To see those kids coming in, excited to receive the Eucharist, it’s so worth it,” said Jessica Cabral, a parishioner of Blessed Sacrament. “It’s for God. Everything is worth it for him.”

Father Israel uses a plastic bottle to squeeze out fine details of sawdust onto the “tapete” at Blessed Sacrament Church in Kansas City, Kansas. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MATT MCCABE

Sister Mariana said the amount of interest in the “tapete” has grown each year. The first time, it was just the Sisters and the friars, and the group finished the carpets at midnight.

But through the years, parishioners from all different corners of the cultural fabric of the Catholic faith have grown interested in the artform and devoted their time to the service of the solemnity.

Even this year — during a nationwide heat wave.

“To see people out here still dedicating their time and a little bit of sacrifice for Our Lord Jesus Christ, and with a procession and seeing the Eucharist walking down the carpets is absolutely amazing,” Cabral said.

About the author

The Leaven

The Leaven is the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

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