Wherever you go in New Mexico, you’ll find Spanish place names exalting God and things divine. The country’s oldest capital city, Santa Fe means Holy Faith. The Santa Cruz River is Spanish for Holy Cross River; the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Blood of Christ Mountains.
Photo by Marion Amberg
You’ll also find a litany of villages named for saints, including San Ysidro (Saint Isidore the Farmer), Santa Teresa (Saint Teresa of Avila), Santa Rosa (Saint Rose of Lima), and San Miguel (Saint Michael the Archangel). The town of Belén means Bethlehem.
Perhaps the most intriguing Spanish name of all was bestowed upon the yucca: Lampara de Dios (Lamp of God). When the yucca — New Mexico’s state flower — blooms in late spring and early summer, the white blossoms collectively resemble an old-fashioned lamp. Some say the plant’s sword-shaped leaves represent God’s Word (a two-edged sword), the white flowers his light unto our path.
Copyright © 2021 Marion Amberg
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