7:41 AM PST, December 18, 2021
Ruben Lopez, a volcanologist with the Spanish Geographical Institute, is bringing Christmas cheer to a community that has been tormented by the La Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma.
Lopez paired with Domingo Guerra, a priest at Tajuya Church, to create a Nativity scene using lava and ash from the active volcano.
“This is the church closest to the volcano,” Lopez said, “so we wanted to do an initiative for the Christmas spirit in a place like this. Very sad, people are sad people are very worried because of the volcano.”
“We are only three kilometers away,” he added, “And this afternoon, we could even hear the explosions.”
In this traditional Christian representation of the first Christmas scene, the cradle for Baby Jesus was set on black lava rocks. The lava represents what this volcano is doing to the community.
La Cumbre Vieja started erupting on September 19, damaging or destroying more than 2650 buildings and forcing thousands of people to evacuate.
Scientists say this is its longest eruption in over 500 years of record-keeping.