On August 2, Costa Rica celebrates a National Holiday. Most regard it as the third most important religious holiday in Costa Rica after Christmas and Easter. It is the Feast of the Virgin of Los Angeles (Virgen de Los Angeles) Day, the patron saint of Costa Rica. The saint is also called La Negrita.
Annually, as many as two million pilgrims visit the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles(Our Lady of the Angels Basilica), on the feast day of the Virgin of the Angels, August 2. This Basilica is located in Cartago. Many walk the 10 miles from San José and many crawl on their hands and knees as a sign of their devotion during the annual Romería, which translates to religious pilgrimage.
The basilica was built in 1639 and was partially destroyed by an earthquake. The restored basilica offers an interesting and impressive mix of colonial architecture as well as 19th century Byzantine style and is consecrated to the Virgin of Señora de los Ángeles. This is a small statue of the Virgin Mary carrying the infant Jesus.
According to the story, a little girl found a small statue on a rock and took it home, the next morning she found the statue was back at the rock, so she took it to the priest who locked the statue in a small box. The next morning the statue was back on the rock. Originally the basilica was going to be built in an alternative location, but due to earthquakes and other problems, it was decided to move the location of the church to the location of the rock, as they believed that was where the Lady of Los Angeles wanted it built. Because the stone is dark in color, the statue is sometimes referred to as La Negrita. It is also called Reina de Cartagoor Queen of Cartago. The original statue is located in the basilica in a golden shell.
An official decree declared the Virgin of the Angels the official patron of Costa Rica. The pilgrims that come drink the water and wash themselves with water from the rock on which the statue was found. Additionally people bring small silver medals shaped like body parts, which are the ones the pilgrim is concerned about. They leave them in front of La Negrita in hopes that they will be cured.
There is also a museum on the grounds displaying names of individuals who were killed in disasters or wars.
For more info: Please write to me Lynn Farris at [email protected] I’d love to hear from you.
Get your daily travel news & deals sent right to your inbox! Just click “Subscribe” under the title above and enter your email address. Your email will not be shared.