Costa Rica is a catholic state and it values its religion a lot. Together with all the music festivals, national days and other cheery celebrations, religious events are treasured and they are organized and savored with equal joy and earnestness.
Virgin of Los Angeles Day in Costa Rica makes up in the top three of the most regarded religious events of the year. It has been celebrated since hundreds of years on 2nd August. Feast of the Virgin of Los Angeles is an official public holiday and over two million people arrive at Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles (Our Lady of the Angels Basilica) to pay their respects to their holy patron. The intriguing part about their religious pilgrimage is that most of the people walk their way, some crawl on their hands and feet while others take horse and bull rides to be there. They do this to show their unconditional love and respect for Senora de Los Angeles.
The fable dates back to August 2nd, 1635 when a native girl found the statue of Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus in her arms on a rock and brought her back to her home. The next day the statue disappeared from her home and was found back on the same rock. The girl took it home again and the same events were repeated. Finally, the girl got fearful and she took the statue to the priest. The priest locked the statue and it went missing again. When discussed around it was known that a basilica was supposed to be built on the rock but its location was changed due to countless storms and earthquakes there. This incident was then taken as a sign that their patron wished the basilica to be built on the rock no matter what the dangers were. Her wish was granted and ever since the church has stood on the rock at Cartago.
The sculpture is black in color and therefore it is also known as La Negrita or Black Madonna. It is declared as the official patron of Costa Rica. It is also famed as Reina de Cartago or Queen of Cartago. The myth of La Negrita states that this statue has healing powers. It can cure those who are ill and help the distressed to overcome problems in lives. This makes pilgrims walk here from all across the country and the world. On reaching, they literally drag themselves by crawling to the church. They come here to drink its water and bathe in it which is blessed to treat diseases. They also bring along, small grey medallions resembling the body parts that they keep beside the statue of Black Madonna in hopes of cure.
The church built in 1639, displays an extraordinary combination of colonial design and Byzantine flair from the 19th century. The national holiday is celebrated with fairs, holy processions, prayers and meditation. Also, a museum is built nearby that exhibits the names of martyrs from tragedies and wars.
Make a date to visit Cartago this time of the year to observe this sincere and inspiring holiday showing a spiritual side of Ticos.
Embassy of Costa Rica
2114 S St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-234-2945 or 202-234-2946; fax: 202-265-4795