The Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles (Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels) is an iconic and holy site for Costa Rican catholicism. Constructed in 1639 in the Byzantine style, the basilica features ornate carvings and delicate stained-glass windows. Every August, Catholics from across Latin America will migrate here in the annual pilgrammage known as romería. Every day, people will line up for hours to fill their cups, buckets, even boots, with Holy Water blessed by the priest. This precious water is believed to heal any ailment and bring blessings to those who use it.
The Basilica’s greatest gem is the Virgin of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, a small black statue colloquially known as La Negrita. The statuette of the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus was supposedly discovered lying on a rock by a peasant girl in the village of Cartágo, who took it home. The next day, the statue had vanished, and the girl again found it at the rock. Recognizing the significance of this occurrence, the girl took the statue to the priest, who locked it in a box. The following morning, the statue had returned to its original place, and the priest concluded that the statue must be holy. As the church in Cartágo was constructed, it was destroyed by several earthquakes. After the construction was relocated site of the statue’s original resting place, construction was finally completed.
This beautiful basilica is the embodiment of Catholicism in Costa Rica, and a symbol for christianity in Latin America.
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