Costa Rica is one of South America's favorite tourist destinations, but it is also famous for a special Catholic site: the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels in Cartago, not far from San Jose.
About La Negrita:
The history dates back to 1635, when a young girl looking for firewood saw a black rock that was shaped like a doll on top of a large boulder with a mysterious image on it. The image appeared to be the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus. She took the rock home, but somehow it was found the next day back where she it was originally discovered.
After this happened three times she confided in her Parish Priest. He took the stone into the church but again the rock was back in its original place. Realizing the significance of this, Church officials authorized the building of a church over the boulder where the statue was found.
This church still remains but the statue was later moved to a new Basilica, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels, where it can be seen today.
About the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels:
Many miraculous healings have been attributed to the statue which is now kept in the Basilica in Cartago that was built to honor Our Lady.
Visitors are welcome throughout the year, and the highlight is on August 2 when almost one million people (almost a quarter of the total population of the country) make a pilgrimage to the shrine. Many walk for miles and often on their knees as a sign of faith.
La Negrita became the Patron Saint of Costa Rica in the year 1824 and was visited by the late Pope John Paul II in 1983.
The Basilica is open daily with opportunity to attend one of several Masses each day, view the miracle and opportunities for Confession every day as well.
Cartago is about 15 miles south of the capital, San Jose.
Address: Avenida 1, Cartago
GPS coordinates: 9° 51' 50.8176'' N, 83° 54' 45.6552'' W
Tel: (+506) 2551 0465
Photo courtesy of the Shrine.