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Our Lady of the Angels Basilica

By: Adam Myers

The Basilica de Nuestra Se?ora de los ?ngeles (Our Lady of the Angels Basilica) is located in Cartago and devoted to the Virgen de los ?ngeles. It is an unparalleled mix of colonial architecture as well as 19th century Byzantine style.

In 1635 a peasant girl in Cartago discovered a small representation of the Virgin carrying the infant Jesus. The story says that the little girl took the small statue to her house after finding it on a rock. The following morning when she looked for the statue, she discovered that it was not where she had put it the day before. The statue was back on the rock. This happened two or three times, until she decided to take the statue to the priest in Cartago. He decided to lock it in a small box. To the priest's surprise, the next morning the statue had gone back to the rock.

The priest interpreted that as a sign that the Virgin wanted a church built in her honor, so the construction started. However, during the construction, the church was destroyed a few times by earthquakes. Therefore the people who managed the project back then decided to move the church to the location where the statue was found. After doing that, they were able to finish construction. Several people believe that the earthquakes were an indication that the Lady of the Angels wanted the basilica built in the specific place where the little girl had found her.

The construction started in 1912 and the Basilica was completed in 1924.
The original statue is kept in a golden shell inside the Basilica. The Virgin of the Angels is the official patron of Costa Rica since 1824.
The stone statue has a dark complexion therefore people in Costa Rica affectionately call the Virgin "La Negrita". They also call her Reina de Cartago which literally means Queen of Cartago.

Every year about half the country (an estimated 2 million people) make the trek to the Basilica. The annual pilgrimage represents devotion to the Roman Catholic faith, which is the official state religion of Costa Rica.

Some people go in the days prior to the official mass but most of them make the pilgrimage on August 1st or on August 2nd.
Pilgrims are sighted along the Pan American highway and other Costa Rican roadways. Some walk barefoot, other ride horses and others even run marathons.

All visitors that come to Costa Rica must have an entry and exit ticket, whether it is by air or by land. This is a requirement to enter the country.
If you need to drive in Costa Rica, you are allowed to with your driver's license for three months.
In case you are planning to get married in Costa Rica, you need the following documents: original birth certificate, affidavit of single status, police record, a valid passport, a divorce decree (if applicable). Take into consideration that before being taken to Costa Rica, these documents need to follow the authentication procedure.

Costa Rica is famous for its rain forest and the cloud forest and they are not the same. The main difference is that it rains more in the rain forest than in the cloud forest. Another difference is that the species of flora and fauna that can be found in each forest are different.

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