Celebrating the Virgen de los Angeles Costa Rica

the virgin mary

Imagine walking alongside millions of devoted pilgrims, feeling the warm sun on your face, and experiencing the united community spirit as you celebrate the Virgen de los Angeles Costa Rica. The annual pilgrimage, known as Romería, is a fascinating cultural and religious experience that attracts both locals and tourists alike. Today I’ll share my knowledge on the miraculous discovery of La Negrita, the annual pilgrimage, and the importance of religion in Costa Rican culture.

Key Takeaways

  • Experience the unique traditions and devotion of Costa Ricans during the Virgen de los Angeles celebrations in Cartago!
  • Marvel at La Negrita’s miraculous healing powers, explore delicious local dishes & vibrant music!
  • Learn Spanish for an authentic experience & take advantage of free language resources to get ready for your pilgrimage journey.

The Miraculous Discovery of La Negrita

virgin mary and baby jesus

In 1635, a miraculous event occurred in the forests of Costa Rica. A young girl discovered a small, dark statue of the Virgin Mary that would come to be known as La Negrita. This mysterious statue, made of jade, volcanic stone, and graphite, is believed to be a representation of the Virgin Mary as an indigenous or mixed race.

La Negrita holds great significance as the patron saint of Costa Rica, and her discovery led to the construction of the magnificent La Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles in Cartago.

The Appearance of the Virgin Mary

The story of La Negrita’s discovery began with a peasant girl named Juana Pereira. One day, as she wandered near a rock in the forest, she came across a small statuette of the Virgin Mary carrying the infant Jesus. Juana took the statue home, but it mysteriously disappeared the next day, only to reappear on the rock where she had found it.

This miraculous event led to the belief in the statue’s divine nature, and the small, greenish-gray statue, measuring only 20 centimeters tall, became a symbol of faith and devotion for the people of Costa Rica.

The Construction of the Basilica

In 1639, the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles was built in Cartago to honor the Virgin of Los Angeles and the native woman who found the statue. The basilica became a place of pilgrimage after the statue’s mysterious disappearance and reappearance, further solidifying its significance in Costa Rica’s religious landscape.

On the festival day, the basilica remains open round the clock, attracting millions of visitors who come to pay tribute to and celebrate La Negrita.

The Annual Pilgrimage: Romería

cartago pilgrammage
Photo Credit: PocketCultures.com

Every year on August 2nd, millions of devoted pilgrims embark on the annual pilgrimage known as Romería to the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles in Cartago. During this incredible journey, pilgrims walk, crawl on their hands and knees, or ride horses to the basilica to thank La Negrita for her miracles and fervently pray for help to overcome illnesses and serious obstacles.

Along the way, they also drink from the nearby stream, which is believed to have miraculous healing powers.

The Healing Powers of the Stream

The stream near the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, in Puebla de los Pardos, has a rich history dating back to the founding of Cartago in 1563 by Juan Vasquez de Coronado. When Juana Pereira discovered La Negrita near the stream, the site became a place of pilgrimage, and the stream’s healing powers, as se dice, became widely known as the “de la” miracle.

Today, millions of pilgrims visit the stream during the Romería, seeking health and blessings from its miraculous waters.

Unique Traditions and Devotion

During the Romería, pilgrims display unique acts of devotion, such as walking barefoot or crawling on their hands and knees as a sign of respect and dedication. This united community spirit, combined with lively religious music and the celebration of the Virgin of Los Angeles, creates an atmosphere of joy and reverence that is truly unforgettable.

Engaging in these unique traditions enables visitors to delve deep into the local culture and grasp the essence of Costa Rican spirituality.

The Importance of Religion in Costa Rica

Religion plays a vital role in the lives of the Costa Rican people, with over 90% of the population identifying as Roman Catholic. The Virgen de los Angeles, as the country’s patron saint, is a beloved symbol of faith and devotion, and her miracles have been recognized by Pope John Paul II.

The annual Romería pilgrimage is not merely a celebration of La Negrita but also underscores the significant role of religion in Costa Rican culture, engendering unity and a sense of community among the devout.

Papal Recognition

La Virgen de los Angeles, also known as “la virgen de los,” holds a special place in the hearts of Costa Ricans, and her significance in the country’s religious landscape was officially recognized by Pope John Paul II. This papal recognition further solidified the Virgin’s status as the patron saint of Costa Rica, emphasizing the importance of faith and devotion in the lives of the Costa Rican people, who revere her as the Virgen de los Ángeles.

Joining the annual Romería pilgrimage allows visitors to feel this profound divine connection and the strong sense of unity it cultivates.

Visiting Cartago for the Celebrations

If you intend to join the Virgen de los Angeles celebrations in Costa Rica, remember a few key points:

  • Bring comfortable shoes
  • Wear a hat
  • Apply sunscreen
  • Bring a bottle of water for the pilgrimage.

Take the time to learn about local customs, such as greeting people with a handshake and a smile, and respecting the local dress code.

Finally, don’t miss out on trying delicious local dishes like gallo pinto, tamales, and empanadas, and visiting nearby attractions such as the ruins of Ujarrás and the Parque Nacional Volcán Irazú.

Preparing for the Pilgrimage

As you prepare for the Romería pilgrimage, be sure to bring essential items such as medicines and notes with your medical conditions. Additionally, using a light carrying case can make the journey more comfortable.

It’s also a good idea to hydrate before the pilgrimage to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. During the pilgrimage, you’ll find support from the Red Cross, who provide medical assistance, and local vendors who offer food and drinks along the way.

Experiencing Local Culture

To fully experience the local culture during the Virgen de los Angeles celebrations in Cartago, be sure to:

  • Immerse yourself in the lively religious music
  • Witness the united community spirit that fills the streets
  • Participate in unique traditions such as walking barefoot or crawling on hands and knees
  • Engage with the local Costa Ricans, who are known for their warmth and hospitality.

Embracing the local customs and traditions will help you create enduring memories and attain a more profound understanding of Costa Rican culture.

Another major cultural event you’ll only find in Costa Rica is the annual Palmares Festival.

Learning Spanish for a More Authentic Experience

Acquiring Spanish skills before attending the Virgen de los Angeles celebrations can significantly enrich your overall experience. By understanding the language, you’ll be better equipped to communicate with locals, navigate your surroundings, and appreciate the rich cultural and religious traditions of Costa Rica.

There are many resources available for improving your language skills, including online courses and language exchange programs.

Free Language Resources

To get started with learning Spanish, try using free language resources such as:

  • Duolingo
  • Memrise
  • Busuu
  • Mango
  • Transparent Language

These online tools and classes can help you master the language quickly and effortlessly, while also providing ample opportunities to practice and improve your conversational skills.

Investing time and effort in learning Spanish will prepare you well to thoroughly delve into the vibrant and joyous celebrations of the Virgen de los Angeles in Costa Rica; sin embargo, it’s important to remember that language is just one aspect of truly experiencing the culture.


In conclusion, the Virgen de los Angeles celebrations in Costa Rica offer a unique opportunity to experience the rich religious and cultural traditions of this beautiful country. From the miraculous discovery of La Negrita to the annual Romería pilgrimage and the importance of religion in Costa Rican culture, this event is a testament to the power of faith and community spirit. By preparing for the pilgrimage and learning Spanish, you can fully immerse yourself in the local customs and traditions, creating unforgettable memories and gaining a deeper understanding of Costa Rican culture. So, why not join the millions of devoted pilgrims and embark on this incredible journey of faith and devotion?

Frequently Asked Questions

¿Dónde se encuentra la verdadera Virgen de los Ángeles?

La Virgen de los Ángeles se encuentra en Costa Rica, lugar donde la mulata Juana Pereira encontró una imagen de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles en 1635, conocida desde entonces por sus milagros.

¿Cuál es la historia de la Virgen de los Ángeles en Costa Rica?

La Virgen de los Ángeles fue declarada Patrona de Costa Rica en 1824, ratificada en 1924 y 2002, coronada pontificiamente en 1926, y con la construcción del Santuario Nacional en 1912. Es una importante figura para todos los costarricenses.

How many people participate in the annual Romería pilgrimage?

Excitingly, approximately two million people annually join the Romería pilgrimage to the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles in Cartago!

What unique traditions are observed during the Romería pilgrimage?

Experience the heartfelt devotion of the Romería pilgrimage with the unique traditions of walking barefoot or crawling on hands and knees in respect.

What support is available for pilgrims during the Romería?

The Red Cross and local vendors are there to support pilgrims during the Romería, offering medical assistance and food and drinks along the way!

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