(Where Gumbo was #455)
Gumbo was visiting the interesting Basilica of Our Lady of the Angeles (Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles) in Cartago, which once was the country's capital city. Congratulations to George G, the only one who recognized where Gumbo was this week.
This church is Cartago's most popular tourist attraction and Costa Rica's most important religious shrine. The first church was built at the site in 1639, but it was repeatedly damaged by earthquakes. It has been rebuilt and refurbished several times, the latest being in 1939. The church is dedicated to the Virgen de los Ángeles (the Lady of the Angels)
The basilica features colonial elements and neo-Byzantine architecture. The interior details are quite lovely, with a spacious well-lite sanctuary....
The Basilica's golden altar features a small but very important historic relic known as La Negrita (the Black Virgin), the black statue being encased with gold. It found by a young girl in 1635 on the spot the church was built and despite its being moved the statue reappeared at the spot the child discovered it. This was declared a miracle and a church was built at this site. In 1824 the Black Virgin was declared Costa Rica’s patron Virgin.
In the days leading up to August 2nd (the anniversary of the statuette’s discovery) more than a million pilgrims from every corner of the country and elsewhere around the globe descend on the site. Many walk the 22km from San José to the basilica, some completing part of the pilgrimage on their knees. Next to the Basilica is a natural spring where the statue was found, from which the pilgrims drink.
The church is lovely, with many carved wooden altars and lovely stained stained-glass windows. The basilica is open all day and people commonly stop by to pray. The faithful are hopeful the virgin will perform a miracle, often to return them to good health.
Mass was being held when we visited so our exploration of the church was limited, but visitors are welcome and the photos I took decorate this blog. It would be fascinating to visit the site during the August pilgrimage.
As we left the church, we passed a procession of young priests making their way from the Basiica.