On August 2, 1635 - 375 years ago - the Apparition of Our Lady of the Angels (Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles) occurred in Cartago, Costa Rica, she is the Patron of the country. Each year on August 2 and the days surrounding it, people from all over the country walk to the Basilica that was build in Mary's honor based on her request. The walk is called "la romerá"! On Sunday, August 1 of this year I had planned to make "la romerá" but I was sick on Friday and Saturday with a virus and was too weak to make the 3-4 hour trip from Moravia to Cartago. Instead, I made the cake you see below for the friars in honor of that Patronal Feast of the Costa Rica. For those who would like to know it is a confetti cake with vanilla icing and M&Ms.
The next photo is of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles in the Basilica. Though I was not able to make "la romerá" to see her near her feast day, I did get to see her the weekend prior. The actual image of Our Lady of Angels is very small. Here are the dimensions: height: 148.55 mm or 5.8 inches, width: 73.17mm or 2.9 inches, and weight: 1085.12grams or 2.4 pounds. It is to be noted that it was only last year (September 18, 2009) that La Negrita was scientifically examined closely. It is perhaps the smallest of the famous images of the Virgin Mary. Mary and the child Jesus in her arms are surrounded by an ornate dress and mantle made of gold, silver, and jewels.
Before I go any further, here is the story of the apparition of Our Lady of Angels adapted from a book called Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles Patrona de Costa Rica by Franco Fernández Esquivel.
-On August 2, 1635 a young wood-gatherer, a mulatto (Mixed Race) named Juana Pereira, went out for firewood for her home. With great joy she found, on a very big stone, a little image, about eight inches high of a dark color cut in stone, representing the Most Holy Virgin Mary with her child in her arms. The girl joyfully took the image home and placed it in a small basket.
-Next day she went again to gather firewood and found, on the same stone, an image as on the preceding day.
-Thinking it was another one, she went home joyfully imagining she had two images, but on looking into the small basket, she found, to her great astonishment, that the one she brought home the preceding day was not there. She then decided to keep the image under lock and key, thinking that perhaps someone had taken it back to the woods.
-On the third day, going again to the woods, she found once more the little dark image, on the same stone. This time, upset and afraid, she hurried home with the image, opened her case, and saw to her great surprise that the “other one” was not there.
-She then ran to the curate’s (priest’s or pastor’s) house, told him what had happened to her and game him the image. The curate, not giving much importance to the matter, kept the image, but when he looked for it the next morning, to examine it more carefully, he discovered that it had disappeared. He went to the woods, and found the image on the stone, whereupon he brought it back to the Church with him and this time placed it in the Tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament.
-The day passed. The next morning during the celebration of Mass, the presiding priest, at the time of giving Holy Communion to the people, noticed the unusual thing: the image had fled!
-After Mass, in the company of the other priests, he went to the stone; there was the Lady: She wanted them to erect a Church on that spot. The “dark lady” (“Negrita” as she is affectionately called by Costa Ricans) wanted all to be children of one God and therefore brothers and sisters. She wanted to be the guiding star of the “Very Noble and Very Loyal City” of Cartago: she wanted to the “Queen of the Angels,” the “Queen”, also of the “dark skinned”, and the Queen of the “ticos”
Here is the home of La Negrita.
Here is the inside of her home. As you can see the center part of the church is open and without pews. This center aisle is always open for people to kneel and make their way to pray for the intercession of La Negrita. It is a powerful thing to watch and to see the faith present in the hearts and minds of the Costa Ricans.
This photo above is from the a display case that is located below the Basilica. What you are looking at are called Exvotos. Exvotos are offerings or promises that show our faith in God. Regularly they give expression to a grace or a petition that has been fulfilled through the intercession of La Negrita. For example if an arm was healed an arm is hung or if someone's body was cured of cancer a body is hung. There must be hundreds if not a thousand of these Exvotes displayed there.
Here is a photo of the Scripture quote that leads one into a circle walk way to flowing faucets of water. The translation of this passage from Psalm 42 in English is "As the deer looks/seeks/longs for streams of water, so my soul looks/seeks/longs for you, O God."
Here is a photo of people and the water. A person can drink the water, wash parts of their body with the water, or take some of water back to their home. The water scene here was present at this location before the apparition of Our Lady of Angels occurred, but now the flowing water has taken on a religious, spiritual, and healing meaning for people.
Here is a banner which was made in honor of the 375th Anniversary of Our Lady of Angels
Lastly this is a photo of Our Lady of the Angels in the Chapel next to the friary. Since I was not able to visit the Basilica I made a mini romerá in our Chapel.
Peace be with you!
My name is Nader Ata. I am a Conventual Franciscan Friar of the Our Lady of Angels Province, USA. I am a transitional deacon preparing for Priesthood Ordination in the fall.
Seeking to live with Franciscan Joy each and every day!
*All of photos on this blog were taken by me unless noted otherwise. Please ask permission before using them. Thank You!*
*Also I am not the greatest speller or writer in the world, so please let me know if something is misspelled. Thank you!"