La Romeria in Costa Rica is clearly the largest event countrywide that happens in August. It is a religious pilgrimage where people head to the Basilica of Cartago.
Some people come on foot, but others make a twenty two kilometer trip to the striking Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels in Cartago on their hands and knees. Crawling on their hands and knees to the Basilica in Cartago is often done to show prostration and to atone for their sins. Other members of the church who make the religious journey do it walking upright, and they make atonement in their own way.
The Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels in Cartago is host to the final leg of the pilgrimage, and it is for several reasons. It is one of the largest cathedrals in all of Costa Rica, and the historical significance of the Basilica is founded in stories of the miraculous which bring in many of the faithful, also. People come to pin various organs (made of metal or other materials), small pictures and other objects to the wall of one of the areas of the sanctuary in order to pray for recovery, health or another blessing of similar importance.
The story begins with a little girl finding a small black statue of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus in the forest where the Basilica now stands on August 2nd, 1635. Attempts were made to remove the statue from the area, but all of them failed. Thus a church was erected and made to house the statue. Some years later, and after the Basilica had been rebuilt a few times due to natural disasters, the pilgrimage began taking place by Romeros.
Romeros make their way to the church before the celebratory mass takes place. Many believers attest to La Negrita’s (the statue of the Virgin) ability to miraculously heal the sick. Those that don’t go by foot or on their knees may ride on horseback to the Basilica, whereas others come by car. The Red Cross sets up stations along many of the walking routes to help the pilgrims make the trek, and to aid those that struggle with medical attention.
Location: Basilica of Our Lady of Cartago
Dates of Festival: August 2nd
Type of Festival: Religious Pilgrimage