Our Lady Queen Of The Angels In Costa Rica
Country : Central America
Year : 1635
One of the most popular shrines in Central America is that of Our Lady Queen of the Angels in Costa Rica. Cartage, the scene of the miracle is today a town of 10,000 people, situated a few miles east of San Jose, the beautiful capital of Costa Rica.
A pious tradition has it that one evening in August, 1635, a mulatto girl named Juana Pereiram, who was perhaps a slave, went to a neighboring forest for firewood. There she found resting on a huge stone, a little image about eight inches high, of dark color, cut in stone, and depicting the Virgin holding the Infant Jesus in her arms.
Juana, happily, took the image home and placed it in a small basket. The next day as she went to get some more wood, she found on the same stone an image which seemed identical; she took this home with her, thinking she now had two; but when she reached home, she found the image from her little basket missing. She locked up the image in a box, using a key, for she thought someone had carried the image back to the place she had found it originally.
She went to the woods the third day and found the statue back in its place. Upset and afraid, she rushed home, opened her box to find the “other” one was not there. She went to the pastor, told him what had happened and left the image with him. The priest put the image in a safe, intending to examine it more closely later. When he looked for the image the next day it was gone. He went to the woods, found the image there, took it home and put it into the tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament. Next morning, at Communion time, he noticed that the statue was gone again. After Mass, in company with other priests, the pastor went to the stone in the woods and found the image of Our Lady resting on it. Then and there all realized that the “black Virgin” (La Negrita as she is called by the Costa Ricans) wished a church to be built in her honor on that spot. “La Negrita” wanted the whites to understand that white or black, we are all children of the one and same God and consequently, brothers. She wished to be revered as the Queen of Angels, to be Queen of the Colored.”
This is the simple unadorned story of the origin of the devotion that thrills the heart of every Catholic Costa Rican.
Today, at first sight, the venerated image with its priceless reliquary looks like a monstrance. The reliquary from its base to its crown is about thirty-six inches in height. All of the bishops and archbishops of Costa Rica have vied with each other in honoring Mary, the Queen of the Angels, and venerated her image.
The present imposing shrine with its splendid architectural design – the fourth to be built in Mary’s honor – was begun shortly after the prior one was destroyed by an earthquake in 1910. On April 26, 1926, the image was solemnly crowned with great splendor. In July, 1955, on the occasion of the impressive commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the apparition, Pius X granted the title Minor Basilica to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Angels of Cartage. August 2nd, the day on which the image is yearly commemorated as an apparition, was declared a national holiday by the government of Costa Rica in 1932.
Thus has the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of the Angels, captured the hearts of the Catholics of Costa Rica, who form 95% of the population of seven hundred-thousand. There are a few thousand Negroes in Costa Rica. The first colored priest of that country was ordained in 1948.
May this little Catholic country, conspicuous for its harmonious cooperation of Church and State ever enjoy the protection of the Angels and their Queen, La Negrita of Costa Rica.