August 2nd , Virgin of Los Angeles Day in Costa Rica.

This devotion particularly took place in the village called “Puebla de Pardos”, situated at the outskirts of the capital Cartago, a village ethnically formed by descendants of blacks and indigenous people.
The story of Our Lady of the Angels, dating back to the first half of the seventeenth century, in the year of 1635, when a native, indigenous and poor girl, who was called Juana Pereira, found the statue of Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus in her arms on a rock and brought her back to her home (Los Angeles , Cartago today).

Night View of Basilica de los Angeles, Cartago

The next day the statue disappeared from her home and was found back on the same rock. The girl took it home again and the same events were repeated. Finally, the girl got fearful and she took the statue to the priest. The priest locked the statue and it went missing again. When discussed around it was known that a basilica was supposed to be built on the rock but its location was changed due to countless storms and earthquakes there. This incident was then taken as a sign that their patron wished the basilica to be built on the rock no matter what the dangers were. Her wish was granted and ever since the church has stood on the rock at Cartago.

La Negrita

The people of the town named “ La Negrita”(Black Maddona)  , the sculpture is  black color  and the Catholic Church  decided to put the title of Our Lady of  Los Angeles, because  it was  found on  August 2nd , when the Franciscan Order venerates as its patron Saint Mary of the Angels. The sculpture high is 20 cm, it has mestizo features, round face, slanting eyes, small nose and mouth, and is made of different materials such as jade, volcanic rock and graphite.

The church has since been restored and constitutes a unique mix of architectural styles from Byzantine  to baroque, with a dash of Gothic. The interior is even more striking, with a colorful tile floor, intricately painted, faux-finish wood columns, and lots of stained glass. The current building dates back to 1939. At the basilica they wash themselves and drink the water from the rock on which the statue was found. Scientists have since found this water to be safe to drink even though no filtration or chemicals are used to purify the water.

Pilgrims arriving to the Basilica

The basilica is open all day long and it is not uncommon to find several people stopping in for a prayer. In addition people will bring small silver medals shaped like body parts, where the shape represents the body part the pilgrim is concerned about. They leave them in front of “La Negrita” in hope that they will be cured. After a time, these medals are collected and stored. A selection of some of them can be seen in the Museum.

This holiday –August 2nd–  it is the focus of an annual pilgrimage to celebrate the appearance of La Negrita,  Costa Rica’s patron saint. To the left as you face the altar is a room decorated with amulets given in dedication to the virgin for her intercession in everything from triumphs over disease to triumphs on the soccer field.


Escuela de historia UCR:

Trejos, Alonso (1991). Geografía Ilustrada Costa Rica (in Spanish). San José, Costa Rica: Trejos Editores. p. 128.

October 12th Costa Rica Colombus Day: Día del Encuentro de las Culturas

October 12th Costa Rica celebrated el Dia del Encuentro de Las Culturas, otherwise known as Colombus Day in the United States, “Dia de la Raza” in many American countries, Discovery Day in the Bahamas, and “Dia de las Americas” in Uruguay. This holiday marks the anniversary of Christopher Colombus’s first journey to the Americas, and the merging of different cultures between Europe and the Americas.

He put his foot on America land that day in the year 1492,  on an island in the Bahamas, which he called San Salvador. He came to America with his three “Carabelas” ( Boats): La pinta, La Niña y La Santa Maria.

The existence of the American continent was ignored (by Europeans) for long time. But an expedition  by Columbus allowed its “discovery”, conquest and colonization by Europeans. The discovery was made on October 12, 1492. However, Columbus thought that  came to Asia coast, in India that’s why our native people were called “Indians”. In the moment that all the explorers penetrated in our  coasts, rivers, lands, they realized that it was actually a New World.

Cristóbal Colón (Christopher Columbus) landed on the Atlantic coast of a wild land, what is now the port city of Limón, on September 25, 1502 during his fourth voyage to the new world.

September 25, 1502 : Columbus arrived to Costa Rica:

The fourth and last voyage of Columbus was ten years after the first and it iss more important to Costa Ricans, as they came to the land of our country.

On this trip came 140 men in four ships called The Captain, Vizcaya, Santiago and Galicia. Columbus landed on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica on September 25, 1502 and rested on Cariay, now known as Puerto Limón. He visited the island called Quiribrí and gave it the name of La Huerta, now known as Uvita island.

He remained in Costa Rican territory 17 days during which enjoyed of the natural beauty of our land being impressed by it and by the gold ornaments worn by the natives.

La pinta, la niña y la Santamaria
La pinta, la niña y la Santamaria

The approvation of Cultures Day confirmed that the  roots of Costa Rica and   all  Latin American countries come from three interacting cultures since 1492: Spanish, native indigenous and African-Caribbean, who made us in a multicultural and multiethnic nation. The establishment of this celebration also help to recognize that, since the middle of last century, our country has benefited from European immigration, American, Asian, Hebrew and Arabic, and others.

Legacy of the Conquest:

In our timeline, this historic event has helped us to create a unique cultural identity and freedom as American. Let’s not forget that despite being discovered by a “civilized” culture , our colonization  was bloody where our ancestors were underwent a marginal slavery, violently, and cruel bondage.

The contact between Europeans and native indigenous had enormous impact in both cultures, such as:

New Diseases: Epidemics brought by the Conquerors caused the large Aboriginal population decline since the discovery and conquest.

The spread of plant and animal species: The Spanish brought from the Old World to America some native products for commercialization and to guarantee their usual food . Some of them were the sugarcane, who was brought by Cristóbal Colón in his second Journey, wheat, grapes, citrus and rice ( Originally of Asia). At the same time they had brought to the Old World  the native products such as corn, potatoes, cocoa, tomatoes and several varieties of chili and beans. Potato was very important, because it helped to alleviate the famines that periodically occurred in Europe and theTabacco  that expanded rapidly in Europe (used by Indigenous for ritual purposes).

Many different species of animals were introduced by Europeans, right in the third journey, Christopher Columbus brought cattle, pigs, horses, cows, sheep and chickens. Indigenous quickly learned to use animals for transportation as the horse which became a prized possession the Indians who lived in prairies of North America.

The environmental impact: It is not doubt that there was an impact on forests due to de-forestation to make room for the large plantations of snuff, sugar cane,  grazing and uncontrolled agricultural techniques. The exploitation and plunder of our GOLD bringing it almost the extinction of it caused also the extermination of whole tribes ”  in the Middle Ages, the price of A single bag of pepper was  more than  the life of a man, but gold and silver were the keys of the Renaissance and they were used to open the gates of paradise in heaven and the gates of the capitalist mercantilism in Earth “(E. Galeno).

Culture shock and Military: It was made thank to the Military victory of Europeans on American civilizations subjecting them to slavery and evangelism, economic exploitation of the vanquished and the introduction of European cultural patterns: language, customs, food, religion, etc.

The Indigenous lost a great deal of their knowledge when the Spanish Conquistadors ravaged the native nations.

The Conquest of Costa Rica:

The conquest of the present territory of Costa Rica, with exeption of Nicoya, was obtained too late, because it was not until the 1560s when the Spanish were able to penetrate into the interior of the country, after repeated failures.

By the mid-sixteenth century, the indigenous population of Nicaragua  was decimated , due to the export of slaves, epidemics and overwork. The need for new Indigenous labor and to find more riches (Gold and silver)  were the motives of Spanish that were living in nicaragua  that led to plan the conquest of Costa Rica. Juan de Cavallon expeditions to Costa Rica finally succeeded in 1569.

Whether for good or bad, we were conquered and my blood is indigenous and Spanish. Because of this I am the best of both worlds. I consist of both cultures, enjoyable and attractive and if up to me if I want to keep the bad parts.

“When you have to choose between two paths, ask yourself which of them has heart. Whoever chooses the path of the heart is never wrong.” (The Popol Vuh)


Article Zurqui from NaciónNewspaper

Book from UCR: Estudios Sociales Unidad 4: La Conquitas de America. 

Book: The Popol-Vuh

Book of  Eduardo Galeano: Las Venas Abiertas de Latinoamerica