Costa Rica honors its patron saint, La Virgen de los Angeles aka La Negrita, on this national holiday. La Negrita is a statue of the Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus in her arms. The statue is carved in dark stone, which is how La Negrita (“little dark one”) earned its name. The statue is housed in the Basilica Virgen de Los Angeles in Cartago, next to a small stream. Many Costa Ricans believe both the statue and the stream have curative powers. A legend about the statue dates back to August 2, 1635, when a local woman found the statue in the woods and took it more than once to her home, but the statue kept returning to the spot where she first saw it.
According to the story, a little girl found a small statue on a rock and took it home, the next morning she found the statue was back at the rock, so she took it to the priest who locked the statue in a small box. The next morning the statue was back on the rock. Originally the basilica was going to be built in an alternative location, but due to earthquakes and other problems, it was decided to move the location of the church to the location of the rock, as they believed that was where the Lady of Los Angeles wanted it built. Because the stone is dark in color, the statue is sometimes referred to as La Negrita. It is also called Reina de Cartago or Queen of Cartago. The original statue is located in the basilica in a golden shell.
People from all over the country come to Cartago on August 2 to celebrate the mass at the Basilica, pray to Little Negrita, and collect water from the stream. Many pilgrims come on foot, after journeys of several days. Celebrations of the holiday include street fairs, live music, and feasts throughout Costa Rica.
Resource: Diocesis de Cartago