For the most part, the weekend was perfect for a trek to Cartago. And thousands did.
The feast day of the Virgen de los Ángeles, the patroness of the nation, is not until Aug. 2. The three-day weekend allowed those who wished to participate in the pilgrimage to do so early
The plaza in front of the Cartago basilica was crowded Monday, a legal holiday in Costa Rica. There were long lines of the faithful waiting to enter the center door of the church on their knees.
The pilgrimage to Cartago is an amazing aspect of life in Costa Rica. Between now and next Tuesday morning more than a million persons will have hiked from all parts of the country and from some adjacent nations to Cartago. The police and rescue agencies do not swing into full readiness until Friday. The the Cruz Roja already reported on more than two dozen being taken to the local hospital.
There also are a number with leg cramps, breathing problems and heat exhaustion.
The cloud cover over the weekend kept the heat down and limited the victims of the sun.
The history of the Virgen de los Ángeles is wrapped up in the social situation when it was discovered in 1635. The diocese of Cartago points out that in those days the whites were separated from the Indians and the mulatos. So it was a mulato woman, Juana Pereira, who discovered the small statue that is now venerated as a holy object.
The black rock that had been engraved with an image of mother and child continued to return on its own to the place where it was found, according to the legend. Eventually this resulted in the construction of a church there.
The full name for the basilica is the Santuario Nacional Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles. The Mass next Tuesday will attract most of the politicians in the country as well as the nations bishops.