The pilgrimage to Cartago started officially Sunday when police took up posts along the principal routes. There were lines outside the basilica with the faithful who were waiting to approach the altar on their knees.
Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles is the patroness of the country. She is a small black Madonna sculpture maintained on the elevated part of the central altar.
The pilgrimage is a family and national tradition. Estimates were that about 1,000 persons took advantage of the Sunday weather to walk to the basilica. The weather cooperated, and the rains generally held off until after 6 p.m.
There will be more police and more pilgrims, called romeros,as August approaches. Friday, Aug. 2. is the feast day of the Virgin. This is the official end of the pilgrimage. Government and church officials will gather for a Mass and speeches presenting their points of view.
For several days before there will be persons waiting in the plaza in front of the church. There will be entertainment, too. Over the nezt week and a half more than a million will make the pilgrimage.