Pilgrimages to Cartago begin in earnest

Thousands of the faithful got an early start over the weekend for their annual pilgrimage to Cartago. The weather was great, and traffic police blocked off one lane of the Florencio del Castillo highway for walkers.

Down in Coto Brus about 100 residents began their hike which is taking them through much of Costa Rica, according to an announcement from the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles. Church officials said the pilgrimage would be 268 kilometers or about 167 miles.

These are not the pilgrims from the furthest distance. Some have started their hikes in other Central American countries.

Although persons of every religious inclination are welcome to pay their respects to the statue of Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles, basilica officials said they would prefer that no pokemons show up. These mythical creatures are part of the current fad of  Pokemon Go.

Using geolocational technology, the cartoon characters show up at designated spots on a player’s smartphone.

Basilica officials said that the Conferencia Episcopal has not authorized mixing the religious festival with the smartphone game. They urged pilgrims to show respect for the Virgin Mary. In her manifestation as the Lady of the Angels, she is the country’s patroness.

Pilgrimages to Cartago will continue all week with a spike Sunday and a week from today. The major religious event, a Mass, is at 9 a.m. Aug. 2, which also happens to be a national holiday.

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