San Ramòn women seek the help of a saint for their unborn babies

Women of child-bearing age who are worried about the zika virus might be comforted to know that there is a saint for this.

He is San Ramón Nonato, the patron saint of  San Ramón and also of maternity.

The church that bears his name there held a traditional ceremony Thursday to bless women who are pregnant, want to become pregnant or who already are mothers.

The ceremony has been an annual one for 20 years, but the blessing might have more significance now that there is a possibility of contracting the zika virus that can harm unborn children. A church spokesman said that 165 women showed up Thursday. That number is more than those who attended last year, the spokesperson said. The ceremony is called the Hora Santa de las Embarazadas, the “sacred hour of the pregnant women.”

Some who attended the ceremony affirmed that they have received the saint’s help in the past.

Meanwhile, the Ministerio de Salud said that a child that was born Aug. 5 in the  Hospital San Carlos suffered from microcephaly. Health officials said they believe the mother contracted the zika virus while she was in Nicaragua in the early months of her pregnancy.

This is the first such case in Costa Rica.

In the United States two cases of the zika virus have been identified in Miami Beach, one of the world’s most popular tourist spots, U.S. media reported Thursday.

The mosquito-borne virus, first detected in Brazil last year, is relatively mild in most cases. However, pregnant women who

are infected with zika risk giving birth to babies with the congenital defect. Microcephaly causes an abnormally small head and developmental problems.

The first local transmission of the zika virus in the United States was detected in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, in the southern state of Florida, earlier this month.

Florida’s Department of Health said there are 35 cases of likely local transmission in the state, including the two new cases that were identified Thursday outside of the Wynwood neighborhood.

A priest holds a monstrance containing a consecrated Eucharistic against the stomach of a pregnant woman.

A priest holds a monstrance containing a consecrated Eucharistic against the stomach of a pregnant woman.

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