Pilgrimage to Cartago, Costa Rica – Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles

Cartago is a bustling suburb of San Jose. It’s located about 15 miles east of the capital and is driven through, if you want to see Irazu National Park – home of the Irazu Volcano.

Probably would not have stopped, but the Costa Rica passenger, Rococia, stated that this church was an important symbol for people in Costa Rica. So, stop we did.

Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángele, or the Basilica of Our Lady of Angels, is the main church of Cartago, Costa Rica.

Each August, about 1.5 million people have a pilgrimage to this church. (There is more information about that at Wikipedia.)

From the information gathered at the site, the church was rebuilt in 1912.

Angels Basilica

Our Lady of the Angels Basilica

Basilica 2

Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles Basílica

Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions destroyed the original church.

When it came to rebuilding the church, problems kept arising when rebuilding at the original site.

The construction moved to the site where “La Negrita”, and the rock that she was found on, was discovered, according to lore.

Construction at the new site began, and proceeded without further problems.

It’s believed that those problems were a divine intervention to have the church located where the original  “La Negrita” was found by an indigenous woman in 1635. (Read Wikipedia to get the history of the church, “La Negirita(the Black Madonna) and the rock ( which is now housed in a back room of the church) where “La Negrita” was found.)

It is a beautiful structure.

Stain glass windows allow exterior light into the church with amazing colors. These windows are about 14 ft. high and about 7 ft. across. All were intact. No chips or cracks noticed in the glass. ( Considering a 6.0 earthquake is not unusual for the area, it is quite amazing that these windows are fully intact!)

stain 1

Stain glass Virgin Mary 1

stain 2

Stain glass Virgin Mary 2

On the outside of the church, are large statues that adorn the structure.

These are above the huge, wooden entry doors that lead to the altar of the church.

stain 1

Stain glass window Virgin Mary


Queen of Angels, Mistress of Devils

Madonna and child

Madonna and child


Pray for Us!

The interior of the church is all dark wood. Paneled walls throughout the interior instill a foreboding feeling on the visitor.

Electricity, being very expensive in Central America, is sparingly used to light the interior.  Large, globed light fixtures do little to illuminate the dark interior.

In the old days, the interior was lit by candles.


Stain glass - Virgin Mary 3

Jesus Statue

Statue of Jesus and the Virgin Mary

In the back of the church, is the rock where “La Negrita” was found. During the pilgrimage, many people touch the rock because it’s believed to have healing powers.

On the outside right, in the back of the church yard, is a spring fed fountain. Many people believe that these waters have healing powers, too.

A church with a rich history and lore going back to the early 1600’s, it is a structure that is worth a visit.

After all, 1.5 million pilgrims believe this is an important site. It is well worth listening to them.

Cheers for now.

About John Wilson

Traveler, writer and photographer. No home now, just traveling the world in search of the lost chord.
This entry was posted in Costa Rica, the country, the people and pictures, Pilgrimage to Cartago, Costa Rica - Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Pilgrimage to Cartago, Costa Rica – Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles

  1. Wow, so beautiful! One of the things I love about old churches is the attention to detail. The stained glass and statues are so unique.

  2. Sophie says:

    A very interesting and pretty church. I like the details in your photos.

  3. Silverboom says:

    Some nice photos there, John. Very surprised at the pristine condition of the exterior – then have to remember, not much pollution in a country where electricity is scarce and expensive.

    I wonder how long it took to rebuild – it is quite the structure?

  4. John Wilson says:

    Thanks for the comment and the compliment, Sophie.
    I do appreciate you stopping by to read and comment on the post.
    John D. Wilson
    aka The Big Mozey

  5. John Wilson says:

    The lack of pollution is helpful, but the closeness to the volcano Irazu is detrimental.
    It is quite a large church, and with the amount of earthquake activity, amazing that it is so well preserved.
    I have no information on how long it took to rebuild after the original church was destroyed by a fire and earthquake.
    The sign at the church states that it was built in 1912.
    Thanks for the compliment on my photos and taking the time to leave a comment, silverboom.
    John D. Wilson
    aka The Big Mozey

  6. John Wilson says:

    Thanks for stopping by Christy.
    I am glad you liked the article and appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment.
    I hope to see you again here at The Big Mozey!
    John D. Wilson

  7. This is quite a beautiful church. I love all the details in the architecture and stained glass! Really beautiful.

  8. John Wilson says:

    Thanks you Debbie,
    I appreciate your comment.
    It does mean a lot – hope to see you again soon.
    John D. Wilson
    aka The Big Mozey

  9. That is a pretty impressive church. A rare find in Central America from my experience.

  10. John Wilson says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Travel Chica!
    Actually, I’ve run across a few churches in my travels that are comparable to this in Central America – there was the Basilica in Esquipulas and Coban, both in Guatemala, were impressive.
    Then there was the nice church in Matagalpa and Leon had some looking churches.
    I guess it just depends on where you travel too.
    I do appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment, Stephanie, and hope things work out well for you in Buenos Aires.
    Hope to see you again soon!
    John D. Wilson
    aka The Big Mozey

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