.- An expected one million Costa Ricans will visit the Basilica of the Angels in Cartago this week to honor the traditional August 2nd feast of Our Lady of the Angels, the patroness of Costa Rica.
Although the Marian feast is celebrated on August 2nd, the thousands begin their pilgrimage to the Basilica on the night before. On that date in 1635, the Blessed Mother appeared to an Indian child named Juana Pereira.
Thousands of Costa Ricans travel from across the country to visit the Shrine, some on foot and even horseback, to express their devotion to the “Dark Virgin” and to obtain some of the miraculous holy water that flows from the rock upon which the Blessed Mother appeared.
Each year hundreds of people design new vestments for the statue of Our Lady of Angeles, and one set of vestments is chosen and placed on the statue during the main celebration. This year some 800 different vestments will be considered.
To maintain order and security Costa Rican authorities have called up hundreds of extra police officers, and the Red Cross has sent 1600 volunteers to set up 28 health stations on the main streets of Cartago.