The Legend of
started on Aug. 2, 1635.
A mestizo (mixed European
and Indian heritage) woman was
looking for firewood when she
came across a small stone image
standing on a large stone,
according to the legend.
Upon a closer look, she saw that
the image was of the Virgin Mary
with Baby Jesus in her arms.
Excited by her find, the woman
took the image home and put it
in a basket.
The next day when she went out to collect firewood again, she found
a carved image of a snake on the same stone in the same place. She
brought this image home too.
When she opened the basket, she found the the image of the Virgin
Mary was missing. She locked the remaining image up so that no one
could take it.
The next day she went out again, and found the image of the
Virgin Mary on the same stone again.
She took it home, and found the other image missing.
This time she was scared, and took the image to the priest and told
him the story.
The priest took the image, and when he went to examine it the next
day, it had disappeared. He went to the forest, and found it on the
He took it back to the Church, and put it with the image of Jesus on
The following day, when he went to give communion at Mass, the image
had disappeared. He found her in the woods on the stone. Legend says
she wanted a Church built in that spot, around her "throne", in
order to unite the Costa Rican population.
The Basilica was built on the site where La Negrita was
Inside the Basilica is a shrine to La Negrita, where the stands on
an altar. The Costa Rican government declared La Negrita the Patron
Saint of Costa Rica on September 23, 1824.
The statue, now housed in the Basilica Virgen de Los Angeles in
Cartago, earned the name La Negrita because of the dark stone from
which it was carved.
La Negrita means "little dark one" in Spanish. A small stream,
rumored to have curative powers, is nearby.
Upon arriving at the Basilica Virgen de Los Angeles, many pilgrims
climb the church steps on their knees, thanking La Negrita for
favors granted or praying for help in curing sickness or overcoming
Visitors also pray by the stone on which the stone figure of La
Negrita was originally found, now located at the Basilica.
Many pilgrims collect water from the stream near her shrine, which
is believed to help cure sickness.
One of the many examples that can be
attributed to the work of La Negrita is
that of an unmarried mother who says La
Negrita brought her sick baby back to
health some 30 years ago.
It was 1974, when
María Antonieta Flores who was only 21 at the
time had a four month old baby sick of a viral
infection that was close to death.
She had taken the baby to the Max Piralta
hospital some 15 Kilometers away from Cartago,
where doctors had told the young mother that
there was no hope.
In an act of desperation and devotion, the woman
took the baby's clothing to the Basilica for
blessing and to ask La Negrita to save her
On her return to the hospital, she was told that
the baby had shown improvement and would
Today, she makes the annual walk barefoot to
give thanks for her child who is now 30 years
She asks everyone that they do not lose their