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NATIONAL NEWS  -  Monday 02 August 2004

 

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The Legend of La Negrita

It all 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 same stone.

He took it back to the Church, and put it with the image of Jesus on the cross.

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 found.

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 obstacles.

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.


A Miracle
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 baby. 

On her return to the hospital, she was told that the baby had shown improvement and would survive.

Today, she makes the annual walk barefoot to give thanks for her child who is now 30 years old. She asks everyone that they do not lose their faith.


 
   

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