Photographer's Note

This is not a particularly good shot I know, but I thought it was sufficiently interesting to warrant a main post. It is the interior of the most important church in Costa Rica, the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles (Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels) I hand–held the camera and at 1/3 of a second there is inevitably some motion blur.

According to legend, in 1635, a figurine of a dark-skinned Virgin Mary (La Negrita) was found on the rock on which the Basilica is built. It became important as a Holy shrine when the figurine kept mysteriously returning to the rock. The Basilica was built on the site and the 20cm figurine is kept in a gold and be-jewelled shrine above the main altar. (See WS)

Every August 2nd the La Negrita Pilgrimage to the basilica is made by devout Costa Ricans. Many walk the 15 miles from San Jose; some crawl on their knees, while others carry crosses. They touch the rock on which the figurine was found and collect Holy water from the underground spring which is thought to have curative powers. At the annual pilgrimage the La Negrita figurine is removed from the shrine to be paraded around the city.

At the time of our visit there was a service taking place and some of the people entering the Basilica finished their journey by going down the aisle on their knees. I’m guessing that they were making individual pilgrimages to visit the shrine of La Negrita and obtain help with an illness. They will no doubt complete their visit by collecting water from the spring. If you follow this link you will see the nearest man on his knees here, putting the Holy spring water on his chest – I didn’t follow him – I only noticed while processing the photos.

Edit Marco (colibri) has added a WS of the altar.
Thanks Marco

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Additional Photos by Kath Featherstone (feather) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7646 W: 399 N: 14391] (51130)
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