OUR LADY OF THE ANGELS “LA NEGRITA"
On a footpath near Cartago, Costa Rica on August 2, 1635, the Feast of the Holy Angels, a mulatto peasant girl, Juana Pereira was gathering firewood as she saw an odd light coming from the trees by the path. She followed the light and there, tucked into a nook of a larger rock, was a stone statue of the Virgin Mary. The statue, close to three inches high and completely black is of Mary carrying Jesus on her left arm gathered into the folds of her mantle. Jesus is reaching up, almost as though He’s reaching for her face and she’s looking down though not at Him.
Juana took the statue home, but it soon vanished. As it turned out, the statue had not disappeared, but had only returned to the rock where it had been originally found. This happened again and again until Juana took the statue to her parish priest who put it in the tabernacle of the church. The statue once more disappeared and returned to the rock where it was found. It was interpreted as a sign that the Virgin Mary wanted a shrine built on the site where she had been returning to.
The shrine of Our Lady of Angels or La Negrita, as she is fondly called by the Costa Ricans, became a destination for pilgrims and especially for those who were poor or outcast, crippled or hurting. In 1926, the image was solemnly crowned, which means it was recognized as holy and worthy of veneration. In 1935, Pope Pius XI named the shrine of Our Lady of Angels a basilica, showing the high respect and sacredness of the site and the title of Mary.
This day is even more special to our parish because La Negrita, also known as Our Lady of the Angels, is the Patroness of our Parish and observed each year on August 2nd with a big ceremony. We celebrate this Feast Day with Mass followed by fellowship, dancing, food, music by a DJ, but most importantly, we bring the diverse cultures of our community together.
If you would like more information, please contact:
Mrs. Gabriela Zarate