Although it won’t be until Tuesday, August 1, when the massive flow of ‘romeros’ head to Cartago, hundreds have already begun their walk.

The annual pilgrimage to the Basilica de la Virgen de los Angeles in the old metropolis is a tradition for many, a new experience for some, a question of faith, to pay homage to the patron saint of Costa Rica.

Hundreds are making their walk “romeria” to Cartago early. Photo Teletica

On Saturday, romeros were spotted walking through San Pedro, Curridabat and Tres Rios.According to the Cruz Roja (Red Cross) that has already set up several stations on the route, with more in the coming days, reports attending at least 147 people, of which three had to be transferred to the nearest medical center. One of them is in critical condition.

August 2 is a national holiday, but, a ‘not paid’ holiday!

According to the Cruz Roja (Red Cross) that has already set up several stations on the route, with more in the coming days, reports attending at least 147 people, of which three had to be transferred to the nearest medical center. One of them is in critical condition.

Red Cross (Cruz Roja) is no hand to provide medical assistance to the romeros (pligrims)

If you are heading out to Cartago, keep in mind that we are still in the rainy season. Be prepared, carry an umbrella and/or rain gear.

Don’t forget to apply a sun block in the morning and a hat or other head covering to keep the hot sun off your head.

A sweater for the cooler night air is recommended. Leave valuables at home, carry enough cash for what you plan to spend, such as meals, drinks, and fare for your trip back home.

Smartphones are smart but don’t do well in the hot sun or wet rain. Comfortable footwear is a given, and consume lots of water, dehydration is your worst enemy.

Walk against traffic or on cordoned off areas. Play it safe. The Policia de Transito (traffic police) and the Fuerza Publica (national police) will be keeping an eye out for you, but don’t leave common sense at home.

Be prepared for crowds once you reach the Basilica and if keeping to tradition, inside the last few meters to the altar are on your knees, knee pads on the hard tiled floor can save you a lot of pain during and after.

Dozens have already made their pilgrimage to the Basílica Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles in Cartago. In this photo by Melissa Fernandez of La Nacion,  Silvia Badilla Zamora, is on her knees with her 8 month old son Mateo Apuy, to give thanks to La Negrita for answer her prayers to heal her son without the need of surgery.

A romeria is a religious pilgrimage. The term comes from romero/romeiro, meaning those travelling towards Rome. It is a Catholic celebration.

This year, although President Luis Guillermo Solis is expected to participate in the event,  he won’t be giving the traditional head of state speech. The Conferencia Episcopal (Catholic Church), in a break from tradition, has decided this year and for the future, the event is not be used for political speeches.

This year and in the future the Catholic Church has cut out “political speeches” during mass.

“As you well know, Mr. President, some generators of opinion and media have turned this celebration into a ‘political meeting’, a kind of accountability of the State to the Church…the message of the president of the day, tarnishing the sacredness of the celebration,” says the letter of May 28 from the Bishops to the President.

According to Glen Gomez, spokesperson for the Episcopal Conference, the decision is based on the protocols of the Vatican, where heads of state are allowed to attend masses, but they are never given the floor (to speeches) during those masses.

In Costa Rica, it is traditional to make a pilgrimage to Cartago on August 2nd to make requests and give thanks to the Virgen de los Ángeles (the Lady of the Angels), nicknamed La Negrita due to the dark green color of the statue representing her. The statue located inside the Basilica.

Faith moves mountains. In the photo of July 22 by Rafael Montero for La Nacion, a group of faithful who traveled barefoot from El Tejar del Guarco, in Cartago. (Rafael Pacheco.)

People all over the country and even other Central American countries participate in the annual event, some arriving on foot all the way from areas in Guanacaste and the Southern Zone.

This year, the romeria of 2017, coincides with the arrival of the new Bishop to Cartago, Mario Enrique Quirós.

August 2nd is a national holiday, but is not a paid holiday, that is to say workers can enjoy and participate in special celebrations of a religious nature – such as the “romeria”, but unlike the “paid holidays”, no pay if you take the day off; normal pay if you work.  See more August 2 Is A “No Paid” Holiday In Costa Rica.

The next legal (paid) holiday in Costa Rica, the ‘mother’ of all holidays (pun intended), Mother’s Day, on August 15th.



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