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Costa Rica
Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Annual romería, Catholic pilgrimage to Cartago, canceled again

The traditional romería, an annual pilgrimage of Catholics to the Costa Rican city of Cartago, has been canceled for the second straight year due to the pandemic.

Mario Enrique Quirós Quirós, the Diocesan Bishop of Cartago, and the Episcopal Conference announced the news Friday, saying the decision was made to protect the health of Costa Ricans.

“The motive of this decision is the pandemic that lashes the country and caring for the safety of Costa Ricans,” the religious leaders said in a written statement.

Virgen de los Ángeles Day, celebrated August 2, honors Costa Rica’s patron saint. Costa Rican Catholics — and faithful from across the world — complete a romería to Cartago to give thanks to and ask for blessings from La Negrita. 

An estimated 2 million people made the pilgrimage to Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles in 2019. In the past, pilgrims have arrived from as far as Panama or Guanacaste, via horseback, bikes, or even while crawling.

“This is Costa Rica’s largest mass gathering event,” Quirós said last year.

The traditional romería was last canceled in 2009 due to the A(H1N1) flu virus and in 2020 due to SARS-CoV-2.

Quirós said the Episcopal Conference of Costa Rica will soon announce plans for celebrations on Virgen de los Ángeles Day that correspond with the current health situation.

Options could include a “virtual romería,” similar to 2020, and televised masses.

La Negrita, a dark statue of mother and child representing the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus, has also been flown throughout the national territory to inspire and bring hope to the Costa Rican people as the country faces the pandemic.

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