Growing up in a Mexican household, I was raised Catholic. My faith wasn’t an option more like an obligation to my culture. One of the first questions my host family asked me was whether or not I was religious and I answered not anymore. Once I entered college, I began to question my religion, my beliefs and at times my culture. Catholicism is rooted in so many Latin cultures, forced upon us by colonizers, yet still embodied within our traditions.
Since I have been here in Costa Rica I have been reminded of how important religion can be in one’s culture. On March 3, 2019, my host family took me to the Basilica de Los Angeles in Cartago. At the basement of the church there were walls filled with offering that people all over the world had left for la Virgen de los Angeles.
It is said that a village girl in Cartago found a representation of la Virgen carrying the Jesus on top of a rock. The tradition claims that the little girl took the statue home and when she looked by it was gone and had appeared at the rock once again. She then took the statue to the priest to keep it safe and the next morning the statue was back at the rock. They then built La Basilica in the same location as the rock. While visiting the church we saw that there was a line of people waiting to pray to la Virgen in front of the rock she was once found.
I was touched by peoples faith and love for la Virgen, people even left offerings for la Virgen and little charms, like arms or hearts, in order to represent what they were praying for. We then walked up into church while mass was in progress. Although, my faith is not as strong as it used to be I was inspired by how strong ones faith can be especially in a time of need. La Basilica is beautiful and I am glad I got to see something that can bring thousands of people together.