COSTA RICA: Return of the Virgin

Black crepe and mourning bands hung from every window and door in town. Despite frequent showers, hundreds knelt in prayer before the padlocked church. Only a week before, thieves had broken into the basilica of Cartago, 15 miles from San José, murdered a guard, and stolen the jewel-decked, five-inch image of Costa Rica's patroness, Our Lady of the Angels. With it, they had taken $185,000 worth of gold and jewels belonging to the church.

All over the country, customarily cheerful ticos were wrapped in deepest gloom. "The Most Sacred Little Black One," said by tradition...

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