C is for Costa Rica!

Word of the week: “Creer” or “to believe”

Pictured above is the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels in Cartago, which is right outside of San Jose. This Sacred Landmark is one of Costa Rica’s architectural gems. It is not only a place of worship for locals, but a historic site for tourists to walk through. It is considered an experience, largely in part of it’s liveliness at all hours of the day, even at 7:30pm! It was built in the 17th century and its doors remain open to all who are willing to visit and participate in traditional catholic worship services. Its building features have been slightly remodeled after an earthquake, but for the most part it’s still standing in its glory originality.

Believe it or not, Costa Rica is home to a number of religions. With (Roman) Catholicism and Protestantism making up the majority of the two most common religions of the country, you are sure to drive past many cathedrals and churches that have some of the most breathtaking architecture. I have yet to have seen Mosques here but that is not to say that they do not exist. Small Jewish communities exist within San Jose as well as Buddhist temples. However, they are not as common as churches and cathedrals here along the main roads.

Did you know Costa Rica has an official religion implemented into its constitution? Catholicism is the official religion of the country and its influence is actively expressed in laws and politics that govern the population here. Unlike in the United States where we tend to separate both church and state, Congress here governs slightly different. As a country that is growing to be more and more liberal by the year, the traditionalism is making hard for new policies to take affect. The thirteen political parties that divide the country in their political beliefs are both very moderate and liberal thinking in their movements. In fact, two of those controversial topics that are challenging Costa Rica’s President Quesada are Same-sex marriage and abortion. I briefly discussed same-sex marriage in my previous posts, but as far as abortion, they are deemed illegal in the country. Healthcare, an equal right for all Costa Rican’s, but tricky around the topic around abortion. Because they are ruled as illegal, they are not performed, unless the mother’s – and only the mother’s health is at risk. Through my courses here at the private hospital Clínica Biblica in San Jose, I was able to absorb a lot of how religion rules what is deemed legal and illegal here in Costa Rica.

Another protestant based church – built in the 17th century and still standing in its original structure (Also in Cartago)