Costa Rica National Religion: Catholicism

The Costa Rica National Religion is Catholicism. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the role of Catholicism in Costa Rican society, exploring its historical background, influence on politics, traditions and celebrations, religious sites, education, challenges, and its relationship with social justice.

Historical Background of Costa Rica National Religion

Catholicism arrived in Costa Rica during the Spanish colonization in the 16th century. The Catholic Church played a significant role in the colonization process and the conversion of the indigenous population. The Church’s influence remained strong throughout the colonial period and continued after Costa Rica gained independence in 1821.

Role of Catholicism in Costa Rican Society

Catholicism has played a central role in shaping Costa Rican culture and society. It is deeply ingrained in the lives of the people, influencing their values, traditions, and social norms. The majority of Costa Ricans identify as Catholics and actively participate in religious activities.

Influence of Costa Rica National Religion on Politics

The influence of Catholicism extends to the political realm in Costa Rica. Historically, the Catholic Church has had a strong influence on political decisions, and many politicians have aligned themselves with Catholic values and principles. However, in recent years, there has been a growing separation between the Church and the state, leading to a more secular political landscape.

Catholic Traditions and Celebrations

Costa Rica boasts a rich tradition of Catholic celebrations and rituals. Semana Santa (Holy Week) is one of the most important religious events in the country, marked by processions, reenactments of biblical scenes, and religious services. Other significant celebrations include Christmas, Easter, and the feast days of various saints.

Religious Sites and Pilgrimages

Costa Rica is home to numerous religious sites and pilgrimage destinations. The Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels, located in Cartago, is a major pilgrimage site where thousands of faithful gather each year. Other important religious sites include the National Shrine of San José and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Catholic Education in Costa Rica

Catholicism has also played a vital role in the education system of Costa Rica. Many schools and universities in the country are affiliated with the Catholic Church. These institutions often prioritize values-based education and instill Catholic teachings and principles in their curriculum.

Challenges and Criticisms on Costa Rica National Religion

While Catholicism remains a dominant religion in Costa Rica, it is not without its challenges and criticisms. Some individuals and groups advocate for greater religious diversity and a more secular society. Additionally, there have been discussions and debates regarding the Church’s stance on certain social issues, such as LGBTQ+ rights and reproductive rights.

Catholicism and Social Justice

Catholicism places a strong emphasis on social justice and caring for the less fortunate. Many Catholic organizations and charities in Costa Rica work towards alleviating poverty, promoting human rights, and supporting marginalized communities. The Church’s teachings on social justice continue to influence individuals and organizations involved in humanitarian efforts.


Catholicism holds a significant place in the religious and cultural fabric of Costa Rica. It has shaped the country’s history, influenced its politics, and continues to play a role in the lives of its people. While the society becomes more diverse and secular, the impact of Catholicism remains a defining characteristic of Costa Rican identity.


  1. Is Catholicism the only religion in Costa Rica?

No, while Catholicism is the national religion, Costa Rica guarantees freedom of religion, and there are other religious communities present in the country.

  • Are there any non-Catholic religious sites in Costa Rica?

Yes, Costa Rica is home to various non-Catholic religious sites, including Protestant churches, synagogues, and mosques.

  • How does Catholicism influence Costa Rican politics today?

The influence of Catholicism on politics has decreased over the years, and the country now has a more secular political landscape. However, Catholic values and principles still hold significance for some politicians and voters.

  • What are some other important Catholic celebrations in Costa Rica?

Apart from Semana Santa, Christmas, and Easter, the feast days of saints such as the Virgin of Los Angeles and Saint Joseph are also celebrated with devotion.

  • Does the Catholic Church support social justice initiatives in Costa Rica?

Yes, the Catholic Church in Costa Rica is actively involved in various social justice initiatives, including poverty alleviation, human rights advocacy, and support for marginalized communities.


  • Costa Rica. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • Religion in Costa Rica. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • Costa Rica. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Leave a Comment