During the late spring and summer of 1624, Palermo was under siege from a plague that cursed more than 10,000 inhabitants. Things were looking pretty bleak until in early July, when a lost hunter had a vision (as illustrated by this image, located at the saint’s sanctuary on Mount Pellegrino): Santa Rosalia appeared to him and promised to help him and the city of Palermo once he followed her instructions.
She explained in detail where her remains could be found, and ordered him, once they were unearthed, to carry her bones through the city streets.
The hunter honored the saint’s words. He located her bones, which were buried deep in a cave on Mount Pellegrino, and on July 15, 1624, Santa Rosalia’s relics were solemnly paraded throughout the city. Within three days residents began to recover. And by July 15, 1625, the plague was eradicated.
This is why Palermitani fill the streets annually during the days leading up to and including July 14 and 15: to celebrate La Santuzza, Santa Rosalia, and her purifying spirit.