Palermo’s patroness, Santa Rosalia, is recognized on September 4, the day she died in 1166, with a solemn pilgrimage to her sanctuary (pictured) at the top of Mount Pellegrino. The facade you see covers the opening to a large cave, where, in 1624, a sleeping hunter had a vision of the little-known, medieval-era saint. In the vision, she gave him explicit instructions on how she could help Palermo combat a plague that was ravaging the city that spring and summer. He obeyed her wishes, and the citizens, soon after processing her bones through the city’s streets, began to recover. Annually on July 15, the citizens of Palermo re-enact the procession of La Santuzza’s bones.
On September 4, pilgrims come annually from far and wide, to process up Mount Pellegrino, often barefoot or on their knees, in order to pay homage to the maiden who rejected a life of privilege and instead, sought a life devoted to prayer and solitude.