Behold Princess Sicilia, A Legend

Behold Princess Sicilia! A legend thought to have originated in post Byzantine times (c. 535 CE to c 827 CE). 

Long ago, along the sun kissed eastern coast of the Mediterranean, perhaps on the shores of modern-day Lebanon, a baby girl was born to a noble family. Her proud parents named her Sicilia. The couple’s joy, however, was tainted by an oracle which reported that during the beautiful child’s fifteenth year, she would die at the hands of the ravenous monster, Greco Levante, unless they set her alone upon a boat and pushed her out to sea. (The mythical monster, Greco Levante, often described as the east-northeast wind, is a metaphor for the insatiable and greedy Byzantine governors, who heavily taxed the Sicilian people.)

To avoid such a fate, Sicilia’s parents, through tears and remorse on her fifteenth birthday, launched the young woman aboard a sailboat into the Mediterranean. After three treacherous months through blazing sun, harsh winds, and battering rains, Sicilia’s supplies were exhausted and her spirit was defeated. Weak and weary, she accepted death as her fate. Then suddenly, the Scirocco winds pushed her vessel upon a golden, sandy beach.

A land abundant with colorful fruits and vegetables and tens of trees blooming with vibrant flowers greeted her. Delighting in sweet figs and swollen grapes, Sicilia regained her strength, but soon, a profound loneliness fell upon her—the shores of this place were completely uninhabited!

She began to cry uncontrollably at the irony of it all. Then, at that moment, a young man appeared. Sicilia was immediately comforted by his gentle demeanor and sound voice. The young man was heartened by her presence because, he explained, he was the only survivor from a severe plague that killed all of his loved ones and countrymen.

The two soothed each other’s sorrow, and inspired by the princess and their rapport, the young man decided to rename the vibrant land Sicilia. With time, it became clear that the gods desired the young couple’s union so they could repopulate the magnificent land with noble, gentle, and respectful citizens–better than those who had lived before the plague.

(Image of Princess Sicilia from the Arches of Easter in San Biagio Platani, Agrigento, Sicily)

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