An Altar For Santa Rosalia

Normally on September 4, devotees of Santa Rosalia, Palermo’s patroness, recognize their protectress with a solemn pilgrimage to her sanctuary at the top of Mount Pellegrino. They pay homage to the maiden who died on this day in 1166, with prayers, solitude, and a trek up the mountain barefoot or on their knees. This year the practice has been cancelled to support social distancing measures. Instead, for the month of September the city of Palermo is presenting a number of exhibitions of statues and other momentos placed throughout the community that feature the saint.

Pictured is a folk altar I photographed in the cave-sanctuary at the top of Mount Pellegrino on a past visit. Such personal altars to saints are common throughout the island. Ivory colored candles create the housing, while roses hover over the saint’s head. Viva San Rosalia! Viva Palermo!

Read my recent musings about Santa Rosalia at

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