Rosalia’s Silver Urn

July 15 in Palermo is a day of masses, prayers, and concerts at the Cathedral in honor of Santa Rosalia. At 7PM, down il Cassaro, the Archbishop and Mayor of Palermo will lead a solemn procession featuring the silver urn containing the sacred relics of La Santuzza. With the intention to reenact the purification of…

Thanks to a Lost Hunter

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…

Santa Rosalia Purifies the Evils

“Il festivo,” which takes place on the evening of July 14, is a big street party that unifies Palermo’s citizens through a procession that symbolically purifies the city from the evils that have long afflicted it. For this annual celebration, each year Palermo commissions a new statue to represent its patron saint, Santa Rosalia. Like…

Healing Bones

“Viva Palermo e viva Santa Rosalia!” July 14 and 15 marks the Feast of Santa Rosalia in Palermo. Last night was Il Festino, an event that I’ve blogged about in the past. Different from the revelry of Il Festino, on the 15th, citizens practice a solemn tradition: the clergy parade the saint’s bones through the city…

Santa Rosalia before 1624

Before 1624, Santa Rosalia (1130-1166) was a little-known, medieval-era saint. Her story is often compared to Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) because she too was the daughter of a Norman nobleman, who rejected a life of privilege and instead sought a life devoted to prayer and solitude. During her lifetime, Palermo and Sicily experienced an…