Saint Rosalia, Hermit of Mount Pellegrino

“St. Rosalia, hermitess and patron saint of Palermo, Sicily. Her feast is celebrated twice a year by that city.
Rosalia 2
St. Rosalia, affectionately nicknamed “the little saint”, was the daughter of a noble family descended from the Emperor Charlemagne. She was born at Palermo, Sicily in 1130. In her youth, she turned away from worldly pleasures and a life of comfort, choosing to dedicate her life to God. At the age of 14, she left home and took up residence in a cave. She wrote these words on the walls of the cave: “I, Rosalia, daughter of Sinibald, Lord of Roses, and Quisquina, have taken the resolution to live in this cave for the love of my Lord, Jesus Christ.” She remained there, completely hidden from the world, praying in solitude, practicing great penances, living in constant communion with her Creator.

Later on, she moved to Mount Pellegrino; about three miles from Palermo, closer to her parent’s home, in order to triumph over the instincts of flesh and blood. She is said to have appeared after death and to have revealed that she spent several years in a little excavation near the grotto. Rosalia died alone, in 1160, an unknown figure to the world.

In 1625, during the outbreak of the Black Plague, a hermit had a vision of a woman who instructed him to search for her remains. A group of monks, led by the hermit, did as the woman requested and found the cave on Mount Pellegrino where she had died. Her remains were then paraded through the streets. The plague ended shortly thereafter, and St. Rosalia was credited with ending this suffering.
Rosalia chapel
The traditional celebration of St. Rosalia lasted for days and included fireworks and parades. Her feast day was made a holy day of obligation by Pope Pius XI in 1927. The celebration, called the festino, is still held each year to commemorate her miraculous intervention that saved Palermo from the Black Plague.”
Rosalia 1
“Saint Rosalia (1130–1166), also called La Santuzza or “The Little Saint”, and in local dialect as “”Rusalia””, is the patron saint of Palermo, Italy, El Hatillo, Venezuela, and Zuata, Anzoátegui, Venezuela.
According to legend, Rosalia was born of a Norman noble family that claimed descent from Charlemagne. Devoutly religious, she retired to life as a hermit in a cave on Mount Pellegrino, where she died alone in 1166. Tradition says that she was led to the cave by two angels. On the cave wall she wrote “I, Rosalia, daughter of Sinibald, Lord of Roses, and Quisquina, have taken the resolution to live in this cave for the love of my Lord, Jesus Christ.”
In 1624, a horrible plague haunted Palermo, and during this hardship St Rosalia appeared first to a sick woman, then to a hunter to whom she indicated where her remains were to be found. She ordered him to bring her bones to Palermo and have them carried in procession through the city.
The hunter climbed the mountain and found her bones in the cave as described. He did what she had asked in the apparition, with her remains carried around the city three times, and after the procession the plague ceased. After this Santa Rosalia would be venerated as the patron saint of Palermo, and a sanctuary was built in the cave where her remains were discovered.
Upon examination by a renowned geologist and palaeontologist, William Buckland, the bones of St Rosalia were thought to be those of a goat.”
Rosalia sanctuary
The Sanctuary of Santa Rosalia. It stands at the very top of “Monte Pellegrino” (Pilgrim’s Mountain), which overlooks the whole bay of Palermo.

See further:
Rosalia grotto
Statue of Santa Rosalia in her grotto on Monte Pellegrino

For the Festival of Santa Rosalia, see:


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