Santa Rosalia, depicted on the right, before St. Mary by Anthony van Dyck
|Died||1166 (aged 35–36)
Mount Pellegrino, Italy
|Roman Catholic Church|
|Feast||September 4; July 14 (Festino)|
|Attributes||Depicted as a young woman, sometimes holding a cross, book, or skull, and also a spray of lilies. Some images show her holding a chisel and hammer with which she carved her dedication (see main story). She is also seen wearing a crown of roses, attended by winged angels, and often with a view through a cave opening of Palermo Harbour.|
|Patronage||Palermo; El Hatillo; Zuata Anzoátegui; Italian fishermen of Monterey, California|
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.
The celebration, called the festino, is still held each year on July 14, and continues into the next day. It is still a major social and religious event in Palermo. In 1995, 1996, 1997 and 2001 the celebration has been produced by Studio Festi.
Also on September 8 there is an event related to the festino and St. Rosalia; a tradition of walking barefoot from Palermo up to Mount Pellegrino. In Italian American communities in the United States, the July feast is generally dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel while the September feast, beginning in August, brings large numbers of visitors annually to the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn in New York City.
Saint Rosalia was proposed as the patron saint of evolutionary studies in a paper by G.E. Hutchinson. This was due to a visit he paid to a pool of water downstream from the cave where St. Rosalia's remains were found, where he developed ideas based on observations of water boatman. The article, and its reference to St. Rosalia has lived on through the literature, often in the title of papers concerning biodiversity.
- For the great expansion of Rosalia's popular cult in Italy as a result of the 1624 plague, see Franco Mormando, "Response to the Plague in Early Modern Italy: What the Primary Sources, Printed and Painted, Reveal" in Hope and Healing: Painting in Italy in a Time of Plague, 1500–1800, ed. G. Bailey, P. Jones, F. Mormando, and T. Worcester, Worcester, Massachusetts: The Worcester Art Museum,2005, pp. 32-34.
- Municipality of Palermo, 373°festino - Clips from the official video
- Hutchinson, G. E. (1959-05-01). "Homage to Santa Rosalia or Why Are There So Many Kinds of Animals?". The American Naturalist 93 (870): 145–159. doi:10.1086/282070. ISSN 0003-0147. JSTOR 2458768.
- google search
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