St. Rosalia

Facts

Feastday: September 4
Death: 1160

St. Rosalia, daughter of Sinibald, Lord of Roses and Quisquina, was a descendant of the great Charlemagne. She was born at Palermo in Sicily. In her youth, her heart turned from earthly vanities to God.

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She left her home and took up her abode in a cave, on the walls of which she wrote these words: “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 entirely hidden from the world.

She practiced great mortifications and lived in constant communion with God. Afterward she transferred her abode to Mount Pellegrino, about three miles from Palermo, in order to triumph entirely over the instincts of flesh and blood, in sight of her paternal home.

She is said to have appeared after death and to have revealed that she spent several years in a little excavation near the grotto.

She died alone, in 1160, ending her strange and wonderful life unknown to the world. Her body was discovered several centuries later, in 1625, during the pontificate of Pope Urban VIII.

Her feast day is September 4th.

Veneration

A statue of St. Rosalia being carried through the streets of Bivona, Sicily

The feast of Saint Rosalia is on 4 September.

In Palermo, the Festino di Santa Rosalia is held each year on 14 July, and continues into the next day. It is a major social and religious event in the city.

Interestingly the devotion to Santa Rosalia is widespread among the large and mainly Hindu Tamil community of Sri Lankan origin settled in Palermo.

On 4 September, a tradition of walking barefoot from Palermo up to the Sanctuary of Santa Rosalia high up on Mount Pellegrino is observed in honor of Rosalia.

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.