Wednesday, September 03, 2014

St. Rosalia, Hermitess

The saint of the day for September 4th is St. Rosalia, hermitess and patron saint of Palermo, Sicily. Her feast is celebrated twice a year by that city.

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.

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.

Visit this website to learn more about the Feast of St. Rosalia.  

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