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Santa Rosalia feast in Palermo

What are the differences between Italian and Sicilian? Are they the same language?
Thursday, 14 July 2022

Santa Rosalia is not anymore under quarantine After two years of patience, due to COVID, Santa Rosalia (affectionately known as La Santuzza) can once again march through the streets of Palermo 398 years after its first celebration. July 14 and 15 are the two most important days of the week because the city of Palermo lights up with the sound of drums and hosts street shows that retrace the life of the saint.

"Viva Palermu e Santa Rusulìa!"

Rosalia Sinibaldi was born around 1125 into a wealthy family, when the Normans were the kings of Sicily. She lived at the court of King William I of Sicily because her mother was part of the royal lineage. It is said that she was very beautiful and that many suitors wanted to marry her. Unfortunately, the tales of princesses always have dark parts... One day, Rosalia’s father, who was hunting in the forest, was savagely attacked by a wild animal. Count Baudouin, who was not far away, heard him shout and went to his rescue. To thank him for having saved him, Rosalia’s father offered to fulfill his dearest wish.

Count Baudouin took advantage to ask him to get married with his daughter Rosalia.

On the eve of the wedding, while Rosalia was preparing in front of the mirror, she saw an apparition of Jesus who told her to withdraw from the world. It was a period of political unrest because the Normans had just defeated the emirate of Sicily and Christianity was gaining more and more ground on the island. It was common for girls to retire to monasteries in order to live in prayer and contemplation. She died as a hermit on September 4, 1160 on Mount Pellegrino. On this date, every year, a Mass is celebrated at the shrine of Monte Pellegrino. The faithful go there the night before on foot or on their knees on pilgrimage to attend mass the next day.

The Santuzza is celebrated twice a year!

In July, the memory of his miracle is celebrated. In 1624, the plague killed everywhere in Italy and one in four people lost their lives in terrible conditions. Palermo already worshipped four saints (Agathe, Ninfa, Olivia and Cristina), but none of them seemed effective in preventing evil. It was then that a woman, Girolama La Gattuta, sick with the plague, saw a woman with the face of an angel appear who told her to go to Mount Pellegrino. It was the apparition of Santa Rosalie. She went there and drank the water coming out of the rock. The Gattuta rode miraculously from the plague! Later, Santa Rosalia appeared to a hunter and told him where in the cave hes bones were. Once they were discovered, the Saint explained to the hunter that the archbishop of Palermo had to organize a procession with his relic to protect the city. After some doubts about the truth of this story, the archbishop organized a procession and the city was freed from the plague in a few days.

In 2021, at the site where the mountain begins, a COVID vaccination centre was placed there and several masses were given on his behalf to save the city from the virus as it was from the plague in 1624.

In keeping with tradition, this year the festivities will start from Porta Nuova at 8.30pm and will take the Vittorio Emmanuele street, the oldest in the city, to the harbour district. At the end of the journey, at midnight, a big fireworks display will illuminate the sky, celebrating the victory of life over shadow and disease.

The next day, July 15, the relics of the Saint will be strolled through the streets of Palermo from the cathedral.

"Viva Palermu and Santa Rusulìa!" is a cry that unites all Palermitans, whether religious, Hindu, pagan or from elsewhere. for the students it is a special day because the school organizes a special SANTA ROSALIA lesson on tour where they visit all the places of the Santuzza and where the party will take place.

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