The festino of Santa Rosalia in Palermo, Sicily


14th July means one thing only to Palermitani: the annual celebration of their beloved patron saint, Santa Rosalia.

The tradition, which sees the relics of the Santuzza paraded through the town's central thoroughfares, dates all the way back to 1624 and is a must-see for anyone staying near Palermo in the middle of July.

Rosalia was born to a wealthy Norman family in 1130, but soon renounced her privileged position in society, preferring, instead, a solitary hermit’s life in a cave on top of Monte Pellegrino, now a sanctuary devoted to her cult. She died in 1166 but it wasn’t until 1624 that Rosalia first worked her magic.

As the plague devastated Palermo’s population, Rosalia appeared in a dream to a feverish citizen, instructing him to find her remains and to take them around the city. This he duly did and the miracles followed immediately: as Rosalia’s bones passed through the streets, those afflicted by the plague were cured and the city saved.

Viva Palermo e Santa Rosalia! as the locals say!

Celebrate Santa Rosalia with a special dinner at Palazzo Lanza Tomasi >> 

Photo courtesy of Lisa Limer


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