Feast of St. Rosalia in Palermo in 2020

Feast of St. Rosalia in Palermo in 2020
Each year a large boat-shaped chariot is built for the Statue of Saint Rosalia. Image via Deposit Photos
  How long until Feast of St. Rosalia?
This holiday next takes place in 299 days.
  Dates of Feast of St. Rosalia in Palermo
2021 Thu, Jul 15Regional Holiday
2020 Wed, Jul 15Regional Holiday
2019 Mon, Jul 15Regional Holiday
2018 Sun, Jul 15Regional Holiday
2017 Sat, Jul 15Regional Holiday
  Summary
Palermo honours St. Rosalia, a young woman who was credited for saving the city from plague in 1624
  Local name
Festino di Santa Rosalia

When is the Feast of Saint Rosalia?

The Feast of Saint Rosalia is a regional public holiday in Palermo, Italy on July 15th each year.

The day honours the patron saint of the city, who is credited with saving the city from plague in 1624.

History of Feast of Saint Rosalia

Palermo is located on the northern coast of Sicily and is the capital of the autonomous region of Sicily.

Rosalia was a devout Christian hermit who lived in a cave on Mount Pellegrino, a few miles north of Palermo. Rosalia died in the cave in 1166 and although she was revered during her life for her piety and had been associated with some miracles, Rosalia wasn't in line for sainthood... yet.

Our story now rolls forward almost 500 years to 1624. While Sicily was being ravaged by a recurrence of the Plague (Black Death), a Palermo soap seller had a dream. In the dream, Rosalia told him to bring her bones to the city and parade them around the streets. Her remains were found buried in her cave, brought back to Palermo and carried around the city three times, freeing Palermo from the Plague.

In honour of the miracle of saving the city, Urban VIII added Saint Rosalia's name to the Roman Martyrology on July 15th 1625,  and this is the date celebrated in Palermo, even though her actual feast day is September 4th. St. Rosalia then became the patron saint of Palermo, replacing Saints Agatha, Christina, Nympha and Olivia, who had been patron saints for different parts of the city.

All of this has led to the famous annual Festino in Palermo, the most important festival of the year in Palermo and a truly unique spectacle. On the evening of July 14th, a statue of Rosalia (known as Santuzza, the "Little Saint") is paraded through the main streets of Palermo on a massive and elaborate boat-shaped chariot, that is made each year. Pulled by oxen, the chariot is joined by colourful dancers, with cries of "Viva Palermo and Santa Rosalia" (long live Palermo and Santa Rosalia) from the crowd driving the procession on from the old town to the marina, where a large fireworks display takes place.

On July 15th, Saint Rosalia's relics are paraded around Palermo before returning to their resting place in the Cathedral, where they are blessed by the Archbishop of Palermo.

And if you want to see the cave where Rosalia's remains were found, a short bus journey will take you to a sanctuary on Mount Pellegrino.

You may also find celebrations to honour Saint Rosalia taking place in those parts of the world that have a sizeable Sicilian population, such as New York, Chicago and New Orleans.

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