September 4, 2018

Feast of Santa Rosalia

Viva Santa Rosalia!
Photo courtesy of Niccolò Graffio
September 4th is the Feast Day of Santa Rosalia, virgin and hermitess. Patroness of Palermo, Sicily, la Santuzza, or the Little Saint, as she is affectionately called, is also invoked against storms, famines and other natural disasters. Devotees traditionally celebrate the holy day with a pilgrimage to her sanctuary on Monte Pellegrino. [She is also fêted on July 15th, the anniversary Palermo's deliverance from the plague of 1625.]
According to tradition, Rosalia was born of noble birth in Palermo in 1130, the same year Roger II was crowned King of Sicily. Like most of the island’s inhabitants at the time, she was a Byzantine Rite (Greek Rite) Catholic. Renouncing her life of privilege and comfort the pious maiden devoted herself to prayer and solitude, living the ascetic life of a hermit in a remote cave on Mount Pellegrino, where she died in 1166. 
Centuries later, in 1625, a terrible plague broke out in Palermo causing much death and suffering. She appeared in a vision to a local hunter and revealed the location of her remains on the mountain. In a nearby cave the huntsman discovered her relics with an inscription on the wall that read: 
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.
Carried in procession, Rosalia's relics were translated to Palermo. Three days later, on July 15th, the plague miraculously ended and the city was saved.
In celebration, I'm posting a prayer to Santa Rosalia. The accompanying photo was taken at the Santuario di Santa Rosalia on top of Monte Pellegrino.
Prayer to Saint Rosalia
Father in heaven, we thank You for the communion of saints so that we can draw near to You through the prayers of St. Rosalia. Through her prayers help us to remember that our destiny is heaven. As St. Rosalia gave up all things in this world for the sake of Your Kingdom, through her prayers may we love more fully Your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, who together with You and the Holy Spirit are one God forever and ever. O God, our Father, mercifully look upon Your people who come to You and grant through the intercession of St. Rosalia, who turned away from earthly delights to the joys of contemplation, that we may be delivered from all harm here on earth and one day be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven. St. Rosalia, confessor and virgin, we pray to God for our families and friends. Through your powerful prayers, may we obtain health, life, and eternal salvation. I also pray today for this special need and intention (make your intention known). O glorious virgin and confessor, St. Rosalia, I promise henceforth to remember and follow your example of faith and love. Pray for me and mine. Amen.