July 15, 2019

Feast of Santa Rosalia (Il Festino)

Viva Santa Rosalia!
July 15th is the feast day of Santa Rosalia, patroness of Palermo, Sicily. The celebration recalls her intercession on behalf of the Palermitani and the lifting of the plague of 1625. Each year since the miracle, the relics of la Santuzza, or Little Saint, as her Sicilian devotees affectionately call her, are paraded through the crowded streets of Palermo on an ornate chariot. [She is also fĂȘted on September 4th, her Liturgical feast day.]
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 of Saint Rosalie Interceding for the Plague-stricken of Palermo by Flemish master Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) was taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Van Dyck was in Palermo during the plague and his paintings of the "Little Saint" were in great demand.
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.