Sainte Rosalie : La Patronne de Palerme et Sa Légende-RELICS

Saint Rosalie: The Patroness of Palermo and Her Legend

Saint Rosalia, also known as Rosalia of Palermo, is an emblematic figure of Christianity, particularly venerated in Sicily and more precisely in Palermo, of which she is the patron saint. Its history, which combines legend and historical reality, has had a profound impact on Sicilian culture and religiosity.

Life of Saint Rosalie

Rosalie was born in the 12th century, around 1130, into a noble Norman family from Palermo. His parents, Duke Sinibaldi and Duchess Quisquina, were close to the Norman royal court. From a young age, Rosalie showed deep piety and an intense desire to devote herself to God. Refusing an arranged marriage, she chose to lead the life of a hermit.

According to tradition, she retired to a cave on Monte Pellegrino, a mountain overlooking Palermo, where she lived in solitude, prayer and asceticism. She would have remained there until her death in 1166, at the age of 36.

The Legend and the Rediscovery of the Relics

The story of Saint Rosalie experienced a spectacular resurgence in the 17th century, in 1624, when a plague epidemic ravaged Palermo. According to legend, Rosalie appeared in a dream to a devout woman and a hunter, indicating the location of her relics in a cave on Monte Pellegrino. Their discoveries and the procession of his relics through the streets of Palermo are said to have miraculously ended the epidemic. This event marked the beginning of a fervent cult of Saint Rosalie.

Devotion and Worship

Devotion to Saint Rosalie is particularly strong in Palermo, where she is honored as the "Santuzza" (the Little Saint). Every year, on July 15, the city celebrates the "Festino di Santa Rosalia", a grandiose celebration that lasts several days. Festivities include processions, prayers, fireworks and shows. The statue of Saint Rosalia is carried through the streets of the city to Palermo Cathedral, followed by thousands of faithful.

In addition, the sanctuary of Monte Pellegrino, where his relics were found, is an important place of pilgrimage. Many believers climb the mountain on foot, often barefoot, as a sign of devotion and penance.

Iconography and Symbolism

Saint Rosalie is often represented with symbols that recall her life as a hermit and her connection to the plague. She is usually depicted wearing a monk's habit, often with a crown of roses, a reminder of her name and purity. Sometimes she is shown holding a cross or a skull, symbols of her meditation on death and her ascetic life.

Cultural Influence

The figure of Saint Rosalie has also inspired numerous works of art, literature and music. She is immortalized in paintings, sculptures and stained glass windows. The painter Anthony van Dyck, for example, created several works depicting her, including "Saint Rosalia Interceding for the Plague of Palermo." Its history and worship have also influenced Sicilian popular culture, particularly in stories, songs and oral traditions.


Saint Rosalie is much more than just a religious figure; she is a symbol of hope, healing and faith for the people of Palermo and beyond. His legend, worship and miracles continue to inspire generations of believers and pilgrims, testifying to his lasting impact on Sicilian spirituality and culture. His life and devotion remain a shining example of piety and devotion to God, leaving an indelible mark on the history of Christianity in Sicily.

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