April 18, 2016

2472 ITALY (Sicily) - The feast of Santa Rosalia in Palermo

Saint Rosalia (1130-1166), also called La Santuzza (The Little Saint), and in local dialect as Rusalia, is the patron saint of Palermo, and hers celebration, called the festino, is still held each year on July 15, and is a major social and religious event in the city. According to the legend, four centuries after her death, in 1624, Saint Rosalia appeared to a hunter during a great plague in order to make honor to her remains. Miraculously such relics, passing through the streets of Palermo, healed the people from the disease who followed in procession.

The procession starts at the Cathedral and reaches the Foro Italico through Cassaro; it follows a path full of references to pain that culminates in the joyful celebration of life, with a big show of fireworks. The Archbishop and the Mayor of Palermo are the head of the procession; they drive the people who energetically celebrate the Saint and keep joining a more and more impressive parade. The center of the procession is the magnificent vessel-shaped chariot, which is built different every year and it carries the Statue of Saint Rosalia.

It is a true itinerant stage, 10m high and almost as long, pulled by oxen (in the 17th century they were apparently pulled by elephants!) and richly decorated with roses, angels, cherubs, newts, that merge from gold and baroque colors. All around the, the people keep dancing, creating amazing choreographies with lighting effects, while praising Viva Palermo and Santa Rosalia! On July 15th, the relics of the Saint are carried around in a silver urn and Masses are celebrated in her honor; finally the urn returns to the Cathedral to be blessed by the Archbishop of Palermo.

About the stamp
The stamp are part of the series Parks, Gardens and Botanic Gardens, about which I wrote here.

The feast of Santa Rosalia - Visit Sicily

Sender: Marius Vasilescu
Sent from Palermo (Sicily / Italy), on 14.09.2015
Photo: Antonino Bartuccio

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