September 4

St. Rosalia

St. Rosalia


Saint Rosilia: The Enigmatic Hermit of the Sicilian Hills

When they lived:

Saint Rosilia, the enigmatic hermit of the Sicilian hills, is believed to have lived during the early medieval period,
around the 10th century. However, the exact dates of her birth and death remain shrouded in mystery, adding to the
allure of her story.

Where they lived:

Saint Rosilia’s secluded life unfolded amidst the rugged beauty of the Sicilian mountains. Legends describe her
dwelling in a hidden cave, nestled in the picturesque hills near Palermo, Italy. The serene landscapes and mystical
ambiance of her chosen abode only added to the fascination surrounding her life.

Notable world events during the time of their life:

  • The Great Comet of 961 (March 7, 961): A spectacular celestial event, the Great Comet of 961
    graced the night skies during Rosilia’s time. Its appearance sparked both fear and wonder among people,
    inspiring various interpretations and superstitions. Some believed it was a harbinger of doom, while others saw
    it as a sign of celestial blessings.
  • The Rise of the Fatimid Caliphate (909): The establishment of the Fatimid Caliphate in North
    Africa marked a significant political and religious shift in the Islamic world. The Fatimids were known for
    their tolerance towards religious minorities, which might have influenced Rosilia’s spiritual journey and
    interactions with diverse faiths.
  • The Invention of the Magnetic Compass (11th century): During Rosilia’s lifetime, the magnetic
    compass was invented in China and gradually spread to the Western world. This revolutionary navigational tool
    transformed maritime exploration, enabling sailors to venture into uncharted waters with greater confidence.
  • The founding of Al-Azhar University (970): In Cairo, Egypt, the renowned Al-Azhar University
    was established during Rosilia’s era. This institution became a center of learning, attracting scholars from
    various disciplines and fostering intellectual exchange across cultures.

Their Patronage:

Saint Rosilia is revered as the patron saint of purity, solitude, and renewal. Her life of seclusion and devotion has
made her an inspirational figure for those seeking spiritual growth and finding inner peace amidst the chaos of the

The Plague

There was a plague in Palermo in 1624, and it was a time of hardship. Rosalia reportedly appeared to a sick woman and a hunter, and she told them where her remains were. She ordered them to have her remains carried in a procession through the city.

The hunter was able to climb the indicated mountain, and he recovered her bones in the cave that had been described. The hunter also did as she had requested during the apparition. Her body was carried around the city three times, and then the plague ceased. This resulted in her being venerated as the patron saint of Palermo, and a sanctuary was built in the cave where her remains were discovered.


In 1825, a geologist named William Buckland, on his honeymoon, asked to see the bones of Rosalia, and he determined the bones to be non-human. Specifically, he said the bones belonged to a goat. However, according to Buckland, the priests told him that Rosalia would not let him see her bones because he was not a Catholic Christian.


St. Rosalia was an important subject in Italian Renaissance and Baroque painting, particularly in sacre conversazioni. A number of artists produced paintings of St. Rosalia, with the Flemish master Anthony Van Dyck producing the most paintings of her. Other artists who made her paintings include Riccardo Quartararo, Anthony da Messina, and Vincenzo La Barbara.

In the paintings by Anthony Van Dyck, she is depicted as a young woman with blonde hair wearing a Franciscan cowl, and this became the standard iconography of Rosalia. Sometimes she is also depicted as a woman holding a cross, book, skull, or spray lilies.

Some images also show her holding a chisel and harmer, with which she carved her dedication. Also, she is sometimes depicted wearing a crown of roses, attended by winged angels, often with a view through a cave opening.

Van Dyck’s series of St. Rosalia paintings have been studied by Gauvin Alexander Bailey and Xavier F. Solomon.

She is the patron saint of Parlemo in Italy, Camargo, Chihuahua, and three towns in Venezuela, namely El Hatillo, Zuata, and Anzoategui.

In Palermo, the Festino di Santa Rosalia is held every year on July 14, and it continues until the next day. Her feast day is September 4th.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Rosalia

  1. She is the saint that is invoked during times of plague and
    Since 2020, she has been invoked by some to protect them from COVID 19.
  2. A tradition of walking barefoot on the 4th of September
    Palermo up to Mount Pellegrino is observed in honor of St. Rosalia.
  3. At one point, it was proposed that she be named the patron saint.
    of evolutionary studies
  4. She is believed to have performed a miracle more than 500 years ago.
    after her death. The one where she showed people where to find her
  5. St. Rosalia is one of the most venerated saints in Christianity.

Prayer to St. 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. Rosalie. Through her prayers, help us to remember that our destiny is heaven. As St. Rosalie 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. Amen.O God, our Father, mercifully look upon Your people who come to You and grant, through the intercession of St. Rosalie, 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. Rosalie, 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. Rose, I promise henceforth to remember and follow your example of faith and love. Pray for me and mine. Amen.