September 4

St. Rosalia

St. Rosalia

Also known as the little saint, St Rosalia was born in 1130 and she diedat the young age of 36 in 1166. She was born from a noble family thatdescended from Charlemagne.

St Rosalia was a devoted religious individual who went on to live as ahermit in a cave in Mount Pellegrino. She stayed there until she died insolitude in 1166. She is also believed to have been led to the cave bytwo angels and she wrote on the cave wall that she was going to live inthe cave for the love of my Lord, Jesus Christ.

St Rosalia practiced great mortification and lived in constant communionwith God. When she moved to Mount Pellegrino, it was her way of entirelytriumphing over the instincts of flesh and blood. She had a strange yetwonderful life.

The Plague

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

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


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


St Rosalia was an important subject in Italian Renaissance and Baroquepainting particularly in sacre conversazioni. A number of artistsproduced a painting of St Rosalia with the Flemish master Anthony VanDyck producing the most paintings of her. Other artists who made herpaintings include Riccardo Quartararo, Anthonello da Messina andVincenzo La Barbara.

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

Some images also show her holding a chisel and harmer with which shecarved her dedication. Also, she is sometimes depicted wearing a crownof roses, attended by winged angels often with a view through a caveopening.

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

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

In Palermo the Festino di Santa Rosalia is held every year on 14 Julyand it continues until the next day. Her feast day is September the4th.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Rosalia

  1. She is the saint that is invoked during the time of a plague and
    from 2020 she has been invoked by some to protect them from covid 19.
  2. A tradition of walking barefoot on the 4th of September from
    Palermo up to Mount Pellegrino is observed in honour of St Rosalia.
  3. At one point it was proposed that she be named as the patron saint
    of evolutionary studies.
  4. She is believed to have performed a miracle more than 500 years
    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 wecan draw near to You through the prayers of St. Rosalie. Through herprayers, help us to remember that our destiny is heaven.As St. Rosalie gave up all things in this world for the sake of YourKingdom, through her prayers, may we love more fully Your Son our LordJesus Christ, who together with You and the Holy Spirit are one Godforever and ever. Amen.O God, our Father, mercifully look upon Your people who come to You andgrant through the intercession of St. Rosalie, who turned away fromearthly delights to the joys of contemplation, that we may be deliveredfrom all harm here on earth and one day be welcomed into the Kingdom ofHeaven.St. Rosalie, confessor and virgin, we pray to God for our families andfriends. Through your powerful prayers, may we obtain health, life, andeternal salvation. I also pray today for this special need and intention(make your intention known). O glorious virgin and confessor, St.Rosalie, I promise henceforth to remember and follow your example offaith and love. Pray for me and mine.Amen.