The feast of Saint Rosalia: religion, tradition and folklore

Saint RosaliaJuly doesn’t mean only summer and holidays. Because if you visit Palermo in this period, July means more. It’s the month of Saint Rosalia, the patron of the city. It’s one of the oldest traditions in Sicily and Sicilian Secrets is going to show you more about this huge celebration.

Mid-July, Palermo. Whoever decides to visit Sicily in summer cannot miss the so-called Fistinu, the feast of Saint Rosalia. The city becomes a sort of theatre dedicated to religion, traditions, colors and music. We are talking about an incredible experience…but do you know why people from Palermo are so devoted to her?

Saint Rosalia

Saint Rosalia, who was she?

Saint Rosalia is often called (in Sicilian dialect) ‘La Santuzza’. She belonged to the noble family of Sinibaldi and both to escape the will of her parents who forced her to a marriage for convenience, and because of her strong devotion to the Lord, she decided to live as a hermit on Mount Pellegrino (Palermo) and died alone in 1166. According to the legend, when in 1624 plague tormented Palermo, Saint Rosalia appeared to a hunter. She told him where her abandoned remains were to be found, asked him to bring them out of the cave to Palermo and organize a procession through the streets of the town. The hunter accepted and after her relics were carried around the city three times, the plague ceased.

Saint Rosalia

Nowadays, it’s possible to visit her sanctuary on Mount Pellegrino and in Palermo she’s celebrated on July 15th.

The feast

The feast of Saint Rosalia takes place every July 14th and generally around midnight, fireworks enlighten the sky of the city. The procession starts in the evening from the Cathedral and the last stop is at Foro Italico, right next to the harbor. It’s an outstanding parade that attracts many people coming from each part of Palermo and also curious visitors that for the first time bump into this timeless tradition.

Saint Rosalia

The centerpiece is the triumphal vessel-shaped float with the statue of Saint Rosalia. Every year it’s different, many artists are involved and without a doubt, it’s the symbol of the holiday. Amazing spectacular effects and choreographies characterize this event that we can define a true celebration of life. People never forget to pray loud, Viva Palermo e Santa Rosalia!

Saint Rosalia
The float

Sicilian folklore

The Fistinu is a high expression of Sicilian folklore. Not only religion, this celebration includes music, shows and also a fair where you can buy candies, street food, etc. Are you a food explorer? Taste babbaluci, small boiled snails with garlic, parsley and olive oil and finish your meal with a slice of watermelon…this is the real flavor of this holiday!

Saint Rosalia

Are you interested in visiting Palermo and knowing more about this celebration? Discover the tours that Dimensione Sicilia created for you and join the visitors that each year enjoy the feast of Saint Rosalia.


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