Tomorrow 14th of July, the people of Palermo will celebrate one of the most important festivals in their calendar year. The festival “par excellence” is an event that represents the union between sacred and profane, devotion and entertainment. It is the quintessential of the real “palermitanità”: in short, tomorrow the people of Palermo will celebrate the legendary “Festino di Santa Rosalia”, the Feast dedicated to Santa Rosalia.
Santa Rosalia or the “Santuzza” is the patron saint of Palermo and is widely venerated here.
In spite of its name, which depicts a term of endearment, the “Festino” (small festa), is really a big deal; it consists of a procession of a massive float containing a statute of Santa Rosalia through the main streets of the city to commemorate the miracle attributed to her in 1624. It is believed by the vast majority of people, that Santa Rosalia freed the city from the Black Death. A journey from death (the plague) to life is represented by the light of the marvellous fireworks greeting the Saint on her arrival at the seashore together with live music.
In the early 17th century, the bones of Santa Rosalia were discovered in a cave in Monte Pellegrino, where she had spent a number of years living as a hermit. In 1624, her relics were carried around the city three times and the plague of the Black Death is said to have been lifted from the city. There is a Santuario (sahrine marking the spot where her relics were found and this can be reached via a scenic bus ride from the city below. For more information click here to see the extensive programme of events and celebrations.
This year, for the second year in succession, the “Festino di Santa Rosalia” will also host a flash mob. The aim of this event is to raise awareness of a campaign against “il femminicidio” or femicide. It is also another way to say “no” to discriminations and domestic violence against women.
The ‘Nessuno tocchi Rosalia’ – “Nobody touch Rosalia” takes place on the 13th – 14th July and hopes to heighten awareness of violence against women. This campaign is meant to be a “call for action”. On these dates at 7 pm people bring a flower to piazza Politeama in Palermo and can partake in the flash mob. There will be an installation made of 223 female shapes in the square. These shapes will be outlined in chalk, holding hands and in a long chain. These 223 shapes correspond to the number of women killed in Italy in the last two years.
Rosalia herself fell victim to the strong influences and pressure from her family. She eventually managed to escape and find refuge in Monte Pellegrino and she lived the remainder of her days there as a hermit. The story and struggles of Rosalia are the inspiration and symbol behind this awareness campaign.