If you missed the feast of Santa Rosalia, patron saint of Palermo, on 15th July, you have the chance to celebrate the Saint on 4th September, doing the experience of the so-called “acchianata” (in Sicilian dialect) climbing up Mount Pellegrino to reach the sanctuary dedicated to Saint Rosalia.
Santa Rosalia was a rich and noble Palermitian girl, Rosalia Sinibaldi, born in 1130 and died in 1166 in the cave on top of Monte Pellegrino where today stands the sanctuary, where her remains were found. Rosalia retired to the mountain, to live as a hermit, giving up the wealth of the Norman nobility.. After centuries, in 1624, while in Palermo there was a plague epidemic, the spirit of Rosalia appears in a dream to a hunterto which Rosalia told the way to rediscover her remains and asked to take them to the procession around the city. So it was done: where the remains passed, sick people healed and joined the procession. In a few days the plague stopped. Since then, the procession is repeated every year with the aim of continuing the centuries of liberation from the evils that afflict mankind.
The day of 4th September the name of Rosalia is celebrated, as one can easily imagine, many Sicilian women celebrate their name-day. But on September 4th is also a pilgrimage day : they go to the Shrine on foot along the entire route of the old street, barefooted, according to the promise made to the Holy Grace received.
The path is long and rather difficult, but once the strength of faith begins and the motivation for which it is accomplished, it gives rise to an invisible energy that gently moves towards the much desired destination: the Shrine. When you join the peak, the triumph of lights and candles, the innumerable “ex voto”, or gold and silver objects depicting the parts of the diseased body on which the saint has operated the miracle, hanging on the rocky walls of the sanctuary in exchange for a grace received, and the crowd of devotees, will pay you back the sweat and fatigue associated on the way of the rise.