Feast of Santa Rosalia 2020 - Dates and Program

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Martí Micolau

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On the night between 14 and 15 July every year in Palermo the cult of the Patron Saint of the city, Santa Rosalia, in memory of the miracle that saved the city of Palermo from the terrible plague epidemic of 1624.
Over the years, the "feast" has been enriched with meanings, even secular ones, with choreographies and sets that always maintain a very strong symbolism linked to tradition and religious worship.
An unmissable appointment for any self-respecting Palermitan, the party attracts onlookers from all over Sicily and amazes tourists who, for the occasion or by chance, find themselves involved in the celebrations.


  1. Party program 2020: The party that does not exist
  2. The Theatrical Walks for Santa Rosalia
  3. The origins of the Festino: the history of Santa Rosalia
  4. Info
  5. User questions and comments

2020 edition: the limitations imposed by the battle against Covid-19 prevented the organization of the main secular and religious events. The 2020 program does not include the traditional procession, let alone concerts and celebrations with great fanfare.

Party program 2020: The party that does not exist

In 2020, the traditional procession that sees the celebratory float parade along the "Cassaro" (Corso Vittorio Emanuele) was canceled due to Coronavirus. The Program has profoundly changed due to the restrictions due to the terrible pandemic that has shocked the world.

The moments of celebration are replaced by broadcast of a documentary film entitled "Suspended Palermo - Il Festino che non c'e", directed by Costanza Quatriglio, is a work produced by the Experimental Center of Cinematography, which recounts the suggestions of "a suspended city in which the everyday, the sacred and the myth are intimately connected to the cult of his Santuzza ".

Below you will find more info about the program:

  • 10 day: mass and lighting of a commemorative candle for the victims of the coronavirus;
  • Day 11, 12 and 13: the traditional triduum; the mass in the Palazzo di Città will be replaced on the 13th by the deed of entrustment to Santa Rosalia in the chapel of Palazzo delle Aquile;
  • 14 day: Vespers will take place in the churchyard at 19:30 pm. In the evening the film will be broadcast on the web and on all local television stations;
  • 15 day: the Pontifical will be celebrated in the churchyard of the Cathedral, and the archbishop will address the traditional message to the city.

The Theatrical Walks for Santa Rosalia

In the absence of the classic celebrations for the Festino, the tourist guide association GTI on 14 and 18 July organizes theatrical walks through the alleys and streets of the historic center. An initiative to bring Palermo closer to history and folklore through an unusual itinerary enriched with anecdotes and art, stopping off in the iconic places of Santuzza.

  • Dates: 14 and 18 July at 18:00
  • Meeting point: piazza San Domenico - Get directions
  • Reservations required: 3479535140; 3290106089 (also WhatsApp)
  • Duration: about 2 hours
  • Cost of the visit: € 12,00 per person - Free for children up to 10 years (visit conducted by qualified tour guides)
  • The tour will be carried out in compliance with the regulations for protecting the health of the citizen.

The origins of the Festino: the history of Santa Rosalia

Rosalia Sinibaldi was born in Palermo in 1128. Girl of noble origins, she lived her youth in the comforts of the Norman court of Roger II, until a fortuitous episode changed her life radically: Count Baldovino, during a hunting trip, saved the life of the King Roger, attacked by a ferocious beast. The Norman king was immensely grateful to the young man, promising him any reward. Count Baldovino's request was the young Rosalia, who she was thus betrothed to him.
The very young Rosalia did not want to think even for a moment about the possibility of marrying the count, and the day after the request, she cut her blond braids and took the vows.
He decided to find shelter in one cave on Monte Pellegrino. There too it was soon reached by pilgrimages, and the 4 September 1165 she was found dead in the cave, aged only 37.

The Miracle of Santa Rosalia

In 1624 Palermo was threatened by a terrible plague epidemic, which was decimating the population day after day. At that time, in the Sicilian capital there was the cult of 4 Patron Saints, one for each district, placed in the central niches of the Quattro Canti, in the heart of the city center: Santa Ninfa, Santa Cristina, Santa Oliva and Sant'Agata. However, the prayers addressed to them had no effect.
Some time before, a hunter received a visit from a Virgin in a dream, who invited him to go in search of relics of Santa Rosalia on Monte Pellegrino, right near the cave that housed the young Rosalia until her death. The hunter armed with courage climbed the imposing promontory, starting the search for the bones with good cheer. Once found, he hands them over to the then Archbishop of Palermo, but many doubts emerged about the veracity of the story and, therefore, of the relics themselves.

While the terrible "Black Death" epidemic raged, a poor soap maker, Vincenzo Bonelli, who lived by bartering furniture and had lost his wife because of the plague, decided to end it all and, having climbed to the top of Monte Pellegrino, was collecting all the energy and courage to throw yourself down. Just at that moment, a young and luminous figure of a pilgrim appeared before him, urging him to follow his instructions: he told him to come down from the mountain, be received by the Archbishop and inform him that the relics about which so many doubts had been raised, were in his truths, of the young Rosalia Sinibaldi, and that as soon as these were carried in procession, the plague would suddenly end. As proof of the truth of what has been said, the figure prophesied to the man, up to that moment remained immune to the epidemic, death: And as a sign of the truth, on arriving in Palermo, you will fall ill with this infirmity and you will die. Poor Vincenzo Bonelli faced with this event could not help but carry out what was indicated to him.
The Archbishop found the membership sudden collapse of human conditions, and having made all previous attempts in vain, he decided to give credit to his words and carry the bones in procession along the streets of the city.
The Plague vanished in a short time, as only a miracle would have been able to do: since then, no one allowed himself to doubt the Saint, who in one fell swoop ousted the 4 previous patrons, rising to the role of one and only Patron Saint of Palermo.

The party today

Since then, almost without interruption, the Festino di Santa Rosalia is celebrated every year on the 14th and 15th of July.
The celebrations consist of a procession of the launch through the streets of the Cassaro, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the main artery of the city. After crossing Porta Felice, the procession ends at the sea, with a riot of fireworks, representing the passage from darkness (death) to light (life).
The chariot in recent years has taken the form of a dark colored boat, representing the ships of the "Turks" who brought the plague from North Africa. The chariot is dominated by the figure of the Saint and by ornaments that contain the symbolism of the name of her name: roses and a lily (Rosa - Lilium).

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  • Date: from 10 to 15 July 2020
  • Location: Palermo, Centro Storico - Get directions
  • Entrance: free
  • Contact us: amministrazione@festinosantarosalia.palermo.it

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