Patroness of Palermo, Italy; d. 1160. All information about her before 1624 is purely legendary. An inscription, seemingly composed by Rosalia herself, was not found until 40 days after her body was discovered and has no serious claim to authenticity. According to the inscription and legend, she was the daughter of Count Sinibaldi, lord of Quisquina and Rosa, in Sicily. Apparently she was a Basilian nun at first, then retired to live as a recluse on Monte Coschina and later in a grotto on Monte Pellegrino near Palermo. In the great plague of 1624, her body was discovered and brought in solemn procession to Palermo, and since then she has been venerated as the patroness of the city. Pope urban viii placed her name in the Roman martyrology in 1630. Her cult has had a wide diffusion in Sicily and Italy and has been carried overseas by Italian emigrants. The caves in which she lived have been transformed into chapels, and her body rests in a splendid chapel in the cathedral of Palermo. A rich folklore has developed around St. Rosalia.
Feast: Sept. 4 and July 15 (the finding of her body).
Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum Sept. 2:278–414. a. m. zimmermann, Kalendarium Benedictinum: Die Heiligen und Seligen des Benediktinerorderns und seiner Zweige, 4 v. (Metten 1933–38) 3:15. l. rÉau, Iconographie de l'art chrétien, 6 v. (Paris 1955–59) 3.3:1170–71. c. civello, Santa Rosalia (Rome 1967). i. sucato, Santa Rosalia, patrona di Palermo (Palermo 1976). p. collura, Santa Rosalia nella storia e nell'arte (Palermo 1977). j. bargallÓ valls and r. g. minguella, La festa major de Torredembarra a la segona meitat del segle XIX (Torredembarra, Spain 1988), cult. v. petrarca, Di Santa Rosalia, vergine palermitana (Palermo 1988).
[m. r. p. mcguire]