|THE FEAST OF SANTA
SANTO STEFANO QUISQUINA, PROVIDENCE OF AGRIGENTO, SICILY
Santa Rosalia, clearly holds a special place in
the hearts of many Sicilians, who have affectionately nicknamed her La
Santuzza, the little saint. During the first week of June every year
in Santo Stefano Quisquina, there is a special celebration to commemorate
her miraculous intervention that saved Palermo from the Black Plague. Rosalia
was the daughter of Duke Sinibaldo, Lord of the Quisquina and the Roses,
who was a cousin of King William II of Sicily. Like Saint Francis of Assisi,
Rosalia turned her back on a life of ease and chose to devote herself to
prayer and solitude. The legend says that in 1159 she retired to a hermetic
existence in a remote cave on Monte Pellegrino, the rocky cliff high above
the Bay of Palermo. Nothing was heard from her again until 1624, when the
plague arrived in Sicily.
Salvation to Sicily came in the unexpected form of La
Santuzza, who appeared in a vision to a hunter lost on Monte Pellegrino.
"Don't worry," she said "I will protect you and I will protect the city".
She revealed to him the site of the cave in which she had lived as a hermit
and told him to go back to Palermo and alert the archbishop and rulers
of the city. The hunter did as he was instructed, and those leaders found
her remains and displayed them through the streets of Palermo. Within three
days, the plague ended, and she was proclaimed patron saint of the city.