Saint Rosalia is the holy protectress of the town of Palermo. It is an history of a rich and noble young girl of Palermo, Rosalia Sinibaldi, born in 1130. She gave up all the richness, and went to live on the Pilgrim Mountain, the mountain which dominates palermo, to lead a life from hermit. She dead very young in 1166 in a cave, on the same mountain where is still today the sanctuary dedicated to her, and where, probably, her body were found. The cult of Saint Rosalia is already documented from 1196. The most ancient cult of which track is had goes up again to 1375. In that period in all Sicily an hard plague burst. According to such cult Saint Rosalia appeared to a virgin telling her that if they had built a church in her honour the plague would be ceased. However one did not believe this apparition. The next year the Saint one appeared again , urging them another turns. As soon as the church was built the plague ceased. In the next time of plague of 1575-76 the Saint one was again invoked, and the totality of the born child was almost baptized with her name. In 1601 the priest Ruggero from Bivona, a little town in the centre of Sicily, made the sculputure that still today bring the body of Sain Rosaliawhich on the procession of 4 of September. But the event to which more the name and the veneration of Santa Rosalia is connected is the plague of 1624. In fact in those years a ship coming from Africa landed before at Trapani and then at Palermo, taking awful an epidemy of plague. Palermo was turned soon into a lazaret and subsequently in a cemetery. The chronicles of that time say as people died on the roads without any chance. Saint Rosalia appeared in dream before to one sick and subsequently to an hunter , which was wandering for the pilgrim mountain, in consequence of the death of the wife. To him Saint Rosalia showed the road to find his body , and asked to take it to procession for the town. History says that where the body of Saint Rosalia were showed the patients were recovered immediatly and could join to the procession. The town was free in few days by the plague. Since that day, every year on July 14, the procession was repeated. The meaning of the ritual is to free the humanity from the evil. The "istinu", given name to this fest is therefore an appointment which is repeated for the inhabitants of Palermo from 1624. This fest is composed of a teatharl part in which the events of the plague of 1624 are repeated and remembered, and of procession of a waggon. This waggon is caried through the historical way of the town from the Cathedral to the sea, where is fired an impressive amount of artifice fires (joy fires) to celebrate and recall the liberation from the plague. The next day, on July 15, the statue of Saint Rosalia and his body, worshipped in cathedral, are taken through the same way, with a waggon that in the ancient times was towed by oxes or other animals (in 1600 it was even towed by elephants). The popular participation to the “Festino” is impressive. The people are in fact more than 100,00 that annually follow the waggon and the “Festino” in honour of Saint Rosalia.
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