Saint of the Day for 04 September: St Rosalia
St Rosalia: the patron saint of Palermo who saved the city from the plague
Virgin, hermit from Palermo
1166, Monte Pellegrino
1170, Palermo, Bishop Gualtiero Offamilio
O dear virginal Rosalie, who through your special intercession freed our homeland many times from the dreadful scourges of divine wrath, intercede for us today with the God of mercy, so that he may not look upon the enormity of our sins to punish us, but instead grant us time for penance. May your relics that are among us assure us of your protection and obtain for us from God the grace to glorify him together with you in heaven. For ever and ever, so be it.
Patron Saint of
Sicilia, Palermo, Campofelice di Roccella, Santa Margherita di Belice, Centuripe, Santo Stefano Quisquina, Bisacquino, Delia, Bivona, Vicari
In Palèrmo, the birthplace of Saint Rosalie, a Virgin from Palermo, descended from the royal blood of Charlemagne, who, for love of Christ, fled her father’s principality and palace, and, solitary in the mountains and caves, led a heavenly life.
The Saint and Mission
St. Rosalie’s life is intrinsically linked to the concept of ‘mission’ in the purest and most spiritual sense of the term. Born into an aristocratic family in Palermo, the young Rosalie could have enjoyed all the privileges and comforts that her social position offered her. However, moved by an intimate divine call, she chose to abandon everything to dedicate herself to a life of prayer and contemplation in total isolation.
Her mission was not to convert masses of people through preaching or teaching, but rather to serve as a channel of grace and intercession. Tradition has it that her prayers were instrumental in freeing Palermo from a plague epidemic, highlighting the power of the ‘invisible’ but deeply impactful mission that a single individual can have.
St Rosalie shows us that mission is not always about external action or direct evangelisation. Sometimes, the greatest mission is to become a ‘place’ of prayer and grace, a bridge between the divine and the human that can bring healing and hope in times of great suffering.
At a time when activism and productivity are often seen as the only valid ways to create impact, St Rosalie’s life reminds us of the importance of the inner mission, of the ‘doing’ that flows from ‘being’. Her mission was not planned or strategic, but rather a loving and total response to God’s call.
Ultimately, St. Rosalie teaches us that mission is as much a matter of listening and responding as it is of action; it is in silence and solitude that we can hear the voice of God calling us to serve others in ways we might never have imagined. Through his life, we learn that every mission begins with an inner yes, a yes that can have profound and saving repercussions far beyond our own little corner of the world.
The Saint and Mercy
Saint Rosalie is a figure who profoundly embodies the concept of mercy in the Christian context. Born into a noble family in Palermo, Rosalie chose a life of hermitage and prayer, turning away from earthly privileges in search of a closer union with God. Her choice of life can be seen as an act of mercy towards herself and her community: by renouncing the world, Rosalie sought an inner purification that would benefit not only her, but also those who sought her intercession.
Legend has it that her prayers interceded to save Palermo from a plague epidemic, an act that went beyond mere charity and was decidedly in the realm of divine mercy. Here, mercy manifests itself as a redemptive and healing force that goes beyond mere compassion to a love that saves and transforms.
In many ways, Saint Rosalie’s life is an example of the ‘preferential option for the poor’ that is at the heart of Christian social teaching. Her choice to abandon the privileges of nobility to live in a cave is an act of solidarity with the poorest and most needy, an embrace of the mercy that God himself shows for the humble and afflicted.
In a world that often values individuals according to their social status or material possessions, the story of Saint Rosalie is a powerful reminder of the redemptive power of mercy. Her life teaches us that mercy is not an isolated act or ephemeral feeling, but a constant disposition of the soul, a way of life that reflects God’s infinite love for all humanity.
Saint Rosalie remains a beacon of mercy, showing us that in the recognition of our common frailty and in the gesture of extending a hand towards others, we come closer to the heart of what it means to be truly human and divinely inspired.
She was born to Sinibaldo, lord of Quisquina and descendant of King Charlemagne. The parents took care to educate the girl in Christian principles. And little Rosalie corresponded to her parents’ care. She devotedly attended to pious practices, tenderly loved the Virgin Mary, and…