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7 Sep

The walk up to the Sanctuary of Saint Rosalie

Every year, the night between the third and the fourth September Palermo celebrates the rite of “Acchianata “of Saint Rosalie – the walk up to the Sanctuary of Saint Rosalie.

The walk up in honour of Saint Rosalie

During the night many faithful people joined by others start the journey up from the feet of Mount Pellegrino to its top, where the Sanctuary dedicated to the Saint stands. The path taken for the “acchianata” was projected by the local Senate in 1674 and achieved in 1725.

The pilgrimage includes some stops for religious ceremonies along the way up, as this moment celebrates the ascent of Saint Rosalie to the Heaven. For the people of Palermo, it also means a moment of joy and distraction, so that they can taste a great variety of specialities and even buy souvenirs at the numerous street vendors that abound in the square opposite the Sanctuary.

The sanctuary on top of the Mount Pellegrino

Its XVII century façade leans against the rocky face of the natural grotto inside which the bones of the Saint were found out.  So an open air hall introduces into a space where a statue of the Saint can be admired along with a series of precious ex-voto and other gifts.

Then the inner part of the Sanctuary treasures in a glass case another statue depicting the Saint, better known and referred to by locals as Santuzza “the little saint”, lying down and fully covered by jewels offered by faithful people. The inner walls of the grotto seep water continuously, which is considered miraculous.

People’s devotion to Saint Rosalie

But all the people from Palermo have done that walk at least once in their life. The “acchianata” can be taken through the entire month of September.

Who is Saint Rosalie

Rosalie is a young girl from Palermo, belonging to a local noble family. When still adolescent she was betrothed to a man she refused because her desire was to dedicate her entire life to Jesus.  She led an ascetic life and took shelter in a grotto of Mount Quisquina for a quite long time. She is told she left this refuge and moved to another grotto on Mount Pellegrino, where she died in September 4th 1165. Moreover, in 1624, the plague was raging throughout the town and in the same year the bones of the young hermit were found out. The discovery of the bones put to the very end the plague and Rosalie was proclaimed the Patron Saint of the town.

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