The feast day is in July…

Posted by Ken Campbell March 17, 2008 0 Comment 505 views
Have you ever heard of Santa Rosalia? Don’t feel bad if you haven’t; it might actually be surprising if you had. La Santuzza, the little saint. It would be even more surprising if you knew of her connection to the Olympic Peninsula.

Rosalia was the daughter of Duke Sinibaldo, Lord of the Quisquina and the Roses, who was a cousin of King William II of Sicily. She grew up in the town of Santo Stephano Quisquina in the Province of Agrigento, Sicily. Like Saint Francis of Assisi, Rosalia turned her back on the easy life of royalty (back when being a Duke’s daughter really meant something), and chose to devote herself to prayer and solitude. The way I’ve heard it told, in 1159 she removed herself tired to a remote cave on Monte Pellegrino, the rocky cliff high above the Bay of Palermo, and lived out a hermit’s life. She was never seen again.

In 1624, the Black Plague was ravaging Europe and the suffering had arrived in Rosalia’s home town as well. Just as looked hopeless, La Santuzza 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 led him to the site of the cave in which she had lived, and told him to go back to Palermo and alert the archbishop and city fathers. The hunter did as he was instructed, and the group found her remains and displayed them through the streets of Palermo. Within three days, the plague had been eliminated and she was proclaimed patron saint of the city.

A hundred-and-fifty years later, in 1774, a Spanish ship lay off the coast of the what would one day be Washington state. The ship’s navigator, a young sailor named Juan Perez, scanned the peaks to the east, covered in snow, sparkling against an azure sky. As he noted the highest of the mountains in his charts, he named them. Some of the names stuck and are still in use today but Spanish influence in the area was on the wane, and history was not on his side. Later, in 1788, Captain John Meares would affix the name Olympic to the entire range. It’s original name?

Sierra Nevada de Santa Rosalia.

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