Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/294

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

250 The Dancing- Tozver Processions of Italy.

The Festival of Santa Rosalia at Palermo.

This festival, remarkable for the length of its duration, is celebrated during the latter end of June and the first days of July. It was instituted, or probably revived, in the first half of the seventeenth century to commemorate the cessation of the plague by the intervention of the city's special [patroness Santa Rosalia, daughter of Count Sinibaldo. On June 5th, 1635, the bones of the saint, long hidden in a cave on Monte Pellegrino, were brought down in solemn procession, and as they passed through the streets the plague was stayed. In 1858 the annual festival was discontinued, but was revived in 1895 under conditions suitable to modern requirements. I have not been able to verify exactly what takes place at the present time, the most recent account before me being no later than 1826. Lasting in all for nearly four weeks, the interest of the festival centres more especially on two events. On June 24th, Midsummer Day, the sleigh or trolly, which carries the car, is thrown into the sea amid universal rejoicings, to be withdrawn a few days later. On July nth the car, a huge structure 30 metres high and 22 broad, is drawn through the streets by twenty yoke of oxen. On its summit stands Santa Rosalia, a slender girlish figure robed in white and wreathed with roses. Surrounding her are groups of angels, and con- spicuous among a crowd of allegorical figures are Ceres, the earth mother, and a crowned man with a falcon on his wrist, the tutelary genius of the city. The lowest platform of the car, which is profusely decorated and painted, has the form of a ship. Four days later the relics of the saint, contained in a magnificent silver urn, are carried through the streets by the Muratori (masons), and are accompanied by the barelli (biers or stretchers) of other guilds. Many of these bavtlli are of great size and require a large number of bearers. They contain relics