Sunday, July 9, 2017

271. The Tourist does Art #14 - then Heads up the Hill

Setting up a work space in my Palermo apartment was an early task when I arrived here three weeks ago, as I was pretty sure this city with its grand architecture and Baroque churches would inspire me to create an artwork reflecting my impressions ...

So I worked on two pieces - but only finished one - the other half cooked piece will have to wait for completion at my next stop ...
 Rosalia is looking out for you ...
250 x 300 x 35 mm
and weighing as light as a feather

The piece started out as per usual with me scrounging through a rubbish skip bin for some suitable cardboard ... then home and cut up to suitable sizes - glued them together - and covered the form with thick industrial paper - painted it with sepia-coloured ink - and finally painted it with all-purpose PVA glue to seal-in the colour and give the frame a depth and lustre.

I purchased the Medieval-era map of the city and the Saint Rosalia medallion ( she is the patron saint of Palermo ) from a stall at a local flea market, and the paper for the scrolls is from an Italian book on Buddhism ( appropriate, as I'm sure Rosalia would have also embraced Buddhism had she known about it back in the 12th century ) ...  

The piece contains approx 380 scrolls ( without television what else do you do at night ... !!! ) - the scrolls represent a small fraction of the many secret petitions placed at the Saint's feet over the centuries.

I'll be leaving this piece as a gift to my artist-herself host here in Palermo.


And so to find out a bit more on the Rosalia legend, I hop on a local bus and head high up to the top of Mount Pellegrino - overlooking the city - where a Sanctuary has been built into the side of the cliff and surrounding the cave where Rosalia lived and died many centuries ago.  

Saint Rosalia ( 1130–1166 ), also called La Santuzza or "The Little Saint", and in Sicilian as "Rusulia", is the patron saint of Palermo. She was born of a Norman noble family that claimed descent from Charlemagne. Devoutly religious, she retired to live as a hermit in a cave on Mount Pellegrino ( above Palermo ), where she died alone in 1166. Tradition says that she was led to the cave by two angels. On the cave wall she wrote "I, Rosalia, daughter of Sinibald, Lord of Roses, and Quisquina, have taken the resolution to live in this cave " for the love of my Lord, Jesus Christ." 

In 1624, a plague beset Palermo. During this hardship Saint Rosalia appeared first to a sick woman, then to a hunter, to whom she indicated where her remains were to be found. She ordered him to bring her bones to Palermo and have them carried in procession through the city.The hunter climbed the mountain and found her bones in the cave as described. He did what she had asked in the apparition. After her remains were carried around the city three times, the plague ceased.

After this Saint Rosalia was venerated as the patron saint of Palermo, and a sanctuary was built in the cave where her remains were discovered.


The entrance to the atrium is entered into the cave cavity, where on the left under a canopy of Baroque shapes is preserved the sacred image of the Santa, carved by Gregorio Tedeschi a Florentine artist, circa 1630. Santa Rosalia is represented in the " Ecstasy of her passing".

About a century later, Charles III of Bourbon - on the occasion of his Palermo wedding - gave the patron saint of Palermo the sumptuous golden dress that covers it.

At the entrance to the Sanctuary is another effigy of the Saint where worshipers seeking Rosalia's assistance leave items pertaining to their petition ... 

A network of almost surreal metal gutters criss-cross the ceiling, channeling water seeping through the cave's rocky ceiling away from dripping onto visitors to the Sanctuary,

So after that brief encounter with the Saint I'm back onto the bus - for the 40 minute "fly" down the hill at break-neck speed back - and into the heat of the city ...

 the road zig-zags its way 600 metres from the city below to the top 

looking North out into the Tyrrhenian Sea

And so with the good Saint pointing the direction to my next destination, 
it's almost time to say arrivederci to Palermo ...