St Rosalia healing oil
The St Rosalia healing oil is dedicated to the 12th century Italian saint who is invoked against plagues.
St Rosalia, daughter of Sinibald, Lord of Roses and Quisquina, was a descendant of the great Charlemagne. She was born at Palermo in Sicily. In her youth, her heart turned from earthly vanities to God. She left her home and took up her abode in a cave, on the walls of which she wrote these words: “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.” She remained there entirely hidden from the world.
She practiced great mortifications and lived in constant communion with God. Afterward she transferred her abode to Mount Pellegrino, about three miles from Palermo, in order to triumph entirely over the instincts of flesh and blood, in sight of her paternal home. She is said to have appeared after death and to have revealed that she spent several years in a little excavation near the grotto. She died alone, in 1160, ending her strange and wonderful life unknown to the world. Her body was discovered several centuries later, in 1625, during the pontificate of Pope Urban VIII. Her feast day is September 4th.
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.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.