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St. Rosalia of Palermo a Hope for Now

St. Rosalia of Palermo, La Santuzza
St. Rosalia of Palermo, La Santuzza, invoked in times of plague Covid 19

St. Rosalia of Palermo, known as the Little Saint, is invoked in times of pandemics. She was unknown until she came to the aid of Palermo, Italy during the Bubonic Plague, or the Black Death in the 1300’s. It is amazing how God has the right people for times in need. We are so blessed to have a little spiritual friend ready to intercede for us at the throne of God for our protection. St. Rosalia is known as a fierce protector in times of pandemics. And this Covid 19 is an evil plague. St. Rosalia pray for us!

Here is a poem about her from Italian folklore:

Rosalia, Rosalia
sat in the middle of the sea
the Archangel Gabriel
slept on the ground.

– Get up, get up, Gabriel
a storm of water is arriving
and a storm of wind.

– Storm, where are you going?

– I’m going to uproot trees
and vines.

– Do not go to uproot trees
or vines.
Begone to a dark wood
where there isn’t living
the sun, the moon, or any creature.
Where no bells are sounding
nor roosters singing.

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Artist’s Thoughts

St. Dymphna patroness of mental and nervous illness

What the Artist Thinks

I really enjoyed designing the icon of Saint Dymphna.  People ask what my thoughts were when I sat down to create this icon. So let me tell you. 

First, I studied her life to get to know her.  I studied other artists’ renditions. I thought about how she would dress and what she would like. I found that I had a lot of things to work with for this young lady ie: station in life, age, nationality, sanctity, martyrdom. 

I wanted to portray her as a 15 year old, full of life. All the other pictures I’d seen of her, showed her being much older. Even the costumes were inaccurate and from much later time periods.  I wanted to portray her as the young lady she was, so I asked Our Lady of the Mountains parishioner, Selah, who is the same age Dymphna was when she was martyred, to be my model.  

Next I researched seventh century Irish Celtic costume. St. Dymphna was an Irish princess in seventh century Ireland. When I designed her crown, I wanted to keep it Celtic, simple and youthful since she wasn’t quite an adult yet.  For her clothing, I chose purple for her cape because she was royalty. White for her gown to signify her virtue. I trimmed the collar and cuffs purple with gold. She even has tiny pearl earrings on of which you can see only one.  Like all teenage girls, I’m sure she liked jewelry.  And it would be simple because of her age and the time period. 

Then I needed to have her hold items that would identify her as Dymphna. In the early Church, many people could not read, so in order to identify the saints, the people knew what colors they wore and what they carried. Dymphna holds a candle which shows the light of Christ in her. She also holds a bouquet of lilies and palm branches. The lilies signify her purity, while the palm branches denote her martyrdom. And last, but not least, she also holds the sword of her father, the instrument of her martyrdom. 

I tried to use Celtic style wherever possible in the icon. The sword has a Celtic pattern on the handle. The trim on her collar and cuffs is also Celtic design. She has a gold Celtic shaped cross around her neck to convey her Christianity.  And for the background, green, the color of Ireland, with tone on tone shamrocks that represent the Trinity, and let you know, if there is any doubt, her Irish nationality. 

So, as you can see, an artist must put some thought into her creation. She just does not sit and start painting. 🙂

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During this time of year as we head into a season of Holidays (Holy Days), we still have a lot to be thankful for.  Even though there is still a lot of tragedy in the world with terrorism, the attacks against the Eastern Christians and many natural disasters.  We are entering into a season of hope and expectation.  It is that hope that keeps us going:  hope for that new job, that new relationship, that new child, that new home, that new trip.  Whatever it may be, keep the hope alive.  Remember:  those who have hope live better and longer lives because they have something to strive toward.  Jesus gave us hope in the Resurrection, after all He is the first born of the dead.  His life was not easy, nor will ours be.  But with trust in God, they say “all things are possible.”  Believe it: hope.

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The Great King, Humbled

Our great God comes to us again this Christmas, humbled, as a little, helpless baby.  Many through the ages have speculated why Jesus chose to be born in a lowly manger when indeed, He could have been born in the finest palace built by man.  Some say it is because of the way inns were run in those days, you never knew who your roommates were going to be.  It was common for strangers to share rooms and even beds!  That was true even up to the 18th century.  Others say that a quiet little stable out of the way was the best place for privacy and peace.

But I think that it was because since God created Nature, that was the only place for Him to be born.  He wanted to be among His creation, not man’s creation.  Merry Christmas and may God bless you!

This picture “Away in the Manger”, shows the peace and quite that only a stable can provide.