Santa Rosalia Statue
Near the entrance to Fishermans Wharf, yet seldom noticed, is Monterey's statue of Santa Rosalia. This statue was erected in 1929 "in memory of those courageous Sicilian fishermen whose labors and pioneering spirit, at the beginning of the 20th Century, created and developed a great sardine industry and whose heritage and culture contributed significantly to the growth of the city and its surrounding area." Santa Rosalia has been adopted as the patron saint of Monterey's Italian fishermen.
Monterey celebrates a week-long Festa Italia/Santa Rosalia Festival in early September each year, with the 2007 event being the 74th consecutive year of the celebration. During this event, besides lots of church, food, and drink, a traditional parade moves from San Carlos Cathedral to the Commercial Wharf to bless the fishing fleet. This cart that has been historically used to transport the statue is located in the Monterey Maritime Museum on Custom House Plaza.
Santa Rosalia was born in Palermo in 1130 AD, a distant relative of Charlemagne. A religious woman, she secluded herself in a cave on Sicily's Mount Pellegrino, and died around 1166. In 1624 when the Black Plague was decimating Europe, her image appeared to a hunter who climbed the mountain and found her remains. After her bones were paraded through the streets as she had requested of the hunter, the plague cleared and she was named the patron saint of Palermo. Throughout Sicily she is known as La Santuzza--the little saint.