Saint Olivia of Palermo

statue of Saint Olivia of Palermo; date and artist unknown; Cathedral of Palermo, Italy; photographed on 27 January 2015 by José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsAlso known as

  • Oliva of Palermo
  • Olive of Palermo



Fictional character who achieved a large following when her story was mistaken for a biography.

She was described as a ravishing beauty of 13 years when Saracens captured her at Palermo, Sicily in the 9th century. She was deported to Tunis where she began to perform miracles and convert Muslims to Christianity. Wishing to get rid of her, but fearing her power, her captors abandoned her in a forest, giving her to the beasts. Some hunters found her and took her themselves as a slave, but she converted them to the Faith. Exasperated Muslim authorities arrested, tortured, and beheaded her. At the moment of her death, her soul was seen to fly to heaven in the form of a dove.

She has been honoured in Carthage and Palermo, and was held in great esteem by Christians and Muslims. The great mosque of Tunis is called the Mosque of Olivia, and Tunisian Muslims say that who speaks ill of her is always punished by God.


Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Olivia of Palermo“. CatholicSaints.Info. 29 January 2019. Web. 22 January 2021. <>