Sicilian: Arma mia, penzo pi tia


New Member
USA, English
Buongiorno a tutti. I would be forever grateful if someone could help me with a little translation. My grandfather recently passed away, and as my mother was going through his things she came across a paper with this prayer handwritten in Italian, presumably Sicilian dialect. His parents were from the towns of Favara and Valledolmo, in Sicily. But my grandfather was born in the US and claimed to speak no Italian, “except for the dirty words.” I speak French and decent Spanish, so obviously they sent this to me to translate! Below is the original note, and my attempt (with a little help from my friends) to translate.

Maggio 3

Arma mia, penzo pi tia, ca quando
morirai lu nimico ti scondrerai
iddu ti dice, e tu ciderai, alontanati
di mia, che sono figlia di Maria,
che lu giorno di la Santissima Croce
aio ditto mille volti,
Jesu Mia Misericordia.
20 volti nella crona

May 3

My love, I am thinking of you, that when
you die the enemy (devil?) will come for you
as God has said, and you will tell him, “Get away from me, for I am the daughter of Mary,”
that the day of the Holy Cross
I’ve said a thousand times.
Lord have mercy.
20 times around the rosary

For a little context, my grandmother died three years ago. May 3 would have come between the time she suffered a stroke and when she finally passed away six weeks later. Would this be something like a prayer for the sick, to help them on their way to heaven? Any help with this would be greatly appreciated!

  • Hi Adam,

    I am not from Sicily but as far as I can understand this is my try:

    (Oh) my soul, I am thinking of you, that when
    you die you will clash/face the enemy
    he will talk to you and you will decide.
    Get away from me, as I am Mary's daughter
    because the day of (when I will be dead/when I will be on) the Holy Cross
    I will have said a thousand time,
    Lord, you are my/have mercy.
    20 times saying the rosary

    Wait for Sicilian natives :)
    Last edited:
    I think that the translation of the third line is wrong, it's written in Sicilian but partially using English phonetics

    the phrase : e tu ciderai

    should be : e tu ci dirai (and you will say to him)
    Thank you both so much for your help! Here is the paper, if seeing it helps any. I’m also wondering specifically what “ti scondrerai iddu ti dice” means. Thank you again!

    Hi Adam, I'm from Sicily. The previous translations are almost totally correct. Here's mine:

    My soul, take care of yourself, that when you die you'll face the enemy
    He will talk to you and you'll answer: "get away from me as I'm Mary's daughter (and) in the Holy Cross day I've said a thousand times "Jesus, mercy!"
    20 times around on the rosary beads

    I've just made some researches for you. The prayer you found it's just one part (cut and changed a little) of a longer and more detailed prayer (The Holy Cross Mystery Rosary).
    This belief is related to the day of the "Invention of the Holy Cross" (as the prayer says), it was traditionally celebrated on the 3rd of May (and still is, but only in a few places now). This ancient ceremony takes its root from stories about the discovery of the Holy Cross (one of these stories tells that S. Elena found it in 326 AD. She was the mother of the Emperor Constantine the Great).

    This is the original quote:
    Arma mia (my soul),
    pensa pi tia (take care of yourself):
    pensa c’hai a muriri (think that you have to die).

    Munti ribellu (Valli i Giosufà) (Rebel mount, Jehoshaphat's Valley)
    s’avi a ribellari (must resist),
    lu nemicu 'nfernali (the infernal enemy)
    t’avi a scuntrari (has to confront you)
    e tu ci ha’ diri (and you have to say):
    «Vattinni, brutta bestia ‘nfernali (get away, ugly infernal beast,
    ca cu mia nun ci hai a chi fari (for you have nothing to do with me),
    ca lu iornu di la Santa Cruci (because in the Holy Cross day)
    aiu dittu milli voti: Gesù, Gesù, Gesù... (I said a thousand times: Jesus...»
    Thank you, Junic! Your translation is helpful, and the background info you’ve provided is very interesting. I’ve shared this with my family, and we are all very appreciative of your help in figuring this out.