Saint Olivia was born around 448 AD in Palermo, Sicily to two noble Sicilian parents. She turned down riches and titles, instead turning her attention fully to Christ as she grew older. After the Vandal conquest of Sicily, Saint Olivia comforted Christian prisoners and urged them to remain steadfast in their faith even as King Genseric was martyring Christians. Seeing that her Christian faith was too strong to be overcome by normal means, the Vandal leadership had her sent to Tunis. It was hoped the governor there would convert her back to paganism so that the King could gain a powerful family as an ally.
The opposite happened in Tunis - almost immediately she began to work miracles and converted large groups of the local pagan populace. In a fit of anger the governor ordered she be expelled from the city to live as a hermit and hoped wild beasts would kill her. A group of hunters stumbled across her home in the wilderness and found the animals around her living peacefully at her feet. After a lengthy conversation the hunters too were converted and baptized. Many more pagans were converted by Saint Olivia during this time and she performed many miraculous healings of the sick in town through her faith.
When word reached the governor of the large conversions taking place he immediately ordered her arrest. She was scourged, stripped, and submerged into a cauldron of oil bur miraculously the tortures only strengthened her faith in Christ. On June 10th, 463, the governor ordered her beheading.
The Franciscans originally spread her cult after seeking for her body in the latter years of th e1500s. The Senate of Palermo elected Saint Olivia as Patroness of the city alongside Saint Agatha, Saint Christina, and Saint Nympha on June 5th, 1606. The Great Mosque of Al-Zaytuna (Mosque of Olive) is the oldest mosque in the capital of Tunisia and was built on top of a Christian Basilica. The Original Basilica was believed to contain the tomb of Saint Olivia. Even today Tunisians venerate Saint Olivia as it is believed that if the mosque or her memory are profaned one will experience a terrible accident or misfortune.
The Roman Catholic Church celebrates her feast day on June 10th.