Thursday 16 August 2018

# Saints

Saint Roch

The 16th of August is the feast day of Saint Roch (c. 1295 – 16 August 1327). He is also known as Rocco and is the patron saint of Girifalco, Italy, invoked against: cholera, epidemics, knee problems, plague, skin diseases; patron saint of bachelors, diseased cattle, dogs, falsely accused people, invalids, Istanbul, surgeons, tile-makers, gravediggers, second-hand dealers, pilgrims, and apothecaries.

Saint Roch was born in Montpellier, France, with a red cross on his chest, a visible sign from Our Lady to answer his mother’s prayers against her barrenness. His father was the city’s governor, but both his parents died when he was 20. He then gave his wealth to the poor and the government of the city to his uncle. After doing this, he set off on a pilgrimage to Italy where he came across a town struck by the plague. He stayed there for a while, curing many people with the sign of the cross. This miraculous cure occurred at every place that he passed that were struck by the plague. However, when he reached Piacenza he was also struck by the plague on his leg, and he waited for his death in a remote hut in the forest. A hunting dog belonging to a count found him and brought him food, licking his wounds. He also found a spring nearby that provided fresh water. The count, followed the dog one day and found the saint and helped him in his recovery. Saint Roch’s health was eventually restored and he turned back to return to Montpellier. He did not disclose his identity to the townspeople. This provoked suspicion among the people that he might be a spy and he was thrown into prison by his own uncle. Five years later, Saint Roch died in prison, and his identity was only discovered by the red mark on his chest. During his funeral, many miracles occurred and a church was erected.

Image: San Roque by Francisco Ribalta (c.1600-c.1610)