Feast Day : August 17
Patronage: against cholera; the falsely accused; invalids; against plagues
Also known as: Rock, Rocco (Italy), Roque (Spain), Rollock and Seemie-Rookie
Roch’s birthplace is said to be Montpellier, France; his father was the governor there. At birth he had a red cross on his chest. Roch’s parents died when he was 20. He went on pilgrimage to Rome and in the town of Aquapendente found many people ill of the plague. He healed them (as well as animals) through prayer and making the sign of the cross. He performed similar miracles of healing in Parma, Modena and Mantua. He visited other countries. In Piacenza, Italy, he fell ill himself, but rather than go to a hospital, he went off into the woods, prepared to die. According to lore, he was sustained by a dog who brought scraps from his master’s table. Curious as to where the dog went every day with the scraps, the master followed it and discovered Roch. He nursed the saint back to health, and gained faith from him. Once recovered, Roch returned to Montpellier, but not even his own family recognized him. He was suspected of being a spy in pilgrim’s disguise. His uncle, the governor, ordered him imprisoned. Roch would not identify himself, and spent the last five years of his life in miserable conditions in jail. He died there, and his true identity was discovered after his death when the cross-shaped birthmark on his chest was seen. After his death, miracles were reported at his intercession. He was invoked in 1414 during the Council of Constance when plague threatened the city. Roch’s relics were translated to Venice. The Franciscans accept him as one of their tertiaries. In art he is shown dressed as a pilgrim wearing a hat, cloak and boots and carrying a staff, with a dog by his side.