Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Roch or Rocco (1348–1379)

Saint Roch or Rocco (1348–1379)

Patron saint of dogs, invalids, of those suffering from catageous diseases, falsely accused people, bachelors, and those with staph infections

Feast Day: August 16

Saint Rocco was born of noble parentage in 1340 AD in Montpellier, France. At birth, it was noted that he had a red cross-shaped birthmark on the left side of his chest. At an early age, his parents died, leaving him an orphan under the care of his uncle, the Duke of Montpellier.

Soon after, Saint Rocco distributed his wealth among the poor and took a vow of poverty. He left for Rome. At that time, Italy was suffering from the plague. Saint Rocco cured many by praying for the sick person and making the sign of the cross. When Rocco himself contracted the plague (signified by a sore on his leg), he was banished to a forest outside the town. A dog faithfully brought bread for him to eat. The nobleman of a nearby castle followed the dog and found Rocco. He then took him to his castle where Rocco was cured.

Saint Rocco traveled through northern Italy for two or three more years before returning to his birthplace in France. So weak and sick from suffering, the townspeople did not recognize him and he was thrown into jail as a spy without any proof. He was kept in prison for five years. The dungeon was illuminated with a blue light radiating from his body. Upon hearing this, the governor demanded to know Saint. Rocco’s identity. Saint Rocco faintly replied, “I am your nephew Rocco.” Only one thing could prove that, so he had Rocco disrobed, and the red cross-like mark was visible on the left side of his chest.

Saint Rocco is venerated in the Roman Catholic Church as the protector against the plague and all contagious diseases. This statue of him is most unusual because it depicts him with his left hand pointing to an open sore on his left leg. Most images of saints do not emphasize earthly weaknesses. Sometimes Saint Rocco is pictured with a dog at his side.  

(Image in public domain-100)