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Lives of the Saints:

How They Changed the World

Saint Rocco (1348–1379)

Saint Rocco (1348–1379)

Patron saint of dogs, of falsely accused people, bachelors and staph infection.

Feast Day: August 16

St. Rocco was born of noble parentage about 1340 A.D. 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, St. Rocco distributed his wealth among the poor and took a vow of poverty. St. 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 St. Rocco's identity. St. Rocco faintly replied, I am your nephew Rocco. Only one thing could prove that, so he had him 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. It is most unusual because it depicts him with his left hand pointing to an open sore on his left leg. (Image in public domain-100)