Feast Day: August 16
Patron Saint of: dog lovers, dogs, knee problems, invalids, pestilence
Also known as Rock, Rocco, Rollox, Roque and Rochus.
Saint Roch was born the son of a wealthy French nobleman. As a child and a young man, he had many advantages and privileges. Yet, as he grew, he saw the needs of the homeless, the poor, and the sick.
At age 20, he gave his fortune to the poor and renounced his nobility. Saint Roch then went on a pilgrimage to Rome where he spent his time caring for victims of a plague, curing and healing by the sign of the cross. The sign of the cross had personal meaning since a birthmark on his chest was in the form of a cross.
While ministering to the needs of the sick, Saint Roch became infected himself. It was his nature not to burden others and he stayed in a hovel. While he lay dying, a dog from a nearby villa found Saint Roch and brought a fresh roll from his master's house each day. The dog's owner noticed this strange behavior and his curiosity led him to Rochus. Touched by the sick man and his condition, the dog's owner befriended him and Saint Roch recovered.
Back in France there was a civil war. Saint Roch left for home and the dog went with him. The turbulence of war led him to be accused to spying. Saint Roch refused to identify himself as royalty and was thrown in prison along with his dog. He spent time praying and helping fellow prisoners until he died five years later. At his death a document in his possession and the distinctive birthmark revealed his true identity.
After his death, numerous miracles, especially those related to the plague and infectious diseases, were attributed to Saint Roch. He was canonized 100 years after his death. Since then, intercessions on his behalf have helped paupers, princes, priests, and popes.
[ Life of Saint Roch compliments of St. Rochus Parish, Johnstown, PA ]