Saint Roch (also known as Saint Rocco and Saint Roque, 1295-1327), the patron saint of dogs and surgeons, and against plagues and epidemics. Saint Roch left a privileged life to work amongst those infected with the black plague, and in doing so, contracted the illness himself. His selfless service, and miracles of healing, earned him the mantle of sainthood.
“And from thence went to Piacenza, for he understood that there was great pestilence. Rocke was ever of great study how he might, in the name of Jesu and of his passion, deliver mortal men from the hurt of pestilence. And so an whole year he visited the houses of poor men, and they that had most need, to them he did most help, and was always in the hospital. And when he had been long in the hospital of Piacenza, and had helped almost all the sick men therein, about midnight he heard in his sleep an angel thus saying:
O Rocke, most devout to Christ, awake and know that thou art smitten with the pestilence, study now how thou mayst be cured. And anon he felt him sore taken with the pestilence under his both arms, and he thereof gave than kings to our Lord. And he was so sore vexed with the pain, that they that were in the hospital were deprived of their sleep and rest of the night, wherefore S. Rocke arose from his bed and went to the utterest place of the hospital, and lay down there abiding the light of the day.”
Saint Roch wandered into the forest to die, but was befriended by a loyal dog. The dog fed him with food taken from his master’s table each day, and Saint Roch eventually recovered. He spent the next five years in the forest, living as a hermit, praying to the Lord. After a time, he returned to Montpellier, but this uncle did not recognize him as his illness, years of service, and hermitude had taken their toll. Thought to be a spy (as France was in the midst of a civil war), he was arrested and thrown into prison for five years, which Saint Roch endured without complaint in service to the Lord. It is said that during that time he was cared for by an angel. Only upon his death was the birthmark on his chest discovered, and the governor grievously saddened by the loss.
“In the end of the fifth year, when God would that his soul should be brought into the fellowship of his saints, and be always in the sight of God, he that bare meat to S. Rocke into the prison, as he was accustomed every day, he saw a great light and shining in the prison, and S. Rocke kneeling on his knees praying, which all these things he told to his lord. And the fame hereof ran all about the city, so that many of the citizens ran to the prison because of the novelty of this thing. And there saw and beheld it and gave laud thereof to Almighty God, and accused the lord of cruelty and woodness. Then at the last, when S. Rocke knew by the will of God that he should finish his mortal life, he called to him the keeper of the prison, and prayed him that he would go to his lord, and to exhort him in the name of God and of the glorious Virgin Mary, that he would send to him a priest, of whom ere he died he would be confessed, which thing was anon done. And when he had confessed him to the priest and devoutly taken his blessing, he prayed him that he might abide alone three days next following for to be in his contemplation, by which he might the better have mind of the most holy passion of our Lord. For Rocke felt well then that the citizens prayed the lord for his deliverance, which things the priest told to the lord. And so it was granted to S. Rocke to abide there alone three days. And in the end of the third day the angel of God came to S. Rocke, saying thus: O Rocke, God sendeth me for thy soul, of whom in this last part of thy life that what thou now desirest thou shouldest now ask and demand. Then S. Rocke prayed unto Almighty God with his most devout prayer, that all good Christian men which reverently prayed in the name of Jesu to the blessed Rocke might be delivered surely from the stroke of pestilence. And this prayer so made, he expired and gave up the ghost.
Anon an angel brought from heaven a table divinely written with letters of gold into the prison, which he laid under the head of S. Rocke. And in that table was written that God had granted to him his prayer, that is to wit, that who that calleth meekly to S. Rocke he shall not be hurt with any hurt of pestilence. And then after the third day the lord of the city sent to the prison that S. Rocke should be delivered out of it. And they that came to the prison found S. Rocke departed from this life, and saw through all the prison a marvelous light, in such wise that without doubt they believed him to be the friend of God.”
O blessed Saint Roch
Patron of the sick,
Have pity on those
Who lie upon a bed of suffering.
Your power was so great
When you were in this world,
That by the sign of the Cross,
Many were healed of their diseases.
Now that you are in heaven,
Your power is not less.
Offer, then, to God our sighs and tears
And obtain for us that health we seek.
Saint Roch, pray for us,
That we may be preserved
From all diseases
Of body and soul.
Dear mendicant Pilgrim,
You once took care
Of sufferers from the plague
And were always ready to help others
By kind service and fervent prayers.
You yourself had no home
And you died in a dungeon.
No wonder countless invalids
Have confidently invoked your help.
Please grant a cure to all who suffer
and help us all become spiritually healthy.
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."