Patron of Plagues
Miracle Worker - Patron Saint of Cholera, Plague, epidemics, dogs, dog lovers, pilgrims, bachelors, surgeons and grave diggers, among others.
Family, the Lord works in powerful ways. What a time for St. Roch to come back into our lives than now, when the world is in the midst of an epidemic, the Corona Virus. St. Roch is the patron saint of plagues and epidemics, among other things. We were first introduced to St. Roch in Assisi, at the Convent of San Damiano. There is a painting of St. Roch and the dog. In Italy, he is called Santo Rocco. St. Rocco is very important to the Italian people, actually to all Europeans as well.
We researched him, and found that he is a powerful intercessor for many things, as you can see above. We began to pray for his intercession for friends and relatives who had various diseases, like the Flu, Asthma, respiratory illnesses, and the like. He always came through for us. But as time went on, and more and more Saints became part of our lives, St. Roch was put on the back burner. We stopped praying for his help. Even two years ago, when the aviary flu struck, and then again last year, when the Swine flu epidemic began, we didn’t think to pray for the intercession of St. Roch.
But this last weekend, we held our Annual Holy Family Conference, here at our Mission in Morrilton, Arkansas. Lo and behold, one of our benefactors brought a life-sized statue of St. Roch, and placed him smack in the middle of the Conference Center. Everyone had to pass the statue to get to their seats. Naturally, they wanted to know who he was and what he was about. They wanted to know the history of St Roch, and so we went back to our vast archives of reference materials, which we have accumulated over 30 years of researching the Saints, and told them the story of St. Roch. Everybody immediately suggested we pray for the intercession of St. Roch for our present epidemic. And so we did, the whole three days of the conference, and we are continuing to pray, and we recommend you do as well. In case you didn’t know, we have a great deal of faith in the intercession of the Saints for various needs. But I’m sure that having read our books and seen our television programs, you do know. We have been given great power through the intercession of our Saints, like St. Anthony, St. Therese, St. Joseph of Cupertino, St. Peregrine and on and on. You pray; they deliver.
Believe it or not, for those of you who have never heard of St. Roch, or only know him as a name we give to our Italian or French children, he is an extremely powerful intercessor. His miracles have saved entire cities from plague and cholera. He is responsible for many miracles and cures during his lifetime, but he is responsible for even more since his death.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We have to share with you the story of St. Roch, who he is. He was born in Montpelier, France, which is near Spain, and also not too far from the coast of Italy. He was the son of the governor of Montpelier. His mother was thought to be barren, so to many, his very birth was considered miraculous. Another miraculous sign of his birth was, he was born with a red cross on his chest. As he grew, the cross grew also. He was a spiritual boy from an early age, due to the influence of his saintly mother. That influence was to stop when he was 20 years old, as both his parents died. On his deathbed, Roch’s father made him governor of Montpelier, a position which he did not want at all. He turned over the governorship to his uncle, gave away all his wealth, and left Montpelier, to journey as a mendicant pilgrim to Italy. Tradition tells us that he was inspired to become a pilgrim and help heal the sick by a visit to Montpelier from Pope Urban V.
He began his travels to areas which had been hit hardest by a plague. Wherever he went, healings took place. He traveled to Acquapendente, Cesena, Rimini and Novara, before he found his way to Rome. He most likely traveled by sea to Orbetello, then traveled inland to Acquapendente, which is near to Rome. But then we’re told his journey took him to the northeast, to Cesena, Rimini and Novara, on the Adriatic coast, before he went to Rome.
Miracles and healings followed him. Upon entering a town, he immediately went to the public hospitals in all these cities. The greatest amount of sick people would be centered in the hospitals. All whom he encountered and prayed over were amazed at the miracles which took place through his prayers. At times, he would just touch the sick person and a healing took place. People clamored after him. Wherever he went, sick people sought him out. Remember, this was at the heat of a severe plague. People were dying in the streets. A miracle worker like St. Roch was a Godsend. They considered him that. There is a tradition that while in Rome, St. Roch healed a cardinal from the plague by making the sign of the cross on his forehead. The mark miraculously remained on the head of the cardinal.
While he realized that the Lord had given him this great gift of healing, he never took himself seriously. He took what he did seriously. But he knew how the Lord was working through him. Finally, he himself fell victim to the plague. He was forced to leave Piacenza, where he was ministering to the sick, and go out deep into the forest. He did not want to come in contact with people, for fear they might catch his disease. It was extremely contagious. He put together a makeshift hut and lay down, praying and waiting for death. But the Lord was not finished with him yet. He sent a dog to bring bread. The dog licked his wounds. The healer, St. Roch, was healed by a dog. The dog belonged to a nobleman named Gothard. He followed the dog as he went to St. Roch to minister to him. Upon seeing St. Roch, he tended to his needs until he was nursed back to health. St. Roch believed the Lord was calling him back home. So he returned to Montpelier. An unfortunate incident occurred which cut short his life, but not his ministry. He was not recognized by his uncle, the governor, or perhaps the uncle feared Roch might want his position of governor back. Whatever the case, he was thrown in jail as a spy. He languished there for five years and died.
It would seem like a terrible ending, especially dying in anonymity and disgrace. However, an old tradition tells us: “anon an angel brought from heaven a table divinely written with letters of gold into the prison, which he laid under the head of St. Roch. And in that table was written that God had granted to him his prayer that is to wit, that who that calleth meekly to St. Roch, he shall not be hurt with any hurt of pestilence. ” In addition, townspeople recognized that it was him by his birthmark, the cross on his chest. In death, he achieved what he tried to avoid during his lifetime, recognition and praise. He was immediately proclaimed a Saint by the people.
But that’s not the end of the story!!
Actually, he is credited with more miracles in the years after his death, than in the 30 some odd years he lived on earth. The most spectacular and greatest number of miracles attributed to St. Roch took place in Constance, Italy during the Council, which took place in 1414, many years after his death. During the time of the Council, which was also the time of the plague, prayers to the Saint were ordered by the Council. Almost immediately, the plague ceased, and the plague victims were healed. His popularity grew, and spread all over Europe. Till today, you can find the initials VSR (Viva San Rocco) over doorways in Europe, as a prayer to ward off the plague. His relics were transferred to Venice where a church was built in his honor. He was named Patron of that city. Each year, on his feast, (August 16) the Doge (Duke of Venice) would process through the city with the Saint’s relics. His relics are still in that church. A confraternity was formed in his name. It became so popular that it was raised to the level of Arch confraternity. It was given special favors by various popes over the years which are still in effect.
Churches all over the world have been built in honor of St. Roch. Special devotions are prayed at these churches for the intercession of the Saint. Miraculous healings and cures are constantly being reported. So you can see that he’s still as strong, and possibly even stronger than he was during his lifetime. Family, if ever there was a time when we needed the power given to St.Roch by Our Lord Jesus, it is now. We’re told that we are in the midst of a world-wide epidemic, and we don’t quite know what to do. It would seem like the world governments are running around like chickens with their heads cut off. In our country, they want everyone to take a vaccine, but there are not enough to go around. And many of those who have taken the vaccine have become ill. There is only one way to defeat this pestilence. But then there has always been only one way to defeat the powers of hell, and that is through prayers. Pray to St. Roch.
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 through Christ our Lord.
The following Litany to St. Roch was taken from
The Church of England, January 31, 1855.
LITANY OF SAINT ROCH
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Jesus, bear us.
Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Saint Mary, pray for us.
Saint Anne, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saint Roch, confessor, pray for us.
Saint Roch, given to the prayers of your parents, pray for us.
Saint Roch, brought up in holiness, pray for us.
Saint Roch, mortified from your infancy, pray for us.
Saint Roch, giving away all your goods to the poor,
After the death of your parents, pray for us.
Saint Roch, who did quit your country to live unknown,
pray for us
Saint Roch, taking care of the sick at Rome, pray for us.
Saint Roch, attacked by the plague at Florence, pray for us.
Saint Roch, cured of the plague by the grace of God, pray for us.
Saint Roch, consoling men in public calamity, pray for us.
Saint Roch, taken as spy, put in prison, pray for us.
Saint Roch, prisoner four years, pray for us.
Saint Roch patient in sickness, pray for us.
Saint Roch, model of a recluse, pray for us.12
Saint Roch, by love of shame, pray for us.
Saint Roch, pattern of chastity, pray for us.
Saint Roch, pattern of patience, pray for us
Saint Roch, dying in the odor of sanctity, pray for us.
Saint Roch, praying against the plague, pray for us.
Saint Roch, whose image carried in procession by the fathers
In Council, dispersed the plague at Constance, pray for us.
Saint Roch, honored in hospitals, pray for us.
Saint Roch, whose worship is universal, pray for us
Saint Roch, whose images are universal, pray for us.
Le tus pray,
Receive Lord, in Thy Fatherly goodness, thy people, who cast themselves on Thee in these days of trouble, to the end that they who fear this scourge may be mercifully delivered by the prayers of St. Roch, and may persevere till death in the keeping of Thy Holy Commandments. Amen
ANTHEM TO ST. ROCH
Great Saint, who didst leave all to flee to the aid of those whom the plague had seized, intercede for us with the Most High.
O God, Who had promised to the blessed St. Roch that whoever invoked him with confidence should not be afflicted with the plague, and who didst confirm the promise by the ministry of an Angel, deign to preserve us by his merits and his intercession from the plague, and all other mortal contagion, both of body and soul, we entreat thee through Jesus Christ. Amen.
About the Authors:
Bob and Penny Lord are renowned Catholic authors of many best selling books about the Catholic Faith. They are hosts on EWTN Global Television and have written over 25 books. They are best known as the authors of “Miracles of the Eucharist books.” They have been dubbed, “Experts on the Saints.”