Sunday, August 16, 2020
St. Roch, Patron Saint Against Sickness
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August 16th is kept in some places as the Feast of St. Roch, the patron saint against sickness and epidemics. Today is also the Feast of St. Joachim, the father of the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. Roch was a citizen of Montpellier in the South of France, who devoted his life to the serving of the plague-stricken. On their behalf, God enabled His servant to work many miracles. He died in 1337 AD and has since been venerated as the special advocate of the sick.

Numerous brotherhoods have been instituted in his honor. He is usually represented in the garb of a pilgrim, often lifting his tunic to demonstrate the plague sore, or bubo, in his thigh, and accompanied by a dog carrying a loaf in its mouth. The Third Order of Saint Francis, by tradition, claims him as a member and includes his feast on its own calendar of saints, observing it on August 17.

The following is taken from CatholicTradition.org:

Born at Montpellier towards 1295, he died in 1327. His father was governor of that city and at his birth St. Roch is said to have been found miraculously marked on the breast with a red cross. Deprived of his parents when about twenty years old, he distributed his fortune among the poor, handed over to his uncle the government of Montpellier, and in the disguise of a mendicant pilgrim, set out for Italy, but stopped at Aquapendente, which was stricken by the plague, and devoted himself to the plague-stricken, curing them with the Sign of the Cross. He next visited Cesena and other neighbouring cities and then Rome. Everywhere the terrible scourge disappeared before his miraculous power. He visited Mantua, Modena, Parma, and other cities with the same results. At Piacenza, he himself was stricken with the plague. He withdrew to a hut in the neighbouring forest, where his wants were supplied by a gentleman named Gothard, who by a miracle learned the place of his retreat. After his recovery Roch returned to France. Arriving at Montpellier and refusing to disclose his identity, he was taken for a spy in the disguise of a pilgrim, and cast into prison by order of the governor, where five years later he died. The miraculous cross on his breast as well as a document found in his possession now served for his identification. He was accordingly given a public funeral, and numerous miracles attested his sanctity.

In 1414, during the Council of Constance, the plague having broken out in that city, the Fathers of the Council ordered public prayers and processions in honour of the Saint, and immediately the plague ceased. His relics, according to Wadding, were carried furtively to Venice in 1485, where they are still venerated. It is commonly held that he belonged to the Third Order of St. Francis; but it cannot be proved. Urban VIII approved the ecclesiastical office to be recited on his Feast. Paul III instituted a confraternity, under the invocation of the Saint, to have charge of the church and hospital erected during the pontificate of Alexander VI. The confraternity increased so rapidly that Paul IV raised it to an archconfraternity, with powers to aggregate similar confraternities of St. Roch. It was given a cardinal-protector, and a prelate of high rank was to be its immediate superior. Various favours have been bestowed on it by Pius IV [C. Regimini, March 7, 1561], by Gregory XIII [C. dated January 5, 1577], by Gregory XIV [C. Paternar. pont., March 7, 1591], and by other pontiffs. It still flourishes.

Collect:

O God, who are glorious in the glory of the Saints, and to all those that flee unto their protection, grantest the salutary effect of their petition; by the intercession of Thy blessed Confessor Roch, grant to Thy people, who hold forth their devotion in his festivity, that they may be delivered from the sickness of that plague which he suffered in his body for the glory of Thy name, to which may they ever be devoted.

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