Saint Roch

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Saint Roch

Saint Roch, also known as Saint Rocco, is the patron saint of dog lovers, dogs, knee problems, and pestilence. He is often petitioned by those suffering from plague and similarly deadly infectious diseases, as well as those with knee and leg injuries. His feast day is August 16.

Roch was born in 1295 to a mother who had been barren, but who conceived him after praying to the Virgin Mary. He was born with a birthmark on his chest in the form of a cross and was considered pious from a young age. Upon the death of his parents he gave away his worldly goods, rejected the governship of Montpellier, France, and became a pilgrim. He worked among plague victims in Rome, producing miraculous healings with prayer. He worked tireless among the ill until he himself was stricken. He then retired to a forest where his wounds were licked and healed by a dog who also provided him bread. The owner of the dog eventually became Saint Roch's student. Upon returning home, Roch was thrown into prison by his uncle, where he died in 1327. After his death an angel appeared and placed under his head a golden tablet which stated that those who prayed to Saint Roch would be safe from pestilence. During the epidemic of the Black Death, Saint Roch firmly took his place as a protector from pestilence and he was canonized in 1427.

In his iconography, Saint Roch is depicted as a pilgrim traveller with a staff, displaying his infected leg, and accompanied by the faithful dog who licked his pestilential sores.

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