Penitent and Pilgrim(ca. 1350-1380)
+ Roch (or Roque) was born in France and at the age of twenty, following the death of his parents, he traveled to Rome where he dedicated himself to caring for victims of plague. Many cures were attributed to his care and prayers.
+ Roch himself contracted the plague and never recovered. One legend tells us that Roch wandered into the forest, planning to die there alone. He was befriended by a dog who kept him alive by bringing him food stolen from his master’s table.
+ When Roch returned to France, he was imprisoned by an uncle who didn’t recognize him. He died in prison at the age of thirty. His identity was discovered only after his death.
+ Roch became one of the most popular saints in Western Europe and is honored as a miracle worker. He has often been invoked during times of plague and disease.
+ Saint Roch has traditionally been honored as a patron saint of unmarried men and of dogs.
For prayer and reflection
“Let us reverently with devotion pray unto this glorious saint Roch, that by his intercession and prayer we may be delivered from the hard death of pestilence and epidemic, and that we may so live in this life and be penitent for our sins, that after this short life we may come unto everlasting life in heaven. Amen.”—from The Golden Legend by Blessed Jacob of Varagine
On this day we also celebrate the memory of Saint Stephen of Hungary. As king, Stephen united the Magyar peoples of Hungary into a single nation and was crowned king of Christmas Day 1001. Remembered for organizing dioceses and establishing monasteries, he and his wife, Blessed Gisella of Ungarn, also had a son, Emeric, who succeeded his father and who is also numbered among the saints. Saint Stephen died in 1038 and was canonized in 1083. He is honored as the patron saint of Hungary and of stonemasons.
O God, who in your Saints have given an example and brought us protection in our weakness to help us tread the path of salvation, mercifully grant that we, who honor the heavenly birthday of blessed Roch, may, through his example, make our way to you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal—Common of Holy Men and Women—For One Saint)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.