Our Franciscan Calendar for August highlights Saint Roch who was born an only child and whose family governed the town of Montpellier, France. A patron saint of dog lovers, bachelors, contagious diseases and those in need of healing for knees, to name a few of his often called upon areas of intercession, he was a man marked from birth with a red cross on his breast that inspired him and his devout family to grow in faith.
Why specifically is Saint Roch on the Franciscan Calendar?
At age 20, Roch’s both parents died. He was inspired to join the Third Order of St. Francis after selling all his inheritance and giving it to the poor, thus transferring ownership of the property to his uncle. This change of life indeed mirrored the Poverello. Like St. Francis who made many a pilgrimage to Rome, Roch next walked to the tombs of the Apostles.
As he arrived at Acquapendente in northern Italy about the year 1315, he found that an epidemic had broken out. Roch was quick to go to the hospital of St John and individual homes offering to help those in need. Many ill were cured at the mere Sign of the Cross which the saint made over them.
The epidemic followed him as he continued on his way. Besides visiting the holy places in Rome, Roch continued this ministry in other towns of Italy until he arrived in Piacenza. Here he became ill. Not welcome in the hospitals he once served, he found refuge in a hut outside the town. God provided food and healing through his creatures, a raven, a dog, and the dog’s owner. He recovered, returning to his home.
On arrival, his own uncle thought him a spy and did not recognize him in his current condition. Roch was imprisoned until his death. Only at this time did his family identify him and celebrate his holiness.
St. Roch, pray for us.