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Feast of Saint Rocco

Saint Rocco






This digital collection was produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital Collections Initiative, Industry Canada.


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Saint Rocco: Protector against Plague
By Tessa Derksen

Circa 1340, Saint Rocco was born to noble parents in Montpellier, France. He was born with a red cross-shaped birthmark on the left side of his chest. A deeply religious child, as a man St. Rocco distributed all his wealth among the poor and took a vow of poverty.

Saint Rocco set out on his pilgrimage to Rome at a time when all of Italy was stricken with a deadly plague. During his travels, he cured many people by making the sign of the cross and praying for them. But he too contracted the plague (evident by an open sore on his leg) and some time later succumbed to his illness.

Saint Rocco is venerated in the Catholic Church as a protector against plagues and all contagious diseases. Theologians consider his statue unique because of its pose – he points to a sore on his leg. Few images of saints expose any afflictions or handicaps.

Six centuries after his death, followers still celebrate the life of Saint Rocco every year on August 16.

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