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Patron of Invalids

PATRON OF THE SICKS, CONFESSOR,

 FRENCH SAINT

COMPLETE INFORMATION PREPARED BY:

RHONEIL dE LEON

December 22, 2006

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Saint Roch (Latin: Rochus; Italian: Rocco; French: Roch; Spanish and Portuguese: Roque; c. 129516 August 1327) was a Christian Saint, a confessor whose death is commemorated on 16 August; he is specially invoked against the plague.

-FRANCISCAN  TERTIARY

1295 - Born at Montpellier France

1327 – Died

John - His father, governor of that city

Libera- His mother,

-His made her prayers to our Blessed Lady, praying  devoutly for to have a child, and was in very contemplation, in which she heard the voice of an angel saying:

O Libera, God hath heard thy prayer, and thou shalt receive of him grace of thy petition”

 Our lady of the Table- the Title of the Blessed Mother, where San Roque’s parent made devotion.

-At his birth St. Roch is said to have been found miraculously marked on the breast with a red cross

- His devout mother fasted twice in the week, and the blessed child Rocke abstained him twice also,

-When he came to five years of age, he disposed him to the works of penance

- And in the twelfth year of his age he fasted many and divers fastings for Christ's love

- When he was 17 years old, Pope Urban V visited his home town. At that time Rocco has decided to make a pilgrimage to Rome

- In that time the father of S. Rocke was sick and saw his last end approach, and   called to him his son Rocke, and said: O mine only son Rocke, thou seest well that I shall shortly finish my life; alway the will of God be fulfilled, and four things, with my lordship  and heritage, I leave to thee, and command thee to accomplish. First, like as thou hast begun that thou serve busily God. Secondly, that thou remember poor people, widows and orphans. Thirdly, I constitute and ordain thee governor and dispenser of all my treasures, that thou dispend them in charitable and meek works. And fourthly that, with all diligence thou haunt and frequent the hospitals of sick and poor men. These foresaid things Rocke promised to his father to fulfil them to his power.

- Twentieth year of his age he buried also his devout mother

- 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.

- He clad himself with the habit of a pilgrim, and covered his head with a bonnet, a scrip on his shoulder, and a pilgrim's staff in his right hand, and so departed.

Aquapendente -  which was stricken by the plague, and devoted himself to the plague-stricken, curing them with the sign of the cross.

St. John Hospital at Water-hanging – The name of the Hospital in the Aquqpendente.

Vincent- had the rule of the hospital Water-hanging.

“I see,” said Vincent, “that your charity and faith are not of a common kind, but your youth and delicate health will never endure the hard work and deadly sickness of this house.”  

            “Why,” said St. Roch, “is it not mentioned in Holy Scriptures that with God nothing is impossible?  Is it not written that we must practice charity if we wish to stand on the day of the last judgment?”

 

Angleria - a cardinal of province of Lombardy

-         He blessed Rocke came into this cardinal's place

-         a bright ray and heavenly, shining out of the forehead of Rocke

-And after three years the cardinal, being old, died, and Rocke forsook Rome and came to the town of Armine.

- And when that town was delivered, he went to the city of Manasem in Lombardy.

-Cesena - He next visited, and other neighbouring cities and then Rome.

- He visited Mantua, Modena, Parma, and other cities with the same results.

-And from thence went to Piacenza, for he understood that there was great pestilence.

- And when he had been long in the hospital of Piacenza, and had helped almost all the sick men therein, about midnight he heard in his sleep an angel thus saying:

“O Rocke, most devout to Christ, awake and know that thou art smitten with the pestilence, study now how thou may’st be cured”

-One night, when he was quite worn out with fatigue and want of sleep, he threw himself on a pallet to take a little rest, and he heard the voice of Jesus say to him: “Roch, My son, you have borne many fatigues for My sake, journeys, cold, hunger, work of all kinds, now for love of Me, you must also suffer great pains in your body.”

-God also struck him with the plague.  Then, raising his eyes to Heaven, St. Roch cried out: “Oh, sweetest Jesus!  I thank Thee for having vouchsafed to remember Thy servant.  I offer Thee this pain and I am thankful for it as a gift from Thy hand.  It is thus that Thou dost visit a wretched and sinful creature.  This visit is sweet and dear to my soul.  Coming from Thee, death is a gain to me.”

-he felt him sore taken with the pestilence under his both arms

-taking the place of those he had cured, and being disturbed by the groans and cries of the servant of God, they grumbled, and complained, and begged him to stop his shrieking and to bear his sufferings with patience as others did.

-The passers-by, seeing him in this state, complained to the superintendent of the hospital saying, “Why did you put this poor sick man out of the hospital.  Can’t you see he is not well?  Please, please, take him back to the hospital and take care of him until he is in good health.”  The superintendent stared in surprise, “But I did not put this good man out on the street.  He left on his own out of charity, because he was crying out so often from his pains!”

 -The pilgrim was smitten with the pestilence as ye see, and unwitting to us he went out. Then the citizens incontinent put out S. Rocke from the city and suburbs, lest by him the city might be the more infected.

Piacenza - he himself was stricken with the plague.

 -He withdrew to a hut in the neighbouring forest,

-He went into a certain wood, a desert valley not far from Piacenza

Cornelian tree- Tree where S. Roque remain.

-With great difficulty St. Roch reached the neighboring forest.  There he fell down, worn out with fatigue, at the foot of a Cornelian tree.  He rested for some time; then noticing a small ruined hut, he entered it and said to our Lord: “Oh, God!  I know how dear I am to Thy majesty, as Thou hast willed to make me have these terrible pains, which I so much deserve.  I have not treated the sick with all the charity, which Thy love deserved from me.  Have pity on my weakness, and do not forsake me.  Oh, most good Lord, do not leave me to perish alone among wild beasts.”

-And there as he might he made him a lodge of boughs and leaves, always giving thankings to our Lord, saying: “O Jesus, my Saviour, I thank thee that thou puttest me to affliction like to thine other servants, by this odious ardour of pestilence, and most meek Lord, I beseech thee to this desert place, give the refrigery and comfort of thy grace”.

- A gentle rain began to fall near the door of the hut and formed a little stream.  St. Roch, who was very thirsty, had a good drink from the stream.   He washed his wounds and soothed for a time his terrible pains.

- Just as God took great care of the Prophet Elias, and of St. Paul in the desert, by making a crow carry bread to them every day, He caused another animal to bring bread to St. Roch.

Gothard -  supplied San Roque need

-The owner of the Dog

-One day when Gothard was eating, one of these dogs carried off the bread he had in his hand.  The gentleman was amused at the animal’s action, thinking either the dog was very hungry or playing a trick on him.  The dog disappeared rapidly, carrying off the bread in his mouth

-The next day and the day after the same thing took place.  Very much astonished, Gothard finally decided to follow the animal. 

- God, made his way to the forest, entered the hut, and put down the bread at the feet of St. Roch, who, in exchange, gave the dog his blessing. 

- Gotherd saw poor St. Roch lying on a bed of leaves, unable to move

San Roque said to Gothard, “Friend, go from me in good peace, for the most violent pestilence holdeth me”. Gazing at the poor sick man he pleaded, “Please let me look after you and care for you until you are in good health again.”  Then Gothard left him.

- After wards Gothard said to himself,,, “This poor man whom I have left in the wood and desert, certainly is the man of God, sith this hound without reason bringeth to him bread. I therefore, that have seen him do it, so ought sooner to do it, which am a Christian man.”

- Gotard returned to Rocke and said: “Holy pilgrim, I desire to do to thee that thou needest, and am advised never to leave thee.”

- S. Rocke exhorted to Gotard, saying: “In the sweat of thy visage thou shalt eat thy bread, and that he should return to the town, and leave all his goods to his heirs, and follow the way of Christ and demand bread in the name of Jesus.”

-  Saint Roch humbly replied, “Thank you dear friend.  You are a kind man and I believe you have been sent by the good God.”  From then on the two pious men lived together.  They encouraged one another by holy conversations, by saying many prayers and by doing much penance.

- Gotard asked counsel how he might have bread, for more and more he hungered and asked remedy of S. Rocke. S. Rocke exhorted him after the text, saying: In the sweat of thy visage thou shalt eat thy bread, and that he should return to the town, and leave all his goods to his heirs, and follow the way of Christ and demand bread in the name of Jesu. Then Gotard was ashamed to do so where he was known, but at the last by the busy admonition of S. Rocke, Gotard went to Piacenza, whereas he had great knowledge, and begged bread and alms at the door of one of his gossips. That same gossip threatened sharply Gotard, and said he shamed his lineage and friends by this foul and indecent begging, and put him away, being wroth and scorning him. For which cause Gotard was constrained to beg busily at the doors of other men of the city. And the same day the gossip that so had said to Gotard was taken sore with the pestilence, and many others that denied alms to Gotard. And then anon the city of Piacenza was infect with contagious pestilence, and Gotard returned to the wood and told to S. Rocke all that was happed.

- And a little while after Gotard, and his fellows, for certain necessities and errands, returned into Piacenza and left that time S. Rocke alone in the valley. And S. Rocke made his prayers to Almighty God that he might be delivered from the wounds of pestilence, and in this prayer he fell asleep

-The angel said to S. Roque while he is sleepin, and was heard by Gotardo “O Rocke, friend of God, our Lord hath heard thy prayers, lo, thou art delivered from the pestilence, and art made all whole, and our Lord commandeth that thou take the way toward thy country”

-With this sudden voice Gotard was astonished which never tofore knew the name of Rocke. (He was astonished because he didn’t know that the person he seen in the forest is the son of the governor, so S. Roque told Gothard that he keep this revelation secret, for he desired no worldly glory.”)

 

-Then after a few days S. Rocke with Gotard and his fellows abode in the desert, and informed them all in godly works, and they then began to wax holy, wherein he exhorted them and confirmed, and left them in that desert valley.

- Gothard was troubled when he heard that his friend would soon be leaving him.  But St. Roch consoled him and told him that it was the Holy Will of God.  He then encouraged him to persevere until death in the life of prayer and penance, which he had chosen. The good saint also gave him some good advice on how to sanctify himself, when he was living alone.  Thereupon the two friends parted for a time, to meet again in Heaven. 

- Gothard lived a holy life in his hermitage, and after his death his fellow-citizens held him in blessed memory.  A picture of him, with that of St. Roch, can still be seen in Piacenza, in the church of St. Ann.

- After his recovery Roch returned to France.

- Faithful to the commands of Heaven, St. Roch returned to Montpellier.  He had to pass through one more trial before being called to his Heavenly reward.  War was then destroying the south of France.  The holy saint was so worn out with his penances and sufferings, that when he arrived in his native town, no one knew who he was.  People thought that he was a spy, disguised as a pilgrim.

- And S. Rocke, as a pilgrim doing penance, entended, burning in the love of God, toward his country and came to a province of Lombardy called Angleria, and applied him toward Almaine, where the lord of his province made war with his enemy, whose knights took S. Rocke as a spy, and delivered him to their lord as a traitor.

-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, -- his own uncle, some writers say,

- The police immediately arrested him!  They questioned him, “What is your name?”… “What is your family background?”… “Which country do you come from?”… “Why did you come to this town?”…

  St. Roch quietly answered each question, “I am a pilgrim and servant of Jesus Christ,” but he continued to remain silent about his name, his family, and his country. He wanted to suffer in silence, like Jesus did.   Because of his silence, the judges believed that he was truly guilty. The Governor then commanded, “Throw this man into prison.  He will not answer our questions, therefore he is guilty!”
 

-- 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.

-A great light and shining in the prison, and S. Rocke kneeling on his knees praying, which all these things he told to his lord. And the fame hereof ran all about the city, so that many of the citizens ran to the prison because of the novelty of this thing

-And when he had confessed him to the priest and devoutly taken his blessing, he prayed him that he might abide alone three days next following for to be in his contemplation, by which he might the better have mind of the most holy passion of our Lord.

-And so it was granted to S. Rocke to abide there alone three days. And in the end of the third day the angel of God came to S. Rocke, saying thus: “O Rocke, God sendeth me for thy soul, of whom in this last part of thy life that what thou now desirest thou shouldest now ask and demand”.

Shortly after, the Saint slept and saw in a dream, a heavenly messenger who said to him: “Roch, the time has come for you to receive the reward of your labours and sufferings, and for your soul to repose in Heaven.  God is pleased with you!  If you wish to obtain some grace for mankind, ask it from Almighty God before you die and your desire shall be granted.” 

St. Roch awoke; his soul was bathed in holy joy.  Always forgetful of himself, and solely occupied with the interests of others, he addressed this prayer to God: “I humbly beseech Thee, O Lord, that whosoever is attacked by the plague, or is in danger of being attacked thereby, shall implore my protection with faith, may be delivered from the sickness, or be preserved from this scourge.  I ask for this grace, not because of my own merits, but in the name of Thy great mercy and goodness which is infinite.”

Last prayer of S. Roque,- Then S. Rocke prayed unto Almighty God with his most devout prayer, that all good christian men which reverently prayed in the name of Jesus to the blessed Rocke might be delivered surely from the stroke of pestilence. And this prayer so made, he expired and gave up the ghost.

-An angel brought from heaven a table divinely written with letters of gold into the prison, which he laid under the head of S. Rocke. And in that table was written that God had granted to him his prayer, that is to wit, “that who that calleth meekly to S. Rocke he shall not be hurt with any hurt of pestilence.”

- he died, while looking up to Heaven and pressing his crucifix to his heart.  He is believed to have been thirty-two years of age.

-And there was at his head a great taper burning, and another at his feet, by which tapers all his body was light.

- As soon as St. Roch died, many miracles took place.  The prison again shone with a Heavenly light and angels sang beautiful songs.  His body gave off a beautiful sweet smelling perfume, and was surrounded with glorious rays of light.  By his side was found a tablet on which an angel had written in letters of gold, the name of Roch, with these words: “I announce protection and deliverance to all those who, being endangered by the plague, even of the most terrible kind, shall have recourse to my intercession.”  The Catholic Church has added this sweet and wonderful promise to the liturgical prayer of St. Roch.

- When the Governor (HIS UNLCE) was informed of the death of this unknown man, he was angry with himself for having taken so long to help the poor man.  He wished to find out the full truth about the reported miracles, so he went to the prison himself.  As soon as he passed through the prison door he was struck by the glorious light, which surrounded the holy man.

- He then looked at the Heavenly Tablet and saw the name; it was that of his nephew! 

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 honor of the saint, and immediately the plague ceased.

- The relics of St. Roch were partly taken to Arles in 1399, and partly to Venice, in 1485.  Many Popes have approved devotion to St. Roch.  Pope Urban VIII permitted his Feast Day to be celebrated on August 16th

- His relics, according to Wadding, were carried furtively to Venice in 1485

-His body is enclosed into a glass tomb in the church of San Rocco in Venice, Italy.

-He 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 (16 August).

-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.

-Paul IV raised it to an archconfraternity

It was given a cardinal-protector, and a prelate of high rank was to be its immediate superior (see Reg. et Const. Societatis S. Rochi). Various favours have been bestowed on it by Pius IV (C. Regimini, 7 March, 1561), by Gregory XIII (C. dated 5 January, 1577), by Gregory XIV (C. Paternar. pont., 7 March, 1591), and by other pontiffs. It still flourishes.

- In 1629 his cult was approved

-His cult spread through Spain, France, Belgium, Italy and Germany, when he was often interpolated into the roster of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, whose veneration spread in the wake of the Black Death. The magnificent 16th-century Scuola Grande di San Rocco and the adjacent church were dedicated to him by a confraternity at Venice, where his body was said to have been surreptitiously translated; the Scuola Grande is famous for its sequence of paintings by Tintoretto, who painted St Roch in glory on a ceiling canvas (1564).

 

-Numerous brotherhoods have been instituted in his honour. He is usually represented in the garb of a pilgrim, with a wound in his thigh, accompanied by a dog carrying a loaf in its mouth

-Green Penitents

Including the confraternities of St. Rocco and St. Martin at Ripetto, the care of the sick.

There are many other confraternities which cannot be comprised within any of these groups, because of the combination of colours in their habits. The various confraternities were well represented in France from the thirteenth century on, reaching, perhaps, their most flourishing condition in the sixteenth century.

-The statue of Saint Rocco is considered unique among theologians because of his pose. It is most unusual because it depicts him pointing to an open sore on his left leg.

May St. Roch intercede for us at the throne of God that we may also walk faithfully in the footsteps of St. Francis!  May he obtain for us the grace to be perfectly resigned to God’s Most Holy Will in all our sorrows.  Then our crosses and sorrows will become for us a ladder, which leads to Heaven.  But most of all may he preserve us from the plague of both body and soul.                                     

St. Roch, Pray for Us!                           

Resources:

-Medieval Sourcebook:
The Golden Legend: Volume V

-Eucharistic Crusade

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SAN ROQUE DE MONTPELLIER

FRANCISCAN TERTIARY

            St. Roch is one of the most popular saints in Europe.  He is held in great veneration, not only in countries that witnessed his virtues, but in every country of the world.  Living among those who were stricken with the plague, he raised his heart to Jesus and Mary and thought about Heaven and life after death, when there shall be no grief, nor sorrow, nor hunger, nor thirst, nor pain, and when death shall be no more.  A faithful follower of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Roch truly loved the plague-stricken; like the Seraphic Saint, he saw in them an image of the Saviour stricken for the sins of man.

            This great saint was born at Montpellier about 1295.  He was of a very rich and noble family.  His father, named John, was governor of the city; his mother’s name was Libera.  The husband and wife faithfully observed the law of God.  They looked upon their subjects as children and brothers, and they gave much alms for pious reasons.  Though they were much loved, by many people, and were quite wealthy, still they were not completely happy.  They were old, and they had no children. 

          They prayed without ceasing to Heaven, to obtain from God a child who would be a fervent disciple of Jesus Christ.  One day when Libera was at the church of Notre Dame des Tables, making her usual petition before the statue of the Mother of God, Jesus and Mary in their great mercy granted her prayer.  She returned home, announced the good news to her husband, and they both thanked God with tears of joy. 

          Before long the promise of Heaven was fulfilled, and Libera brought forth a child, whom they named Roch.  On his chest there was a red cross, which was deeply marked, a sign of his future work and sanctity.  Libera understood her duties as a mother, and was determined to train this wonderful child in the glorious ways of virtue.  St. Roch grew both in age and grace before God and man.  When a mere child of five years, he at times chastised his body, and he always deprived himself of all that made his life soft and easy.  Thus he prepared himself to become very obedient to the Holy Ghost.  His boyhood was spent in the practice of piety, penance and charity.

            St. Roch was barely twenty when God deprived him of his father.  His father’s last advice is worthy of being compared to that which Tobias gave to his son.  “Here I am,” said the dying man, “on the point of leaving this life of trial and misery, to appear before my God.  As I have nothing in the world dearer than you, and as I have constantly taken care to form your character I think that I ought now to give you some advice, which will help you to spend the remainder of your life in piety and innocence.  Before all things, devote yourself to the service of God, and always meditate on the sufferings of our Divine Lord.  Always be helpful to widows, orphans, and all those who are poor and in need of help.

             Above all, keep yourself from avarice, especially the love of money, which is the source of very many sins.  Be eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame, be a father to the poor, and know by using the property which I leave you, in works of mercy, you will be blessed by God and man.” 

            The pious youth shed tears, promised to follow this advice faithfully, and to cherish it in his heart until his death.  When he had closed the eyes of his father, he buried the venerable old man with all the pomp due to his rank and fortune.  This wound to his affection has hardly healed before God took from him his pious mother.  St. Roch bore this trial with the same resignation and the same noble sentiments as the first.

            Left all alone by himself, with a great fortune at his disposal, the world was before him with all its evils, but our Saint was firm in his resolutions.  His heart was set on the things of Heaven.  He joined the Third Order of St. Francis, resigned his worldly position in favour of his uncle, sold his possessions, and gave the money to the poor.  He then put on a pilgrim’s habit, and started off for Rome on foot, to visit the Tomb of the Holy Apostles.

            The plague was spreading wildly at that time, throughout the various provinces of Italy.  When St. Roch arrived at Aquapendente, he went to the hospital of St. John, which was full of the plague-stricken people, and offered himself to the superintendent, named Vincent, to help him in his office of mercy.  “I see,” said Vincent, “that your charity and faith are not of a common kind, but your youth and delicate health will never endure the hard work and deadly sickness of this house.”  

            “Why,” said St. Roch, “is it not mentioned in Holy Scriptures that with God nothing is impossible?  Is it not written that we must practice charity if we wish to stand on the day of the last judgment?”

            Overcome by these good reasons, and fearing to offend God if he   did not let this charitable man help the sick, Vincent lead the holy Tertiary to the plague-stricken.  St. Roch traced on the forehead of each of them the sign of the Cross, and immediately they were cured. 

 

            He then went through the entire city, and in the same manner delivered those whom he visited from this terrible sickness.  At first the people were afraid, but soon it was clear to everybody that this wonderful power was the result of divine virtue.  Everyone blessed God, and the young disciple of St. Francis was venerated as an angel sent from Heaven.

            To escape the honours that surrounded him, the Saint left Aquapendente secretly.  He visited Cesena and other cities of Italy, curing the plague-stricken as he went, and causing many to bless the name of our Lord.

             At last he arrived in Rome.  The people were dying like flies, and the citizens of Rome were terribly upset!  The servant of God showed himself to be an angel of mercy in Rome, and by being devout and charitable the terrible scourge soon disappeared as he worked many, many miracles.

             After having stayed at Rome a certain time, and satisfied his devotion at the tomb of the Apostles, St. Roch felt that he must continue his journey.  He turned his steps towards the north of Italy, and visited Mantua, Modena, Parma, and several other cities.  Wherever he passed, the sick were cured.  Then God guided him to Piacenza.  As soon as our Saint arrived there, he went to the hospitals again, devoted himself to the plague-stricken, and with the sign of the Cross, restored them all to health.

            One night, when he was quite worn out with fatigue and want of sleep, he threw himself on a pallet to take a little rest, and he heard the voice of Jesus say to him: “Roch, My son, you have borne many fatigues for My sake, journeys, cold, hunger, work of all kinds, now for love of Me, you must also suffer great pains in your body.”

            At the sound of this voice the Saint awoke, and felt as if a ploughshare had passed over his side.  After having assisted so many sick people himself, he was at last laid low with a sickness that continued to cause him fearful sufferings.  God also struck him with the plague.  Then, raising his eyes to Heaven, St. Roch cried out: “Oh, sweetest Jesus!  I thank Thee for having vouchsafed to remember Thy servant.  I offer Thee this pain and I am thankful for it as a gift from Thy hand.  It is thus that Thou dost visit a wretched and sinful creature.  This visit is sweet and dear to my soul.  Coming from Thee, death is a gain to me.”

             However his pains were so terrible that he could not keep back his moans and groans, and day and night his sharp pains forced him to cry out.  More sick people arrived every day at the hospital, taking the place of those he had cured, and being disturbed by the groans and cries of the servant of God, they grumbled, and complained, and begged him to stop his shrieking and to bear his sufferings with patience as others did.  We must here remark that the cries of the Saint were surely no sign of want of patience, but only a result of his great pain and sufferings. 

            The outward signs of pain do not displease God, if the soul is totally resigned to His Holy Will.  Our Lord Himself, the Divine model of those who suffer, showed many signs of sorrow and suffering during His Sacred Passion.

            Not wishing to be a burden to the other sick in the hospital, St. Roch decided to go away.  He gathered his strength, arose from his bed, and dragging himself painfully along with the help of his stick, he went out.  When he arrived in the street he was bewildered, he could not take another step, and sank to the ground in an agony of pain. 

            The passers-by, seeing him in this state, complained to the superintendent of the hospital saying, “Why did you put this poor sick man out of the hospital.  Can’t you see he is not well?  Please, please, take him back to the hospital and take care of him until he is in good health.”  The superintendent stared in surprise, “But I did not put this good man out on the street.  He left on his own out of charity, because he was crying out so often from his pains!”

             The Saint then appeared to act crazy and God permitted that, even though he had done so much good in the city, he should be sent out of it as a crazy man, who might become dangerous.

            With great difficulty St. Roch reached the neighbouring forest.  There he fell down, worn out with fatigue, at the foot of a Cornelian tree.  He rested for some time; then noticing a small ruined hut, he entered it and said to our Lord: “Oh, God!  I know how dear I am to Thy majesty, as Thou hast willed to make me have these terrible pains, which I so much deserve.  I have not treated the sick with all the charity, which Thy love deserved from me.  Have pity on my weakness, and do not forsake me.  Oh, most good Lord, do not leave me to perish alone among wild beasts.”

            God did not forget about his good servant.  St. Roch received a wonderful answer to his prayer.

FRANCISCAN  TERTIARY
CHAPTER 2

Yes, God who never forgets about those who trust in Him, heard the prayer of good St. Rock.  A gentle rain began to fall near the door of the hut and formed a little stream.  St. Roch, who was very thirsty, had a good drink from the stream.   He washed his wounds and soothed for a time his terrible pains.

Then, the good God worked a wonderful miracle to feed St. Roch.  Just as God took great care of the Prophet Elias, and of St. Paul in the desert, by making a crow carry bread to them every day, He caused another animal to bring bread to St. Roch.

 Not far from his hut there were some lovely country houses, where the rich people of the city had retired, to escape from the plague.  In one of these houses there lived a person named Gothard, a wealthy but God-fearing man.  He had many servants, and a large pack of hounds. 

One day when Gothard was eating, one of these dogs carried off the bread he had in his hand.  The gentleman was amused at the animal’s action, thinking either the dog was very hungry or playing a trick on him.  The dog disappeared rapidly, carrying off the bread in his mouth.  The next day and the day after the same thing took place.  Very much astonished, Gothard finally decided to follow the animal.  He left the table, and took the road, which the dog had taken.  The animal, guided by the hand of God, made his way to the forest, entered the hut, and put down the bread at the feet of St. Roch, who, in exchange, gave the dog his blessing. 

Gothard was amazed and entered the hut, with caution.  There he saw poor St. Roch lying on a bed of leaves, unable to move.  He began to question him, but the humble man begged him to go away immediately so that he might not get the plague.  Gothard left the hut, but was greatly moved by the terrible sight that he had seen. He returned, to the hut.  Gazing at the poor sick man he pleaded, “Please let me look after you and care for you until you are in good health again.”

 Saint Roch humbly replied, “Thank you dear friend.  You are a kind man and I believe you have been sent by the good God.”  From then on the two pious men lived together.  They encouraged one another by holy conversations, by saying many prayers and by doing much penance.

 St. Roch, hearing that the plague was still taking the lives of many people at Piacenza, felt sorry for them, and decided to return in order to help the poor, sick people of that city.  As yet he could hardly stand, but his heart was full of charity and this gave him the necessary strength he needed.  He started in the early morning, leaning on a stick, and walked slowly to the hospital.  There, forgetting the past injuries and wanting to return good for evil, he visited the sick as he had done before, and restored them to health with the sign of the Cross.

 He then went through the city, healing all who came to him.  At sunset, good St. Roch left Piacenza and went back to the forest with a number of grateful persons.  Then all the wild beasts, which had also been struck by the plague, came to the Saint, begging him with their whines and groans, to cure them.  St. Roch blessed them and they went away healed.   

At the sight of all these miracles, the people again thought very well of St. Roch.  They came from all parts to visit the two men in the forest. Seeing that these two men were living a very good life, and practicing much virtue, they begged the help of their prayers.  One day, however, St. Roch, being now thoroughly cured, received a command from God to return to his own country.

 Gothard was troubled when he heard that his friend would soon be leaving him.  But St. Roch consoled him and told him that it was the Holy Will of God.  He then encouraged him to persevere until death in the life of prayer and penance, which he had chosen. The good saint also gave him some good advice on how to sanctify himself, when he was living alone.  Thereupon the two friends parted for a time, to meet again in Heaven. 

Gothard lived a holy life in his hermitage, and after his death his fellow-citizens held him in blessed memory.  A picture of him, with that of St. Roch, can still be seen in Piacenza, in the church of St. Ann.

Faithful to the commands of Heaven, St. Roch returned to Montpellier.  He had to pass through one more trial before being called to his Heavenly reward.  War was then destroying the south of France.  The holy saint was so worn out with his penances and sufferings, that when he arrived in his native town, no one knew who he was.  People thought that he was a spy, disguised as a pilgrim.

 The police immediately arrested him!  They questioned him, “What is your name?”… “What is your family background?”… “Which country do you come from?”… “Why did you come to this town?”…

  St. Roch quietly answered each question, “I am a pilgrim and servant of Jesus Christ,” but he continued to remain silent about his name, his family, and his country. He wanted to suffer in silence, like Jesus did.   Because of his silence, the judges believed that he was truly guilty. The Governor then commanded, “Throw this man into prison.  He will not answer our questions, therefore he is guilty!”

Poor St. Roch, what was he going to do now?  How would he ever get out of prison?  St. Roch spent five years in a horrible dungeon!  His jailers were very cruel to him and would not give him a lot of the necessary things to help him to live well.  A word from him would have been enough to make himself known to his Uncle, the Governor of Montpellier. Then he might have reappeared in the city surrounded with all the honour due to his noble birth.

 Like St. Alexis, good St. Roch wanted to live a poor, humble, and hidden life, in the very midst of his relatives.  He did not wish for honour and glory in this life.  From the depth of his dark and dirty dungeon, he continued to sing beautiful hymns of praise and thanksgiving, to Jesus and Mary.  He asked Our Lady, to give him the grace to be patient, and to give him the grace to persevere to the end.  The Governor and the prison guards hardly paid any attention to poor St. Roch.

 When St. Roch felt that his end was near and that his painful life was coming to an end, he asked to see a Catholic priest, so that he could receive the Last Sacraments. When the priest entered the prison he was amazed to see a glorious light, shining around the body of the holy saint!  After having given him the Last Sacraments, he ran to inform the Governor of the miracle he had just seen.

Shortly after, the Saint slept and saw in a dream, a heavenly messenger who said to him: “Roch, the time has come for you to receive the reward of your labours and sufferings, and for your soul to repose in Heaven.  God is pleased with you!  If you wish to obtain some grace for mankind, ask it from Almighty God before you die and your desire shall be granted.” 

St. Roch awoke; his soul was bathed in holy joy.  Always forgetful of himself, and solely occupied with the interests of others, he addressed this prayer to God: “I humbly beseech Thee, O Lord, that whosoever is attacked by the plague, or is in danger of being attacked thereby, shall implore my protection with faith, may be delivered from the sickness, or be preserved from this scourge.  I ask for this grace, not because of my own merits, but in the name of Thy great mercy and goodness which is infinite.”

Just after saying these words he died, while looking up to Heaven and pressing his crucifix to his heart.  He is believed to have been thirty-two years of age.

As soon as St. Roch died, many miracles took place.  The prison again shone with a Heavenly light and angels sang beautiful songs.  His body gave off a beautiful sweet smelling perfume, and was surrounded with glorious rays of light.  By his side was found a tablet on which an angel had written in letters of gold, the name of Roch, with these words: “I announce protection and deliverance to all those who, being endangered by the plague, even of the most terrible kind, shall have recourse to my intercession.”  The Catholic Church has added this sweet and wonderful promise to the liturgical prayer of St. Roch.

When the Governor was informed of the death of this unknown man, he was angry with himself for having taken so long to help the poor man.  He wished to find out the full truth about the reported miracles, so he went to the prison himself.  As soon as he passed through the prison door he was struck by the glorious light, which surrounded the holy man. 

He then looked at the Heavenly Tablet and saw the name; it was that of his nephew!  The mother of the Governor, and grandmother to St. Roch, also ran to the prison.  She uncovered the Saint’s chest, and saw once more the wonderful “red cross” which he had since his birth.

St. Roch died in 1327.  His holy remains, glorified in some degree even before the final day of resurrection, were buried with great pomp and ceremony.  A church was soon built to receive them.  From the very beginning, God worked many signs and miracles for the faithful who had devotion to this holy man.

During the Council of Constance in 1414, the plague broke out in the city.  Processions and public prayers in honour of St. Roch were ordered, and immediately the plague disappeared.  After that, devotion to the Saint spread throughout the whole world. 

The relics of St. Roch were partly taken to Arles in 1399, and partly to Venice, in 1485.  Many Popes have approved devotion to St. Roch.  Pope Urban VIII permitted his Feast Day to be celebrated on August 16th.

May St. Roch intercede for us at the throne of God that we may also walk faithfully in the footsteps of St. Francis!  May he obtain for us the grace to be perfectly resigned to God’s Most Holy Will in all our sorrows.  Then our crosses and sorrows will become for us a ladder, which leads to Heaven.  But most of all may he preserve us from the plague of both body and soul.                                     

St. Roch, Pray for Us!                           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART II-----------**** + ****------------------

Here followeth the Life of S. Rocke

S. ROCKE was born in Montpelier, which is a town of great name upon the border of France, and was born of noble progeny. His father was lord of Montpelier, and was named John, and was come of the noble house of France. And though he was noble of birth, and rich of lordship, he was also virtuous in all humanity. He had a wife of noble kindred and fair of visage named Libera, which both devoutly served our Lord Jesu Christ,  and lived in divine love and holy works. And how well that they thus had lived long, yet  had they no child ne heir, wherefore they oft made their prayers, and vowed pilgrimages. And on a day most specially, the wife made her prayers to our Blessed Lady, praying  devoutly for to have a child, and was in very contemplation, in which she heard the voice of an angel saying: O Libera, God hath heard thy prayer, and thou shalt receive of him grace of thy petition. And anon she went to her husband and told him as she had heard of the angel. And then they, hereof joyful, accomplished the act of matrimony, and she conceived, and at time was delivered of a son, which in his baptism was named Rochus or Rocke.And this Rocke had impressed in the shoulder on his left side a cross, which was a token that he should be acceptable and beloved of God, which thing when his father and mother saw they blessed God, and his mother herself nourished and gave suck to the child, and fed it and committed and did gladly the other business of a nurse. Which devout mother fasted twice in the week, and the blessed child Rocke abstained him twice also, when his mother fasted in the week, and would suck his mother but once that day, which was to all a great wonder, and that day he was gladder, merrier, and sweeter than the other. And after, when he came to five years of age, he disposed him to the works of penance, and was much obedient to father and mother. And in the twelfth year of his age he fasted many and divers fastings for Christ's love. And the more his members grew, the more the cross, that tofore was spoken of, appeared larger and more apparent.

In that time the father of S. Rocke was sick and saw his last end approach, and   called to him his son Rocke, and said: O mine only son Rocke, thou seest well that I shall shortly finish my life; alway the will of God be fulfilled, and four things, with my lordship  and heritage, I leave to thee, and command thee to accomplish. First, like as thou hast begun that thou serve busily God. Secondly, that thou remember poor people, widows and orphans. Thirdly, I constitute and ordain thee governor and dispenser of all my treasures, that thou dispend them in charitable and meek works. And fourthly that, with all diligence thou haunt and frequent the hospitals of sick and poor men. These foresaid things Rocke promised to his father to fulfil them to his power. And anon after his father died, whom Rocke buried honourably, and laid in a sepulture, and in the twentieth year of his age he buried also his devout mother. And in few days he executed the testament of his father effectually, and visited religious places of poor people; wretches oppressed, and sick men, he cured by counsel and works; widows and orphans he comforted; and poor maidens to marry he relieved. And in these good offices and works he dispended his father's goods. And when he had finished his father's commandments he decreed to leave the country of Montpelier and to make and seek other divers pilgrimages, and clad him with the habit of a pilgrim, and covered his head with a bonnet, a scrip on his shoulder, and a pilgrim's staff in his right hand, and so departed.

And after many desert places he came to Rome, but tofore he came into a town called in Latin Aquapendens, where as was a common and hard pestilence, which, when Rocke knew of many by the way, he desirously went unto the hospital of that town, called Water-hanging, and gat with great prayers and labour of one Vincent, which had the rule of the hospital, that he might there, day and night, serve the sick people. Vincent was afeard and dreaded lest Rocke, which was a young flowering man should be smitten with pestilence. But after that he came, them that were sick he blessed in the name of Christ, and as soon he had touched the sick men they were all whole. And they said and confessed as soon as and this holy man Rocke was come in. All they that were vexed and sick, and the fire of pestilence had infected, he extincted it and delivered all the hospital of that sickness. And after he went through the town, and each house that was vexed with pestilence he entered, and with the sign of the cross and mind of the passion of Jesu Christ he delivered them all from the pestilence. For whomsoever Rocketouched, anon the pestilence left him. And when the town of Water-falling was delivered from the contagion of the pestilence, Rocke went to the city of Cesena which is a great city of Italy, which no less pestilence vexed, and he in a short space delivered it from the pestilence. And from thence he came to Rome, which was then so full of pestilence that unnethe in all the town could not be found one house void thereof. In those days there was at Rome a cardinal of the title of Angleria, which is a province of Lombardy, and the blessed Rocke came into this cardinal's place. And as he stood tofore him a little, suddenly a marvellous comfort and hope entered into the courage of the cardinal. He understood the young man Rocke to be right dear with God, for his cheer, his manners, and his attemperance showed it, wherefore he commended him to Rocke that he should deliver him from the pestilence and conserve him. And then Rocke did sign in the cardinal's forehead and made with his finger a cross. And anon an apparent sign and a very cross was seen impressed in his forehead, and so the cardinal was preserved from the pestilence. Nevertheless, for the novelty of the thing, he prayed S. Rocke that the token of the cross should be taken away, lest thereby it should be to the people a new spectacle. Then Rocke exhorted the cardinal that he should bear the sign of the cross of our Redeemer, in memory of his passion, in his forehead perpetually, and worship it reverently, by which sign he was delivered from the hard pestilence. The cardinal then brought S. Rocke to the pope, which anon saw that is godly, a bright ray and heavenly, shining out of the forehead of Rocke. And after, when his divine virtue was known to the pope, Rocke obtained of him full remission of sin. Then the cardinal began to inquire of Rocke of his lineage and of his country, but Rocke affecting no mortal glory, hid his lineage and received again of the pope his blessing and departed from him. And abode at Rome with the same cardinal three years continually, and laboured in visiting and helping the poor people and them that were sick of the pestilence. And after three years the cardinal, being old, died, and Rocke forsook Rome and came to the town of Armine, a noble city of Italy, which also he delivered from the said pestilence. And when that town was delivered, he went to the city of Manasem in Lombardy, which was also sore oppressed with sick men of the pestilence, whom with all his heart he served diligently, and by the help of God made that town quit of the pestilence. And from thence went to Piacenza, for he understood that there was great pestilence. Rocke was ever of great study how he might, in the name of Jesu and of his passion, deliver mortal men from the hurt of pestilence. And so an whole year he visited the houses of poor men, and they that had most need, to them he did most help, and was always in the hospital. And when he had been long in the hospital of Piacenza, and had helped almost all the sick men therein, about midnight he heard in his sleep an angel thus saying:

O Rocke, most devout to Christ, awake and know that thou art smitten with the pestilence, study now how thou mayst be cured. And anon he felt him sore taken with the pestilence under his both arms, and he thereof gave than kings to our Lord. And he was so sore vexed with the pain, that they that were in the hospital were deprived of their sleep and rest of the night, wherefore S. Rocke arose from his bed and went to the utterest place of the hospital, and lay down there abiding the light of the day. And when it was day the people going by saw him, and accused the master of the hospital of offence, that he suffered the pilgrim to lie without the hospital, but he purged him of that default, saying that: The pilgrim was smitten with the pestilence as ye see, and unwitting to us he went out. Then the citizens incontinent put out S. Rocke from the city and suburbs, lest by him the city might be the more infected. Then S. Rocke, sore oppressed with fervent pain of the pestilence, suffered patiently himself to be ejected out of Piacenza, and went into a certain wood, a desert valley not far from Piacenza, always blessing God. And there as he might he made him a lodge of boughs and leaves, always giving thankings to our Lord, saying: O Jesu, my Saviour, I thank thee that thou puttest me to affliction like to thine other servants, by this odious ardour of pestilence, and most meek Lord, I beseech thee to this desert place, give the refrigery and comfort of thy grace.And his prayer finished, anon there came a cloud from heaven by the lodge that S. Rocke had made within boughs, whereas sprang a fair and bright well, which is there yet unto this day. Whose water S. Rocke drank, being sore athirst, and thereof had great refreshing of the great heat that he suffered of the pestilence fever.

There was nigh unto that wood a little village in which some noblemen dwelled; among whom there was one well beloved to God named Gotard,which had great husbandry, and had a great family and household. This Gotard held many hounds for hunting, among whom he had one much familiar, which boldly would take bread from the board. And when Rocke lacked bread, that hound, by the purveyance of God, brought from the lord's board bread unto Rocke. Which thing when Gotard had advertised oft that he bare so away the bread, but he wist not to whom ne whither, whereof he marvelled, and so did all his household. And the next dinner he set a delicate loaf on the board, which anon the hound by his new manner took away and bare it to Rocke. And Gotard followed after and came to the lodge of S. Rocke, and there beheld how familiarly the hound delivered the bread to S. Rocke. Then Gotard reverently saluted the holy man and approached to him, but S. Rocke, dreading lest the contagious air of the pestilence might infect him, said to him: Friend, go from me in good peace, for the most violent pestilence holdeth me. Then Gotard went his way and left him, and returned home, where, by God's grace, he said thus to himself all still: This poor man whom I have left in the wood and desert, certainly is the man of God, sith this hound without reason bringeth to him bread. I therefore, that have seen him do it, so ought sooner to do it, which am a Christian man. By this holy meditation Gotard returned to Rocke and said: Holy pilgrim, I desire to do to thee that thou needest, and am advised never to leave thee. Then Rocke thanked God which had sent to him Gotard, and he informed Gotard busily in the law of Christ. And when they had been awhile together the hound brought no more bread. Gotard asked counsel how he might have bread, for more and more he hungered and asked remedy of S. Rocke. S. Rocke exhorted him after the text, saying: In the sweat of thy visage thou shalt eat thy bread, and that he should return to the town, and leave all his goods to his heirs, and follow the way of Christ and demand bread in the name of Jesu. Then Gotard was ashamed to do so where he was known, but at the last by the busy admonition of S. Rocke, Gotard went to Piacenza, whereas he had great knowledge, and begged bread and alms at the door of one of his gossips. That same gossip threatened sharply Gotard, and said he shamed his lineage and friends by this foul and indecent begging, and put him away, being wroth and scorning him. For which cause Gotard was constrained to beg busily at the doors of other men of the city. And the same day the gossip that so had said to Gotard was taken sore with the pestilence, and many others that denied alms to Gotard. And then anon the city of Piacenza was infect with contagious pestilence, and Gotard returned to the wood and told to S. Rocke all that was happed.

And S. Rocke told to Gotard tofore, that his gossip should hastily die, which was done indeed. And S. Rocke, moved with pity and mercy, being full sick, went into Piacenza, being full of pestilence, and left Gotard in the wood. And though S. Rocke were sore vexed with the pestilence, yet he with great labour went to Piacenza and with touching and blessing he helped and healed them all, and also cured the hospital of the same city. And he being sore sick and almost lame returned again to Gotard into the wood. And many that heard that he and Gotard were in the place of the desert valley,came to them whom they found all with Rocke, and tofore them all he did these miracles. The wild beasts which wandered in the wood, what hurt, sickness or swelling they had, they ran anon to S. Rocke, and when they were healed they would incline their heads reverently and go their way. And a little while after Gotard, and his fellows, for certain necessities and errands, returned into Piacenza and left that time S. Rocke alone in the valley. And S. Rocke made his prayers to Almighty God that he might be delivered from the wounds of pestilence, and in this prayer he fell asleep. And in the meanwhile returned Gotard from the city, and when he came and joined him to Rocke sleeping, he heard the voice of an angel saying: O Rocke, friend of God, our Lord hath heard thy prayers, lo, thou art delivered from the pestilence, and art made all whole, and our Lord commandeth that thou take the way toward thy country. With this sudden voice Gotard was astonished which never tofore knew the name of Rocke. And anon Rocke awoke, and felt himself all whole by the grace of God like as the angel said. And Gotard told unto Rocke how he had heard the angel and what he had said. Then S. Rocke prayed Gotard that he should keep his name secret and to tell it to no man, for he desired no worldly glory. Then after a few days S. Rocke with Gotard and his fellows abode in the desert, and informed them all in godly works, and they then began to wax holy, wherein he exhorted them and confirmed, and left them in that desert valley. And S. Rocke, as a pilgrim doing penance, entended, burning in the love of God, toward his country and came to a province of Lombardy called Angleria, and applied him toward Almaine, where the lord of his province made war with his enemy, whose knights took S. Rocke as a spy, and delivered him to their lord as a traitor. This blessed saint, always confessing Jesu Christ, was deputed unto a hard and strait prison, and the blessed Rocke patiently went into prison and suffered it gladly. Where day and night remembering the name of Jesu, he commended him to God, praying that the prison should not disprofit him, but that he might have it for wilderness and penance. And there he abode five years in prayers.

In the end of the fifth year, when God would that his soul should be brought into the fellowship of his saints, and be always in the sight of God, he that bare meat to S. Rocke into the prison, as he was accustomed every day, he saw a great light and shining in the prison, and S. Rocke kneeling on his knees praying, which all these things he told to his lord. And the fame hereof ran all about the city, so that many of the citizens ran to the prison because of the novelty of this thing. And there saw and beheld it and gave laud thereof to Almighty God, and accused the lord of cruelty and woodness. Then at the last, when S. Rocke knew by the will of God that he should finish his mortal life, he called to him the keeper of the prison, and prayed him that he would go to his lord, and to exhort him in the name of God and of the glorious Virgin Mary, that he would send to him a priest, of whom ere he died he would be confessed, which thing was anon done. And when he had confessed him to the priest and devoutly taken his blessing, he prayed him that he might abide alone three days next following for to be in his contemplation, by which he might the better have mind of the most holy passion of our Lord. For Rocke felt well then that the citizens prayed the lord for his deliverance, which things the priest told to the lord. And so it was granted to S. Rocke to abide there alone three days. And in the end of the third day the angel of God came to S. Rocke, saying thus: O Rocke, God sendeth me for thy soul, of whom in this last part of thy life that what thou now desirest thou shouldest now ask and demand. Then S. Rocke prayed unto Almighty God with his most devout prayer, that all good christian men which reverently prayed in the name of Jesu to the blessed Rocke might be delivered surely from the stroke of pestilence. And this prayer so made, he expired and gave up the ghost.

Anon an angel brought from heaven a table divinely written with letters of gold into the prison, which he laid under the head of S. Rocke. And in that table was written that God had granted to him his prayer, that is to wit, that who that calleth meekly to S. Rocke he shall not be hurt with any hurt of pestilence. And then after the third day the lord of the city sent to the prison that S. Rocke should be delivered out of it. And they that came to the prison found S. Rocke departed from this life, and saw through all the prison a marvellous light, in such wise that without doubt they believed him to be the friend of God. And there was at his head a great taper burning, and another at his feet, by which tapers all his body was light. Furthermore, they found under his head the foresaid table, by which they knew the name of the blessed Rocke by authority, which name known, the mother of the lord of that city knew many years tofore S. Rocke to be the son of the lord John of Montpelier, which was brother germain to this lord of whom we have said, which thing, and all that was done, was because they knew not his name. Then they knew him to be nephew to the lord, and also by the sign of the cross which S. Rocke bare, as tofore is said that he had it when he was born out of his mother's belly. Then they being thereof penitent, and in great wailing and sorrow, at the last with all the people of the city they buried S. Rocke solemnly and religiously, which soon after the holy saint was canonised by the pope gloriously. And in his glorious name and honour they builded a great and large church. Then let us reverently with devotion pray unto this glorious saint S. Rocke, 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. The feast of S. Rocke is always holden on the morn after the day of the Assumption of our Lady, which life is translated out of Latin into English by me, William Caxton.

 

LOs Que Fueron Heridos de Peste E' Implorarem Al Favor de Roque Alcanzaran Su Salud