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The Story of St. Roch, Patron Saint of Dogs and Dog Lovers

Aug 16, 2017 By Gretchen Filz

St. Roch, also known as St. Rocco (c. 1295-1327), was a nobleman from Montpellier, France, the only son of the wealthy governor of the city.

St. Roch was born with an unusual and deep red mark on his chest in the shape of a cross, a sign that the Blessed Virgin Mary had heard and answered his mother's prayers for her barrenness to be healed. As a child St. Roch was deeply religious, fasting twice a week after the example of his pious mother. His parents died when he was twenty years of age, after which he gave his inheritance to the poor, handed the government of the city over to his uncle, and began a new life as a poor mendicant pilgrim.

 

Free from all earthly cares, St. Roch joined the Third Order Franciscans, donned the familiar pilgrim's garb (a common practice of popular piety at the time) and set out on a pilgrimage to visit and pray at the holy places in Rome.

When he came upon the town of Acquapendente near Viterbo, he saw that it was badly struck by the black plague which was wreaking havoc across Europe. He sojourned there for a time to care for the sick both in private homes and in the hospitals—even though doing so was dangerous for himself.

Instead of contracting the highly contagious disease, St. Roch cured many people by simply making the Sign of the Cross over them. He continued his charitable work until the disease was halted from spreading further in the village, after which he continued on his pilgrimage. His miraculous healing power evidenced itself in the same manner in every plague-infested town that he passed through on his way to Rome, and also in Rome itself.

When his travels brought him to the own of Piacenza, he discovered that he was no longer spared from the deadly disease and finally contracted it in the leg. Instead of burdening anyone with his sickness, he commended himself to God and awaited his death in a remote and abandoned forest hut. Providentially, a local count's hunting dog found and befriended him, bringing him food daily and licking his wounds. A spring arose nearby providing St. Roch with fresh water.

The life of St. Roch (St. Rocco) patron saint of dogs and against infections diseases.

The count, one day following his dog into the woods, discovered and aided the holy pilgrim. Slowly St. Roch's health was restored, after which he received divine inspiration that he should return to his native Montpellier.

Once there he found the city at war. He refused to disclose his identity to the soldiers so that he could remain poor and unknown, having renounced his former life as the son of the governor. But his obfuscation aroused suspicion, and he was accused of being a spy disguised as a pilgrim. St. Roch did not defend himself against these charges, not wishing to reveal is true identity, and instead entrusted himself completely to God's will.

St. Roch was cast into prison by his own uncle, who failed to recognize his nephew's altered appearance. According to legend, St. Roch was forgotten and abandoned in prison, but not by God, who sent angels to minister to him while he was held in captivity. He died there five years later.

St. Roch (St. Rocco), the patron of dogs and dog lovers. Read his story at the link!

As told by a Franciscan hagiographer, Marion A. Habig, O.F.M.:

"When he felt that his end was drawing near, Saint Roch asked that a priest might come and administer the last sacraments. The priest, on entering the prison, beheld it supernaturally lighted up and the poor captive surrounded with special radiance. As death claimed its victim, a tablet appeared on the wall on which an angelic hand wrote in golden letters the name of Roch, and the prediction that all who would invoke his intercession would be delivered from the plague. Informed of all that took place, Saint Roch's uncle came to the prison and, shortly after, also the governor's mother, that is, Roch's grandmother. She identified the dead man as her grandson by the birthmark of the red cross on his breast. They gave him a magnificent funeral and had a church built in his honor, in which his body was entombed. His veneration was approved by several popes and soon spread throughout Europe."

Later, during the Council of Constance in 1414, the plague broke out again in Rome. The Council Fathers turned to St. Roch, the patron against the plague, and arranged that prayers and public processions be held in his honor, after which the plague ceased.

Because of his patronage against infectious disease, St. Roch was a highly-regarded saint in the late Middle Ages, especially in those Italian towns in which he exercised his healing powers. Many of these town have chosen him as their patron.

St. Roch is often depicted as a pilgrim with a walking staff and seashell (the symbol of a pilgrim), an open sore on his leg, an angel by his side, and a dog at his feet. He is the patron saint of dogs, dog owners, knee problems, surgeons, invalids, bachelors, diseased cattle, and against cholera, plague, skin rashes and diseases, contagious diseases, pestilence, and epidemics. His ?feast day? is August 16th.

The life story of St. Roch (St. Rocco) patron saint of dogs and dog lovers.

This article has been updated and was originally published in August 2016. © The Catholic Company

Comments

My Dear St Roch, pls lay your healing hands together with all the angels and saints to heal my dog Chase from illness and grant him longer life and good health.he is been my friend,my son and companion for 4 years.Remove the pains and his sufferings.This we ask in Jesus name....Amen
Andy
Andy says
Feb 1 2019 2:12PM
Dear St. Roch, please pray to God for Elizabeth Krahn, who is in her 70's and now suffering from complications due to shingles. We believe, Lord - help our unbelief.
Marianne Unger
Marianne Unger says
Dec 31 2018 11:20PM
St. Roch.

Please bless my dog,Rikko who is in heaven. I am fearful that I failed to medicate him properly. Please ease my guilty feeling.

Tell him how much I still love him and hope to be with him in a Heavenly way;whatever that means. I love him so much to this day.

Please bring me to him soon, I need to be with him,and my other dogs in Heaven. I miss him most. Please rub his fur and kiss him, give him all I cannot for now.Love,Marianne
Nicole
Nicole says
Dec 27 2018 8:42AM
Please watch over my beloved Rocco who is having surgery today. He is 10 years old who may have cancer of the spleen. His family needs him.
Clarence
Clarence says
Dec 16 2018 11:23AM
Dear St. Roch,

Please take into your arms my beloved Dempsey, who died unexpectedly this December 1. I am lost without him, and pray that we will be reunited when my time comes.

With all thanks and love.

Amen
Wendy Carpenter
Wendy Carpenter says
Dec 13 2018 9:41PM
St. Roche please help me to adopt Huckleberry who is abused and homeless. Please let me buy him tomorrow from his abusers and he will never spend another second being cold or hungry. He will only be warm happy and loved. In Jesus name Amen
Michael Oleksy
Michael Oleksy says
Nov 19 2018 2:20AM
??I have beautiful First Class Relics of Saint Roch and Saint Anthony of Padua with the official Episcopal Catholic Seals. Saint Anthony of Padua is also a great healer of animals, his relic healed my elderly cat!!!! Blessed be God in his wonderful Saints!!!!!??
Mary Lange
Mary Lange says
Nov 13 2018 10:18PM
Please pray and interceed help heal my dog, Scout. He always had so much energy, and drank some water on a hot day from the street. He hasn't eater or wants to go walking. Help Please!
Greg
Greg says
Nov 4 2018 10:19PM
St. Roch, please cure my dog who has Lymphoma. Please grant her a long and full life, and keep her free of harmful side effects from the chemotherapy treatments she has to endure. Please let her live for many more years happy, healthy and cancer free. I ask this prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Nancy
Nancy says
Oct 28 2018 6:28PM
St. Roche please help my granddog Nero.

He has a skin rash that will not heal. He keeps licking the area and it keeps spreading. He is a good sweet dog. I don't like to see him suffering. Please intercede for him and help his skin to return to normal. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen.
John Page
John Page says
Oct 19 2018 12:49PM
St. Roch please pray for my Dog Toby, he is getting old 13 years now. If you could pray and ask our Heavnly father to give me more time in good health. To walk and get up and be happy. I love him so much he is like a son to me.In Jesus name my lord and Savior. Thank you.
Grace
Grace says
Oct 4 2018 5:31AM
St.roch

Please pray for my agatha that she delivers all her puppy safe.please we love her so much.through jesus christ our lord.amen
St Roch Rescue
St Roch Rescue says
Sep 15 2018 10:44AM
Dear Saint Roch, I ask your intercession to put an end to all puppy mills, dog fighting and the abuse of all dogs. Put an end to the Yulin China dog meat festival. If it be God’s will help me to continue to rescue dogs and provide them with a forever loving home. I can no longer financially afford to continue what I believe is my calling to adopt dogs that are due to be euthanized in the animal shelters. I ask you to intercede with God on my behalf to show me a way to acquire the funds to continue to rescue dogs. Take care of all my dogs that have passed on and are with you in heaven.
Rosella baylas
Rosella baylas says
Sep 11 2018 12:34PM
Saint roche, pls tell holy father heal my sweet dog cheche, she has diagnois heartfailure.. in jesus name. AMEN
Jesusa Pangelinan Williams
Jesusa Pangelinan Williams says
Aug 16 2018 9:29PM
My Parish has San Roke as a co-patron. I ask for the intercession of San Roke (Guam) for family members who have cancer and for myself diagnosed with APS (blood disorder)

Our Parish will be celebrating his Feast Day this weekend.

In Jesus's name w e Pray. Amen.
MLRobin
MLRobin says
Aug 16 2018 10:49AM
St Roch,

Please watch over Lulu and heal her
David Rupinsky
David Rupinsky says
Aug 8 2018 5:46AM
St Roch,

I pray for you to take care of my beloved little Rocky in heaven. After a 3 month illness he left me on July 30th. He was such a loyal and lovable companion. He truly was a member of the family. I miss him more every day. My only comfort is knowing that you are watching out for him, and I pray that we can be reunited someday in heaven to spend eternity. In Jesus name I pray.
Don DelPrete
Don DelPrete says
Aug 2 2018 4:46PM
St.Roch,

Please heal my little dog Daisy, she has cancer is not doing well. Please heal her.

Im asking for your help in the name of Jesus.
St. Roch-

Please provide enternal happiness for our recently passed Riley..he was an absoutley priceless family dog, hunting companion and protector of what was always right!

Amen

Matt
Sony John
Sony John says
Jul 30 2018 5:20AM
Saint Rocky please pray for my dog Brutus, who is diagnosed with kidney failure. Help him recover and get back to full health. I ask this prayer through Christ our lord. Amen
Mylene Lysek
Mylene Lysek says
Jul 18 2018 3:13PM
St. Roch,

Please watch over and protect all dogs who are in captivity, for whatever evil purpose they are held for. I have seen horrible animal cruelty from the media and I pray for your intercession to free them or take them to dog heaven away from all the suffering. These are innocent dogs who smile back at us humans and remain loyal to our love.

My heart aches for them and I pray daily for their protection through Jesus name AMEN.
Saint Roch, Please keep my Vinci away from any serious illnesses. She is my life and my world.

I wouldn't ask for any material things in this world. Just keep my family and loved ones in safety and good health always. And longer life to be with each other.

This we ask our Lord and God the father in heaven.

Amen.
Pauline
Pauline says
Jul 18 2018 12:43AM
St Rich please reunite this sweet dog that jumped in my car tonight w/ his owners. I pray they will want her, love, her and care for her. In Jesus name Amen
Betty Dalaviras
Betty Dalaviras says
Jul 17 2018 4:32PM
Thank you for sharing this story of St. Roch. His ministry touches me in so many ways and I ask his blessings in healing of my arthritic knees and comfort for my old dog Rosie. I also ask for blessings for RSM Sister Mary Roch Rocklage who I worked for years ago. Sister Roch has been instrumental in assisting in the healing of so many people in hospitals of her health care organizations.
Tricia
Tricia says
Jul 6 2018 8:21PM
Thank you for Looking after My Winfield 9 ,my Chick-a-pea 16 my little Cobbie that was sick the day I got him but he lived to 2 1/2 years (they did not even think he would be around for 6 months ). And PLEASE look after the fluff of nothing Huron For me! He is my world and I need him to be healthy for many years! In Gods name Amen!

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Commentary by

Gretchen Filz Gretchen Filz

Gretchen is a Lay Dominican with a passion for fostering an increase in Catholic faith and devotion through content writing and journalism. She works as a digital content writer, creator, and marketer for The Catholic Company. In addition to blogging at GetFed.com, she is also editor of the MorningOffering.com daily devotional email and author at GoodCatholic.com. She holds an M.A. in Christian Apologetics and converted to the Catholic Church in 2011. She is also active in R.C.I.A., pro-life work, and various faith-based web projects.

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