A Patron Saint of Bachelors and Dogs

Saint Roch (1295 – 1376?) – also known as Rock, or, in Scotland, Rollox, not to be confused with the luxury watch of similar vintage – whose feast we celebrate on August 16th, was a Majorcan confessor, perhaps originally from Montpellier. On a pilgrimage to Rome, he tended to plague victims, caught the disease, but recovered, returned to France, was imprisoned as a spy, since his uncle, who was the governor, did not recognize him, and Roch, perhaps in a desire to suffer as an unknown pilgrim, refused to identify himself. He was only known after his early death in prison by the cross-shaped birthmark on his chest, and miracles soon abounded.

For reasons that are unclear, he is the patron saint of dogs, and is often pictured with one. My brother has a golden retriever who was born on his feast, who was named, of course, Rocco. Saint Roch is also the patron saint of plague victims, invalids and bachelors, usually distinct groups, but which sometimes overlap, even if bachelors often have dogs, to make up for their loneliness. But, then, so do bachelorettes. Perhaps we need a canine-based dating service, and Saint Roch could be the primary intercessor for fruitful and happy marriages.

Saint Roch, ora pro nobis! +