Confessor, Patron of Invalids
Saint Roch was the son of a governor of Montpellier. His pious parents, already advanced in age, obtained his birth by their persevering prayers, promising to give to God the child He would grant them. This miraculous infant was born with a red cross on his breast, sign of a very particular predestination.
From the age of five he began to chastise his little body by privations. As he grew in age and in grace, he was noted for his gracious hospitality for the poor and travelers. He was not yet twenty years old when he experienced the grief of losing both his father and his mother. He immediately sold all his property and made himself poor to follow Christ. He entered the Third Order of Saint Francis and dressed as a pilgrim, traveled on foot to Rome, asking alms.
A pestilence was then devastating Italy; he devoted himself to caring for the sick. Passing alongside their beds, he would take their hand, and with them make the sign of the Cross, and all rose up cured. In Rome, miracles multiplied where he passed. He lived there for three years without making known his name and his origins, even to the Holy Father. Then, returning to his native region, he was suddenly seized by the plague and withdrew into a cabin on the borders of a forest, where a dog brought him a small loaf of bread every day. Cured by the graces of heaven, he entered Montpellier like a stranger; and his uncle, the governor, not recognizing him, cast him into prison as a spy. After five years there he died, stretched out on the ground, after receiving the Last Sacraments. He was recognized by the red cross on his breast, and his funeral was a triumph. His cult became very popular and has remained so for the entire Church. We always see him pictured with his famous little dog.
Lives of the Saints for Every Day of the Year. (Reprint of the work of John Gilmary Shea, with Appendix including recently canonized Saints) (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1955).