This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

August 16 -- Feast of Saint Rocco

To begin with, this is apparently also the feast of Saint Uguzo of Carvagna, whom I celebrated on July 12.  You can find out about him at the link here.  "Blessed are the cheesemakers..."

Nasty wound, huh?

Since Saint Patrick, patron of Ireland is an Italian (well, Roman) born in Britain, it seems only fair that the patron of so many places (see below) in Italy was French.  Saint Rocco (okay, Saint Roche) was born in Montpelier, France.  Marked from birth with a red cross on his left breast, it was obvious he was headed for a saintly life.  When his parents died, he was taken in by his uncle, the Duke of Montpelier.  He might have enjoyed a prosperous, comfortable life in court, but opted instead to give away everything he owned and become a pilgrim.

Rocco covered in festival donation$$$
As he headed for Rome, he found that plague and pestilence were everywhere.  He lingered in disease-ridden Aquapendente, curing folks with his prayer.  Everywhere he went -- Cesena, Rome, Mantua, Mondena, Parma -- he was able to cure folks through prayer.  Unfortunately, he contracted plague himself, which resulted in a wound on his leg that would not close.

Other people were less kind but more cautious than Rocco.  Seeing that he had an open wound oozing down his leg, they drove him from town.  He settled in a cave up in the hills, where he was visited by a dog.  The kindly beast would steal food from the local castle each day and carry it to the saint, who was sustained by it.  The lord followed the dog one day and found poor Rocco, whom he carried back to his castle.  Once the good saint was healed, he set off for Montpelier again, his pilgrimage complete.

Upon entering his old hometown, he was immediately arrested on suspicion of espionage.  Being several hundred years and several hundred miles away from the right of habeas corpus, he was tossed in prison without a trial, where he languished for five years.  Just as he was about to give up the ghost, the jailer found him bathed in holy blue light.  Summoned to the cell, the Duke asked the prisoner's identity.  Rocco replied that he was the Duke's own nephew, and then tore open his tunic to reveal the cruciform birthmark.  As he died, a voice declared to everyone present that Rocco had just been admitted to heaven.

In addition to being the patron of dogs, plague victims, and those wrongly accused, he is also the patron of:
St. Rocco's Festival, St. Peter's Church, Portland, Maine
  • Rocca Prioria, Italy
  • Pozzi, Italy
  • Potenza, Italy
  • Patricia, Italy
  • Orsogna, Italy
  • Lillianes, Italy
  • Labico, Italy
  • Istanbul, Turkey (?!) 
  • Cernusco Lombardone, Italy
  • Cereseto, Allesandria, Italy
  • Castropignano, Italy
  • Castelnuovo Don Bosco, Italy
  • Casalnoceto, Italy
  • Carbonara Scrivia, Italy
  • Barano, Italy
  • Balzola, Italy 
  • Albaredo d’Adige, Italy
  • and several places in the Philippines.  
The Italian Heritage Festival of Portland, Maine celebrates Saint Rocco and the Feast of the Assumption.  Lots of parishes in the USA are dedicated to Saint Rocco, and many of them have brilliant street festivals which include a procession with a statue of the saint, leg wound and all.  

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