St. Roch - The Great Advocate of the Sign of the Cross
St. Roch Interceding with the Virgin for the Plague Striken
By Jacques-Louis David
Roch was born at Montpellier [France]. He showed his great love for his neighbour, when cruel pestilence ravaged the length and breadth of Italy; leaving his native country, he undertook a journey through Italy, and passing through the towns and villages, devoted himself to the service of the sick, not hesitating to lay down his life for his brethren. Miraculous cures bore witness how pleasing to God was the zeal of the holy man. For by the Sign of the Cross, he saved many who were in danger of death through the plague, and restored them to perfect heath. He returned to his own country, and, rich in virtues and merits, died a most holy death. It is said their devotion was greatly increased at the Council of Constance, when, in order to avert the pestilence that threatened them, the image of St. Roch was, with the approbation of the bishops, carried solemnly through that town, followed by the whole people. Thus, devotion to him has spread in a wonderful way through the whole world, and he has been piously declared the universal protector against contagious diseases. Having carefully considered all of this, Pope Urban VIII allowed his feast to be celebrated with an ecclesiastical office in those places where there are churches dedicated to God under the invocation of St. Roch.
Populum tuum, quaesumus Domine, continua pietate custodi: et beati Rochi suffragantibus meritis, ab omni fac animae et corporis contagione securum. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, Filium tuum, qui tecum vivat et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saceulorum. Amen.
"We beseech Thee, O Lord, protect Thy people in Thy unceasing goodness; and through the merits of blessed Roch, preserve them from every contagion of soul and body. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who lives and reigns, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen." [Collect on the Memorial of St. Roch]
St. Joachim's Dream by Giotto
16 August is also the feast day of St. Joachim on the traditional Roman calendar. Dom Guéranger, in The Liturgical Year, reproduced what some of the Church Fathers said about the father of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the grandfather of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
"'By your fruits are you know,' says St. John Damascene; 'you have given birth to a daughter who is greater than the angels and his become their Queen'" [St. John Damascene, Oratio I, de V.M. Nativit.]
Dom Guéranger also cited these words by St. John Damacene from the same work:
'Rejoice, O Joachim, for of thy daughter a Son is born to us.'
The other Church father Dom Guéranger cited in his entry on St. Joachim is St. Epiphanius of Salamis.
"'Joachim, Anne, and Mary,' says St. Epiphanius: 'what a sacrifice of praise was offered to the Blessed Trinity by this earthly trinity.!'"