The Rule, Article 4

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

St. Roch Montpellier, Confessor, Third Order

August 17
St. Roch Montpellier, Confessor, Third Order

Roch, the only son of a wealthy nobleman in France who was governor of the town of Montpellier. His parents raised him in a devote manner, and upon the death of both parents when he was twenty years old, he sold all the personal property and distributed the proceeds among the poor. He transferred the ownership of the real estate this uncle. Once this was accomplished, he joined the Third Order of St. Francis and put on a pilgrim’s garb.

He intended to travel to Rome, but when he arrived in Northern Italy around 1315, he found an epidemic was ravaging the area. He did not fear for his life, but following the example of Christ and admonition of St. Francis, he offered his life in the service of his brethren in Christ. Serving day and night, he worked in the hospital of St. John filled with the plague stricken and visited individual home seeking the sick. God rewarded his heroic charity by causing many he tended to be cured at the mere Sign of the Cross Roch made over them. When the plague was over, Roch continued his journey to Rome.

In Rome he found and epidemic there too. Roch again devoted him self to the care of the sick and again many were miraculously cured by him. Eventually Roch became sick, and in the very hospital he had served the sick, he was looked upon as an intruder. So as not to be a burden, Roch left, dragging himself to the neighborhood woods. Finding an old hut he thanked God for the safety of the lodging. God also provided his nourishment by sending him bread by way of a neighborhood dog. When he recovered, he was divinely inspired to return to his home town.

War was raging in the area of his home town and he was thought to be a spy. He was led before his uncle, who did not recognize him in his emancipated state, and cast into prison. Roch said no word in his defense following Christ’s example and accepted in silence what heaven had ordained for him. Forgotten, he languished in prison for five years. Feeling the end near, he requested a priest come and administer the last sacraments. Upon entering, the priest found the prison to be supernaturally lighted and poor Roch surrounded with a special radiance. As death claimed Roch, a tablet appeared on the wall and an angelic hand wrote in golden letters the name of Roch and the prediction that all who invoked his intercession would be cured of the plague.

Informed of these events, Roch’s uncle and grandmother went to the prison and identified the dead man by the birthmark of the red cross on his breast. Roch was given a grand funeral and a church was built in his honor in which his body was entombed. His veneration was approved by several popes. Pope Urban VII canonized him.

Prayer of the Church:

O God, who granted to St. Roch the promise, which an angel recorded on a table, not to permit anyone who sought his intercession to be afflicted with a contagious disease, grant, we beseech Thee, that we, who celebrate his memory, may be preserved from every contagion of soul and body. Through Christ our Lord Amen.

Source: The Franciscan Book of Saints, Marion A. Habig, OFM, Franciscan Herald Press

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