A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF ST. ROCCO
St. Rocco was born in 1295 at Montpellier in France to a noble family, and on his little body, on the left side of his chest, was a noticeable and vivid red cross. Since he was a child of 10, he was already helping the poor and the sick. At the age of 20 he lost his father and shortly after, his mother and sold all his property and distributed his wealth to the poor and needy.
After donating his wealth, He became a pilgrim and traveled as far as Italy. At that time, the bubonic plague devastated the land- out of every ten people, seven died. St. Rocco offered his services in a hospital near Siena where he tried to cure the body and souls of the sick. God answered his prayers, and helped him perform miracles. By simply making the sign of the cross and reciting a prayer that an Angel had taught him, he cured so many people that the plague in the city was over in 15 days.
Denying all honors and thanks, St. Rocco went to another city, Cesena, where the plague was also in full swing. St. Rocco helped to quickly eradicate the horrible plague in Cesena as well as in another city, Rimini. Once these cities were cured, he left for Rome where the plague was also killing many people, and even in Rome, St. Rocco performed his miracles and healed many people.
During his other travels, while in Piacenza, St. Rocco himself took sick with the plague and woke one night when he heard the voice of an Angel who say to him: “Rocco, very devout servant of Our Lord Jesus Christ, wake up and get up, you know that you too are now sick with the plague, but be diligent to heal it in you as you have done with others”. So, feverish with tumors and horribly painful wounds, St. Rocco dragged himself with much difficulty to a shack in the woods near a castle, so not to be a burden to others. He soon experienced the joys and the signs of the love of GOD for him.
He stuck his cane into the earth and soon this was transformed into a pear tree, which gave fruit thereafter every eve of his feast day. To quench his thirst, God created a waterfall near the shack. To satisfy his hunger, a dog that belonged to the nearby castle brought him a loaf of bread every day. One day the owner of the dog followed him to the shack, where he was astonished by St. Rocco’s way of life. He was so inspired, he too sold all his riches and became a pilgrim like St. Rocco.
When St. Rocco was finally healed of his sickness he resumed his travels throughout Italy and then returned to his native city in France. In France, they believed he was a spy and was sent to jail by a judge, his paternal uncle. St. Rocco never revealed his true identity and only said he was a servant of Christ. After 5 years in prison, one day the jailer noticed a strange light throughout St. Rocco’s cell and the saw the Saint’s face radiant with sunlight. He spread the news and crowds of people clamored outside the jail to have him freed.
Unfortunately, the calls for freedom came too late as the Saint was close to death. He asked to remain in jail for three more days. At the end of the third day, an Angel of the Lord came to him and said that he was about to die and he was to ask God for his last wish. He asked God to save all those who were afflicted with the plague.
The evening of August 16, 1327, at only 32 years of age St. Rocco fell into the slumber of death. Soon after, the Angel brought a plaque to the prison on which was inscribed the following message of God: “All those who are stricken with the bubonic plague and go to St. Rocco for help will be healed”. When his uncle, the judge, found out that the name of the prisoner was Rocco, he became suspicious. Finally, St. Rocco’s mother’s aunt remembered that the Saint had been born with a red cross on his chest. The judge asked to see the Saint’s bare chest where te cross remained, and so the identity of the Saint was discovered.