Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Saint Roch, patron of dogs. New Orleans

Saint Roch's Campo Santo.  That means Santo Rocco's sacred field for those of you who don't speak Italian.  Yes, I know that neither Italians nor the French use possessive apostrophes.  The sign is what it is, the usual New Orleans amalgam of whatnot mixed into ergot.  The picture above is the view of the front gate yesterday morning.

I don't know if Suzanne Geer is a regular reader or if she has ever looked at this site.  I've stopped paying attention to what kind of traffic Excelsior! New Orleans! is getting.  Doing is being.  I just type.

Anyhow, Ms. Geer is interested in why St. Roch, besides being the patron of plague sufferers and physicians is the patron of dogs.  Okay...I'll tell you.
Saint Roch was a humble man who nursed plague victims until he contracted the disease himself.  Not wanting to be a burden to others, he wandered out into the woods like a humble animal, wishing to perish alone.  God had other plans.  A dog caught his scent and located where the saint was resting in a tangle of nettles.  The dog ran away and came back with a loaf of bread in its mouth to sustain St. Roch through his agony.  The dog came back every day until its owner followed it and discovered St. Roch wracked with pain and convulsions in the brambles outside of town.  The owner lifted the saint and carried him to his own bed where he nursed the saint's wounds, gave him sustenance, and brought him back to health.

All for the good sense of a dog.

You will notice that in the picture above, a dog stands beside St. Roch, carrying a loaf of bread about as big as a hard roll.  This is a typical representation of St. Roch with one exception.  He is usually depicted as a plague sufferer as well as  a man who has benefited from canine kindness.  His usual pose, besides leaning on a pilgrim's staff is to pull up his robe to point at a deep ulceration on his thigh.

I know you may have been expecting more pictures and description of New Orleans' National Shrine to St. Roch today.  All in good time.  I thought Ms. Geer's interest required satisfaction.  These tidbits add to the overall story and the reason why the shrine is built here, on St. Roch Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana, rather than somewhere else.

Until tomorrow, remember this photo of the floor in the chapel....
Sorry the details of Saint Roch's hagiography are a little sketchy, lacking precise dates and such.  I am still researching Saint Expedite.  New Orleans is thick with saints, traditions,  and rituals.  You'll notice someone left a prayer in the comments for Saint Expedite.  Sound advice though I hadn't really discussed his expediency on this forum.  Everyone is welcome to request intercession in New Orleans.

More tomorrow.

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