St. Roch's Day

St. Roch's Day

August 16
Also known as Roque or Rock, St. Roch (c. 1295-c. 1327) was a Frenchman who went on a pilgrimage to Rome. The plague struck while he was there, and, legend has it, he spent his time healing the afflicted by miraculous means. Eventually he contracted the disease himself and retreated to a forest to die alone. But his faithful dog brought him food every day, and he recovered enough to return to his home in Montpelier. He had changed so much, however, that no one recognized him. He was arrested as a spy and died in prison.
Known as the patron saint of the sick and the plague-stricken, St. Roch is honored annually throughout Italy. In Florence there is a flower festival that includes a 14th-century historical costume parade, races, and competitions. In Realmonte, Sicily, the saint's poverty is recalled with a procession of people dressed in rags who carry a shabby picture of the saint.
In Spain, San Roque festivals are held every August around A Coruña Province. They feature traditional dances of farmers and seamen and processions in honor of St. Roch.
CONTACTS:
Italian Government Tourist Board
630 Fifth Ave., Ste. 1565
New York, NY 10111
212-245-5618; fax: 212-586-9249
www.italiantourism.com
Coruna Tourist Office
Darsena de La Marina, s/n
A Coruna, 15001 Spain
34-981-221-822
www.coruna.es
SOURCES:
BkFest-1937, p. 188
DictDays-1988, p. 106
IntlThFolk-1979, p. 334
OxYear-1999, p. 336
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