Wednesday, August 16, 2006

San Roque, Healer

Today is the memorial of San Roque, the patron saint of our parish in Sampaloc, and a very popular saint in the Philippines, where many parishes are named after him and his day is observed as an obligatory memorial.

Saint Roque, Roch or Rock was the son of the governor of Montpellier in France. He was twenty when his parents died. He gave away his inheritance to the poor, handed over government of the territory to his uncle, and desired to go on pilgrimage to Rome. However, as he passed by a plague stricken town along the way, called Aquapendente, he decided to devote himself to care for the sick and to bury the dead. His charity was as prodigious as his healing power. Because of his dedicated efforts and infectious compassion, the plague disappeared wherever he went throughout Italy, all the way to Rome.

However, he himself caught the disease in Piacenza and, not wishing to burden others, went on a solitary retreat. His hiding place was only discovered by a gentleman named Gothard by following the trail of a dog that came daily to bring him food and lick his sores. Gothard then brought him into his home and cared for him until he finally recovered.

After his convalescence, Roque returned to his town of Montpellier, where he refused to disclose his noble identity. Unfortunately, he was mistaken for a spy and cast into prison. All the while suffering in silence, he died unrecognized, until the guards uncovered his distinctive birthmark-the miraculous cross on his breast-which finally revealed who he really was. He was thus given a proper funeral and the people continued visiting his tomb to seek his intercession and many were cured of their afflictions.

Thus he is known to us now as a protector against pestilence and other contagious diseases, and a model of selfless charity and unassuming humility.

His Office and Mass is taken from the Common of Holy Men: those who carried out works of mercy/ worked for the underprivileged. Below is the proper Collect for his memorial:

Merciful God,
you healed those afflicted by pestilence
through the ministry of your servant, Rock.
Give us the same spirit of compassion
that inspired him to sacrifice his own life
in the service of those impaired by disease.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


This blog is fondly dedicated to Fr. Roque J. Ferriols, SJ who celebrates his birthday today.