1340, Saint Rocco was born to noble parents in Montpellier, France.
He was born with a red cross-shaped birthmark on the left side of
his chest. A deeply religious child, as a man St. Rocco distributed
all his wealth among the poor and took a vow of poverty.
Rocco set out on his pilgrimage to Rome at a time when all of Italy
was stricken with a deadly plague. During his travels, he cured
many people by making the sign of the cross and praying for them.
But he too contracted the plague (evident by an open sore on his
leg) and some time later succumbed to his illness.
Rocco is venerated in the Catholic Church as a protector against
plagues and all contagious diseases. Theologians consider his statue
unique because of its pose – he points to a sore on his leg.
Few images of saints expose any afflictions or handicaps.
centuries after his death, followers still celebrate the life of
Saint Rocco every year on August 16.