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August 16.

St. Hyacinth, A. D. 1257. St. Roche, A. D. 1327.

St. Roche.

["]Sound as a roach."

All that Butler can affirm of him is, that making a pilgrimage from Montpellier to Rome, during a pestilence, he devoted himself to the sick, became infected, made a shift to crawl into a neighbouring forest, bore incredible pains with patience and joy, returned to France, practised austere penance and piety, and died at Montpellier.

In the "Golden Legend" he is called St. Rock; and it relates that when infected by the pestilence, and lacking bread in the forest, a hound belonging to one Gotard daily took bread away from his master's board, and bare it to Rock, whom Gotard thereby discovered, and visited, and administered to his necessities; wherefore the hound came no more; and Rock was healed by revelation of an angel; and with touching and blessing he cured the diseased in the hospital, and healed all the sick in the city of Placentia. Being imprisoned, and about to die, he prayed that he might live three days longer in contemplation of the Passion, which was granted him; and on the third day an angel came to him, saying, "O! Rock, God sendeth me for thy soul; what thou now desirest thou shouldst ask." Then St. Rock implored that whoever prayed to him after death might be delivered from pestilence; and then he died. And anon an angel brought from heaven a table whereon was divinely written, in letters of gold, that it was granted—"that who that calleth to Saynte Rocke mekely, he shall not be hurte with ony hurte of pestylence;" and the angel laid the table under Rock's head; and the people of the city buried St. Rock solemnly, and he was canonized by the pope gloriously. His life in the "Golden Legend" ends thus: "The feest of Saynte Rocke is alwaye holden on the morowe after the daye of the assumpcyon of our lady, whiche life is translated out of latyn into englysse by me, Wyllyam Caxton."

There is an entry among the extracts from the churchwardens' accounts of St. Michael Spurrier-gate, York, printed by Mr. Nichols, thus: "1518. Paid for writing of Saint Royke Masse, 0l. 0s. 9d." * [1] His festival on this day was kept like a wake, or general harvest-home, with dances in the churchyard in the evening.† [2]

The phrase "sound as a roach" may have been derived from familiarity with the legend and attributes of this saint. He is esteemed the patron saint of all afflicted with the plague, a disease of common occurrence in England when streets were narrow, and without sewers, houses were without boarded floors, and our ancestors without linen. They believed that the miraculous intermission of St. Roche could make them as "sound" as himself.

The engraving of St. Roche at the head of this article is from a print published by Marriette. He gathers up his garment to show the pestilence on his thigh, whereat the angel is looking; the dog by his side with a loaf in his mouth is Gotard's hound.

There is a rare print of this saint, with an angel squeezing the wound, by D. Hopfer.


Belladonna Lily. Amaryllis Belladonna.
Dedicated to St. Hyacinth.


Notes [all notes are Hone's unless otherwise indicated]:

1. Brand. [return]

2. Fosbroke's Dict. of Antiq. [return]