By Anton Morales
This week, on August 16, is the feast day for our Patron Saint, St. Roch. As we pray today for his blessings let us take a look back on his life and why he became a saint. Roch was born in Montpellier, France about 1295 to a very rich and noble family. They were very pious and had prayed to our Lord daily for a child. When Roch was born they thanked God with tears of joy. Roch was born with a birthmark, a red cross, on his chest. When his parents saw this mark they knew it to be a sign of his future work and sanctity.
Roch grew both in age and grace with the help of his parents. He spent much of his boyhood in the practice of piety, penance, and charity. At a very young age God took both his father and his mother from him. His father’s dying words to him were something that the youth cherished as a sacred legacy. “Before all things, devote yourself to the service of God, and meditate diligently on the sufferings of our Divine Lord. Be the stay of the widow, the orphan, and all those in misfortune. Above all, keep yourself from avarice, the source of very many sins. Be eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame, be a father to the poor, and know that by employing the property which I leave you in works of mercy, you will be blessed by God and man.”
He stood firm in his resolutions to serve the Lord. His heart was set on the things of Heaven. He joined the Third Order of St. Francis, sold all his possessions, resigned his principality in favor of his uncle and gave all he had to the poor. Having put on a pilgrim’s habit, he set out on foot for Rome to visit the Tomb of the Holy Apostles. He was a firm believer in the Holy Scriptures and the fact that with God nothing was impossible. He believed that if one wished to stand on the day of the last judgment one must practice charity. That is why he stopped along his way to Rome in a town stricken by the plague.