St. Roch, Patron Saint of Dogs

A Profile of Saint Roch and His Dog Miracles

Saint Roch dogs
The painting "Saint Roch and the Angel" (17th century) by Claude Simpol. Public domain

St. Roch, the patron saint of dogs, lived from around 1295 to 1327 in France, Spain, and Italy. His feast day is celebrated on August 16th. Saint Roch also serves as the patron saint of bachelors, surgeons, disabled people, and people who have been falsely accused of crimes. Here's a profile of his life of faith, and a look at the dog miracles that believers say God performed through him.

Famous Miracles

Roch miraculously healed many of the bubonic plague victims for whom he was caring while they were ill, people reported.

After Roch contracted the deadly disease himself, he miraculously recovered through the loving care of a dog who helped him. The dog licked Roch's wounds often (each time, they healed more) and brought him food until he fully recovered. Because of this, Roch now serves as one of the patron saints of dogs.

Roch has also been credited with various healing miracles for dogs that happened after his death. People around the world who have prayed for Roch's intercession from heaven asking God to heal their dogs have sometimes reported that their dogs recovered afterward.

Biography

Roch was born (with a red birthmark in the shape of a cross) to wealthy parents, and by the time he was 20 years old, both of them had died. He then distributed the fortune he inherited to the poor and devoted his life to serving people in need.

As Roch traveled around ministering to people, he encountered many who were sick from the deadly bubonic plague.

He reportedly cared for all the sick people he could, and miraculously healed many of them through his prayers, touch, and making the sign of the cross over them.

Roch himself eventually contracted the plague and set off into some woods by himself to prepare to die. But a count's hunting dog discovered him there, and when the dog licked Roch's wounds, they miraculously began to heal.

The dog kept visiting Roch, licking his wounds (which kept healing gradually) and bringing Roch bread as food to eat on a regular basis. Roch later recalled that his guardian angel had also helped out, by directing the healing process between Roch and the dog.

"The dog is said to have procured food for Roch after the saint had fallen ill and was quarantined in the wilderness and abandoned by the rest of society," writes William Farina in his book Man Writes Dog: Canine Themes in Literature, Law and Folklore.

Roch believed that the dog was a gift from God, so he said prayers of gratitude to God and prayers of blessing for the dog. After a while, Roch completely recovered. The count let Roch adopt the dog who had cared so lovingly for him since Roch and the dog had developed a strong bond.

Roch was mistaken for a spy after returning home to France, where a civil war was going on. Because of that mistake, Roch and his dog were both imprisoned for five years. In her book Animals in Heaven?: Catholics Want to Know!, Susi Pittman writes: "During the five years that followed, he and his dog cared for the other prisoners, and Saint Roch prayed and shared the Word of God with them until the saint's death in 1327.

Numerous miracles followed his death. Catholic dog lovers are encouraged to seek the intercession of Saint Roch for their beloved pets. Saint Roch is represented in statuary in pilgrim garb accompanied by a dog carrying a loaf of bread in its mouth."