Miracle-worker; b. Montpellier, France, c. 1350; d. Angera, Lombardy, c. 1378–79 (feast, August 16, 17, or 18). A historical figure, Roch is the unfortunate victim of incompetent biographers. The Acta breviora, sincere but poorly done, and the Vita s. Rochi by Francis Diedo (1478), more complete but chronologically impossible and of doubtful value, are today considered the best biographies available. Roch was the son of a rich Occitanian merchant and of a Lombard mother. In 1367, when Roch was about 17, Pope Urban V visited his home town. Since his parents were dead, he decided to go to Rome as a pilgrim. Roch became known for his love of poverty and for his charity toward the sick, and from these activities stemmed his gift of healing, which he began exercising first in Acquapendente and later in Cesena. In Rome he cured Cardinal Anglic, the Pope's brother. He left Rome in 1371 for Rimini, Novara, and Piacenza, where he remained for a time because of illness. He was arrested in Angera (c. 1374) on the shores of Lake Maggiore and imprisoned on charges of being a spy. He died there following a reunion with his maternal uncle. He was later honored (from c. 1410) in Montpellier because of his fame as a miracle-worker. His veneration in Italy is associated with the arrest of the plague in Ferrara in January 1439, attributed to his intercession. His relics were taken in 1485 to Venice where his most important shrine was erected. In 1629 his cult was approved for the many churches dedicated to him and in 1694 for the Franciscan Observants. Roch's membership in any religious order is doubtful. If he was a tertiary, it seems more likely that he was a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic.
Bibliography: a. fliche, "Le Problème de Saint Roch," Analecta Bollandiana 68 (Brussels 1950) 343–361. l. rÉau, Iconographie de l'art chrétien, 6 v. (Paris 1955–59) 3.3:1155–61. j. oswald, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 1957–65); suppl., Das Zweite Vatikanishe Konsil: Dokumente und Kommentare, ed. h. s. brechter et al. (1966) 8:1347–48.