Jacopo Tintoretto (1518-94), St. Roch Cures Sick Animals
Oil on canvas
Presbytery, Church of St. Roch, Venice
This episode gets only a vague and brief mention in Diedus's Vita (Acta Sanctorum, August vol. 3, 405), but Caxton has a clearer explanation. After contracting the plague in Piacenza, Roch retreats to the woods:
And he being sore sick and almost lame returned again to Gotard into the wood. And many that heard that he and Gotard were in the place of the desert valley,came to them whom they found all with Rocke, and tofore them all he did these miracles. The wild beasts which wandered in the wood, what hurt, sickness or swelling they had, they ran anon to St. Rocke, and when they were healed they would incline their heads reverently and go their way.In the painting Roch is blessing a lion while lying stretched out "sore sick and almost lame". Waiting their turn are a cow, a camel, and even a unicorn. Behind these beasts are various human supplicants, one of them with a lamb. In their midst is the dog with the loaf that is St. Roch's attribute.
Photographed at the church by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.