Giuseppe Angeli
St. Roch

18th century
Ca' Rezzonico, Venice, Italy

St. Roch is identified by the pilgrim's staff in his hand. In the legends he is a man who prays often and whose prayers are often answered, but who is not blessed with visions until the very end of his life, when two accounts of heavenly visitations are recorded. In the first a man visiting him in his prison cell "saw a great light and shining in the prison, and St. Rocke kneeling on his knees praying" (Caxton, "Life of St. Rocke") The second comes a few days later, just before the saint's death:

The angel of the Lord came to him with these words: "Lo, Roch, God has sent me for your soul. Now at the end of your life you should ask for whatever you want." Roch then prayed most devoutly that all Christians who piously and reverently keep the name of Jesus in their minds shall be set free from plague. And having made that prayer he expired.1

The second vision is especially important, as it cements Roch's status as the go-to saint for cities suffering from the plague. But the painting seems equally appropriate as an illustration of either episode.

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Photographed at the Ca' Rezzonico by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

1 Acta Sanctorum, August vol. 3, 410 (my translation). Also see ibid., 406, for a similar account in another vita.