Today, August 16, San Rocco, the protector of dogs and the most invoked saint against Covid

Today, August 16, San Rocco, the protector of dogs and the most invoked saint against Covid

Piano di Sorrento – Today the Church celebrates San Rocco, a miracle worker and French pilgrim, born in Montpellier, it is supposed, around 1345 and died in Voghera on August 16, 1379 (always, according to tradition). San Rocco is the protector of dogs but also the most invoked saint in the world from the Middle Ages onwards, as protector from the terrible scourge of the plague and his popularity is still widespread, so much so that a recent study (“Ethics, Medicine and Public Health, vol. 18, 1º settembre 2021, p. 100674), has identified St. Roch as the second most invoked saint by European Catholics to obtain healing from Covid infection – 19. I like to pay homage to him with the splendid masterpiece by Tintoretto “San Rocco in Gloria” that the famous Venetian painter donated to Scuola di San Rocco, also in Venice, an oil on canvas that embellishes the ceiling of the Sala dell’Albergo intended for the meetings of the Confraternity. In the painting Tintoretto chooses to portray San Rocco standing, he has just handed the staff to the angel on his right and no longer flaunts the plague bubo, the scholar Antonio Manno (see Manno, 2015, p.20) underlines how the choice of the painter to portray him surrounded by angels is not a coincidence, but deliberately in contrast with what Martin Luther was asserting precisely in that period (1530), who strongly criticized the divinization of the saints. I also remember the custom of San Rocco in France and Spain of marking the acronym “VSR”, Viva San Rocco, on the door of one’s house, to protect it. Finally I quote the legend that wants him dying and alone, with the visible signs of the plague, in a cave, it was then that a dog similar to a Brittany Spaniel came to his aid, bringing him pieces of bread stolen from the table of his rich master for days. managing with this gesture of generosity to help him survive the terrible evil. I conclude my modest homage to this beloved saint also in the Sorrento Peninsula and Amalfi Coast with another recent story on the sensitivity and intelligence of dogs. Kevin Weaver, an American from Florida, one day decided to take a dog with him and his choice fell on “Belle”, an English beagle. Kevin Weaver was diabetic and for this reason he decided to educate Belle as a “nurse dog”: he enrolled her in a course and so the dog was able to learn how to recognize the blood sugar levels of her human by smelling his breath once an hour. . On the morning of February 7, 2006, Weaver woke up with a strange sense of dizziness: Belle was immediately alarmed and started barking to indicate to her human to take the meds. But Kevin was too stunned, he did not understand what was happening: he thought that Belle wanted to make her needs her and took her out. Upon returning from the walk Kevin collapsed on the kitchen floor and passed out. Belle did not lose courage: she had learned to press the 9 button on the owner’s mobile phone, a button that sent a quick call to the rescue service and so she did, saving his life. Like the Breton di San Rocco, as always, the dog is a man’s best friend.

by Luigi De Rosa

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Generic August 2022

Church of San Rocco a Maiano (Sant’Agnello, NA)