Marked with The Cross

Aug 16, 2014 | [post_view] Views


Saturday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

August 16, 2014

Feast of St. Roch



First Reading: EZ 18:1-10, 13B, 30-32

Responsorial Psalm:  PS 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-1

Gospel: MT 19:13-15



Today we are celebrating the Feast of St. Roch. Though this feast is not celebrated in the Roman Liturgy, it is celebrated by certain Churches and even chapels because devotion to St. Roch had spread a lot. He is invoked especially in times of plague. “In 1414, during the Council of Constance, the plague having broken out in that city, the Fathers of the Council ordered public prayers and processions in honor of the saint, and immediately the plague ceased” (

However, in this reflection, I would like to focus on his birthmark in the form of a red cross on his chest. This was said to have been miraculously marked on him. This has been a mark of his life as well. The cross was his identity. St Roch identified himself closely with the sufferings of Jesus, carrying his cross to Calvary to redeem the very who condemned Him. He was a son of rich family. His father was in fact the governor of Montpellier. But when his parents died, he distributed all his fortune to the poor and set on a pilgrimage to Rome disguising as a mendicant. On his way to Rome,  he stopped at Aquapendente, where many residents suffered from a bubonic plague. He devoted himself to caring for those who were stricken by the plague and curing them with the sign of the cross. He did not mind if he would catch the plague himself. All he thought was to help the sick. And the result was that many were healed miraculously through his help. Later, he himself caught the plague. He did not die though because of this. He had a miraculous cure from a dog who used to lick his sores and bring him bread. He died in a prison cell because he was mistaken for a spy.  At prison, angels ministered to him.

The cross marked on him became the salvation of many who suffered from the plague. This same cross, the cross of Jesus Himself was marked in all of us during our spiritual birth when we were baptized and when we were confirmed. This mark remains with us forever. It cannot be erased by anything nor by anyone. This is our identity as Christians, the cross of Jesus in us. We remind ourselves of this identity every time we make the sign of the cross upon ourselves. This is not a sign of suffering but of salvation, of Christ’s triumph over suffering and death. It has become a salvation to those whom St. Roch ministered to.

We are then reminded by St. Roch to remain faithful to our identity as Christians, our being marked with the Cross of Jesus. Wonderful things happen to those who are faithful even in suffering.


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