Often San Roque is depicted, one leg exposed, with a dog – carrying a bread roll in his mouth – by his side. Why? Legend tells that this man, whose parents died when he was 20, gave his inheritance to the poor and lived in poverty. Roque (Italian Rocco, French Roch) made a pilgrimage to Rome where he looked after victims of the plague, becoming known for miraculous cures, but eventually contracting the plague himself. He retreated to a forest outside Piacenza in Italy to die. It was there, it is said, that each day a dog, owned by a local count, brought him a bread rollfrom his master’s table. Some tales say that the dog licked the plague sore at each visit helping him recover. Others say that the Count followed his dog one day, found the very ill Roque, and taking pity on him took him to his home where he made a full recovery. He later died in prison, being identified as a man of noble birth by his well-known and unique cross shaped birthmark. San Roque is often shown as a pilgrim, complete with shells on his coat. Many towns and villages made an intercession to San Roque to protect them from the plague, as the city of Santiago de Compostela did 500 years ago.
Pope Francis has declared a special Jubilee Year of San Roque to mark the 500th year since the city of Santiago de Compostela made a vow to San Roque for intercession from the plague. To mark this Jubilee Year, which concludes on the Feast Day of San Roque – 16 August – pilgrims can obtain a special certificate. You will need to go to the Capilla de San Roque, Rúa de San Roque, 4, in Santiago.