28 Apr 2021
Journal of religion and health
Surprisingly, Catholic hagiography can teach us a lot about medicine. As an example, we present here the history of Saint Roch who is considered, along with Saint Sebastian, one of the two main Saints who act as protectors against plagues and have often been invoked by Catholic people during the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Whereas Saint Sebastian is associated with plagues only symbolically, Catholic tradition considers Saint Roch to have had real contact with the bubonic plague. Indeed, during his pilgrimage to Rome, Saint Roch helped people suffering from the plague and was, subsequently, himself infected. He was then forced to retire in solitary confinement to avoid the plague's spread and followed scrupulously the necessary restrictive measures. Saint Roch's story provides useful lessons about the importance of social responsibility by respecting the restrictive rules during difficult times such as the COVID-19 epidemic.