St. Rocco, Patron Saint of Dogs

Published in About Animals
August 16th is the feast of St. Rocco, the patron saint of dogs.
St. Rocco is also known as St. Roch, among other variations to the name, and in Croatia he is Sv. Rok or Roko.

Apparently his life was spent healing the sick, especially victims of the plagues which raged around Europe in the 14th century. It is thought he was born in 1348, although many sources put the year as 1295, and he died somewhere between 1376 and 1379, although some versions put his death as early as 1327. He was born in Montpellier into a noble family. He carried a birthmark of a reddened cross on his chest. He was designated to succeed his father as Governor of Montpellier, but instead renounced his worldly goods on his parents' death and travelled to Rome as a mendicant pilgrim, just as St. Francis of Assisi had in the early partof the 13th century. Many towns he passed through were ravaged by various diseases generally termed 'plague', and Rocco gained a reputation for healing the sick.

Eventually he fell ill himself in Piacenza, and went into retreat in some woodland. The story goes that he would have died but for a hunting dog who brought him bread to sustain him, licked his wounds to heal them, and led his master, Count Gothard Palastrelli, to the sick Rocco. The count looked after him and became his follower. Rocco returned to Montpellier, but was imprisoned as a spy. He was canonized by Pope Gregory XIV in the 16th century, and is not only the patron saint of dogs, victims of plague epidemics and pilgrims, but also of people suffering from knee problems or skin diseases, invalids, surgeons, gravediggers, diseased cattle, tile-makers, second-hand dealers and apothecaries.

As well as Istanbul, St. Rocco is the patron saint of Stari Grad on Hvar Island, which always celebrates his feast day with numerous joyful cultural events. On the night of 13th - 14th August 2014, as a tragic preparation for the feast, seven dogs were poisoned in Stari Grad, a mother and her six puppies. They were killed because they had the misfortune to be born in the wrong place, at the wrong time to the wrong owner. The story is a sad one, but by no means unique on Hvar. The owner did not have adequate conditions for keeping dogs; he failed to sterilize the bitch he owned; she had a large litter; mother and puppies had insufficent space, poor hygienic conditions, and too little food and water. The neighbours complained, and wanted the dogs removed. Some local people tried to help out by caring for the dogs and feeding them as best they could. The dog rescue organization 'Azil Aurora' from Omiš, which is a charitable volunteer group for saving stray and unwanted dogs, and finding homes for them, was also involved. But someone in the neighbourhood decided that killing the dogs was the easiest and quickest way to solve the problem. There is a law for animal protection in Croatia, as in other European countries. Now the matter is in the hands of the police, and we hope they will take action to identify and prosecute the perpetrators.

Dogs are called 'man's best friend' with good reason. Children can learn a lot of useful social lessons by looking after and training dogs; dogs are good company for the lonely, and especially the disabled; guide dogs are invaluable to the blind; dogs can help the disabled with everyday tasks; sniffer dogs can uncover hidden drugs or bodies, track criminals on the run; and protect their owners from harm. Above all, dogs are loyal and loving pets who provide rich rewards for anyone who cares for them.

Humans and animals do not deserve to be killed, especially not in inhumane, cruel and painful ways. This sad incident is yet another example of how urgently the animal shelter is needed on Hvar. Our Eco Hvar project is taking shape, but very slowly. We hope that all the local authorities on the island will be spurred by the nationwide public condemnation of the dog poisonings to take an active part in ensuring that the home is founded in the shortest possible time.

© Vivian Grisogono 2014

With thanks to Mirko Crnčević, reporter for 'Slobodna Dalmacija', for his collaboration on this article.

 

 
 
 
You are here: Home about animals St. Rocco, Patron Saint of Dogs

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Studies find red, blue and green plastic decomposes into microplastic particles faster than plainer colours

    Retailers are being urged to stop making everyday products such as drinks bottles, outdoor furniture and toys out of brightly coloured plastic after researchers found it degrades into microplastics faster than plainer colours.

    Red, blue and green plastic became “very brittle and fragmented”, while black, white and silver samples were “largely unaffected” over a three-year period, according to the findings of the University of Leicester-led project.

    Continue reading...

  • Female pair are third litter born at Blair Drummond under endangered species breeding programme

    A Scottish safari park has announced the birth of two female lemur pups native to Madagascar.

    Nova and Evie, who are living at Blair Drummond safari and adventure park, near Stirling, were born on 14 April, and the park has now publicly announced their birth.

    Continue reading...

  • Recommendations include heat forecasts and outdoor-worker safeguards to prevent thousands of deaths and injuries

    Millions of Americans face the threat of dangerous heatwaves in the coming weeks with another summer of record-breaking temperatures forecast to hit the US.

    Most of New Mexico and Utah – alongside parts of Arizona, Texas and Colorado – have the highest chance (60% to 70%) of seeing hotter-than-average summer temperatures, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa). In addition, the entire north-east – from Maine down to Pennsylvania and New Jersey – as well as a large stretch from Louisiana to Arizona, Washington and Idaho, have a 40% to 50% chance of experiencing above-average temperatures from June through August.

    Continue reading...

  • 30 May 1924: We watched a turnstone throwing over the dead weed and pouncing on as many light-surprised refugees as it could catch

    Dead seaweed has uses. The Pelvetia of the marsh, dry or sodden, seems to help on the growth of other plants; through its decomposing masses the fleshy leaves of sea purslane (Obione) and aster push to the salt-laden air. Where it lies, tide-drifted, with other heterogeneous litter, the small crustaceans of the shore find that it gives shelter; beneath the weed are sand-hoppers and small crabs enjoying damp shade until the next tide brings the longed-for water.

    Yet it is not always a safe refuge, for there are still some turnstones that have not left our shores for northern homes, and they find dead weed easier to throw over than heavy beach pebbles. We watched these beautiful little “tortoiseshell plovers” systematically working the tide-line. When one reached a likely looking patch of weed the head was lowered so that the short, slightly uptilted bill could be pushed well under; one quick upward stroke and over went the shelter, and the bird pounced on as many of the light-surprised refugees as it could catch before they hopped away or burrowed in the sand. When all the best weed had been turned the little flock, with trilling notes and flickering wings, hurried off to find a fresh spot for investigation.

    Continue reading...

  • Burythorpe, North Yorkshire: Once the site of a Norman castle anda bronze age enclosure, I can be sure that I’m not the first to enjoy the spectacular May sunsets here

    Trying to capture as much of May’s glory as possible, I take an evening walk in a place that I used to visit with my son when he was a baby in a sling. When he learned to toddle, it was here that he discovered he could walk backwards, delighting in the novelty,giggling over his shoulder as he inched towards me.

    Today, I want to visit the Nab, an off-piste hillock topped with a motte and bailey during Norman efforts to subdue the north. It’s always beckoned, but I’ve never been to the top. This evening, cloaked in hawthorn blossom and with clear blue sky above, it’s irresistible. A woman I meet walking a pale, sweet‑faced labrador tells me that the fortifications were burned down by a family from Scarborough, in revenge for the seduction of their daughter. “There’s a very old path from here to there. You can still see signs of it in places.” She’s an artist; I sense a kindred spirit, and we chat about old times and thin places.

    Continue reading...

  • Exclusive: after cryptosporidium outbreak in Devon, residents in south-east London report stomach cramps and diarrhoea

    Thames Water has sent samples of water for lab testing after dozens of people reported becoming unwell with stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea in south-east London.

    Earlier this month, unsafe drinking water led to more than 100 cases of a waterborne disease in Devon, with people asked to boil their water because of contamination fears.

    Continue reading...

  • Gardens could be part of the solution to the climate and biodiversity crisis. But what are we doing? Disappearing them beneath plastic and paving

    In my 20s I lived in Manchester, on the sixth floor of a block of council flats just off the A57, or Mancunian (Mancy) Way. A short walk from Manchester Piccadilly station and the city centre, it was grey, noisy and built up. I loved every piece of it – my first stab at adulthood, at living on my own. I painted my bedroom silver and slept on a mattress on the floor, and I grew sweetcorn, tomatoes and courgettes in pots on the balcony. (I was 24 – of course I grew sweetcorn on the balcony.)

    I worked and played in the bars and clubs of Manchester’s gay village, and I would walk home in the early hours, keys poking through my clenched fist to protect me from would-be attackers, and I would see hedgehogs.

    Continue reading...

    • Read more from My DIY climate hack, a new series on everyday people’s creative solutions to the climate crisis

    Among food, travel, decor and single-use items, parties can create an enormous amount of waste and weddings are among the most egregious offenders.

    For Cindy Villaseñor, 33, that reality just didn’t sit right with her eco-conscious mindset. So when it came time to plan her own wedding, she and her partner agreed to do things differently.

    Continue reading...

  • The long-running series in which readers answer other readers’ questions on subjects ranging from trivial flights of fancy to profound scientific and philosophical concepts

    Why are bodies of water so calming? In my experience, this is true whether they are placid or tempestuous. Mary Vogel, Vancouver

    Send new questions tonq@theguardian.com.

    Continue reading...

  • As demand for sustainable housing grows, architects go back to basics to future-proof homes for a changing climate

    “Energy efficient”, “carbon neutral” and “net zero” are buzzwords we hear more and more as we face the impact of climate change. But do we think about them enough in building?

    Globally, a move towards sustainable housing is growing. In Europe, efforts to move to greener homes hope to combat rising energy costs and be better for the planet. But 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions still come from the real estate sector.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds