St Roch was an important and popular late medieval saint, mainly due to his reputation as a deliverer from plague and contagion. According to his legend, St Roch was the son of a wealthy Montpellier family. After the death of his parents he gave his wealth away and resolved to make a pilgrimage to Rome; arriving in Italy in 1315, only to find the country ravaged by plague or contagion. He was said to have healed many victims before contracting the disease himself. In order to save others, he hid himself away in the forest where he would have died had not a dog befriended him, bringing him bread every day and licking his wounds. Roch recovered and returned to France, where his emaciated condition left him unrecognisable, even to his family. He was mistaken as a spy and thrown into prison, dying there in 1327. An angel is said to have visited him in his prison cell, saying that any who called to St Roch would suffer no pestilence.
He was widely invoked against plague and is also the patron saint of dogs.
15th century. The original artefact is in the collection of the National Museum, Prague.
42 x 25mm. Lead free pewter with pin & clutch brooch fastening.