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History - St. Roko

Saint Roko was born in 1295. in Montepllier, south France. His father was a count, a descendant from the line of French crusaders. But despite the wealth and power his parents were unable to have children. Accordnig to the oldest biography of St.Roko, they made a vow to the God and got a son. His mother had the greatest influence over him during his youth.

Before he was twenty his parents died. He then sold all of his estates and divided the money among the poor and those in need. Afterwards, now poor himself, he made pilgrimage to Rome. On the way there he stopped in Acquapendente where he helped those who got plague, and with the help of God, done a couple of miracles. He also visited Cesena before going to Rome, where he resided for the next three years. Before returning to his homeland he was in Rimini, Novari and Piacenza helping the sick and weak. During his stay in Piacenza he got the plague and accordingly was banished from the city. He went to the nearby forest, laying his hopes in God. According to the legend, every day he was visited by a dog, which brang a loaf of bred to Roko. Not knowing what to feed the dog with, he made a wound on his leg which bled. One day a nobleman named Gottardo Pallasrelli found him during hunt and began to talk with Roko. He was not a religius man but was grealty inspired by the words of St.Roko and he then took him to his house. Eventually Roko got better and continued his journey back to his homeland. The plague drained and disfigured him so he was not recognised by city guards. They captured him and put him in jail, considering him to be common thief or spy. He was in jail for five years and got a plague for second time. While dying he conffesed his true identity to friar giving him last rites. He died on 16.8.1327.

The earliest celebration of St.Roko originates from Montepellier, his hometown, in 1420. where its also the strongest. From there it quickly spread to Italy, especially Brescia and Piacenza. In Venetia, during the plague breakout, in 1477. a brotherhood of Saint Roko was founded, and in 1499. in Rome. The Fransciscans were most responsible for the widespread of celebration of Saint Roko. Pope Grgur XIII inscribed his name in Roman martyrologium, which was later reaffirmed by pope Urban VIII.

In Croatia he is protector of Virovitica, Stari Grad, Sutivan, Kreševo, Prapatnice, Klana, Lumbarda, Šepurine, Lovinac, Saint Roko in Lika, Zaton, Jazavica, Roždanik, Galgovo, Udovičić near Otok, Drniš and other cities. He is being celebrated as a protector againts plague, cholera, ebola and virulent diseases in general, surgeons, crippled, but also as a protector againts diseases of domestic animals, especially dogs.

Saint Roko is protector of city of Drniš for almost three centuries, since the time when plague broke out in city and nearby villages. After plague decimated the population, the people from Drniš built a chapel, which later became a church, dedicated to Saint Roko. Afterwards Saint Roko became a protector of Drniš and every year on 16th of August a mass and procession are held in his honour. It is also a Day of City of Drniš.

© Ante Marin 2008