For sure, I knew of his more famous compatriot, St. Francis of Assisi. Patron saint of animals, the environment, merchants and Catholic action (though I didn’t know about the last three patronizations). St. Francis was friend and protector of all animals and is best known in that role though his actual story is very little related to animals at all. In fact, he had very little to do with merchants or the environment. But he is always pictured standing in the woods surrounded by all manner of beasts. And the blessing of the animals is generally conducted sometime around his feast day.
Still, you have to wonder about the whole Catholic saint system. Was Saint Roch the best they could do for the patron saint of dogs? A leprous guy who was fed by a dog in the woods and said, “Hey, dogs aren’t so bad?” In that scenario, shouldn’t the dog be the saint? Is realizing that dogs are pretty cool about 700 years before your time really enough to make you the patron saint of dogs? What did he do for the dog?
Here’s how I think this all shook out back when they were naming patron saints:
Pope: Geez, it’s really hard to become a saint. Those are some pretty stiff rules we got there, aye?
Bishop: You bet ya. And we got this long list of occupations and animals and objects needing patron saints. What’s a poor cleric to do?
Mouse in Corner: Squeak, Multi-Task, Squeak.
Pope: Hey, I believe I have just received divine inspiration. We should multi-task.
Bishop: What is “Multi-tasking?”
Pope: Never mind that. Let’s assign each saint a bunch of different occupations, animals and objects to be the patron of. Nes pas?
Bishop: Brilliant! I’ll put in your application for sainthood right away!
And so Saint Roch who once touched a dog and was sick himself became the patron saint of dogs and sick people. Of course, in the end, they had far more occupations, animals and objects than they could possibly actually relate in some fashion to the saint, so each saint ended up with a bunch of things to patronize with which he or she had absolutely no connection what-so-ever.
Still, I figure it can’t hurt to appeal to good ole Saint Roch for some divine intercession on behalf of Girly Girl. I suppose she has as much claim on him as tile makers, surgeons, invalids and bachelors (um, and a few other things). But really I think I’m also going to send an appeal up to that dog who was feeding Saint Roch in the woods. I did say I was going to leave no stone unturned. And really. I think we all know who should have been given the saintly concession.