AntiquesClassic Monday

San Rocco think about it

With the new year we return with our “classic appointment“, which today sees the protagonist a painting, oil on canvas, depicting San Rocco comforted by the angel, attributable to the scope of Lorenzo Lippi.

High quality work shows punctual feedback with paintings by the artist, in particular with a Sacrifice of Isaac preserved at S. Lucia di Montecastello.

Sacrifice of Isaac, parallel with St. Roch comforted by the angel

Our canvas is also interesting for the subject depicted and for the curious parallelism it allows with the current situation.

The protagonist is in fact St. Roch, pilgrim and miracle worker French. During the holy journey from his native Montpellier to Rome he encountered along his way, several outbreaks of the fearsome Black Death. Instead of fleeing from the places struck by the scourge, he helped the sick, not fearing the infected. In particular, his biography recalls the miraculous stay near Acquapendente, in Lazio, where, at the invitation of an angel, he blessed the plague victims and healed them by touching them with his hand with thaumaturgical powers.

During the return journey from Rome to France, Rocco himself, arrived near Piacenza and always active in helping those affected by the now rampant epidemic, contracted the disease.

To avoid infecting other people, he retired as a hermit. Cared for by a dog that daily brought him bread stolen from the table of his rich master, lord of those territories. The latter, following the animal, discovered Rocco and assisted him in healing. The saint was therefore able to proceed on the way back; arrived in Voghera, not being recognized and not providing his personal details, he was mistaken for a spy and then imprisoned. After several years, on the night between 15 and 16 August of an unspecified year between 1376 and 1379, he died. Finally recognized thanks to the red cross that marked his chest and thanks to the tablet found next to his body on which he had written, in addition to his name, also the words “Whoever invokes me against the plague will be freed from this scourge”.

Lorenzo Lippi, San Rocco.

Since the Middle Ages the intercession of the saint against the plague began to be invoked, first of all; subsequently also against other types of epidemics or serious diseases. The devotion to the saint is resonated in the numerous works, especially pictorial, which see him protagonist over the centuries. His typical iconography sees him depicted with pilgrim’s clothes, accompanied by the trusty animal and in the act of showing the pestilential wound on his leg.

Recent liturgical updates have recognized him as a protector also against all contagious diseases, such as leprosy, cholera, Spanish flu and SARS.

It is interesting and also easily understandable, therefore, how in 2020 devotion to St. Roch has widespread, precisely in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ancient and consolidated traditions, protections and intercessions required, which in today’s situation of instability linked to such a rampant disease, find a new and stronger devotion.

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L'Arte è la mia passione. Il mio autore preferito? I fratelli Campi.
L'Arte è la mia passione. Il mio autore preferito? I fratelli Campi.

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