Saint Roch of Montpellier

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Saint Roch of Montpellier


around 1520 - 1525


Saint Roch (1295-1327) is one of six saints of the Roman Catholic Church who are invoked against the plague.

At age 20, Roch is said to have distributed his worldly goods among the poor and the sick. He spent the rest of his life tending to the sick during the plague. He travelled to Rome as a mendicant pilgrim. Upon his return, he fell ill himself at Piacenza. He then withdrew into the nearby forest, afraid of infecting others. An angel miraculously cured him, while a dog supplied him with bread. Upon his return to Montpellier, Roch, whose face was marked by the plague, was no longer recognised. He was arrested as a spy and thrown into prison, where he died.

This statue was carved in a Mechelen workshop between 1500 and 1550. The maker added the city’s mark, which consists of three bars or lines. Roch is accompanied by an angel and points at his wound, which the dog licks. The pilgrim’s staff in his right hand is missing. The console features an unidentified coat of arms.

Museum Hof van Busleyden has three other, similar statues of plague saints in its collection: a Saint Christopher, a Saint Adrian of Nicomedia and a Saint Anthony. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam owns a statue of Saint Sebastian, which probably belonged to the same series.

The statues were probably originally created for the Hospital of Our Lady in Mechelen.


Title: Saint Roch of Montpellier

Object type: statue of a saint

Maker: anonymous

Date: around 1520 - 1525

Medium: walnut, polychromy

Dimensions: height: 73 cm (sculpture), height: 28 cm (base)

Inventory number: OCMW B0003

Origin: from the public social welfare centre’s (OCMW) art heritage. Given to the City of Mechelen to manage in 2000.

Willy Halsema-Kubes, ‘Een Mechelse H. Sebastiaan’Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 19 (1971): 183-188.

Dries Van den Akker, ‘Rochus van Montpellier’Heiligen