Many of the French who colonized New France would have brought a statue of St. Roch with them.

St. Roch, much like the Buddha, was born into nobility and had a privileged life, which he chose to leave behind in order to go on a pilgrimage. He is usually depicted wearing simple and almost tattered clothes. This indicates that he lived in poverty.

While he was traveling, he tended the sick in public hospitals. It is said that he cured countless people with prayer, with the sign of the cross, and with the touch of his hand.

In Piacenza, Italy, when he became sick with the plague, he went into a forest in order to die in isolation. During this time he was befriended by a dog, which brought him food throughout his illness. The dog is also said to have licked his wounds until Roch was cured. For this reason, the statues or paintings of St. Roch always include a dog, seen carrying bread in his mouth.

When he returned to his hometown of Montpellier, in France, Roch was mistaken for a spy and put in jail by the governor. On August 16th in 1327 he died in jail, after five years of imprisonment.

St. Roch is the patron saint of falsely accused people, plagues, epidemics, dogs, and the physically challenged.

For the inhabitants of New France, St. Roch was very popular and important. Diseases and epidemics such as cholera and dysentery, which frequently caused death, were of great concern to the people of New France. St. Roch was seen as a protector.

In New France, 18% of children died before the age of one. The Hôtel-Dieu de Québec was the first hospital in Canada. It was built in 1639. Health care in New France was run by nuns, so the founders of all the early hospitals in Canada were women.
Royal Ontario Museum
c. 1700
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