Traditions around St. Roch show him as a friend of Dogs who became a third-order Trappist - a lay person who lived as a poor pilgrim. After years of caring for the sick he also contracted the plague, and a nobleman's dog attended to him, bringing him food. Eventually the dog's owner discovered St. Roch and nursed him back to health. He is known also as the patron saint of epidemics.
We acknowledge St. Roch as a way to remember that God gives us a special gift in loving and being loved by dogs. They are unique companions to human life - often regarded as expressing unconditional love in a way rarely found elsewhere. This can remind us of God's unconditional love for us.
On this day, and in this week, we give thanks for and ask God's blessings upon dogs and dog owners and caretakers.
A word about the recognition of Saints among Protestants:
Why is a Protestant church talking about saints? Isn't that a catholic or orthodox thing? Well, yes and no. The traditions of recognizing the saints do derive from the Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions. It is also true that they originate centuries before the Protestant reformation when nearly all Christians were one or the other (except in Egypt and India where other ancient Christian traditions had developed independently from the 1st Century).
Paul reminds us that we are surrounded by "so great a cloud of witnesses" which is meant to encourage and inspire us to deeper and bolder living of our faith. There is no notion of worshipping the saints, in the way that some cultures worship ancestors. Rather, it is drawing inspiration from their lives of virtuous faith and the power of the Holy Spirit demonstrated in and through them. We might even use them as a way to focus our prayerful intentions, similar to how we ask others to remember us in prayer or put us or a particular situation on their church prayer list. If we believe that those who dwell with God are living with God, and we pray directly to Jesus and the Holy Spirit (see Romans 8) to intercede with the Father on our behalf, then it is not beyond reasonable faith that we might imagine in our prayers these others who dwell in the spirit with God to also remember us in prayer.
This is no magic. And it certainly is not needed. According to consistent teaching of the Christian faith traditions, we clearly have direct access to God in our prayers. And yet, we do consistently ask others to intercede for us, and we do pray not only to the Father but also to the Son and Spirit.
We worship the triune God - Father/Son/Spirit - Creator/Redeemer/Sustainer. We also receive a vast array of helps and aids to our worship and spiritual growth from many different cultural heritages. So long as they help us draw nearer to God as revealed in Jesus the Christ, then they are sources of blessing and can be received and appropriated as such.
(The image above can be found and purchased here) http://www.modernartisans.com/p-1947-patron-saint-retablo-plaque-st-roch.aspx
You can learn more at the following links: