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Saint Roch (1293–1327) was born into a rich family in Montpellier, but gave away his inheritance and embarked on a pilgrimage to Rome. Along the way he comforted victims of the plague, but then succumbed to the disease, suffering a sore on his thigh. The Black Death ravaged Europe in the fourteenth century and Saint Roch became established as a protector of the sick. The Wallace Collection’s picture is one of the earliest representations of the saint, who became a favoured subject both as a devotional figure and as an intercessor with the Virgin on behalf of those hoping to be spared infection (cf.
tempera & oil on limewood panel
H 40 x W 12.1 cm
acquired by Sir Richard Wallace, 1872; bequeathed to the nation by Lady Wallace, 1897