Cholera Outbreak and Devotion to San Roque

On June 15, 2020, the Catholic-run Radio Veritas announced that it will hold a daily four o’clock in the afternoon deliverance prayer against Covid-19 to Saint Roch, or San Roque, the patron saint against plagues.

As a Catholic, I believe that miracles do happen.

What follows is an interesting account of Hugh S. Mead, a Thomasite teacher assigned in Panitan during a cholera outbreak in Capiz in September 1902.

He wrote: “The native methods of fighting the cholera are interesting. In the first place, crosses are painted on the front of the houses and over the doors to keep out the disease.

“Another cross is worn about the neck and sometimes one is carried in the pocket to protect them when they are away from home. The one other thing necessary to make them entirely immune is the participation in the Santo Roque parade. Each afternoon or evening they congregate at the church, and, forming a procession, they march around the streets singing praises to Santo Roque, the healing saint, and to Santo Lorenzo, our patron saint, who is carried in the procession.

“Each one in the procession carried a candle, and a candle must be put in each window along the line of the march and on the dark of the night, it looks pretty.

“It reminds one somewhat of torchlight procession which preceded a big campaign speech. If a native puts a cross on his house, wears another about his neck, and then each evening takes part in Santo Roque procession, he paves the rest with Providence.”

Indeed, it shown that the Paniteños have a long tradition of invoking the intercession of San Roque in times of calamities.

This devotion was probably introduced by Fr. Jose Aparicio, the parish priest of Panitan (1889–1898), and who wrote Novena cay San Roque ng̃a Mananabang sang Peste in 1885.

As we face this pandemic, we must not hesitate to take refuge in our faith—like our ancestors did, —whatever form they may be—and still observing and following health protocols.