18 March 2020, The Tablet

Saint Corona, pray for us

Word from the Cloisters

Saint Corona, pray for us

WE’RE ALL praying hard to Saint Roch of course, the patron saint of sufferers from the plague. (He’s also the heavenly protector of dogs and dog-owners, but that’s another story.) You can fill a bottle with water from St Roch’s well, on the site where he was born in Montpellier in the fourteenth century. When a cholera epidemic was raging through neighbouring towns in southern France in 1854, Montpellier was spared. That’s the sort of man you want in your team when the heat is on.

There’s a painting by Anthony van Dyck in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York of Palermo’s patron saint, Saint Rosalia, fervently interceding for the plague-stricken of the city. It’s one of several of Saint Rosalia produced in Palermo by van Dyck in the late summer of 1624, when the city was quarantined. With the Sicilian capital in lockdown again, residents are once more turning to Saint Rosalia to intercede for them.

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