This large chalkware saint of St. Roche (aka St. Rocco, St. Roch) is absolutely amazing, and even though it was broken years ago and since put back together, it is incredibly beautiful and uncommon. From a website biography, St. Roche (1295 -1327), patron of dogs and ailments, was born in Montpellier in 1295 "as the son of a nobleman and governor of the city. His mother had tried unsuccessfully to give birth for many years, but she prayed to the Virgin Mary to have a child and Roche was conceived. His birth was, therefore, seen to be a miracle and he had a birthmark of a cross on his breast which grew as he grew. His mother was a pious woman who led a holy life and regularly fasted, and the young Roche loyally followed her example of asceticism. When Roche was twenty, both his parents died and he inherited his father’s title and wealth but he gave everything away to the poor and, following the example of St Francis of Assisi, lead an ascetic life, looking after the poor and the sick. He left for Rome and administered to the sick in the hospitals there and in the surrounding towns. While caring for people with plague in the town of Piacenta, he contracted the disease himself and fell very ill. He was thrown out of the town and went to live in the forest where he obtained water from a spring but had no food. As no human would approach him, he would have died had it not been for a dog which brought him bread every day and licked his wounds. Eventually, Roche recovered and continued his work until he returned to Montpellier where he was thrown into prison by his uncle in 1322 for being a spy. He died there on 16th August 1327 and was canonized in 1590." The feast day of St Roche, is August 16, and often celebrated with a dog blessing service to give thanks for the companionship of dogs who support old, sick, blind, deaf and lonely people. This piece came from an old estate in northern New Mexico, and is believed to be of French or Italian origin, circa 1920s to 1940s.
This chalkware depiction stands about 28-1/2" tall and his base is 8" wide by 6-1/2" deep. He weighs over 20 pounds. It appears he was broken in half at the waist (see Photo 5) and restored. I wouldn't call it a professional restoration, but likely done by the family who owned him. He is solidly put back together. He also has several chips and divots, which I have photographed and compiled many of in Photo 6. Even with this wear, which is not uncommon in chalkware this old.
A most amazing piece depicting a most endearing saint.
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