Saint Roch became popular in France because of his interventions linked to infectious diseases. His devotion was brought to New France by the French and his intercession invoked during epidemics and infectious diseases.
An almost legendary figure, Saint Roch was born in Montpellier, France around 1350 and died around 1378 in Italy. He dedicated himself to the relief of plague victims during an epidemic in northern Italy. It is said that he contracted the disease himself. Isolated in the forest, the sick man was rescued by a dog that brought him bread to eat, which eventually cured him. This is why artists like to show him accompanied by a dog.
When the typhus epidemic hit the Irish immigrants in 1847, the entire staff of the General Hospital made a novena to Saint Roch to stop the devastating plague.
At that time, thousands of people contracted the disease. Seven Grey Nuns died while helping the sick at Point Saint-Charles. It was said to be the worst epidemic in Canadian history.