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  • Writer's pictureJulie G - Microbigal!

Of Dogs and Saints and the Plague!

society of symbionts brings you the tale of St. Roch and the Plague: Yersinia Pestis

In the annals of history, certain stories emerge that weave together elements of faith, compassion, and the enigmatic world of microbes, but not many combine dogs, saints and the plague, but I've found one! (The Society told me I had to tell you a nice story for once, so.....) There's a reason why dogs are often referred to as "giant's best friend." Their companionship and loyalty to the giants transcends words, offering a unique and profound connection between the two. Here we have the tale of Saint Roch, his loyal canine companion, and their role in protecting against plagues is a story that spans centuries, offering a fascinating glimpse into the intricate relationship between humans, animals, and the microscopic world.

A Historical Beacon in Times of Crisis

Saint Roch patron saint of dogs and plague?

As we've learned, one of our more infamous microbes, Yersinia Pestis, caused a bit of trouble for the giants in the 14th century, and the world was rife with the scourge of plagues that swept across continents, leaving devastation in their wake. Amidst the chaos, emerged Saint Roch, a figure whose unwavering dedication to alleviating the suffering of plague-stricken communities earned him reverence and adoration. His story became synonymous with hope and resilience, highlighting the power of compassion in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges.

The Loyal Companion: Symbol of Devotion Central to the story of Saint Roch is his loyal canine companion, an embodiment of fidelity and loyalty. According to legend, Saint Roch's work with plague victims finally caught up with him and he became ill with Black Plague. He fled into the

dog licking buboes to cure the plague

wilderness where he would have succumbed to starvation and illness, but for a local dog who licked the lesions on his leg and brought him bread. Now, at that time, they didn't know how people survived the plague when so many died - and there were those who thought the dog's 'kisses' to the open plague buboes actually helped cure him, but it's more likely the food and maybe even the companionship that healed St. Roch. Throughout his recovery, it is said that the dog faithfully accompanied Saint Roch and the image of the dog providing sustenance to the ailing Saint Roch underscores the profound bond between humans and animals, bringing people hope that the plague could be defeated!

Modern Understanding and Lessons

Today, their understanding of microbes and disease transmission has advanced significantly, allowing them to combat microbes and pandemics with science and technology (not licking dogs) and the giants continue their relationship with their canine companions. In a world grappling with new and evolving diseases, the story of Saint Roch finds renewed relevance. Hospitals, communities, and even individuals invoke Saint Roch's legacy as a symbol of protection against plagues. Additionally, the depiction of Saint Roch with his loyal dog offers a reminder of the therapeutic benefits of the human-animal bond, which has been scientifically proven to have positive effects on mental and emotional well-being. The Giants' dogs provide comfort to them in their homes, as support animals in all kinds of settings.

Threads that Bind Us

dogs, humans and microbes playing nice together

The tale of Saint Roch, his steadfast canine companion, and their ability to survive Yersinia Pestis, a microbe of immense destruction, is a narrative that transcends time and resonates with creatures of diverse backgrounds. It weaves together faith, compassion, the bonds between humans and animals, and the hidden world of microbes that affect them every day. This interconnectedness serves as a reminder that, regardless of our affects on them, their technological advancements in the fight against microbes that cause us harm, we are all bound together in this world -visible to the naked eye or existing at a microscopic level! Sometimes the connections are beneficial, and maybe sometimes they aren't - for some of those involved!

microbes win in the end, plagues, sickness and yersinia pestis


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