Both his parents being dead, Rocco travelled to Italy. At Acquapendente he healed many persons of the pestilence, and also at Cesena and at Rome, including a cardinal, whom he rendered immune to plague for ever more by drawing a cross on his forehead. The cardinal took him to see the pope, in whose presence Rocco’s own forehead shone with a supernatural light which greatly impressed the pontiff. After much further wandering and healing, Rocco himself took the disease under both his arms and was so racked with pain that he kept the other patients in the hospital awake. This distressing him, he crept away where his groans were out of hearing, and there he lay till the populace, finding him, and fearing infection, drove him from the city. At Piacenza, where he took refuge, a spring of fair water, which is there to this day, gushed out of the earth for his liquid refreshment and as mark of heaven’s approval; while the hound of a neighbouring sportsman brought him bread from the lord Golard’s table: hence the presence of a dog in all representations of the saint. In the church of S. Rocco across the way Tintoretto has a picture of this scene in which we discern the dog to have been a liver-and-white spaniel.
Golard, discovering the dog’s fidelity to Rocco, himself passed into the saint’s service and was so thoroughly converted by him that he became a humble mendicant in the Piacenza streets. Rocco meanwhile continued to heal, although he could not heal himself, and he even cured the wild animals of their complaints, as Tintoretto also shows us. Being at last healed by heaven, he travelled to Lombardy, where he was taken as a spy and imprisoned for five years, and in prison he died, after being revealed as a saint to his gaoler. His dying prayer was that all Christians who prayed to him in the name of Jesus might be delivered from pestilence. Shortly after Rocco’s death an angel descended to earth with a table written in letters of gold stating that this wish had been granted. In the carvings in the chancel, the bronzes on the gate and in Tintoretto’s pictures in the neighbouring church, much of this story may be traced.
The most noteworthy carvings round the room represent types and attributes. Here is the musician, the conspirator (a very Guy Fawkes, with dark lantern and all), the scholar, and so forth, all done with humorous detail by one Pianta. When he came to the artist he had a little quiet fun with the master himself, this figure being a caricature of no less a performer than the great Tintoretto.
The little room leading from the upper hall is that rare thing in Venice, a council chamber which presents a tight fit for the council. Just inside is a wax model of the head of one of the four Doges named Alvise Mocenigo, I know not which. Upstairs is a Treasury filled with valuable ecclesiastical vessels, missals and vestments, and two fine religious pictures from the masterly worldly hand of Tiepolo. Among