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St Roch

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved, painted and gilt alabaster

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Saint Roch stands with his head inclined to the right, his right arm raised in blessing, with a rosary handing from his right arm. A pilgrim's satchel hangs on his left side from a strap over his right shoulder. Behind his left leg there is a dog, which according to legend brought him food during his illness and in the bottom left corner there is an angel which points to a plague spot on the Saint's right leg.

St Roch was very popular in Western Europe in the late Middle Ages and was the patron saint of those striken by plague because even when he was striken by the disease himselve he managed to provide miraculous cures for others. Saints are the heroes and heroines of Christian faith. In the 14th and 15th centuries, they were a popular subject for alabaster carvings. Religious themes penetrated private life, so devotional images of saints were sculpted not only for church interiors, but also for individuals to contemplate within the privacy of their homes.

Physical description

The bearded figure of the saint stands with his head inclined to his right, his right hand raised in blessing, with a rosary hanging from his right arm. The eyelids are carved. He wears a short robe, leggings turned down at the top and stout shoes or clogs. A pilgrim's satchel hangs on his left side from a strap over his right shoulder. The remains of a staff are visible, evidently held in his left hand. An angel, wearing alb and amice, appears to point to a plague sore on the saint's right knee; a scroll rises vertically from behind the angel's head. A dog with a long tail and with a small loaf of bread in its mouth, looks up at the saint's knee.

The saint's left hand and much of his staff are missing. The angel's right hand is missing. The top of the panel has been cut away. There is a hole through the panel under the saint's right arm. Green paint and the usual daisy pattern remain on the ground. Gilding remains on the saint's hair and beard, round the edge of his tunic and on his rosary. The folds of his tunic are red. The angel's wings are red, with white flecks and black dots. The dog is a reddish brown. There are traces of an inscription on the scroll.

The back of the panel has two lead-plugged holes. There are random markings and an X. The bottom has been cut away.

Place of Origin

England (made)


15th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved, painted and gilt alabaster

Marks and inscriptions

Random markings and an 'X.'
On the back of the panel.; incising


Height: 36.8 cm, Width: 13.3 cm

Object history note

Acquired by P. Nelson in Paris from whom it was later acquired by Dr W.L. Hildburgh. On loan from him since 1926. Given by Dr Hildburgh in 1946.

Historical significance: Only two other examples of this subject in English alabaster are known.

Descriptive line

Alabaster panel depicting St Roch. English, 15th century.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Cheetham, Francis. English Medieval Alabasters. Oxford: Phaidon-Christie's Limited, 1984. p. 147 (cat. 76), ill. ISBN 0-7148-8014-0


Alabaster; Paint; Gilt


Carving; Painting; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Leggings; Staff; Amice; Rosary; Shoes; Bread; Scroll; Robe; Dog; Angel; Alb


Christianity; Religion; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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