Where the Story Begins
Saint Roger’s early life and childhood is an unknown subject, with thedate of birth being somewhere between 1060 and 1070 in the famous andancient city of Cannae.
Most of what we know about Saint Roger begins around the time when hewas elected without hesitation as bishop at the age of 30, as the legendtells it. His appointment was a difficult moment for Saint Roger, as hefelt himself unworthy and unsuitable for the title. Nevertheless, oncehe had discovered the intensity of the faith that the clergy and thecitizens had in him, he realized it was the will of God to accept theoffice of the bishop.
The Epitome of Charitable
Saint Roger became Bishop of Cannae in a time without hope, when thecity was on the brink of destruction, the effects of war ravaging thecity and the people. Reports say that Saint Roger did not falter butgave himself to the people without hesitation. According to legend,Saint Roger went barefoot on campaigns across the countryside to lookfor money and food for the poor. While we may not know much about hislife, we know he was a man who did everything to help the poor anddefenceless in times of crisis.
These events happened during a crucial period for the Church. There wasa surge of excessive civilian power that caused corruption andcounter-witnesses within the Church and its clergy. At the same time,there was a growth in holiness that gave hope of spiritual rebirth andan intense need to return to the evangelical way of life. In thisperiod, Saint Roger shone as he saw his role as bishop not as an honorbut as a service.
Saint Roger, as the legend tells, held his office open day and night forthose in need. One source, the Anonymous Cannese (14th century), statesthat he made the office “a pure hospitio that was always open from nightto day to lodge wayfarers, pilgrims and orphans.” It was a place ofrefuge and comfort for those in need where Saint Roger stronglyencouraged the faithful and supported them with tireless effort.
Saint Roger was held in high esteem by his colleagues in the Church.Pope Pasquale II and Pope Celasius II would often seek his advice andwisdom and brought matters such as disputes, questions of law andrivalries among the people and church to Saint Roger.
The Beginning of the End of Cannae
The war between Count Ermanno di Canne and the Duke of Paglia, Robertoil Guiscardo left the city of Cannae decimated. Only the cathedral andbishops residence remained.
Saint Roger did not only dedicate himself to the salvation of the peopleof Cannae after this war as he proved to be instrumental to thereconstruction and survival of the city itself.
It was a time when the people had lost hope and had no will to rebuild.Saint Roger was described as being a compassionate man who took it uponhimself through the will of God to save his city and his people.According to the program of the apostle Paul, Saint Roger made himselfeverything to everyone, living for the flock he had been entrusted with.
By the end of his life, Saint Roger had become a father to all throughhis willingness to give all of himself to those in need and when hepassed away peacefully on December 30, 1129, he was immediately declareda saint and his body buried near the main altar in the Cathedral ofCanne.
After His Death
The decline and end of Cannae was inevitable, and the bishopricrelocated to Barletta. In 1276, a request was made to have Saint Roger’sbody moved. His venerable remains were first kept at the Barletta churchof Santa Maria Maggiore and then later at the Benedictine monastery ofSanto Stefano.
At the time the Cannese bishops moved their residence to Barletta, SaintRoger was declared the protector of Barletta. Saint Roger has since thenhad his own office as Patron Saint of Barletta and Archbishop ofTrani-Barletta_Bisceglie, Italy. A further testament to the holiness ofSaint Roger is the seal found on a parchment belonging to BishopPascalis. The seal showed an image of Saint Roger, his head crowned by ahalo. Some documents point to there already being a site in Canne since1192 named “locus Sancti Rogerii”, directly translated as “St RogerRoom”.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Roger
- A plot of land in the “Boccuta” area was donated to the church in
1969 to build the Sanctuary of Saint Roger.
- Saint Roger is represented with a flying eagle which, according to
ancient legend, is said to have shaded him with its wings during a
- Several miracles, although there is no detailed record of them,
have been attributed to Saint Roger before his death and, after
his death, the people of Cannae loudly proclaimed Saint Roger’s
- San Ruggero is Saint Roger’s name in Italian, as he is more
- Santo Stefano, the final resting place of Saint Roger, was later
renamed to San Ruggero.
Prayer to St. Roger
“O God! You have allowed the coming of Blessed Roger to Barletta, grantus, through his prayer and goodness, protection from all evil forever”.