CHAPEL OF ST. ROQUE
Main Street, Ħaż-Żebbuġ, Malta
This chapel is a simple architectural structure roofed with stone slabs on three arches which divide it into four bays. It measures eight metres long and seven metres wide and has no side openings. It possesses a single arched belfry which still has a small bell. The painting of St. Roque above the main altar is an early seventeenth century work by an unknown artist and was restored in 1989.
In 1592 the first bubonic plague epidemic hit the Maltese Islands, probably brought over by the galleys of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. About 3000 people died of this severe disease and a certain Tumas Vassallo and his wife Katarin initiated the building of this chapel the same year. St. Roque is considered to be the protector of those suffering from the plague and other chapels dedicated to this saint were built in Valletta, Balzan and Birkirkara. According to tradition St. Roque was himself infected by the plague but was cured by a dog licking his sores. This is why St. Roque is always represented with a dog next to his feet.