SAINT ROCCO IN REPOSE 

A play in one act 

by Lisa Ellex 

 

 

CHARACTERS 

 

ST. ROCCO         

   MALE, any age. 

ST. CORONA      

   FEMALE, noticeably older. 

SETTING 

The altar of a Roman Catholic church. 

TIME

 

The present. 

 

 

(A small altar in a church. Above the altar are a few dozen rows of votive candles. Only a handful are lit. Above the candles are pedestals displaying life-size statues of various saints. SAINT ROCCO stands among them. He has a dramatic wound on his thigh. To his side is a statue of a dog offering bread. To his other side is a statue of Saint Lucy. 

SFX: THE CREAK OF A LARGE WOODEN DOOR, OPENING AND CLOSING

 

A woman enters, barefoot and draped in linen. She approaches the altar.)

 

 

WOMAN 

Pardon me. 

SAINT ROCCO 

Yes? 

 

WOMAN 

Would you hand me that statue, please? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

This one? 

 

WOMAN 

Please. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

This is Saint Lucy. 

WOMAN 

Yes. Would you pass her to me? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

She’s the patron saint of the blind. 

 

WOMAN 

Yes, I’m aware.

SAINT ROCCO 

She’s one of our most popular saints. 

 

WOMAN 

She certainly is. Would you pass her here, please? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

We’ve been with each other for as long as I can remember. 

 

WOMAN 

She’ll be back. 

SAINT ROCCO 

Where are you taking her? 

 

WOMAN 

She’s being repainted. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

But people like her the way she is. 

 

WOMAN 

She won’t change. It’s just a routine refurbish. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Refurbish? 

 

WOMAN 

Yes. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I’ve never been refurbished. 

 

WOMAN 

Then you can be next. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Oh. 

 

WOMAN 

Would you just pass her over, please. 

SAINT ROCCO 

This is so sudden. 

 

WOMAN 

It’s not a big deal. Really. Just pass her over. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

She’s pretty heavy. 

 

WOMAN 

It’s okay. 

SAINT ROCCO 

You got her? 

 

WOMAN 

I’ve got her. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Are you sure? 

 

WOMAN 

I’m sure. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Please be careful. 

 

WOMAN 

I’m fine. 

 

(The WOMAN exits with the statue.) 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Have a nice day. 

SFX: THE CREAK OF A LARGE, WOODEN DOOR, OPENING AND CLOSING. 

(SAINT ROCCO looks to his dog and reaches over to pet him.)

 

SAINT ROCCO (Cont'd.) 

It’s okay, Fido. It’s okay. 

(SAINT ROCCO looks to the spot where Saint Lucy once stood. He reaches over and dusts off her spot then makes the sign-of-the-cross. He sighs.)

 

SFX: THE CREAK OF A LARGE, WOODEN DOOR, OPENING AND CLOSING. 

The WOMAN enters, empty-handed, and begins to climb up the pedestal that once displayed Saint Lucy.) 

SAINT ROCCO 

May I give you a hand?

 

WOMAN 

I’m fine. 

SAINT ROCCO 

So, you’re filling in?

 

WOMAN 

I am. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I’m Rocco. 

 

WOMAN 

I know. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I’m sorry, but I can’t place your face. 

WOMAN 

Corona. 

SAINT ROCCO 

You’re Saint Corona? 

WOMAN 

That’s right. 

SAINT ROCCO 

Forgive me for not recognizing you but no one has seen you for centuries.

 

WOMAN 

Nearly nineteen. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Wow… Nineteen… 

 

(CORONA produces a crown from her pocket and places it on her head.)

 

SAINT ROCCO (cont'd.) 

The crown! Of course! Now I recognize you! I’m so sorry.

WOMAN 

It’s all right. I’m rarely recognized without it.

SAINT ROCCO 

It’s quite fetching. 

 

WOMAN 

Thank you. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

You look much nicer than your photographs. 

 

WOMAN 

Thanks. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Sure. Did you know Lucy? 

WOMAN 

We’re from the same island. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Ah, Sicily! Yes. 

 

WOMAN 

Yes. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I’m from France. 

 

WOMAN 

Yes, I know. Montpellier. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

It’s very sunny there. 

 

WOMAN 

Well, it’s quite dreary in here, don’t you think? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

It’s been that way since the people stopped coming. 

 

WOMAN 

When was that? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

2020. Sometime in March. 

 

WOMAN 

Such a shame. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

It really makes the day drag. 

 

WOMAN 

I would imagine. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Work is everything, you know. 

 

WOMAN 

That’s what Elvis said. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Elvis Presley? 

WOMAN 

The one and only. I attended his ’68 Comeback Concert. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Those leather pants! 

 

WOMAN 

You know, I helped him pick them out. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

You knew Elvis Presley? 

 

WOMAN 

I did. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Wow. He really knew how to live. 

 

WOMAN 

I’ll say. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

What was he like? 

WOMAN 

He was not a complicated man in the least. Very down to earth, actually. He would say to me, “Corona, all you really need in life are three things: something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to.” 

SAINT ROCCO 

Really? 

 

WOMAN 

Oh, yeah. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Well, our work is something to do. 

 

WOMAN 

It is. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

And someone to love is always nice. 

 

WOMAN 

Sure. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I love Fido. 

 

WOMAN 

Then all that leaves is something to look forward to. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

That’s pretty difficult in these times. 

 

WOMAN 

Indeed. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

What do you look forward to? 

 

WOMAN 

Hugs. I really miss hugs. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I remember hugs. 

 

WOMAN 

Had I known this was coming I would have cherished my last hug. I would have taken a snapshot of it in my head. I keep trying to remember where I was, or who it was that hugged me last but I just can’t recall. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Hugs. 

 

WOMAN 

What happened to your leg? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I guess no one briefed you. 

 

WOMAN 

Listen, this has been a real whirlwind. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I got this during the Bubonic Plague. Next thing I know – boom – I’m patron saint of plagues and dogs. Right place, right time, I guess. 

 

WOMAN 

Timing is everything. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Double-duty from day one. 

WOMAN 

Maybe we should join a union. 

 

(THEY LAUGH.) 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I can’t tell you what a thrill this is for me, Corona. You’re a legend here. I mean, nineteen centuries. I guess you have quite a pension by now. 

 

WOMAN 

I’m comfortable. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Who would imagine that today I’d been standing here talking to the patron saint of financial hardship? 

 

WOMAN

Well I, too, have been put on double-duty. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

After all these centuries? 

 

WOMAN 

It was only a matter of time. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

What’s your assignment? 

WOMAN 

Pandemic. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Congratulations! 

 

WOMAN 

Thanks, but it’s awful actually. Everyone thinks I’m infected. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Jesus Christ -- you would think by now they know that saints have eternal immunity. As patron saint of plagues I’ve been the scourge for centuries. 

WOMAN 

Well, that’s just silly. Everyone knows that a plague is not nearly as serious as a pandemic. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Potato, po-TAH-to. 

 

WOMAN 

I beg to differ. A plague is bacterial and can be treated. A pandemic is viral and with little to no immunity against a new virus, infection becomes rampant. I’ve really got my work cut out for me. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

So you’re saying we’re on different teams? 

 

WOMAN 

In a sense. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

That’s too bad. I was really looking forward to working with you. 

 

WOMAN 

Well, we’re in the same league. 

SAINT ROCCO 

Same prayers? 

 

WOMAN 

Same prayers. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

You know, I think we have a lot in common. 

 

WOMAN 

Do we? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Well, we’re both saints.

WOMAN 

We are. 

SAINT ROCCO

We’re both Elvis fans. 

 

WOMAN 

Who’s not? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

And here we are. 

 

WOMAN 

Here we are. 

SAINT ROCCO 

Corona? 

 

WOMAN 

Yes? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

If you’d like, I can hug you. 

 

WOMAN 

I don’t know if I’m comfortable with that. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

But we have immunity. You just said it yourself. 

WOMAN 

Not that. We just met. 

SAINT ROCCO 

I understand. 

WOMAN 

I’ll give it some thought, okay? 

SAINT ROCCO 

Take your time. 

WOMAN 

When did you get the dog? 

SAINT ROCCO 

Around 1305. After I contracted the plague I was banished to a cave --

 

WOMAN 

Oh, my. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I was just a little boy and had nothing to live on but leaves and stream water. I grew weaker and weaker and just when I thought I would die, the dog appeared and brought me a piece of bread. He visited almost daily. 

 

WOMAN 

He’s loyal. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

He sure is. One day, he brought his master along. The kind man took pity on me and brought me to his nearby castle where he and his family cared for me until I was cured. Fido never left my side. 

WOMAN 

You’re fortunate to have the company. 

SAINT ROCCO 

I am. 

WOMAN 

Maybe when the pandemic is over I’ll get a cat. 

SAINT ROCCO 

Well, as long as you’re here, Fido and I will keep you company. 

WOMAN 

Rocco, has no one told you? 

SAINT ROCCO 

Told me? 

WOMAN 

Yes. 

SAINT ROCCO 

Told me what? 

WOMAN 

Goodness, this is terribly awkward. 

SAINT ROCCO 

Just tell me. 

WOMAN 

I’m on this alone. You’re being refurbished. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

 

That’s impossible. You’ll need support. 

WOMAN 

There’ve been cutbacks in every department. 

SAINT ROCCO 

But my record is stellar. 

WOMAN 

I told them that. 

SAINT ROCCO 

I helped eradicate the Black Plague… 

WOMAN 

Yes, you did. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

…and the Spanish Flu. 

 

WOMAN 

I know. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Not to mention the Trump administration -- I mean, I know what I’m doing.

 

WOMAN 

So do I. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

It’s much too much for one person. You need me. 

 

WOMAN 

I’ll be okay. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

But I want to help. 

 

WOMAN 

They’ll never authorize it. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

What will I do? 

 

WOMAN 

Take a rest, Rocco. Enjoy the time off. You’ve earned it. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Let me help. Please. 

 

WOMAN 

It’s not up to me. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

I want to be useful. 

 

WOMAN 

They’ll be other plagues. You’ll be back. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Something to do. Someone to love. Something to look forward to.

 

SFX: THE WOODEN DOOR CREAKS OPEN. 

WOMAN 

They’re here. 

 

ROCCO 

I don’t want to go. 

 

WOMAN 

I know. 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Just tell them. 

 

WOMAN 

Tell them what?

SAINT ROCCO 

Tell them you need me. 

 

SFX: APPROACHING FOOTSTEPS 

 

WOMAN 

Rocco? 

 

SAINT ROCCO 

Yes? 

 

WOMAN 

Hug me. 

 

LIGHTS FADE, AS WE HEAR: 

SOUND Q: ELVIS PRESLEY’S “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” 

END OF PLAY. 

 

Saint Rocco in Repose by Lisa Ellex © 2020

LISA ELLEX is a third-generation Greenwich Village native. She is a writer of television, radio, documentaries, music reviews, and interviews, a playwright, and a vocalist and voice artist. She created and hosts the podcast It’s Your Thing with Lisa Ellex and was creator of the early-childhood music program Baby Rubato.