Saint Florian is the patron saint of firefighters, and
many things associated with either fire or water. His feast day
is celebrated on May 4.
Saint Florian was born in the mid-third century A.D.,
perhaps around the year 250,somewhere around current-day Austria.
He rose through the Roman army ranks to become a commander. Besides
his duties to the military, he was charged with leading the firefighting
brigade of the day.
Florian was a Christian in a time when the Roman emperors were
trying to eliminate Christianity throughout their realm. At one
point he was ordered to offer up a sacrifice to the Roman gods,
something in which he did not believe. Other stories state that
he refused to participate in the ongoing persecution of Christians,
in which the army had been ordered to participate.
In either case, Florian's beliefs became known. When questioned,
he again stated that he was a Christian. The popular method of
disposing of Christians in that day was to burn them to death,
and it was suggested that Florian suffer the same fate.
He, however, stated his intention to "climb to Heaven
on the flames" of the funeral pyre being prepared for
him. The soldiers decided at that point to dispense with him via
another route: he was flogged, then flayed, then a large stone
was tied around his neck and he was thrown into the Ennis River
A faithful lady recovered and buried his body, which was later
moved to the Augustinian Abbey of St. Florian, near current-day
Linz, Austria. In 1138 some of St. Florian's relics were
given to King Casimir of Poland and the Bishop of Cracow. Since
his relics arrived in Poland, he has beenregarded as the patron
saint of that country.
Because of his association with fire, St. Florian is the patron
saint of firefighters and chimney sweeps and has been invoked
for protection from both fire and water.
A statue of St. Florian installed at the front of the main firehouse
in Vienna, Austria survived a 1945 bombing with barely a scratch.
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