Thursday, January 10, 2008

St. Florian, Patron Saint of Firefighters

Memorial
4 May
Profile
Third century officer in Roman army stationed in modern Austria. Military administrator of the town of Noricum, and a closet Christian. Said to have stopped a town from burning by throwing a single bucket of water on the blaze, and thus his association with firefighters and those who protect us from fire, including chimney sweeps. When ordered to execute a group of Christians during the persecutions of Diocletian, he refused, and professed his own faith. Martyr.
Died
c.304; scourged, flayed alive, a stone tied to his neck, and dumped into a river; body later retreived by Christians and buried at an Augustinian monastery near Lorch; relics translated to Rome in 1138; part of the relics given to King Casimir of Poland and the bishop of Cracow by Pope Lucius III, which led to Florian's patronage of Poland and Upper Austria
Patronage
against battles; against fire; Austria; barrel-makers; brewers; chimney sweeps; coopers; drowning; fire prevention; firefighters; floods; harvests; Linz, Austrial Poland; soap-boilers
Representation
bearded warrior with a lance and tub; boy with a millstone; classical warrior leaning on a millstone, pouring water on a fire; man being beaten; man lying dead on a millstone guarded by an eagle; man on a journey with a hat and staff; man thrown into a river with a millstone around his neck; man with a palm in his hand and a burning torch under his feet; man with a sword; young man, sometimes in armor, sometimes unarmed, pouring water from a tub on a burning church

The St. Florian commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on May 4th, was an officer of the Roman army, who occupied a high administrative post in Noricum, now part of Austria, and who suffered death for the Faith in the days of Diocletian. His legendary "Acts" state that he gave himself up at Lorch to the soldiers of Aquilinus, the governor, when they were rounding up the Christians, and after making a bold confession, he was twice scourged, half-flayed alive, set on fire, and finally thrown into the river Enns with a stone around his neck. His body, recovered and buried by a pious woman, was eventually removed to the Augustinian Abbey of St. Florian, near Linz. It is said to have been at a later date translated to Rome, and Pope Lucius III, in 1138, gave some of the saint's relics to King Casimir of Poland and to the Bishop of Cracow. Since that time, St. Florian has been regarded as a patron of Poland as well as of Linz, Upper Austria and of firemen. There has been popular devotion to St. Florian in many parts of central Europe, and the tradition as to his martyrdom, not far from the spot where the Enns flows into the Danube, is ancient and reliable. Many miracles of healing are attributed to his intercession and he is invoked as a powerful protector in danger from fire or water. His feast day is May 4th.

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