aint Florian is the patron saint of firefighters. Learn more interesting facts about the firefighter saint, St. Florian, in this article right away!
The firefighter is a challenging and hazardous profession. These heroic firefighters always have to fight hard to protect the safety of the people. In tough times or dangerous situations, there is a name they always think about. It was Saint Florian, the patron saint of firefighters.
For centuries, firefighters have always considered Saint Florian their patron saint. They prayed to Saint Florian on many missions. Let’s learn about the facts about the firefighter saint, St. Florian, in the article below!
1. General Information About
The Firefighter Saint Florian
Saint Florian (250 – c. 304 AD) was a Christian holy man. He is the patron saint of Linz in Austria, chimney sweep, soapmaker, and firefighter. Saint Florian is also the patron of Upper Austria, along with Saint Leopold.
International Firefighters’ Day happens every year on May 4, which is also the feast day of Saint Florian. In addition, the Saint Florian Cross, known as the Maltese cross, is used in symbolism in the United States and around the world to represent the fire service.
He is famous for his tragic but also glorious life. At the same time, the miracles that he brought through the legendary stories made the firefighters believe that he always protects them during their journey.
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2. The Life Of The Firefighter Saint Florian
The Beginning Of Being A Talented Soldier
Saint Florian was born around 250 AD in the Roman City of Aelium Cetium, now Sankt Polten, Austria. He is a native of Enns, Lower Austria, and a Christian.
He joined the Roman army and rose through the ranks, becoming commander of the royal army in the Roman province of Noricum. In addition to his military duties, he was also responsible for organizing and commanding the fire brigades of the Roman army. Florian organized and trained an elite group of soldiers whose sole mission was to fight fires.
Florian’s Resilience In Pursuing Religious Faith
At that time, the Roman Empire did not accept the rise of the Christian Doctrine, while Florian was a Christian. Ironically, Florian’s duty was to prosecute any Christian, including imprisonment and the death penalty. During the persecution of Christians in the Diocletianic, there was a report that Florian did not comply with his duty. The emperor then sent an emissary, Aquilinus, to investigate the matter.
When Aquilinus ordered Florian to offer sacrifices to the Roman gods according to the Roman religion, Florian refused. Aquilinus asked Florian why he did not carry out his orders, and Florian replied: “Tell the emperor that I am a Christian and I will suffer the same fate as the Christians.”
The emissary, shocked at Florian’s answer, begged him and even offered Florian a promotion to obey the emperor’s order. However, Florian could not be shaken. Aquilinus ordered to whip Florian, and in response, Florian said he didn’t mind “a few scratches” because of his convictions and faith.
The Glorious Death Of Saint Florian
Angered by this reaction and afraid that other Christians would rebel against the emperor, the emissary ordered Florian to be burned to death. Florian was sentenced to be burned alive.
Standing on the pyre, Florian had challenged Roman soldiers to light a fire. He then said, “If you wish to know that I am not afraid of your torture, light the fire, and in the name of the Lord I will climb onto it.” Frightened by his words, the soldiers did not burn Florian alive but executed him by drowning him in the river Enns with a millstone tied around his neck. He died in 304 AD.
His legendary actions led people to declare him a saint. Christians later found his body. And they eventually moved it for burial at the Augustinian Monastery of Saint Florian, near Linz, Austria, which is also home to the Feuerwehr Museum.
3. The Relationship Between
St. Florian And Firefighters
There is a deeper connection between Saint Florian and the fire department. He is not only a god of fire or protector from fires but also the guardian deity of firefighters. With his elite fire service, undying faith, and fighting spirit, Saint Florian embodies all of the firefighter’s traits and qualities.
In particular, St Florian is famous for its miraculous stories about the firefighting process. He is said to have many miracles. Most notably, having extinguished a large fire and saved entire towns and villages with just a bucket of water. The 19th-century book Sacred and Legendary Art documented it. Additionally, according to the early 20th century Notes and Queries, Florian is credited with a similar miracle through his intercession.
After Florian’s death, many miracles happened, like being linked with him. Throughout the Middle Ages and to this day, the firefighters have called Saint Florian just in time, and many miracles happened.
Specifically, it is said that when people fell on fire, they were saved by invoking the saint. This incident is the subject of one of the fifteen paintings that decorate the monastery church of St. Florian. There even exists a special prayer to Saint Florian asking for his intercession against fires.
Today, firefighters still maintain absolute adoration for Saint Florian. He appeared in their prayers, their hope for difficult and dangerous missions. Currently, many fashion products or decorations are depicting him, like a lucky item for firefighters. In particular, many people choose to have his image tattooed on their bodies as a way to show their faith.
4. The Homage To The Firefighter Saint Florian
Saint Florian was the patroness of Austria and Poland, as well as a firefighter, chimney sweep, and winemaker. He is the patron that people call upon to withstand the fires, floods, lightning strikes, and agonies of purgatory.
In Central Europe, people highly rever St. Florian. The Austrian town of Sankt Florian is named after him. Saint Florian became the patron saint of Poland in 1184 when Pope Lucius III agreed to Prince Casimir II’s request to send Florian’s relics to that country. Krakow, therefore, claims some of its Florian monuments, the most famous being the St. Florian’s Gate.
His veneration has been especially intense since 1528 when a fire consumed the neighborhood without destroying the church.
Finding the patronage of this helpful saint was and still is part of naming practice in Catholic areas. In the southern, Catholic areas of the German Empire (mainly present-day Bavaria and Austria), peasants frequently used the name Florian as one of the names given to at least one of the male children of the German Empire. They wanted these children to receive the patronage of the firefighter saint.
In Austria and Germany, the fire services use the word Florian in radio communications as a common designation for fire stations and fire trucks. The Florentine call sign for hand-held radio equipment, related to fire fighting, also derives from that usage.
5. St. Florian’s Influence On Contemporary Culture
In The Culture Of Communication
The “Florian Principle” (German for “Sankt-Florian-Prinzip”) is named after a somewhat ironic prayer to Saint Florian: “O heiliger Sankt Florian, verschon’ mein Haus, zünd’ and’re an” which is equivalent to “O Holy St. Florian, please spare my house, set fire to another one.”
This expression is used in German like the English “not in my back yard,” when the speaker wants to show that some people try to get out of an unpleasant situation with an action that will put others in a similar case.
The name Florian is synonymous with the firefighter in German. In some cases, the call for firefighters will actually be spoken as a call to Florian.
In Works Of Art
Artistically, the protagonist of Felix Salten’s novel Florian: The Emperor’s Stallion is named after Saint Florian because the animal was born on May 4, 1901, in Lipizza, Austria. Also, Alfred Schnittke’s 2nd Symphony subtitled “St. Florian.”
In particular, in terms of sculpture, there are many statues of St. Florian is all over the world. The most prominent is the sculpture by Josef Josephu. The statue was first inaugurated in Vienna, in 1935, at Am Hof’s Wiener Feuerwhermuseum. And it really adorned the building.
This statue also possesses a remarkable history. During World War II in 1945, a bomb collapsed the building, and the sculpture fell. However, it suffered only a small amount of damage and is still intact. Today, the statue is on display inside the Wiener Feuerwehrmuseum and is a symbol of the Austrian fire brigade.
The facts about the firefighter saint Florian are really fascinating! We hope you know more about this firefighters’ patron saint!
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