Soldiers are bound by their duty to protect, obey and be loyal to the army’s hierarchy and the country they serve. But what happens when a soldier found himself bounded by a higher duty to his conscience?
St Florian is one soldier who put his faith ahead of executive ordersand paid the supreme the price for it.
Florian was born in 250AD in the city of Aelium Cetium, present-day St.Polten, Austria. An ambitious and dedicated young man, he joined theRoman army. He was a good Christian and could work well with people.
Florian’s dedication to service was soon noticed by Diocletian, theRoman emperor at that time. He was appointed to an administrativeposition and moved ranks in the army at a relatively young age in ashort time.
He became the commander of the imperial army in the Roman province ofNoricum (Celtic Kingdom).
In addition to his military duties, he leads the fire brigade. Heorganized and trained an elite group of soldiers whose soleresponsibilities are to fight fires.
From every indication, Florian was a remarkable soldier.
The Death Decree
In 303, the Diocletianic persecution of Christians ensued. The Emperorsof Rome, Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius, issued adecree prohibiting any religion other than Rome’s paganistic tradition.This tradition involves offering sacrifices to god.
Being a Christian in Rome of that era was dangerous. Defaulters of thisdecree were killed in many horrible ways. Many were burned, some otherswere thrown to the wilds.
The only way to avoid execution was by denouncing the Christian faithand participating in the pagan traditions.
This edict spread throughout Rome and its territories, and every officerof the Roman Empire is Expected to cooperate in carrying out theseproscriptions.
But Florian wasn’t enforcing the proscriptions against Christians in theterritory he oversees.
Drowned for His Faith
Reports got to Diocletian that Florian disobeys his orders, and a mancalled Aquilinus was sent to investigate the reports. Aquilinus,following the traditions, asked Florian to offer sacrifice to the gods.And he refused.
When Aquilinus asked to know why he wasn’t following his orders, Florianreplied, ‘Tell the emperor that I’m a Christian and will suffer the samefate as Christians.’ surprised at his reply, Aquilinus tried swaying’sFlorian with an offer of promotion. But he wouldn’t be enticed.
Scared that Florian might instigate rebellion in other Christians,Aquilinus ordered his death by burning.
Florian faced death with no fear. When he was tied up at the pyre,Florian challenged the soldiers saying, “ if you wish to know, I’m notafraid of your torture, light up the flame, and I will climb to heavenon the flames.”
Aqulinius, angered by his words, decided that instead of burning,Florian should be scourged and drowned.
It was the year 304; Florian was drowned at the Enns River with a rocktied around his neck. His body was later recovered by the Christians andwas appropriately buried at an Augustinian monastery near Lorch.
He is the Patron saint of Linz, Austria, Poland, chimney sweeps,Firefighters, and Soap boilers.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Florian
- In his country Austria, a town Sankt Florian was named after the
- Do you know how he is the Patron Saint of Poland? In 1184, Pope
Lucius 111 consented to Prince Casimir’s request for the relics of
St. Florian to be sent to Krakow, Poland.
- A different kind of soldier, loyalty to his profession, couldn’t
hinder his faith, not even in the face of death.
- Do you know May 4, his Feast Day, coincides with International Fire
Fighters Day? Remember, he is the patron of firefighters.
- Guess the fire code used in radio communications as a call sign for
fire stations and fire trucks in Austria & Germany? Yes, you
guessed right, ‘FLORIAN.’
Prayer to St. Florian Patron of Firefighters
This prayer of st. Florian is usually recited by firefighters asking theintercession of their patron saint. Dear God, through the intercessionof our patron, Saint Florian, have mercy on the souls of our comradeswho have made the supreme sacrifice in the performance of their duty andon all who have gone before us after years of faithful discharge oftheir responsibilities which now rest on ourselves. Give us the Grace toprepare each day for our own summons to Thy tribunal of justice.Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit; wherever Thou callest me,I am ready to go. Merciful Father of all men, save me from all bodilyharm if it is thy will, but above all, help me to be loyal and true,respectful and honorable, obedient and brave. Thus fortified by virtue,I shall have no fear, for I shall then belong to Thee and shall never beseparated from Thee.Amen.