Florian was born in the ancient Roman city of Aelium Cetiumin around 250 AD, which is now present-day Sankt Polten, Austria. He joined the Roman Army and advanced the ranks to commander of the Imperial Army in the Roman province of Noricum. One of his many duties was being responsible for organizing fire brigades. Florian organized and trained this elite group of soldiers in their sole duty of fighting fires.
During the time of the Diocletianic Persecution of Christians, Rome received reports that Florian was not enforcing the persecutionof Christians in his territory and thus was sentenced to death by fire.. While standing on the funeral pyre, Florian is said to have challenged the Roman soldiers to light the fire by saying “if you do, I will climb to heaven on the flames”. Apprehensive to his words, instead of burning Florian, they drowned him. His body was later retrieved by Christians and buried at an Augustinian monastery near Lorch.
Saint Florian was adopted as patron saint of Poland after Pope Lucius III consented to the request of King Casimir to send relics of Florian to that country. Soon after, a person was saved from a fire by invoking Saint Florian’s name. Since then, Florian has been invoked against fire and has generally been regarded in most countries as the patron saint of the fire service. St. Florian’s feast day is May 4th.
Prayer to St. Florian:
Dear God, through the intercession of our patron, Saint Florian, have mercy on the souls of our comrades who have made the supreme sacrifice in the performance of their duty, and on all who have gone before us after years of faithful discharge of their responsibilities which now rest on ourselves. Give us Grace to prepare each day for our own summons to Thy tribunal of justice. Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit. Withersoever Thou callest me, I am ready to go. Merciful Father of all men, save my from all bodily harm, if it be Thy will, but above all, help me to be loyal and true, respectful and honorable, obedient and valiant. Thus fortified by virtue, I shall have no fear, for I shall then belong to Thee and shall never be separated from Thee.