St. Florian, our patron saint
St. Florian is one of the patron saints of Poland; he is also a patron saint of Austria especially the patron of Upper Austria and Linz.
Florian von Lorch was born around 250 A.D. and was martyred for his faith around 304 A.D. He lived around the town of Enns near the River Enns which is in present day Austria. He converted to Christianity when it was still a minority religion. It is said that as a youth, Florian was able to put out a fire in a house through the power of his prayers alone. It is also said that he saved an entire city from flames with only a single bucket of water. Because of these events Florian has been the patron saint of firemen and chimney sweeps since the twelfth century.
Florian joined the Roman Army as a youth and, coming up through the ranks, was eventually made a high ranking officer. Near the end of his career he was made the Commander of the Fire Brigade in Noricum, now part of Austria. The Fire Brigade was an elite Roman Guard composed of 7,000 Roman Soldiers. Despite the great accomplishments of Florian of Florian's careers as a Roman commander, he was to suffer death for his Christian faith in the days of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. His legendary acts state that he gave himself up at Lorch, to the soldiers of Governor Aquilinus, when they were rounding up Christians.
After making a bold confession, he was twice scourged, half-flayed alive, and set on fire. He survived all of these torments through his unyielding faith. Finally, Florian was thrown into the river Enns with a millstone tied around his neck. His body was found by a pious woman who returned it to dry land. An eagle mysteriously watched over him until he was buried. Florian was eventually removed to the Augustinian Abbey of St. Florian, near Linz.
Later, the remains of St. Florian were moved to Rome, and in 1138, Pope Lucius III gave some of the saint's relics to King Casimir of Poland and to the Bishop of Krakáw. Since that time St. Florian has been regarded as a patron of Poland, as well as of Linz, and Upper Austria. He also holds patronage of firemen, brewers, coopers, chimney-sweeps, and soap-boilers. He is invoked against bad harvests, battles, fire, flood, and storm. He is also the patron of those in danger from water and flood, and of drowning.
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