May 18, 2016

St. Florian, the Patron Saint of Firefighters and Beefcake Fans

I'm not much for the veneration of the saints -- Nazarenes abhored such "idolatry."  But I could get behind St. Florian, usually portrayed shirtless, with a massive, sculpted chest.

Here his chest is ink on someone's chest.

The real St. Florian was Florianus (c. 250-304), a Roman legionnaire from present-day Austria who organized a fire-fighting brigade.  When the Roman authorities discovered that he was a Christian, they ordered him burnt at the stake, but then, noting his affinity for fire, thought that he probably wouldn't burn.

So they drowned him in the Ennis River instead.  After ripping off his clothes, of course.

Today St. Florian is the patron of firefighters, soap makers, and chimney sweeps, and also the patron of many cities in Central and Eastern Europe, including Krakow, Poland and Linz, Austria.

This is one of the more famous St. Florian statues, by Josef Josephu (1889-1970).  It stood at the main firehouse in Vienna, where it survived a bombing during World War II.  Now it's in the Firefighter's Museum.

His brother, Florian, was also a sculptor.

In German-speaking countries, "florians" are firefighters.