As Filipino Catholic firefighters are set to commemorate the feast of St. Florian on May 4, Manila Archbishop Jose Cardinal Advincula emphasized his sacrifice as inspiration to every fire personnel in their everyday mission for the society.
“St. Florian was a Christian, a disciple of Christ. He refused to follow the order of the Emperor Diocletian to slaughter the Christians in his area. Because of this, he was sentenced to death by burning. He challenged his executioners to go and light the fire saying: “If you do, I will climb to Heaven on the flames.” St. Florian was drowned instead, thrown into the river with a rock tied around his neck. St. Florian is a model of rigor and conviction. He is ready to lay down his life for the truth and what is right,” he said.
“These selfless virtues and qualities are also needed in your work as firemen. When duty call, you’re not afraid of the risks involved. What motivates you is the altruistic desire to rescue and to save lives and properties. May St. Florian give you the gift to fulfill your mission orders,” he added.
Cardinal Advincula stressed a part of St. Florian’s life that every firefighter shall remember in fulfilling their responsibilities.
“It is said that St. Florian was asked to put out a massive fire with only one bucket of water, sparing a village from destruction. This may not be realistic in your situation today, but what this really tells us is that we can be instruments for the good no matter how inadequate we are,” he pointed out.
The Archbishop of Manila took this opportunity to express his gratitude and admiration to the men and women of the country’s Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) for the “great service to our communities, for protecting us and being ready all the time to respond to any emergency especially when there is fire that destroys lives and properties.”
“I would like to honor your commitment and courage. Being a firefighter is not just a job or a career, it is a calling, a mission that asks you to go beyond your self-interest,” he said.
Cardinal Advincula presided the 5th day Novena Mass to St. Florian at the BFP National Headquarters in Quezon City on Wednesday, April 26, together with its Chaplain, Rev. Fr. (SInsp) Raymond T Tapia.
St. Florian was an imperial army commander who was martyred around the 3rd century AD when he defied the Diocletianic Prosecution of Christians in the then Roman province of Noricum in Austria. (Lem Leal Santiago/RCAM-AOC | File Photo of RCAM-AOC)