By Seth Daniel
It took some time, but St. Florian showed up for church last Saturday, June 11, at St. Francis de Sales.
With hundreds looking on and Bunker Hill Street filled with spectators, Father Daniel Mahoney was all smiles as the long-sought statue of St. Florian – the protective saint of firefighters – was unveiled on the lawn next to the church. St. Francis was designated the firefighter’s church more than 50 years ago, and with Father Mahoney being the chaplain of the Boston Fire Department, there was always a desire to get some notable representation of that in front of the church.
The day came last Saturday.
“In 1954, Cardinal Cushing made this the firefighters church,” said Mahoney. “Other churches were also dedicated to noble professions. St. Ignatius was dedicated to teachers, and Immaculate Conception in the South End was dedicated to nurses. The Cardinal made St. Francis de Sales the firefighters church because there were many firefighters buried here in 1954 and 1955.”
Florian, Mahoney said, was actually sent by the Romans to persecute Christians and burn them at the stake. However, he was not able to carry out that task.
“His job was to burn Christians at the stake, but he couldn’t do it,” said Mahoney. “He defied the emperor’s order and was burned at the stake too. That’s the connection between Florian and the firefighters.”
Hundreds of firefighters from across Boston and the region were present to unveil the statue – which was provided by DiFillippo Memorials of Revere/Everett. The five-foot tall rendering of the saint stood proudly as Mahoney took the white covering off of it Saturday.
Elected officials applauded, as did firefighters from the Town and Fire Union officials.
Parishioners were also there en masse watching from a distance on the church steps – everyone pointing a cell phone camera towards Mahoney to capture the moment.
“In my mind, firefighting is the most noble profession on God’s earth because these are people who are saving victims’ lives from the ravages of fire,” said Mahoney. Mahoney has served at St. Francis since 1968.