Leopold Schultz
The Martyrdom of St. Florian

1837
St. Florian's Abbey (Stift Sankt Florian), Austria

The painting closely follows the 9th-century Passio Sancti Floriani: With the permission of the guards Florian has been praying for an hour with his hands extended like Christ's on the cross when an impatient youth rushes forward to toss him off the bridge and into the River Enns. The stone weight is also an element in the ancient narrative, which compares it to the Roman governor's stony heart and the idols of stone that Christians reject (Acta Sanctorum, May vol. 1, 465). The spqr (for the Latin of "Senate and People of Rome") on the bridge post anchors the scene in the time of the Roman Empire.

To the left of the post is a sheathed sword. There is no sword in the legend. Perhaps it refers to St. Florian's profession as a military officer, now "sheathed" because he has abandoned it for life in Christ?

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Photographed at the abbey by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.