Lent Madness: Florence Nightingale vs. David

Lent Madness continues with the woman whose name is synonymous with nursing vs. the man whose name is synonymous with Wales. Last week another nurse, Constance, upset another well-known saint by the name of Patrick. Will today’s battle lead to a similar outcome? Only the next 24 hours will tell.

Click Lent Madness 2011 to view the updated tournament bracket and get ready for tomorrow’s matchup between John Henry Hobart and Basil.

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was born to an upper class English family that was traveling through Italy at the time of her birth. She was named for the city into which she arrived — Florence. Just before her 17th birthday she had an experience of God speaking to her about being called into service. Not knowing precisely what this would be, she chose to remain single so as to stay singularly focused on her service of God.

In 1844 she came to believe that God was calling her to nurse the sick and began her training. Her family was appalled as nursing, at the time, was neither a respectable profession nor required any training. But, with a single-minded devotion, she went to Germany to train with an order of Lutheran nuns who ran a hospital. Back in England she was appointed supervisor of a sanitorium that she rapidly changed from a dirty, dreadful facility into a model of modern medicine. Among other innovations, she was responsible for creating a system of bells that allowed patients to call for nurses when in need.

When war broke out in Crimea, Florence was tapped to lead a group of 38 nurses to the region. The conditions in the hospital were horrendous but Florence instituted a number of reforms and policy changes to turn the facility into a place of healing rather than infection. At night she would often patrol the hallways with a dim lamp which earned her the moniker “the lady with the lamp.” Following the war she returned to England a national hero.

She spent the next phase of her life crusading and lobbying Parliament for more sanitary conditions in hospitals. She met with great success yet the physical burden of her work had started to take its toll and she lived the last 25 years of her life as an invalid. On Christmas Day when she was 65 years old she wrote: “Today, O Lord, let me dedicate this crumbling old woman to thee. Behold the handmaid of the Lord. I was thy handmaid as a girl. Since then, I have backslid.”

Collect for Florence Nightingale Life-giving God, who alone have power over life and death, over health and sickness: Give power, wisdom, and gentleness to those who follow the lead of your servant Florence Nightingale, that they, bearing with them your presence, may not only heal but bless, and shine as lanterns of hope in the darkest hours of pain and fear; through Jesus Christ, the healer of body and soul, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

David was a 6th century abbot and Bishop of Wales who is considered the patron saint of that country. David was a renowned preacher and teacher who founded a number of monasteries and churches throughout Wales. He lived a life of simplicity and asceticism and the Rule he wrote for his monks encompassed much of this. It included provisions that monks had to pull the plough without the assistance of animals, drink only water,  eat only bread with salt and herbs, and spend evenings in prayer, reading, and writing. Personal possessions  were not allowed and he encouraged his followers to refrain from eating meat or drinking beer.

The best-known miracle associated with David took place when he was preaching amid a large crowd. When a number of people complained that they couldn’t see or hear him, the ground where he stood reportedly rose up to form a small hill. As everyone could now access his words a dove landed on his shoulder — a symbol often associated with David.

Collect for David Almighty God, who called your servant David to be a faithful and wise steward of your mysteries for the people of Wales: Mercifully grant that, following his purity of life and zeal for the gospel of Christ, we may with him receive the crown of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever. Amen.



3 Comments on “Lent Madness: Florence Nightingale vs. David”

  1. Susan Elliott says:

    The “since then, I have backslid” clinches my vote.

  2. Bob Chapman says:

    I was waiting to vote for the “original” David, that disco queen that danced nude before the Ark of the Covenant. Since it is a different David, I needed to rethink my vote.

    As a person who needed to call a nurse for a bed pan after cancer surgery on my leg back a few years back, the choice is simple. In thanksgiving for blessed relief and care, my vote is for Florence.

  3. Vicki says:

    Another tough choice – Saint Dai is a favourite of mine, too – but who could resist Florence!

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