Lent Madness: Florence Nightingale vs. Clare

Well, I know of at least one person who has been indiscriminately voting for all the women of Lent Madness (hello Penny Nash). Good luck with this matchup between Florence Nightingale and Clare! And, no, abstention is not an option. If I were a sexist I would refer to this as the first catfight of Lent Madness 2011. Fortunately I’m not. Plus my wife Bryna would have my hyde — that is if she gave a rat’s tail about Lent Madness.

In recent action Perpetua snuck past William Wilberforce by five votes — 52% to 48%. Click Lent Madness 2011 to view the updated tournament bracket. The winner of this battle will take on William Tyndale in the next round. On to Quirks and Quotes!

Florence Nightingale is, of course, synonymous with nursing. She was known as “The Lady with the Lamp” for her dedication to the injured soldiers of the Crimean War — she was often seen wandering the corridors late at night to check on her charges. Florence was born in Florence, Italy, in1920 to a wealthy English family. She was named for the city in which she was born as was her sister Parthenope who was born in Naples (Parthenope being the classical name of that city).

Her family was appalled by her decision to go into nursing. At the time nursing was not even considered a profession — no education was necessary — and many considered it barely a step above prostitution in terms of respectability. She traveled to Germany to train as a nurse before returning to England and engaging in what would now be called hospital administration.

She volunteered to serve in Crimea and was given the official title of “Superintendent of the Female Nurses in the Hospitals in the East.” However she came to be known generally as “The Lady-in-Chief” — an indication of the respect and leadership qualities that she exhibited. When she arrived in Crimea the medical conditions were abysmal. She later wrote about what she first encountered:

“There were no vessels for water or utensils of any kind; no soap, towels, or clothes, no hospital clothes; the men lying in their uniforms, stiff with gore and covered with filth to a degree and of a kind no one could write about; their persons covered with vermin . . .We have not seen a drop of milk, and the bread is extremely sour. The butter is most filthy; it is Irish butter in a state of decomposition; and the meat is more like moist leather than food. Potatoes we are waiting for, until they arrive from France.”

International Nurses Day is celebrated on her birthday, May 12th, throughout the world. And here’s another quirk: Florence objected to having photographs taken or her portrait painted. An extremely rare photograph of Florence taken in 1858 was discovered in 2006 and is now at the Florence Nightingale Museum in London.  

Clare was a 13th century early follower of Francis of Assisi who founded the Order of Poor Ladies, an order for females in the Franciscan tradition and wrote their Rule of Life. After her death the order was renamed the Order of St. Clare but the sisters are commonly called the Poor Clares.

Born Chiara Offreduccio to a wealthy Italian family in 1194, Clare’s parents arranged for her to marry a rich young man. Horrified by the prospect, Clare sought refuge with Francis. It is said that Francis himself cut off her hair and gave her the rough brown habit of a Franciscan. Francis placed her briefly in a nearby convent before asking her to found an order for women. She did so and became the clear leader of a flourishing order based upon austerity, poverty, manual labor, and prayer.

A famous story about Clare took place in 1234 when the army of Frederick II, after laying waste to the surrounding towns, was preparing an assault upon Assisi. After soldiers scaled the walls of her convent, Clare calmly rose from her bed, took the Blessed Sacrament from the chapel, and faced the invaders from an open window against which they had already placed a ladder. It is told that as she raised the Sacrament, the soldiers fell backward and then retreated.

A final quirk: Mother Angelica, the popular founder of the Eternal Word Television Network, is a member of the Order of St. Clare.

And some quotes from Clare: “Place your mind before the mirror of eternity! Place your soul in the brilliance of glory! And transform your entire being into the image of the Godhead Itself through contemplation.”

“Gaze upon Him, consider Him, contemplate Him, as you desire to imitate Him.”


4 Comments on “Lent Madness: Florence Nightingale vs. Clare”

  1. Penny Nash says:

    Hello, Tim! I’m glad to be the poster child for Votes for Women here at Lent Madness. Still, you will be able to see from your stats that I did not actually vote five times for Perpetua and thus put her over the top. Other people are clearly indiscriminately voting for women, too. As they should. 🙂

  2. Vicki says:

    I’m faithful to Clare, but for anyone interested in FN, there is a great detective series by Anne Perry, whose heroine worked with FN in the Crimea. AP does excellent historical research and her descriptions of the nursing conditions are graphic throughout the series.

  3. Sherilyn says:

    Love the irony of the Mclean Hospital ad for women’s BPD residential program posted above write up of FN!

  4. Bob Chapman says:

    Anything for Francis’s girlfriend!

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