Stained glass window marks bicentenary of Florence Nightingale’s birth

A new stained glass window has been installed at Romsey Abbey to mark the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.

Artist Sophie Hacker has created The Calling Window which depicts the moment the founder of modern nursing said she was called by God.

A service had been planned in May to dedicate the window to mark the 200th anniversary of her birth but the event had to be postponed because of the Covid-19 outbreak and will now be held next year.

Her contribution in improving nursing techniques, including upgrading hygiene practices, has been recognised during the pandemic with emergency hospitals named after her being set up to deal with coronavirus patients.

The Calling Window
The newly installed stained glass window (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Romsey Abbey commissioned the artwork to mark her links to the Hampshire town where she met with friends, shopped, and socialised with her family and also where her political interests developed.

The window shows Nightingale in the grounds of her home at Embley Park, near Romsey, seated under a cedar tree where God “called” her.

She wrote in her diary that as she approached her 17th birthday in 1837 that “God spoke to me and called me to His service”.

Ms Hacker, from Winchester, said: “What is strange is that we hadn’t anticipated with the outbreak of the global pandemic was how significant the role of the type of nursing that Nightingale instigated would be.

The Calling Window
Artist Sophie Hacker stands in front of the stained glass window of Florence Nightingale (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“There is so much added pertinence than I could ever have anticipated when I was first approached in the spring of 2018 for this project.

“At no point could I have anticipated that the window would go in during the very week the Government is trying to decide whether we should go into another lockdown while trying to handle this pandemic.”

A spokesman for Romsey Parish said: “Romsey Abbey, as one of the finest, most beautiful and significant churches in the diocese and county, is a fitting and historically appropriate location to honour a woman of such international significance.

“Romsey Abbey is honoured to have this wonderful lasting piece in place and will hold a special dedication service currently scheduled for May 2021.”

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