Florence Nightingale

On this date in 1820, Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy, to a well-to-do British family which moved back to England the next year. Refusing to conform to the limited expectations for women of her class, she entered hospital work and was appointed superintendent of a Hospital for Invalid Gentlewomen in London in 1853. To award her for two years of diligent organization in caring for the wounded during the Crimean War, her government offered 50,000 pounds for a Nightingale School for Nurses.

Nightingale was the first woman to receive the Order of Merit, among many other honors. British freethought encyclopedist Joseph McCabe identified her as a non-Christian theist, rejecting rites and ceremonies or denominational claims but mightily impressed by Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount.” She wrote about her rejection of many religious claims in Fraser’s Magazine in May and July 1873. (D. 1910)

Freedom From Religion Foundation