Followers of William Branham will often tell the story of the miraculous healing of Florence Nightingale. However, there are significant discrepancies with respect to William Branham's account of the healing and that of an independent eyewitness.
Testimony of Rev. Gwilam Francis
From the November 1954 Voice of Healing Magazine:
- Brother Branham and myself visited Miss Florence Nightingale Shirlaw at her mother’s home at 11, Clarendon Road, London W II…We were only four persons in the room that Sunday afternoon, Miss Shirlaw, her mother, Brother Branham and myself, and you [Gordon Lindsay] will probably recall that we were probably there for over an hour. When the atmosphere seemed to be charged with the presence and power of God, Brother Branham took Miss Shirlaw’s hand, and offered a very short prayer, after which he requested her to eat. That is all that happened in that room…Miss Shirlaw’s recovery took a few weeks, I was in constant touch with her during this period.”
Reverend Francis had his testimony of the events in England published in the Voice of Healing Magazine because many of the facts published in Julius Stadsklev's book, "A Prophet Visits South Africa" about the event were wrong. This is a clear indication that Julius Stadsklev simply took the information for his book directly from William Branham without checking any of the facts with the other people that were there.
Reverend Francis also concluded that Miss Shirlaw's healing was real.
Some of the facts that differed significantly from William Branham's version of the events include:
- William Branham did not say "THUS SAITH THE LORD". He simply prayed for Miss Shirlaw.
- There was no dove in the window.
- There were four people in the room: William Branham, Gordon Lindsay, Rev. Francis, and Miss Shirlaw (no nurses).
- Miss Shirlaw was at her mother's home in London, and not on an airplane when William Branham was paged. Apparently Rev. Francis found out that William Branham would be at the London airport and Rev. Francis had William Branham paged. William Branham made arrangements with Rev. Francis to meet with Miss Shirlaw on the subsequent Sunday at her mother's home in London.
- Reverend Francis arranged the meeting, not the Crown.
It should also be noted that these corrected facts directly contradict William Branham's testimony as noted in the quotes below.
Other corrections that need to be made to the statements made by William Branham include the following:
- Florence Nightingale (the famous nurse) never married and never had children.
- The Red Cross was founded by Henry Dunant.
- Florence's last name was "Shirlaw", not "Nightingale".
- William Branham took credit for the healing, yet there were other people and ministers present that prayed for her, as well as the medical attention she continued receiving.
It has also been noted that the Picadilly Hotel, where William Branham was staying, is a very expensive and prestigious hotel.
The story as told by William Branham on the dates noted below
October 27, 1952, Sermon: Jesus Christ the Same Yesterday, Today and Forever
- How many seen the picture of Florence Nightingale? It was yonder in London, England, when she only weighed about thirty-seven pounds. She couldn't even move her hand or nothing: cancer on the duodenum of the stomach. And while standing there praying for her, a little dove flew in, set down on the window, and begin to go back and forth, cooing. When I raised up, the--the ministers begin to say, "Did you see the dove?" I said... I started to say, "I see the dove," and the Spirit of the Lord spoke and said, "THUS SAITH THE LORD, she'll live and not die." And she weighs a hundred and fifty-five pounds, in perfect health. See. See. Now, the God that saved Florence Nightingale, the great-granddaughter of the late Florence Nightingale, the founder of the Red Cross, can save your life tonight; can save your life tonight.
September 2, 1953, Sermon: Testimony
- Now, look friends, think of King George of England, when he was healed with multiple sclerosis, when we had prayer for him. Think of Florence Nightingale, her grandmother, the founder of the Red Cross, was about sixty pounds of weight, laid dying yonder with a cancer on the duodenal of the stomach, laying there dying. A little dove flew into the bush there and the Spirit of God come and said, "THUS SAITH THE LORD, she shall live." And she weighs a hundred and fifty-five pounds in perfect health.
November 6, 1953, Sermon: Do you Now Believe?
- When I went in to London, the day that we arrived on the International Airport in London, on our road to the Scandinavian country and to pray for the king... I heard them page me. And Mr. Baxter, Mr. Lindsay, many of these men that you people know, was with me. And they went in, and it was the Anglican minister. They brought Miss Florence Nightingale from South Africa, how she knowed, less it was through the crown, I couldn't know yet. But she knew we was going to land there that day. And she come in about fifteen minutes before we did, and I couldn't even get the woman... They couldn't get the woman out of the plane, they thought she was dead then. And I said, "Well, there's thousands of people between here and the plane. I couldn't get to it. I'm going down to Buckingham Palace, then to Westminster Abbey, and then I'll--I'll be at the Piccadilly Hotel, you come get me, we'll go have prayer for her."
March 4, 1960, Sermon: Thirsting for Life=
- Mrs. Nightingale, now, she was a relative of the late Florence Nightingale. This woman's name is Florence Nightingale, and she's a nurse. But she wasn't, of course, Florence Nightingale, the regular--original founder of the Red Cross. But she's from England, and she was a--a nurse, and she was a distant relative of Mrs. Florence Nightingale, the founder of the Red Cross. I'd first heard from her; I was in Africa. This picture that you see in here of her, as a skeleton... That we had to... Brother Gordon Lindsay, when we fixed that picture, we had to put something across it there, 'cause they just had a little rag tied around the woman, and it was very, very bad. So we put a piece of--of something over it, and took a photostatic copy of the picture, that we might put it in the book. That's her, when I... And she was starved, yet over a month after that picture was taken, and here she is six months later, nursing again.
- I'd just like to say before I start tonight, that story. I'd like to tell you about it. I was... She was in South Africa. And how that woman ever knowed that I was coming to London, I don't know yet. And when the plane landed, Brother Lindsay and I, and Brother Jack Moore, we got off of the plane, and Brother Baxter... And we started down, and I heard them paging me there at the International Airport at London. And said for me to come, and I sent Brother Baxter. Brother Baxter come back with--to me with a minister and he said, "Did you ever hear of a woman named Florence Nightingale?"
- I said, "The name sounds familiar." And I said, "I don't know." And he said, "Well, they've flown her in from South Africa, and she's dying over here in a ambulance." Well, there's a great lot of people out there, and I couldn't get to her. I said, "You tell her." He said, "Here's the minister, you talk to him." And I said, "Sir?" He said, "Well," said...
- I said, "Is she any relation to the Florence Nightingale, that the--the nurse?" And she said, "She--she is Florence Nightingale, a nurse." And said, "But she's not the founder of the Red Cross." Of course, she's been dead for, I guess, fifty years or more, maybe a hundred. And, no, I--I think she died about 1908, or 09, or somewhere along there. So this is some of her relations." And I said, "How long you think she'll last?" He said, "She'll probably be dead if we went to the ambulance right now." Said, "She dying." Said, "They... She's come in from South Africa." And said, "Sir, she ain't nothing but just a--just a pile of bones." Well, I said, "We're going to stay, I believe, they said at the the Picadilly Hotel."
- ...And so when we went on to Picadilly Hotel, the minister came and got me that next morning, and we went to his parish right behind his church where they had Mrs. Nightingale with two nurses attending her. And friends, I've seen lots of sights. I've seen people when their face would be eat with cancer, till it'd be down here in their neck. They'd have to put a little trough here to pour their liquid in their throat here with just the teeth, and the bones eaten--the meat eaten from it. And sights in India, I've seen lepers lay till there was not even enough for them to raise their hands and stubs of ears, and no nose, and just turned out white like a white wart turned inside out. Little children and everything, eat up with leprosy, laying, piled on top of each other... Seen little children laying starving by the hundreds of them, through the streets, and their little bellies swelled out from starvation, a poor mother laying by them begging for one penny to help that person. That's the reason I can't... If it'd be... If I could beg, I could beg for them. I--I don't want nothing when I know human beings, that Christ died for, is suffering like that. And there's hundreds and hundreds of them tonight, everywhere around the world. And there they are in that condition.
- But when I seen Florence Nightingale, she was laying there with a sheet over her. And she could hardly move her lips, her--her flesh had all left from her cheeks. Her jaws were sunken in, and her forehead here, you--it just looked like a--a dead skeleton laying there, and the skin had dried up. That cancer had eaten her in that condition, just taken her blood from her. And she kept trying to say something. I couldn't understand it, and the nurse got down. And she said, "I want to shake his hand."
- And so the nurse had to raise up them bones and put them in my hand. Why, it's just like taking a hold of a skeleton. Her arms are probably couple of inches around in here, and her... They put... She wanted me to see her body. And they raised up that sheet, it would break the heart of anyone, even the ring in the hip was sticking like that. It was about that much in being together through here. And her legs was all blue, and I asked what that--that was. Her legs was probably up here near her hip, about that big around. And I said... Well, here it is in the picture where they taken it. See? And you can see what she was then after about six weeks later. See? And so I--I looked, and he said, "They fed her glucose until her veins collapsed." And so then, oh, I said, "My, you are a Christian?" And she let me know, "Yes." And she...
- They got down again, the nurse, to see what she was going to say, and she said, "Have Brother Branham to ask the Lord to let me die." See? She--she just hung on till there was nothing to hang on for any more, no--nothing to build to. Said, "Ask Brother Branham to ask the Lord to let me die." I couldn't do that. She looked like she was a fairly young woman. So I said, "Let us pray." And if anybody's ever been in London, you know, it's one of the most foggy places in the world when it get foggy. You have to feeled your way around almost. It was real foggy that morning. That's why William Cowper could not commit suicide; he couldn't find the--the ocean when he wrote that famous song, "There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood." He couldn't find the--the place to jump in. The--the cab couldn't get to the--let--ocean for him to commit suicide, drown himself.
- And--and as I knelt down to pray, the first thing I started off prayer like this, I said, "Almighty God, Creator of heavens and earth, Author of Everlasting Life, Giver of all good gifts..." And when I got through with that, there's a little dove flew from somewhere, and set on the sill of that window. And it was just about that far from my head. And the little fellow was restlessly walking back and forth going, "Coo, coo." You know how they go. Well, I thought it was a pet at the house. I just thought it was a little pet dove.
- I'd just been in England about twenty-four hours, or hardly that long; and I thought it was a little pet dove. So I just kept on praying; I said, "Heavenly Father, I--this poor woman laying here a dying, and she's asked to me to--to pray that You would take her life because she's beyond herself like, and she's nothing to build to. But God, You are still Creator; You--You are still God."
- And this little dove seemed to be so restlessly. And the rest of the ministers who was praying with me, seemed to stop. And then, as I kept on praying, when I said, "Father, I pray that You'll be merciful to her, and if You are going take her life and not let her live, then let her go in ease. Let her go to be with You now. But if it be Your will that You're going to let her get well, then Father, let her get well." and when I got through praying, I said, "Amen," and the little dove took off through the fog again.
- Well, I--as soon as I stopped praying, the ministers by me, he looked over to another minister, he said, "Did you notice that dove?" I said, "What was that dove? Is that a pet?" Said, "No. It wasn't a pet," the minister said, "it was just a dove that acted funny."
- And I started to turn to say to Mrs. Nightingale, I started to say, "Well, I thought it was your pet." And when it did like that, something said, "THUS SAITH THE LORD." Oh, my, there over almost her casket where she was laying, there was a vision of her walking along down the street. This is a picture of it right here, how she was a little later. That's what I saw in the vision. Then it come, "THUS SAITH THE LORD, you're going to live and not die."
- And when I said that, I thought, "Them things are so supernatural; I don't understand them. I don't know what they mean." And I walked out; I believe it was Brother Baxter said to me, said, "How could she live?" Said, "God will have to create a new woman." I said, "Well, He's able to do exceedingly abundantly above all." And six months from then, after two letters before that, here come the picture, perfectly, normally, healthy, can't find a trace of cancer, and she's back nursing, and been nursing for a long time.
August 5, 1960, Sermon: Lamb and Dove
- Oh yes, the dove is a sweet bird. I've had a lot of dealing with them. One time, when I went to pray for Florence Nightingale, her great grandmother founded the Red Cross, and you got her picture here in the book, called "Prophet Visits Africa," by Julius Stadsklev.
- And when I went into London, the plane stopped and I heard them paging me in the... They had all the escort out there, and someone said, "There's a lady dying over here." And a plane's just been brought in from South Africa. Well, I--I couldn't go over there, I couldn't get through the crowd. And I had someone to go over, and say we would take her to some other place as soon as I'd went and done my duties for being there, pray--to pray for the king and so forth. I'd come back to the Piccadilly Hotel, and then they could meet me there. And when I went to the room, to this woman, she had wrote me a letter, Mrs. Florence Nightingale, and wanted me to come pray for her. I couldn't do it. She only weighed about sixty pounds
- And if you'll notice the picture, we had to put something across it this way to get the picture. Brother Lindsay did that, because it was a small string of a clout over her. Her limbs were just about that big around, up around the hip. The veins had collapsed. How the woman was living, I do not know. I went into the room, and she was in a parish just behind the church. And she'd had two nurses, and I said, "Are you Mrs. Nightingale?" And I looked and her jaws had sunk in, her cheek bones out, and that kind of like the square part of the skull, where it laces together was showing. No flesh at all.
- And she started to cry, and I wondered where there could even be enough moisture that she could cry. She took glucose and all of her bowels was wound up with cancer in her stomach. How the woman was living, I don't know. I couldn't understand a thing; she was moving her lips, and the nurse got down to see what she said. And she said, "Have Brother Branham to pray to God to let me die."
- Oh, I tried to get a hold of her hand, and the nurse picked up her arm, and laid that dead form of bones and sinew in my hands, cold as it could be, and the knuckles and joints just holding together. What a feeling of a human being laying like that.
- I could not pray for her to die, when I was there praying for sick to get well. So I asked the minister, there was seven or eight in the room, and I said, "Let us kneel down."
- And in England, if anyone's ever been there, when the fog comes in, you just can't see nothing. That was a very foggy day. The cab had to go just right along as easy as he could to get through the fog. And there had been a great wave of it come in; we were near the coast, and it was so foggy I could just see there was a tree standing by the window. When I knelt down by the side the window, the sill was about that far up, even with my face, and I started to pray. And as I started to pray, "Almighty God, the Author of Everlasting Life, the Giver of all good gifts. Send upon this poor, dying creature, here, Thy blessing." Just as I started to pray, a little dove flew in from somewhere, set down on this sill, begin walking back and forth, cooing, just about one foot from where my face was, praying. And I thought it was a pet there at the house, I'd just been in England about four or five hours, and I thought, maybe, it's just a pet at the house. It walked to and fro, up-and-down this little sill. And then when I finally prayed and said, "Amen," raised up, the little dove flew away. And I was going to say, "Was that a pet dove?" And the ministers was talking about what was that dove doing there. Well, I said, "Is it a pet dove?"
- They said, "No. They'd never seen it before."
- And I turned around to look at the woman, there standing before me, stood a strong and healthy woman. I said, "THUS SAITH THE LORD, you'll live and not die." Turn the next page in the book, and look at her a year later. She's nursing now in England, strong, healthy. God in the form of a dove setting at the window, sent His messenger.
- The Voice of Healing Magazine, November 1954, Vol. 7, No. 8, pg 6