A PRIEST needed hospital treatment for burns after rescuing a server whose robe was set alight by an altar candle during a Christmas-morning eucharist.
The Vicar of All Saints’, Caldecote, near Bedford, the Revd Frank Coleman, was about to administer communion when he saw flames on the shoulder of the woman server.
He said: “We were standing at the high altar, and I was just saying ‘Draw near with faith’, when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, that the server had stood too near to one of the candles, and her right shoulder was on fire. The scary thing was that the flames were about an inch from her hair.
”She was only about two or three feet away from me, and I just went over and put the flames out with my hand; there really wasn’t time to do anything else. She didn’t realise what had happened. She couldn’t work out why I had been tapping her on the shoulder. Her cassock and surplice were ruined, but, most importantly, she was totally unharmed.”
Despite a painful hand, Mr Coleman prepared to continue the service, but a nurse in the congregation filled a flower bucket with cold water, and ordered him to keep his injured hand in it for ten minutes while his Assistant Curate, the Revd Janet Humphries, took over.
The nurse told him to get his hand examined at A&E.
”I didn’t want to go, but she insisted,” Mr Coleman said. “At hospital, they told me that the swift action by the nurse had saved me from further complications. I had burns over about 30 per cent of my hand; but there is no long-term damage, and I was soon back to normal duties.
”I wasn’t terribly brave: it was just a spontaneous reaction.”