Gregory the Illuminator vs. Brendan the Navigator

And thus it all begins: Ash Thursday is finally upon us. Hang onto your halos as we start “navigating” the bracket and “illuminating” the lives of 32 saints throughout this Lenten season. All are worthy (yes, they have already received their respective crowns of glory) yet only one will attain the coveted Golden Halo.

Along the way there will be debates, ire, angst, rejoicing, and holy trash talking. Just remember, it’s all in the spirit of this season specifically set aside to grow closer to God through our relationship with Jesus Christ. On behalf of the entire Lent Madness team, we’re delighted you’ve decided to spend some of this holy season with us.

If this is your first year playing Lent Madness, welcome! You’re in for a fun, informative, engaging, occasionally wild, ride. (Looking for a how-to-vote primer? Click here). If you’re back for more heart-stopping saintly thrills, it’s good to see you!

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stgregGregory the Illuminator

Gregory the Illuminator, the patron saint of the Armenian Christian Church, was the first person to bring Christianity to Armenia. Born in 257, Gregory’s work as a teacher and missionary was key in making Armenia the first nation to embrace Christianity as its official religion. Situated between the empires of Rome and Parthia (present-day Iran), Armenia was at the center of a power struggle between the two nations and struggled to maintain peaceful relations within and outside its borders.

Legend says that Gregory’s father assassinated the king of Parthia, and as a result, his family was forced into hiding. Gregory’s family sent the young boy to Cappadocia, where the Christian Holy Father Phirmilianos provided instruction in the classical traditions and Christian faith. While under his tutelage, Gregory converted to Christianity, and soon after, he married Miriam, a fellow Christian and the daughter of an Armenian prince. They had two sons together before separating so that Gregory could become a monk, and his wife could become a nun. This may be one of the earliest examples we have of “consciously uncoupling.”

Gregory’s call to monasticism, however, was challenged when the Armenian king discovered Gregory’s location and sought to exact revenge on behalf of his murdered father. Gregory spent twelve years in prison, where he remained committed to his faith and devotional life. The king, Tridates III, finally agreed to release Gregory with the expectation that he could provide peace, wisdom, and stability to the king, who some said had become “like a wild boar” after the Roman Empire had overtaken portions of the Parthian Empire. Tridates eventually converted to Christianity under Gregory’s tutelage, and in 301, Tridates declared Christianity the nation’s official religion and commissioned Gregory to officially spread the gospel across the country.

Despite his call as a missionary and later bishop of the Armenian National Church, Gregory favored the silence of the monastic life. In 318 his son assumed leadership of the Church, and Gregory resumed his life as a hermit until his death in 332 at the age of seventy-four.

Today, we remember Gregory as an “apostle to Armenia” and a faithful example of prayer, devotion, and leadership. He is referred to as the “illuminator” because he brought the light of Christ to the people of Armenia. 

Collect for Gregory the Illuminator

Almighty God, whose will it is to be glorified in your saints, and who raised up your servant Gregory the Illuminator to be a light in the world, and to preach the Gospel to the people of Armenia: Shine, we pray, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may show forth your praise, who called us out of darkness into your marvelous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Maria Kane

St BrendanBrendan the Navigator 

Brendan of Kerry, the Navigator, lived and ministered in Ireland in the sixth century. A disciple of Saint Finian, Brendan is one of the twelve apostles of Ireland. Brendan was born in 484 and lived a long life full of adventure. He earned his title of “Navigator” traversing the British Isles, founding monasteries in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany. After a sixty-five-year ministry, he died at age ninety-four, still praising Jesus and bragging about never stopping to ask for directions.

Saint Brendan is best known for his fabulous sea quest in which he sought the Land of Promise. When he was eighty years old, Brendan’s wanderlust led him to seek the legendary land across the Atlantic Ocean. The story of his journey is found in several ancient works, including the Irish Life of St. Brendan, Latin Fragments of the Life of St. Brendan, and The Voyage of St. Brendan. The works share many literary connections to other Irish sea voyage tales.

The tales are fantastic, with visions of hell, spectacular sea creatures, and encounters with odd island inhabitants (perhaps the oddest being a meeting with Judas Iscariot, condemned to a rock in the middle of the Atlantic). Brendan’s journeys and the description of the mythical Island of Promise (also called Saint Brendan’s Isle) were known by and an inspiration to Christopher Columbus on his voyage across the ocean some nine hundred years later.

Some argue that Brendan actually did successfully traverse the Atlantic Ocean. The geographical descriptions found in the Voyage match features of Iceland, Newfoundland, and Florida. If Brendan did not make the trip himself, it appears that someone in the sixth century had intimate knowledge of the land, flora, and fauna of these areas. Whatever the historicity of his adventures, Saint Brendan lived a long life in service to God, committed to building communities of faith.

Collect for Brendan the Navigator 

O God, you have brought us near to an innumerable company of angels, and to the spirits of just people made perfect: Grant us during our earthly pilgrimage to abide in their fellowship, and in our heavenly country to become partakers of their joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

David Creech


Gregory the Illuminator vs. Brendan the Navigator

  • Brendan the Navigator (61%, 4,777 Votes)
  • Gregory the Illuminator (39%, 3,021 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,798

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247 Comments to "Gregory the Illuminator vs. Brendan the Navigator"

  1. Peggy's Gravatar Peggy
    February 19, 2015 - 8:05 am | Permalink

    Let the Madness begin!!!!

    • Patrice's Gravatar Patrice
      February 19, 2015 - 9:19 am | Permalink

      As a Navy family I was all set to vote for St. Brendan, but upon closer inspection I’ve decided a man who brought peace to the Middle East and spent 15 years in a pit of dead bodies unscathed in his faith, sounds exactly like a saint for today.

      • Kim's Gravatar Kim
        February 19, 2015 - 9:53 am | Permalink

        Having studied the mysteries of Celtic Christianity, I was set to vote on St. Brendan, too. But, like you, I was persuaded that through his suffering and perseverance St. Gregory is the one for me!

      • February 19, 2015 - 10:11 am | Permalink

        True, but an old guy going on an adventure at the age of 81 is an inspiration! I love the seas and come from a Navy family

      • Jane C's Gravatar Jane C
        February 19, 2015 - 10:43 am | Permalink

        Attention, SEC. Illumination, please. There is some discrepancy concerning Gregory’s imprisonment. Celebrity Blogger Maria states that it was 12 years while Patrice says it was 15. The former implies that his cellmates were no worse than the usual, i.e. rats.The latter states that they were dead people. Quite a difference. To confuse things, Wikipedia tells us that Gregory was imprisoned for 14 years with no mention of either rats or dead bodies. To boot, refuses to address this issue. Is there an official resource for fact checking?

        • Lynda C's Gravatar Lynda C
          February 19, 2015 - 5:16 pm | Permalink

          Jane C, it was very thoughtful of you to do your own research on the topic. As with all histories, some discrepencies do appear, so may I be so bold as to suggest that he was in prison somewhere between 12 and 15 years in the company of rats and dead bodies. (I take it that most prisons of that date had both companions) and finally, just to throw in more ambiguity, the New Advent says he had serpents as companions too.

      • Laura's Gravatar Laura
        February 19, 2015 - 5:58 pm | Permalink

        As a Navy mom I voted for Brendan- but your reasoning is excellent! Bless them both!

      • Deb Narvaiz's Gravatar Deb Narvaiz
        February 20, 2015 - 1:13 am | Permalink

        Ever spent time in a coracle? Seemed that wsd torture enough for Brendan. I presume he did not suffer from motion sicknrss!

    • Clyde Wary's Gravatar Clyde Wary
      February 20, 2015 - 2:17 am | Permalink

      I just finished voting for St. Brendan. For me, it was a no-brainer: not because I have any ill feelings against Gregory (I really don’t know much about him!), but because I’ve been a fan of St. Brendan for decades! I even have a theory about him which I’ll outline here. We all know that Christopher Columbus approached various European monarchs with his plan to get to India by sailing west. They all turned him down, except for Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. Why? It wasn’t because they figured he’d fall off the edge of a flat earth! Maybe the common peasants believed the earth to be flat, but educated people did not. Eratosthenes had determined the circumfrence of the earth around 200 B.C, and educated people in the Middle Ages studied classical Greek literature. No, they knew, but Columbus did not, how BIG the earth was, and that no fleet of ships could carry sufficient supplies to make the trip. Enter St. Brendan. The evidence indicates that he probably journeyed to the New World. He kept a log, and as a monk, certainly turned it over to his superiors at the Vatican. Spain was the most devoutly Catholic country in Europe, and I think to reward that, the Vatican let the Spanish monarchs in on the little “secret” about North America.

  2. Anthony L. Grilli's Gravatar Anthony L. Grilli
    February 19, 2015 - 8:06 am | Permalink

    Church of the Atonement, Fair Lawn, N.J.

  3. Johnny's Gravatar Johnny
    February 19, 2015 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    Brendan for me!

    • pHil's Gravatar pHil
      February 19, 2015 - 12:12 pm | Permalink

      I want to know:
      What did he learn from Judas Iscariot?
      Did he offer forgiveness and a ride?
      Was Brendan so crazy that Judas preferred the solitude of his rock?

  4. Gil Wilson's Gravatar Gil Wilson
    February 19, 2015 - 8:11 am | Permalink

    If they’re Irish, they have my vote.

    • Linda & Tom's Gravatar Linda & Tom
      February 19, 2015 - 10:46 am | Permalink

      Aren’t you being rather one-sided?

  5. Judy Hoover's Gravatar Judy Hoover
    February 19, 2015 - 8:11 am | Permalink

    I cannot resist Brendan for these reasons. I am a sailor myself and understand the perils of the sea. I think he was mighty brave. Second my grandson was named Brendan and he is a true adventurer. Quite an active boy who has tried to learn more about Brendan when All Saints Day rolls around. Go Brendan.

    • Russ Johnson's Gravatar Russ Johnson
      February 20, 2015 - 12:32 pm | Permalink

      I’m sorry, but I’m not Irish enough to vote for Brendan. Gregory was best for me!
      Sorry, to0 much Norwegian/Swedish!

  6. February 19, 2015 - 8:12 am | Permalink

    Any man who laughs in his final days because he never had to ask for directions earns many man points in my book.

    +1 Brendan.

    • February 19, 2015 - 10:14 am | Permalink

      I voted for him because I think it’s great that at the age of 80 something he decided on an adventure, but I almost didn’t vote for him because I don’t want to reward male stubbornness at not asking for directions!

      • Ann B's Gravatar Ann B
        February 19, 2015 - 9:50 pm | Permalink

        Poor Brendan is being maligned!! It’s not that he is stubborn and refused to ask directions, he put total faith in God to take him where God wanted him to go. My most favorite saint for the past 17 years, my vote definitely goes to Brendan the Navigator. That and I do come from a family of sea goers.

    • Cathy Eckbreth's Gravatar Cathy Eckbreth
      February 19, 2015 - 10:39 am | Permalink

      I agree completely with Nathaniel. Brendan started the tradition of males refusing to ask questions which carries on into the 21 Century. He deserves my vote.

    • Vonelle Kostelny-Vogts's Gravatar Vonelle Kostelny-Vogts
      February 19, 2015 - 4:55 pm | Permalink

      Directions? Who needs directions when you have a cool ride? I don’t know a lot about boats but it had to be a very modern boat for its time since there are no sails or oars in the picture.

  7. February 19, 2015 - 8:14 am | Permalink

    I think it’s “had taken over” rather than “had overtaken”. The verb “to overtake” has a specific meaning. And English doesn’t work quite like German.

    A great opening face-off. My policy is to vote for the crazy, and it’s an easy choice for Brendan.

    • lysbeth Andrews's Gravatar lysbeth Andrews
      February 19, 2015 - 10:14 am | Permalink


  8. Daniel's Gravatar Daniel
    February 19, 2015 - 8:15 am | Permalink

    Brendan The Navigator!

  9. Donna's Gravatar Donna
    February 19, 2015 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    Not an Armenian, but it’s the Illuminator for me!

  10. February 19, 2015 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    A tough choice for me. I have traveled to Armenia twice and once climbed down into the “dungeon” where Gregory was imprisoned. Also, I love the Armenian Apostolic Church! But, I believe Brendan is more a “saint for our time,” a Celtic adventurer who was not afraid to launch out into the deep.

  11. Barbara Crafton's Gravatar Barbara Crafton
    February 19, 2015 - 8:17 am | Permalink

    I remember that Bro. Jon Bankert SSF did a wonderful performance piece about Brendan in our beautiful chapel at the Seamen’s Church Institute in New York, barefoot and in his Franciscan habit. It included dance, masks. Jon died eight or ten years ago, I guess. What an amazing gift he was.

  12. February 19, 2015 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    In honor of the Coasties, and all watermen and women, my vote is for Brendan!

  13. Carol Kangas's Gravatar Carol Kangas
    February 19, 2015 - 8:23 am | Permalink

    In memory of Brendon, the son of my oldest friend, who drowned after an accident on a bridge. His body was found after his mother prayed to St. Brendan.

  14. Grace's Gravatar Grace
    February 19, 2015 - 8:26 am | Permalink

    All things Celtic here! Only one minor hesitation here. We read that Brendan never “had to ask” for directions. Are we sure that it was because he didn’t NEED them or because he didn’t want to ASK for them?

    • February 19, 2015 - 10:16 am | Permalink

      Agreed! No rewarding of stubbornness in not asking for directions! But still voted for him because he dared an adventure as an old guy.

      • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
        February 19, 2015 - 10:48 am | Permalink

        I saw a great greeting card for Passover: On the front a cartoon of Moses standing before the Children of Israel, waving his arms and yelling “Follow me ! Follow me!” The caption reads “After forty years of wandering in the wilderness, Moses’s wife finally asks for directions.”

  15. February 19, 2015 - 8:26 am | Permalink

    Ooh rah! The Madness is on and we’re getting shirts! He’s Irish and never asked for directions…it’s Brendan for me.

  16. Joyce's Gravatar Joyce
    February 19, 2015 - 8:30 am | Permalink

    Brendan- I love a guy who admits he didn’t ask for directions – that is the humanity which rings true in this bio. I also love that he would have preceded Ponce De Leon into FL

  17. Dirk Reinken's Gravatar Dirk Reinken
    February 19, 2015 - 8:31 am | Permalink

    Coming from Viking ancestry, my vote is for Brendan who managed to set forth into the unknown for the cause of Christ rather than raping and pillaging!

    • Elizabeth Conklin's Gravatar Elizabeth Conklin
      February 19, 2015 - 11:40 pm | Permalink

      As a descendant of Vikings, you must appreciate the probability that it was Brendan who first settled Iceland. Recorded settlement of Iceland has conventionally been dated back to 874 CE, but archaeological evidence indicates Gaelic monks had settled Iceland previously. Who else could it have been?

  18. Mags's Gravatar Mags
    February 19, 2015 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    Poor Gregory, Brendan has the advantage of an Irish and Irish Diaspora Block vote. It makes up for the Eastern Block all voting for each other in the Eurovision song contest LOL

    • Katharine Wiley's Gravatar Katharine Wiley
      February 19, 2015 - 8:43 am | Permalink

      And suddenly I am envisioning a cross-over of Eurovision and Lent Madness — thank you for waking me up more thoroughly than caffeine!

    • Nancy Ashley's Gravatar Nancy Ashley
      February 19, 2015 - 10:44 am | Permalink

      When the Irish option is Jedward, I’m for the Eastern bloc nations too! Now Riverdance or Linda Martin are another story. Brendan is a personal favorite of mine, no question who to vote for today.

    • pHil's Gravatar pHil
      February 19, 2015 - 12:22 pm | Permalink

      Not just the Irish block. Doesn’t the final landing of his voyage make him the patron saint of all those retirees in the Sunshine State?

  19. Linda Hollis's Gravatar Linda Hollis
    February 19, 2015 - 8:36 am | Permalink

    From Bermuda – the possible rock in the middle of the Atlantic where Brendan landed. Our metal health facility is St. Brendan’s Hospital. My husband, Tony, hates to ask for directions – must be in the genes! Had to vote for St. Brendan!

  20. February 19, 2015 - 8:36 am | Permalink

    Gregory transform s lives of people through his love.. He understands what it is to be in fear, in prison , He gave up the trappings of a higher calling . He was happy to live in silence & let go of the responsibility of the leadership of the Church. If only we could recognize what God wants us to do in our own lives & not fight & resist the calling of our ministry. I vote for Gregory the Illuminator , he shines & is on fire for Christainty

    • Scott's Gravatar Scott
      February 19, 2015 - 1:30 pm | Permalink

      Amen to that, It’s Gregory for me even though I’m from Irish ancestry

  21. Hilda's Gravatar Hilda
    February 19, 2015 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    It’s Gregory for me. My daughter-in-law is Armenian but that is not the reason for my vote. Anyone who after being imprisoned by the king not only converts the king but then inspires him to make Christianity the official religion of the land (and the first, at that) must have been quite an apostle. He gets my vote.

  22. Joy's Gravatar Joy
    February 19, 2015 - 8:39 am | Permalink

    Brendan – still enjoying wanderlust at 80 and confident that his journeys were about rejoicing in God always.

  23. Tom Van Brunt's Gravatar Tom Van Brunt
    February 19, 2015 - 8:39 am | Permalink

    I voted for Gregory to piss of the Turks.

  24. Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
    February 19, 2015 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    Brendon sounds like a saint I hope to meet in the great by and by! Gregory, not so much–too intense!

  25. Deb's Gravatar Deb
    February 19, 2015 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    Gregory for me. His faith and persistence converted a nation. Brendan may have traveled to Iceland, or he may just have hallucinated about seeing Judas Iscariot tied to a rock. Gregory’s work was more important to the church.

  26. February 19, 2015 - 8:41 am | Permalink

    Brendan helped bring the Christian faith to my ancestors and thus (through a number of generations) eventually to me. He has my vote and thanks.

  27. February 19, 2015 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    Go, Brendan….I love the possibility you might have sailed to Daytona long before the Daytona 500, Bike Week and Spring Break. But why didn’t you chase away the snakes?

  28. Susan McCulloch's Gravatar Susan McCulloch
    February 19, 2015 - 8:44 am | Permalink

    You’ve gotta love a guy who bragged about never having stopped to ask directions.

  29. Fiona Haworth's Gravatar Fiona Haworth
    February 19, 2015 - 8:44 am | Permalink

    Really tough opening choice. It’s so good to be back 🙂 How to decide between a man drawn to inner silence and a man drawn to the wildness of the open seas and the margins of our native islands … Both speak to me, but Gregory seems to be the under dog judging from comments above so he gets my vote today. Besides Gregory the Illuminator is such a cool name.

  30. Solange De Santis's Gravatar Solange De Santis
    February 19, 2015 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    Our church rehearses in an Armenian church dedicated to Gregory. Good enough for me. Without the Illuminator, how would we see?

    • Solange De Santis's Gravatar Solange De Santis
      February 19, 2015 - 9:30 am | Permalink

      I meant our orchestra! Need more coffee.

  31. gillian butler's Gravatar gillian butler
    February 19, 2015 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    This year, I have a little more riding on the whole thing, as our parish is participating. I anted up $5, completed a bracket and turned it in. One of my son’s best friends growing up was Brendan…and in my youth, I had a sailboat with my sister and her boyfriend and ventured into the deep. Go Brendan!

  32. Katharine Wiley's Gravatar Katharine Wiley
    February 19, 2015 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    Argh! An illuminator vs a sailor — how can I ever choose?! Curse you, SEC, and your evil brilliance! 🙂

    • Diane's Gravatar Diane
      February 19, 2015 - 10:41 am | Permalink

      Actually, if rumor is true, blame the ferrets…. 🙂

  33. Diane's Gravatar Diane
    February 19, 2015 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    My sponsored child from World Vision lives in Armenia, need I say more?
    Go Gregory, go!

  34. Tom the Less's Gravatar Tom the Less
    February 19, 2015 - 8:47 am | Permalink

    But have you ever been to Armenia? That area takes some serious navigation too. Gregory it is

  35. Kathy Hartley's Gravatar Kathy Hartley
    February 19, 2015 - 8:48 am | Permalink

    Never knew I could be so happy at the arrival of Lent again. I am spreading the Lent Madness practice as much as I can. I almost voted for Brendan because he is Irish like me, but I finally decided that Gregory was a better example for me of how to live a faithful life.

  36. Laura's Gravatar Laura
    February 19, 2015 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    Like those above, my heritage and my respect for someone who spent that much time at sea leads me to vote for Brendan. I love an adventurous man!

  37. Ralegh's Gravatar Ralegh
    February 19, 2015 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    I admire a man who after doing his job of converting a country to Christianity hands off his mitre to his son and returns to private communion with his God. Illuminate me, Gregory!

  38. Lisa R.'s Gravatar Lisa R.
    February 19, 2015 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    I don’t think I saw where a single man voted for Gregory. Is it because he gave up sex? A curious choice, I agree. But what is it about never asking for directions that makes Brendan so appealing?? I was all about the Irish, but Gregory seemed more saintly to me.

    • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
      February 19, 2015 - 10:10 am | Permalink

      Men have been voting for Gregory. I think I saw five pro Gregory comments from men. Counting myself, that makes six. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’m sure the Illuminator has more male partisans who just aren’t commenting.

  39. Judye Nazareth's Gravatar Judye Nazareth
    February 19, 2015 - 8:53 am | Permalink

    Brendan for me! I married into a family of sailors and love the ocean.

  40. Nancy Gossling's Gravatar Nancy Gossling
    February 19, 2015 - 8:56 am | Permalink

    I’m just back from Dublin where I was reminded by colleagues and friends about the “risk” of asking for directions in Ireland. You’ll definitely get an answer, and it may take you on another journey. Brendan the Navigator is the saint for me.

  41. Vicki Wadlow's Gravatar Vicki Wadlow
    February 19, 2015 - 8:56 am | Permalink

    Definitely Brendan. He reminds me of my husband who will never ask for directions and won’t follow the two GPS devices at hand; only a Rand McNally will do. Also at 65, I love the thought of more adventures after 80. And my husband is a saint for putting up with me.

  42. Darren S.'s Gravatar Darren S.
    February 19, 2015 - 8:56 am | Permalink

    Illuminator for me – tough call. Though I long to wander the world seeking and spreading the Word, adventuring beyond known lands, the work of Gregory impressed me more. King’s conversion, from a prisoner? Powerful ministry, G – team Gregory today!

  43. February 19, 2015 - 8:56 am | Permalink

    Gregory. Let’s face it. The guy did it all!

  44. Karen Pearson's Gravatar Karen Pearson
    February 19, 2015 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    Irish and a brave seafarer?–Brendan it is!

  45. Kristin Wickersham's Gravatar Kristin Wickersham
    February 19, 2015 - 8:59 am | Permalink

    Brendan, for sure. “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.”

  46. Lithophyte's Gravatar Lithophyte
    February 19, 2015 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    Had to support Brendan here, our cat is named for the Saint. Also working in marine science, more connectivity to this water guy. A great start for a new Lent journey. Peace, joy, and keep your stick on the ice.

  47. February 19, 2015 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    This year our Diocese is remembering the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. So, I am learning more about the history of this country. Christians were one of the targeted groups during this horrible period. So, while Brendan sounds like a hero, I voted for Gregory who nurtured the faith that sustained so many during the genocide.

  48. February 19, 2015 - 9:05 am | Permalink

    Never asked for directions and a sailor as well, there is no choice; Brendan.

  49. Phil Matthews's Gravatar Phil Matthews
    February 19, 2015 - 9:06 am | Permalink

    If he was transvering the Atlantic before Columbus, who could Brendan have asked for directions since he essentially pioneered the sea before anyone else?. One of my favorite saints since his journeys inspired people to explore the Devine in the natural world by travel. And when you explore the Devine in the world don’t you follow your heart and should to where it takes you? Brendan inspires us to go out and seek a higher spirit and not to just sit in your room. Go out and learn and experience.

  50. Kate Cabot's Gravatar Kate Cabot
    February 19, 2015 - 9:08 am | Permalink

    We hail from Boston and we’re all for Brendan!

  51. Linda's Gravatar Linda
    February 19, 2015 - 9:08 am | Permalink

    Brendan was Irish and a boater. Since I am a boater and my granddaughter is an Irish Dancer, I must give him my vote!

  52. Sam Persons Parkes's Gravatar Sam Persons Parkes
    February 19, 2015 - 9:09 am | Permalink

    Brendan! Cuz FLORIDA!

  53. Glenis Elliott's Gravatar Glenis Elliott
    February 19, 2015 - 9:09 am | Permalink

    I have been waiting all year for Lent Madness to return. I love all the comments and as always, difficult choices to vote on. Looking forward to another eventful Lent Madness. This year I have encouraged the parishioners at Grace Episcopal Church in Bath, ME to participate and many have signed on.

  54. Ann Neff's Gravatar Ann Neff
    February 19, 2015 - 9:09 am | Permalink

    I once wondered what the prophets would say if they spoke today. The surprising answer was “Lighten Up!”. So I will vote for the Illuminator. And thank God for all the enlightenment brought to us by Lent Madness!

  55. Marj Lewis's Gravatar Marj Lewis
    February 19, 2015 - 9:12 am | Permalink

    Did Brendan have the gift of a GPS in his head? Sounds like it to me. As a Christian woman with many frustrating years experience with a spouse with a GPS in his head and to be contrary I have to vote for Greg with his unfortunate call to celibacy.

  56. TJ's Gravatar TJ
    February 19, 2015 - 9:13 am | Permalink

    Brendan is compelling but my vote is for Gregory. He seems to have been a natural introvert who nonetheless rose to the occasion when called to leadership and still never became drunk on celebrity. His priorities intact through it all, he chose a quiet life of prayer over riches, power, and glory. These reluctant leaders are often the most thoughtful and least corrupt. Society values such people too little!

  57. Tyler's Gravatar Tyler
    February 19, 2015 - 9:13 am | Permalink

    Armenia hold such a unique position in Christian history, and I feel like its conversion story is one that is not well known here in the U.S., well at least in my low-church protestant upbringing. For that, Gregory gets my vote. Continue to shine on, Gregory!

  58. Betsey's Gravatar Betsey
    February 19, 2015 - 9:14 am | Permalink

    A vote for Gregory! I’m impressed with his part in “making Armenia the first nation to embrace Christianity as its official religion.” The mention of Armenia rings some memory bell about an atrocity committed there. Yes, many were killed, so jointly in their honor Gregory gets my first vote for 2015 Lent Madness (search Armenian genocide for links, ex: )

  59. Kelsey's Gravatar Kelsey
    February 19, 2015 - 9:14 am | Permalink

    Brendan all the way!!

  60. mary rose's Gravatar mary rose
    February 19, 2015 - 9:14 am | Permalink

    I’m for Gregory. Always love the idea of a light in the darkness, and he seemed to have many more challenges to his faith than Brendan.

    • Patty's Gravatar Patty
      February 19, 2015 - 8:05 pm | Permalink

      Amen! Light in the darkness speaks to me as well. Another vote for Gregory the Illuminator.

  61. Abbie Bishop's Gravatar Abbie Bishop
    February 19, 2015 - 9:15 am | Permalink

    Had to vote for Brendan, my grandson is named after him! Hard choice though, we have a son named Gregory 🙂

  62. Jen E. Ochsner's Gravatar Jen E. Ochsner
    February 19, 2015 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    Gregory got my vote in the end……..he had the hardest task…….converting a king and finally a nation to Christ. Also, he married, had two sons, one who carried on his work. Brendan is “hail fellow, well met”, Gregory was a quiet person who got the job done!

  63. Patsy's Gravatar Patsy
    February 19, 2015 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    In honor of my older son, a former Coastie, and my Irish Fant ancestry, I vote for Brendan. May he navigate through the brackets.

  64. Kelly Pulsifer's Gravatar Kelly Pulsifer
    February 19, 2015 - 9:17 am | Permalink

    As a retired professional mariner, I must vote for The Navigator. It would take courage to cross the Bay of Dingle in a Curragh, let alone the N Atlantic and the Strait of Iceland. God must have had a hand on the tiller. Still, The Illuminator is no slouch. I see a come back in the fourth quarter and a close finish.

  65. Vicki Garvey's Gravatar Vicki Garvey
    February 19, 2015 - 9:18 am | Permalink

    Ah, if only the Celts had prevailed at Whitby. And my dear departed paternal side would not be pleased if I’d voted for a brave fellow from Armenia, no matter how illumined, rather than a son of the Sod. Brendan it is.

  66. February 19, 2015 - 9:19 am | Permalink

    Had to go with my Irish roots on this one.

  67. Cathy's Gravatar Cathy
    February 19, 2015 - 9:20 am | Permalink

    I vote for Gregory to honor my friend Berj who fled the Armenian Holocaust.

  68. Gloria Rousseau's Gravatar Gloria Rousseau
    February 19, 2015 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    Gregory! Clearly Gregory sought and followed God’s direction in his life. Brendon didn’t ask for directions….maybe if he had asked he would have been directed to get rid of the snakes.

  69. Kathleen Sheehy's Gravatar Kathleen Sheehy
    February 19, 2015 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    Had to be Brendan. For one, I’m Irish. For another, I’ll be traveling in Kerry this summer and I don’t want Brendan bugging me about not voting for him!

  70. DiAnne Walsh's Gravatar DiAnne Walsh
    February 19, 2015 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    This was difficult. I am Assyrian and am close to the Armenians but loved Brendans life of sea.

  71. Barbara Ross's Gravatar Barbara Ross
    February 19, 2015 - 9:24 am | Permalink

    Gregory, because he was freed from prison to help bring peace to the leader of a troubled region. I wish he were alive today!

  72. Harry Alford's Gravatar Harry Alford
    February 19, 2015 - 9:25 am | Permalink

    C’mon! A guy lounging in speedos working on his tan on a luxury liner in a deck chair while sipping his Irish libations…then sniffing and fondling flowers on land…does not exactly sound like a saint worthy of my vote. Puh-leeze people, put down your Brendan Pom Poms and see the light! Vote for Gregory. I did.

  73. Betty Morris's Gravatar Betty Morris
    February 19, 2015 - 9:25 am | Permalink

    Can’t vote for a man who bragged about never asking for directions. Too many of them now. Gregory!

    • February 19, 2015 - 10:20 am | Permalink

      Right on! But, I did vote for him because of his daring adventure at the age age of 81!

  74. Day Smith Pritchartt's Gravatar Day Smith Pritchartt
    February 19, 2015 - 9:29 am | Permalink

    The world around Gregory was a mess, and he proposed Christianity as the alternative way to live and love. Sounds like today. And Brendan sounds just a bit too cray cray for me.

  75. John's Gravatar John
    February 19, 2015 - 9:30 am | Permalink

    OMG! I can only hope that throughout Ash Thursday there will be more followers of Gregory and that our Lent may be inspired by his devotion to silence and monastic practice. That’s an excellent way to begin our Lent!

  76. Mike Essig's Gravatar Mike Essig
    February 19, 2015 - 9:31 am | Permalink

    As a Navy man, I voted for Brendan over Gregory.

    GO NAVI(gator) beat ARME(nia) ! or something like that.

  77. Claudia Horner's Gravatar Claudia Horner
    February 19, 2015 - 9:33 am | Permalink

    I was drawn to Brendan because my father was half Irish and he never asked for directions either, somehow navigating a lot of North American fearlessly. He had an innate sense of geography, but didn’t brag about it. He had a map in his mind of every barbeque stand in every almost forgotten southern town, and could navigate to those fearlessly, a skill I still admire. Is any of this saintly — no clue….

  78. February 19, 2015 - 9:34 am | Permalink

    It’s hard to pit anyone against a ‘first.’ I would normally choose anything Irish over anything else but in the end Gregory got Armenia to a place to be the FIRST entire country to claim Christianity.

  79. Stephen E. Moore's Gravatar Stephen E. Moore
    February 19, 2015 - 9:35 am | Permalink

    The Episcopal observance of Gregory falls on my birthday, thus I have been asking Gregory for his intercessions for many many years.

  80. February 19, 2015 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    As a semi disabled retired 76 year old Priest the Church is in my home as well as everywhere. As a Celt, I have always revered the Celtic understanding of our faith, earthy, yet transcendent. Brendan has always intrigued me. May I in heaven sail with him somewhere within the realm of promise, of faith, hope, and love.

  81. Carol Justice's Gravatar Carol Justice
    February 19, 2015 - 9:41 am | Permalink

    Gregory! Spreading the Light of Christ is much better than never asking for directions. My husband does the latter and it is a real sore spot in our 57 years of marriage!!

  82. Jennifer B-C Seaver's Gravatar Jennifer B-C Seaver
    February 19, 2015 - 9:44 am | Permalink

    Did men ever ask for directions? I cast my vote for Gregory.

    • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
      February 19, 2015 - 10:15 am | Permalink

      I let my wife ask for directions, ’cause I can never understand them!

  83. Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
    February 19, 2015 - 9:45 am | Permalink

    The voyager inward, the voyager outward, and both saints who illuminated paths for many to navigate… Great first match up. Brendan had me at curragh. But I’ll flick my lighter in salute if Gregory wins.

  84. February 19, 2015 - 9:48 am | Permalink

    Ok, I had made my decision for Gregory as I opened the page but CHANGED after reading the descriptions. Thank you Maria and David, celebrity bloggers! Still a tough choice, but it’s Brendan for me today.

  85. Stephen J Waller's Gravatar Stephen J Waller
    February 19, 2015 - 9:49 am | Permalink

    Brendan’s finding Judas on a rock in the Atlantic should give all of us hope. He gets my first vote in Lent Madness

  86. February 19, 2015 - 9:53 am | Permalink

    Even though I was at first leaning toward Gregory the Illuminator because Mannix is Armenian, I decided to vote for Brendan the Navigator because I find the whole “did the Templars (and the Irish monks before them, obviously) discover the New World” genre on the History Channel too compelling. Brendan might also be the patron saint of “crackpottery,” as my Lovely Wife calls it.

  87. Bonnee's Gravatar Bonnee
    February 19, 2015 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    Isn’t ‘never asked for directions’ idea a clever, current comment by today’s presenter?

    • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
      February 19, 2015 - 1:50 pm | Permalink

      That’s what I thought.

  88. Dave M's Gravatar Dave M
    February 19, 2015 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    I was all set to go for Brendan, but then after reading the comments and reflecting on it, out of respect for the depth of his faith, I have to vote for Gregory.
    But still, Brendan was one bad dude.

  89. Carroll Westfall's Gravatar Carroll Westfall
    February 19, 2015 - 9:56 am | Permalink

    Having grown up in Fresno where many of my friends were Armenians I am glad to see this important people and church getting some prominence. For me this was easy, even though now the most prominent rallying cry I hear is Go Irish!

  90. louise Valleau's Gravatar louise Valleau
    February 19, 2015 - 9:56 am | Permalink

    brendan had way too much fun so I had to vote for Gregory

  91. Kim Forbes's Gravatar Kim Forbes
    February 19, 2015 - 9:58 am | Permalink

    I wish I was a Gregory girl, but I always loved the adventurers. Brendan had me at “sea quest.”

  92. February 19, 2015 - 9:58 am | Permalink

    First day and I’m can’t decide yet! Gregory who reminds me of the story of Joseph, was a contemplative, and withdrew from a powerful position or Brendan who willingly faced sea sickness in his call to sail to unknown places (perhaps the unknown part explains never asking for directions, which is generally a really annoying thing to brag on). Okay, I think I’m ready, if I don’t change my mind again before I go back to vote.

  93. Jen Ulrich's Gravatar Jen Ulrich
    February 19, 2015 - 10:00 am | Permalink

    VERY difficult to find voting page on this website

    • February 19, 2015 - 10:05 am | Permalink

      It’s at the end of the post. Read about the two saints, click on the circle by the name you want, and press “vote.” Not playing hard to get here!

      • Richard Hooton's Gravatar Richard Hooton
        February 19, 2015 - 11:42 pm | Permalink

        However, this day’s first post one had to scroll way down to get to the voting booth – a little challenging even for a veteran Madness voter. Perhaps a side effect of the growth of LM!?

  94. Margaret Moran's Gravatar Margaret Moran
    February 19, 2015 - 10:00 am | Permalink

    I felt that both of these men did what they wanted–Gregory being more priestly.

  95. Daniel Nieciecki's Gravatar Daniel Nieciecki
    February 19, 2015 - 10:01 am | Permalink

    One of the criteria that I use in deciding these often difficult Lent Madness contests is whether or not the saint in question actually lived or actually did the things that he or she is most renowned for. Despite my ancestral affection for all things Irish, I’m just not confident that the legends of Brendan the Navigator are real (which is not the same thing as “true”). Whatever the historical Brendan may or may not have accomplished, Gregory inaugurated the oldest Christian kingdom and cultivated a church with about 9,000,000 members today. Therefore, my first vote for Lent Madness 2015 goes to Gregory the Illuminator.

    • Joy's Gravatar Joy
      February 19, 2015 - 10:41 am | Permalink

      Well said!

  96. Anne Burton's Gravatar Anne Burton
    February 19, 2015 - 10:01 am | Permalink

    I took the “never asking for directions” phrase as a modern comment, and focused on Brendan building many communities of faith. Also Gregory ditching his wife so he could become a monk? So wrong. I voted for Brendan and faith community building.

    • TJ's Gravatar TJ
      February 19, 2015 - 10:04 am | Permalink

      But she also ditched him to become a nun… seems to have been mutual.

      • Another Peg's Gravatar Another Peg
        February 19, 2015 - 6:58 pm | Permalink

        They sang, “You’d like monastic, and I’d like some veiling,
        Cells sound fantastic, with prayer life prevailing.
        Though we wed, dear, the romance part is dead, dear.
        Let’s call the whole thing off…”

      • Anne Burton's Gravatar Anne Burton
        February 20, 2015 - 9:20 am | Permalink

        She had a choice? Consider the role of women at the time.

  97. February 19, 2015 - 10:01 am | Permalink

    Fred Buechner’s novel Brendan, grabbed my soul years ago, such that we named our first son Jeffrey Brendan after him; and after a Sabbatical in Ireland, near the hidden dale of Brendan’s Well, I wrote a novel of the same name… perhaps to see the light of day someday.
    No contest on day 1, boyo. It’s Brendan for me, and me for Brendan.

  98. Katherine's Gravatar Katherine
    February 19, 2015 - 10:05 am | Permalink

    It’s gotta be Brendan for me. My dad was a sailor, I grew up next to the Ocean, and I’ve read an amusing depiction of him in fiction where he took ancient Celts into outer space.

  99. Laurie Atwater's Gravatar Laurie Atwater
    February 19, 2015 - 10:05 am | Permalink

    A toughie from day one. This is going to be a wild Lent Madness this year!

  100. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    February 19, 2015 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    Welcome back everyone. Let the Madness begin! Brendan the Navigator for me.

  101. Elaine Hood Culver's Gravatar Elaine Hood Culver
    February 19, 2015 - 10:10 am | Permalink

    Brendan the Navigator, in honor and memory of our good friend Capt. John S. Marshall, USN (ret.), who died much too soon about a year ago. I hope that he and St. Brendan have enjoyed a long visit with many great stories these past 11 months. Rest in peace, Cap, after “a job well done.”

  102. February 19, 2015 - 10:13 am | Permalink

    The Madness has begun!! This was a very tough beginning — two very worthy Saints with inspiring stories. It was a real toss-up today!!!

  103. Deborah Bedard's Gravatar Deborah Bedard
    February 19, 2015 - 10:15 am | Permalink

    What Patrice said….anyone who spoke peace to the middle east, well, gets my vote!

  104. Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
    February 19, 2015 - 10:17 am | Permalink

    It’s been Brendan since the “oops” posting a while back. Anyone who could sail the seas in a leather curragh and find land (with a little help from his friends the dolphins) would certainly be noteworthy even if he weren’t Irish.

  105. Alec Clement's Gravatar Alec Clement
    February 19, 2015 - 10:19 am | Permalink

    Gregory by far…there is an Irish cabal afoot…Florida indeed!!!!!!!

  106. Evelyn Czaja's Gravatar Evelyn Czaja
    February 19, 2015 - 10:23 am | Permalink

    Gregory the Illuminator is a very important saint in the Orthodox Church. More appealing than “wanderlust” at age 80!

  107. Michaela's Gravatar Michaela
    February 19, 2015 - 10:24 am | Permalink

    Help senior class vs. Teachers vote for Brendan.!

  108. Margaret Bivins's Gravatar Margaret Bivins
    February 19, 2015 - 10:26 am | Permalink

    Sounds like Brendan went a little “Brian Williams” when he wrote about his journeys.

  109. Danielle Clark's Gravatar Danielle Clark
    February 19, 2015 - 10:28 am | Permalink

    St Gregory seems the most serious in his life, being, for me, reminiscent of St Paul, and our Master Jesus. St Brendon shouts joy along with his enthusiasm for his task, founding monasteries and seeking new Christians by testing boundaries. The two seem like opposites except for their gospel fervor.

  110. Margaret Bivins's Gravatar Margaret Bivins
    February 19, 2015 - 10:30 am | Permalink

    I seems that Brendan went a little “Brian Williams” when telling about his journeys.

  111. Brian Perkins's Gravatar Brian Perkins
    February 19, 2015 - 10:33 am | Permalink

    As a professional sailor committed to saving lives at sea and a member of a coastal Maine Chirch, this was an easy one. Never mind that I too have occasionally embellished a good story and have had fantastical adventures. St. Brendan, I’m coming to join you one day…with God’s help.

  112. Bee Jay's Gravatar Bee Jay
    February 19, 2015 - 10:33 am | Permalink

    Brendan. I’ve named my Labyrinth ministry after Brendan.
    To go out into the unknown, without oars or rudder. To trust God with everything — whatever little “everything” was — hard to beat that!

  113. Martha's Gravatar Martha
    February 19, 2015 - 10:33 am | Permalink

    Every sinew in my Celtic spirit (if spirits have sinews) wants to vote for Brendan. But alas, my practical American spirit prefers real accomplishments to legendary exploits. Gregory for me….

  114. February 19, 2015 - 10:35 am | Permalink

    I voted for Gregory because of the “conscious uncoupling” line. (And because I really liked the prayer for light since he is an illuminator. But mostly because of conscious uncoupling.)

    I love what the commenters have said about peace in the Middle East. Great, thoughtful point.

  115. Cheryl's Gravatar Cheryl
    February 19, 2015 - 10:42 am | Permalink

    Full disclosure – Gregory got my vote. BUT – since there are a lot of Brendan enthusiasts here, I thought you might want to check out The Irish and Celtic Music Podcast this week. In the show posted yesterday, #196, there is a song at 42:44 called “St. Brendan’s Fair Isle”. Seems fortuitously timed!

  116. Cathy Eckbreth's Gravatar Cathy Eckbreth
    February 19, 2015 - 10:43 am | Permalink

    My vote goes to Brendan because he didn’t ask for directions. He is the founder of this male tradition that continues I to the 21st century. Without Brendan, which way would Columbus traveled?

  117. Rebecca's Gravatar Rebecca
    February 19, 2015 - 10:43 am | Permalink

    This is tough! I’m going with Brendan, though, because the bravery to set forth across the ocean, not knowing what he might find but trusting in God to guide him, speaks to me right now.

  118. Vicki Hughes's Gravatar Vicki Hughes
    February 19, 2015 - 10:52 am | Permalink

    Both cool guys, and the idea that Gregory is ‘iconic’ presently as a model for working for peace in the middle east is worth focus. Yet, as most of my forebears are Irish, because he took to the sea in little boats, genes and poetry say ‘go with Brendan. Also, Christy Moore wrote this great Brendan song which i’ve always loved:

  119. Team Casey's Gravatar Team Casey
    February 19, 2015 - 10:55 am | Permalink

    Our class of 27 thoughtfully debated who we would vote for. Both Saints have admirable qualities, and most certainly loved our Lord. However fifteen of my 27 decided that Gregory did the most to shine the light of Christ into a darkened world. His life sparked a discussion as to whether or not the fact that his father supposedly killed the King of Parthia should factor in to which saint to vote for. General consensus was that Gregory should not have to “pay for” his father’s sin. We are loving LENT MADNESS!!!

  120. Diane Wick's Gravatar Diane Wick
    February 19, 2015 - 10:55 am | Permalink

    How can I vote against an Irishman who loved to travel? And wise too: since he didn’t need directions!

  121. Bettina's Gravatar Bettina
    February 19, 2015 - 10:57 am | Permalink

    I can’t vote for a guy that has two kids with his wife and then he and his wife abandon the kids, decide to split up and join religious orders. How old were the kids when they did that? Did Gregory’s wife become a nun because he was leaving her, or was this her decision? It’s Brendan for me.

  122. Walt Liefeld's Gravatar Walt Liefeld
    February 19, 2015 - 10:58 am | Permalink

    As an almost 80 year old full-time RVer who has navigated most of North America in our Winnabago Adventurer for 18 years without having to ask for directions, I have to go with Brendan!

  123. Kathi F's Gravatar Kathi F
    February 19, 2015 - 11:02 am | Permalink

    I am Irish (by way of Canada and marriage) AND I taught 2nd grade in an Armenian school (Hovsepian) in Pasadena for over 20 years, so I was caught on the horns of a dilemma. I chose St. Gregory to receive my vote–the Armenian people are nothing short of amazing when you learn their history. (The school is part of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church and is located on the property of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church in Pasadena, CA.) Onward, St. Gregory!

  124. Doris's Gravatar Doris
    February 19, 2015 - 11:02 am | Permalink

    The angels in the Collect for St. Brendan clinched my vote. Thank you, David Creech

  125. Mac's Gravatar Mac
    February 19, 2015 - 11:08 am | Permalink

    Brendan’s my man, but he missed out on a lot of fun in Ireland by NOT asking for directions. I have found it worthwhile to get lost on those Irish roads just to be able to ask for directions from those wonderful Irish people!

  126. Bob Duvall's Gravatar Bob Duvall
    February 19, 2015 - 11:11 am | Permalink

    My first vote in Lent Madness goes to St. Brendan. We share a method of navigation—never ask directions.

  127. Phil Kober's Gravatar Phil Kober
    February 19, 2015 - 11:12 am | Permalink

    While I am not wildly enthusiastic about either of these two guys, being a quarter Irish, I had to vote for the Irishman — Brendan the Navigator. A lot of those stories are just like what the Irish would come up with, with a definite twinkle in the eye!!!!! Celtics UNITE!

  128. kate's Gravatar kate
    February 19, 2015 - 11:13 am | Permalink

    Yes…I am IRISH…that said…this Brendan guy not only rocked…he stills rocks. How can we not “keep on becoming” as we age with this example. Go Brendan!!!

  129. Ed Krentz's Gravatar Ed Krentz
    February 19, 2015 - 11:14 am | Permalink

    Gregory for Sure! His efforts led to Armenia being the First Nation to become officially Christian. He created the Armenian alphabet to translate the Bible into Armenian–and began thevArmenian tradition of a learned clergy. No contest at all

  130. Carol Townsend's Gravatar Carol Townsend
    February 19, 2015 - 11:14 am | Permalink

    I was *so* hoping that “The Illuminator” referred to the creation – or at least the patronage – of beautiful illuminated works. The written Word is central to much of Christendom, and anyone who is known for creating beautiful works of writing should be celebrated.

    So, imagine my disappointment when “The Illuminator” was simply refering to bringing the light of Christ to a new area of the world. Every Christian in the Very Early Church [TM] (circa AD 50-350) (and yes, I just made up that division of time, just go with it)….everyone in the VEC was basically doing just that – bringing the first illumination to their part of the world. So…EVERYONE in Gregory’s time should have the moniker “The Illuminator” tagged to their name.

    Which is a long way ’round in explaining why I voted for Brendan. Besides, anyone who can get 17 other monks crammed into a small boat like that and not have it capsize is a winner in my book.

  131. Carol N's Gravatar Carol N
    February 19, 2015 - 11:15 am | Permalink

    I choose Gregory because even in prison he was committed to his faith. Don’t care too much for braggers so I did not vote for Brendan.

  132. Kimberly's Gravatar Kimberly
    February 19, 2015 - 11:30 am | Permalink

    As a former sailing crewmember, I also voted for Brendan. But now I am regretting my vote already. I feel I should have voted for Gregory, who was imprisoned for his faith. This is what I do every year for Lent Madness. Cast my vote, then immediately change my mind! The saints are so inspiring!

  133. February 19, 2015 - 11:31 am | Permalink

    A very tough call for the first day of 2015! Both let the light of Christ shine through them in the face of fear, bodily danger, and great adversity. Both dwelled in foreign lands. Both followed their calling to places they did not necessarily want to go. It’s a toss up, so……

    BRENDAN! Because I also like boats and I’m from Florida.

  134. Gil Wilson's Gravatar Gil Wilson
    February 19, 2015 - 11:34 am | Permalink

    St. Brendan in West (by God) Virginia.

  135. Nancy Ann's Gravatar Nancy Ann
    February 19, 2015 - 11:35 am | Permalink

    I chose Gregory – his story moved me – I think Gregory is a wise choice.

  136. Annie's Gravatar Annie
    February 19, 2015 - 11:37 am | Permalink

    I had to go with Brendan the Navigator because he spread Christ’s word through several countries, built churches and monasteries in the known countries. Then after that he decided to sail at the age of 80 to sail the world! I had to vote for him just for the fact that he helped bring Christianity to many different people.

  137. Carolyn Markson's Gravatar Carolyn Markson
    February 19, 2015 - 12:01 pm | Permalink

    For a first timer, this a fascinating vehicle of study, thanks to very creative providers! Fr Gregory is exceptional competition for Capt Brendan, but our oldest grandson is also Brendan so my choice was made even before reading!

    • Robert Corey's Gravatar Robert Corey
      February 19, 2015 - 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Could it be Brendan Fraser’s influence that so many voters are related to a young Brendan. Alas, all Gregory Peck’s fans named their kids Atticus.

  138. Denise's Gravatar Denise
    February 19, 2015 - 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I’m new to Lent Madness and have thoroughly enjoyed reading about the saints in my Saintly Scorecard. I’m going with Brendan on this match up. What an adventurer!

  139. Carole Pryor's Gravatar Carole Pryor
    February 19, 2015 - 12:11 pm | Permalink

    My family roots go back to the British Isles. My vote is for Brendan.

  140. February 19, 2015 - 12:19 pm | Permalink

    The Irish have it this time I hope to meet both of them someday. Happy birthday to my mom. She is in heaven celebrating with them She would be 112 today.

  141. Claire's Gravatar Claire
    February 19, 2015 - 12:32 pm | Permalink

    I went with Gregory as he helped establish the first Christian nation even before Constantine. At first I was leaning towards Brendan as he was the intrepid sort, but then balked at the meeting with Judas Iscariot (who we know was good and dead many, many years before) as being a little too over the top.

  142. Julie M's Gravatar Julie M
    February 19, 2015 - 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, Gregory, but you’re up against my firstborn’s namesake. Brendan all the way.

  143. February 19, 2015 - 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Brendan’s my saint. Sailing/boating began for me at age 3 in a rowboat on a lake. Being in a boat on any body of water is still the spiritual place where I most clearly experience God. And, anyone with the courage to go out on the oceans at 81 gets my vote.

  144. Anne Clayton's Gravatar Anne Clayton
    February 19, 2015 - 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Although I voted for Gregory, I wondered what happened to the kids when he and the missus “uncoupled” to pursue religious orders.
    Looking back on having been mother of many, I wonder why I didn’t think of that escape route.

  145. Jan Robitscher's Gravatar Jan Robitscher
    February 19, 2015 - 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Brendan, but had to do a lot of navigating this year to discover how to vote. Could you (all) make it clearer that to vote you have to click on the link that names the saints in the bracket? Thanks!

  146. helen from middletown, oh's Gravatar helen from middletown, oh
    February 19, 2015 - 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I can’t resist a great travel with sea monsters, and an island made of a creature!

  147. Sally Duernberger's Gravatar Sally Duernberger
    February 19, 2015 - 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Brendan didn’t need to ask for directions. He just looked at the stars. PS…Yeaay for the T-shirts! I’ve ordered mine.

  148. February 19, 2015 - 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Let me get this straight: Gregory and his wife have two sons, then go their separate ways so that they can become a monk and a nun? How bad was that marriage? He doesn’t sound like a saint, he sounds like an opportunist. I vote for Brendan and his Lincoln Navigator.

  149. Karolen's Gravatar Karolen
    February 19, 2015 - 1:17 pm | Permalink


  150. Kim's Gravatar Kim
    February 19, 2015 - 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Brendan for me – I have this compass thing going on; I think of my spiritual journey as trying to head true north. And ‘conscious uncoupling’ was just too weird for me.

  151. Deacon Georgia's Gravatar Deacon Georgia
    February 19, 2015 - 1:40 pm | Permalink

    My one experience with Brendan the Navigator is a church named St. Brendan’s in Juneau, AK. With all the traveling I did on the water in Alaska, I owe it to St. Brendan for watching over me in the 8 years in Alaska. My vote goes to the Navigator. The irony of this is that the church is an Episcopal church whereas St. Brendan is not recognized in HWHM and Gregory the Illuminator is.

  152. Carol's Gravatar Carol
    February 19, 2015 - 1:45 pm | Permalink


  153. Adrienne's Gravatar Adrienne
    February 19, 2015 - 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Such Old Men for their times. Obviously God wanted both to keep giving and giving!

  154. Joe's Gravatar Joe
    February 19, 2015 - 2:04 pm | Permalink

    This was a toughy. Being in a Navy town and having numerous recreational sailors in our parish, Brendan has my vote.

  155. Robert's Gravatar Robert
    February 19, 2015 - 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Loving the sea and being of Scots-Irish heritage, St. Brendan is the man!

  156. Elizabeth's Gravatar Elizabeth
    February 19, 2015 - 2:22 pm | Permalink

    As a proud Mc-, I usually go for the Celts when I am in doubt. However, I have no doubt that St. Gregory deserves to have a brighter spotlight on his contributions to the church, so I went with him. The Celts always get their day, but how often does Armenia get a champion?

  157. Rich's Gravatar Rich
    February 19, 2015 - 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Just like the older guy to head for Florida – Seriously, had to vote for Gregory the Illuminator – despite some secondary discrepancies, it is clear to me that his efforts to keep Christianity (and himself) alive at a time and place where both were very difficult overshadow St. Brendan. Besides, I get seasick.

  158. NancyC's Gravatar NancyC
    February 19, 2015 - 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Brendan, of course. He discovered America. Check out the remains in Salem, New Hampshire.

  159. D.T. Goodpaster's Gravatar D.T. Goodpaster
    February 19, 2015 - 2:36 pm | Permalink

    While Brendan seems to be the “sexier” pick (Irish, sailor, man of men, etc.), this really shouldn’t even be close. Is Brendan the St. Patrick of Ireland? No. Is Gregory the St. Patrick of Armenia? Most certainly. Taking on 2 empires, imprisonment, and to sum up perfectly- responsible for “the first nation to embrace Christianity as its official religion”. The Illuminator all the way. I’m out. Microphone drops.

    • Solange De Santis's Gravatar Solange De Santis
      February 19, 2015 - 3:04 pm | Permalink

      Agreed! I can’t believe the margin is so wide as Gregory is by far more important to the church. People, put down that Guinness and vote for the Illuminator!

      • Robert Corey's Gravatar Robert Corey
        February 19, 2015 - 4:39 pm | Permalink

        Hear! Hear!

  160. Jane C's Gravatar Jane C
    February 19, 2015 - 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Those people in Brendan’s boat look pretty terrified while Brendan strikes a “What, me worry?” pose. Does that mean “I don’t want no stinkin’ directions. Who carse where we go? I’ll keep my head in the sand.” or is it a depiction of his faith and confidence that God will help him find the way? I may be leaning toward Gregory but will waffle until the deadline is upon us.

  161. Jane C's Gravatar Jane C
    February 19, 2015 - 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Those people in Brendan’s boat look pretty terrified while Brendan strikes a “What, me worry?” pose. Does that mean “I don’t want no stinkin’ directions. Who carse where we go? I’ll keep my head in the sand.” or is it a depiction of his faith and confidence that God will help him find the way? I may be leaning toward Gregory but will waffle until the deadline is upon us.
    Met Judas Iscariot on a rock in the middle of the ocean? I won’t believe that until Brian Williams confirms it and says he was there, too.

  162. Steve R's Gravatar Steve R
    February 19, 2015 - 3:24 pm | Permalink

    No wonder there’s so much traffic in Florida – thanks to Brendan, no one stops and asks for directions! Vote Gregory!!!

  163. Mary P's Gravatar Mary P
    February 19, 2015 - 3:28 pm | Permalink

    My mother was a Flannigan. Want to guess who I voted for?

  164. Cheryle's Gravatar Cheryle
    February 19, 2015 - 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Ireland? Sailing? Fantastical sea creatures? Brendan is my guy because of my Irish roots, my multi-generational experience on the High Seas, and my love of sea lore.

    Yes, Gregory’s struggles were in the Middle East, which has never been for the faint of heart, and I would have voted for him had he managed to bring lasting peace. Unfortunately, he came up a bit short. 😀

  165. ConnySantana's Gravatar ConnySantana
    February 19, 2015 - 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Easy peasy today since I had already read through and made my decision when this round was inadvertantly sent out in error sometime ago. It’s great to read everyone’s comments though. Looks like its going to be a great deason.

  166. Katherine Schroeder's Gravatar Katherine Schroeder
    February 19, 2015 - 3:40 pm | Permalink

    In the absence of the option for John the Revelator, it was Gregory the Illuminator for me.

  167. Steve Clifton's Gravatar Steve Clifton
    February 19, 2015 - 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Tough call on Day 1! Both men spent their final years living out an adventure, albeit in different ways. As a transplanted (from Georgia) Floridian, I could lean toward Brendan, but the perseverance from imprisonment to evangelizing a king and later a nation speaks too eloquently to ignore. Jesu, Lux Mundi.

  168. Donald Lowery's Gravatar Donald Lowery
    February 19, 2015 - 4:00 pm | Permalink

    I was told as I child I was English, Welsh, Scots and Scots-Irish and Native American in ancestry. I really wanted to be Irish. Then I had genealogical DNA testing done and discovered that whatever else was in the ancestral mix, my deep DNA roots in the male line are IRISH. My life was transformed by knowing that I no longer had to pretend to be Irish on St. Patrick’s day, or fall under the rubric of “Well Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day” no, I am real, DNA ratified Irish. Having discovered my true native identity, I had to vote for the home team, so St. Brendan it was. You can sign me by newly modified name: Donald Andrew Patrick Brendan Columcille o’Lowery. I also discovered that Lowry’s Bar (my family once spelled it without the ‘e’) in Clifton, County Galway, has the largest selection of fine Irish Whiskey’s in the world. I hope to visit and I hope I am related. I also discovered Jesus is Irish. The clergy, distributing the sacrament each Sunday prove it when they say, “The Body O’Christ, the bread of Heaven.” I am sure the family was Joseph O’Christ, Mary O’Christ and that sweet little Christmas child, Jesus O’Christ.

    • Cheryle's Gravatar Cheryle
      February 19, 2015 - 4:55 pm | Permalink

      We need a “thumbs up” button for the site!

  169. shawn crawford's Gravatar shawn crawford
    February 19, 2015 - 4:26 pm | Permalink

    It may be that the winner will be the result of how many extroverts versus introverts vote since the powerful interior life that St. Gregory experienced seems to oppose the equally powerful exterior life that Brendan lived reflecting the wholly dichotomous world we live in. How does one choose? One is not better than the other….just different and equally important. That reminds me of that thought about making decisions based on being “Either/Or” versus “Both/And”.

  170. shawn crawford's Gravatar shawn crawford
    February 19, 2015 - 4:28 pm | Permalink

    P.S. In the spirit of the “game” I did vote for St. Gregory since I can relate mostly to a deep interior life.

  171. Robert Corey's Gravatar Robert Corey
    February 19, 2015 - 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Gregory got my vote. So many folk identify with Brendan, though — shared love of the sea, an affinity for parquet, male obstinence, legendary legerdemain. He’s way ahead in the voting, and the fat lady is clearing her throat.

    Why Gregory? I’m not Armenian, but have been called Arminian. (Calvinists have their TULIP, we have our daisy — He loves me, He loves me not). I’ve not been that way, but have read great books by Michael Chabon and Mikhail Lermontov about the region. I’m not sure about Chalcedon, either. but Gregory died before that schism. I guess my biggest reason for voting was the similarity of his life story with the DeNiro half of Godfather II. Including the nepotism.

  172. Jim Boston's Gravatar Jim Boston
    February 19, 2015 - 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Some more on Brendan from the biography of the king he brought to faith. A messy story. Note the king Bredan’s father killed was Armenian, not Parthian.
    In any case, I am a man who thinks it wise to ask directions, on occasion, and cheerfully vote for the Apostle to Armenia.

  173. February 19, 2015 - 4:31 pm | Permalink

    As we close in on my favorite Saint’s day, Saint David, I must vote for Brendan since he is credited with helping bring the Christian faith to the land of my Welsh Ancestors: the awesome nation of Wales!

  174. February 19, 2015 - 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Because his story inspired the wonderful Frederick Buechner book, Brendan gets my vote.

  175. Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
    February 19, 2015 - 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Although I myself am very drawn to contemplation and the hermit’s life, I went with the wacky sea-going guy instead. I just couldn’t not; must be my Nova Scotian roots.

    Sorry, Greg. Hello, sailor!

  176. February 19, 2015 - 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Anyone who could still sail the northern seas at 80 gets my vote!

  177. Alan Justice's Gravatar Alan Justice
    February 19, 2015 - 5:26 pm | Permalink

    I’m voting for the crazy old Irishman. Somehow he reminds me myself, although I have never camped on an island that turned out to be a sea monster.

  178. Cricket the Navigatrix's Gravatar Cricket the Navigatrix
    February 19, 2015 - 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Brendan~ an inspiration to all of us with a song in our hearts, the wind in our hair, and just a wee bit of crazy in our souls!
    Brendan for the Golden Halo!!!
    “Come my friends~ T’is not to late to seek a newer world…
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will,
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield!” (Tennyson)

  179. Eileen's Gravatar Eileen
    February 19, 2015 - 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Phirmilianos? “Conscious uncoupling?” Up the Irish!

  180. Blair Bickford's Gravatar Blair Bickford
    February 19, 2015 - 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Gregory..charismatic..must have been/to convert the king, survives prison/ known in the Middle East.

  181. Ashot Vardanyan's Gravatar Ashot Vardanyan
    February 19, 2015 - 6:49 pm | Permalink

    As to the number of the Gregory’s imprisonment years, it is really approximate. I would say “about 15” because there is no exact date for his custody’s beginning and release (discharge?). He returned to Armenia in 287 and was persecuted; Christianity was adopted in 301. So, he spent maximum around 15 years imprisoned. To the best of my knowledge, there is no record of specific dates.

  182. Brenda McHenry's Gravatar Brenda McHenry
    February 19, 2015 - 6:49 pm | Permalink

    My ancestors have a connection with the sea and my name is just too close not to cast my vote for St.Brendan.

  183. Ben's Gravatar Ben
    February 19, 2015 - 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Having sailed the North Atlantic and Caribbean, I can only imagine how perilous in the 6th Century…and Brendan
    founded monasteries throughout Celtic lands. He gets my vote

  184. Jean Abbe's Gravatar Jean Abbe
    February 19, 2015 - 7:29 pm | Permalink

    I once taught a Sunday School class. A suggested activity was looking up the meaning of each child’s name. One boy was named Brendan, another Calvin. I found that Calvin means “bald”, and Brendan means “stinking hair”. I did not choose to do the activity. Voted for Brendan anyway – probably not much shampooing on that boat.

  185. Sandi's Gravatar Sandi
    February 19, 2015 - 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Read Tim Severin’s book, The Brendan Voyage. Tim and his crew built and sailed a leather boat, following Brendan’s route and lived to tell the tale! Brendan!

    • Regina's Gravatar Regina
      February 19, 2015 - 8:17 pm | Permalink

      I voted for Brendan, too. I saw your comment and thought you may be interested in watching this video of Tim Severin’s journey – It helped me to make my decision to vote for Brendan.

  186. Walter Gladwin's Gravatar Walter Gladwin
    February 19, 2015 - 7:47 pm | Permalink

    I’ve know 2 marriages where the couple were of the cloth and were excommunicated for marrying. But this is the first I’ve known about a couple divorcing, which is sinful in the Catholic Church, to become celebate clergy. Hmmm. Which one is the more sacrificial? Another mystery of faith. As an Episcopalean, I vote for the illuminator who had to give up sex to do his job, over the navigator who was having too much fun traveling around to do his job without the burden of marital concerns.

  187. Tim B.'s Gravatar Tim B.
    February 19, 2015 - 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Go Brendan! You da man! If he can build a fire on a whale’s back, and get away with it and nor lose boat or crew, and sail all those miles for all those years serving God, he IS da man.

  188. Nancy T.'s Gravatar Nancy T.
    February 19, 2015 - 9:19 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Brendan, even though he never asked directions. My take is that he really didn’t but that doesn’t mean he knew where he was going, does it? That may be why he went so far and wide. His saving grace, in my estimation, is that he carried the Good News with him.

  189. Mom & Stella's Gravatar Mom & Stella
    February 19, 2015 - 9:47 pm | Permalink

    We were disappointed that Gregory didn’t illustrate texts.

  190. Jane's Gravatar Jane
    February 19, 2015 - 9:55 pm | Permalink

    Did anyone else have difficulty with the definitive guide for Gregory the Illuminator?
    1. Gregory’s father assassinated the king of Parthia.
    2. The king of Armenia sought revenge for his father ( I suppose the king of Parthia).
    3. Tridates III , the wild boar and king of Armenia, released Gregory with the expectation of Gregory restoring peace after Rome had annexed part of Parthia.
    I’m confused. Were Gregory and his father Partian or Armenian? Why was the king of Armenia so crazy when portions of Parthia were overcome by Rome?
    I voted for Brendan. He may not have asked directions, but I could follow his write up.

  191. Sister Teresa Irene's Gravatar Sister Teresa Irene
    February 19, 2015 - 10:39 pm | Permalink

    I love the sea and everything Celtic….however my vote had to go to Gregory. We certainly need his prayers for our violent world

  192. Steve Sandlin's Gravatar Steve Sandlin
    February 19, 2015 - 10:39 pm | Permalink

    Being one of the 12 Apostles of Ireland wins my vote plus never asking for directions, Brendon was most definitely a man’s man!

  193. Patricia's Gravatar Patricia
    February 19, 2015 - 11:10 pm | Permalink

    It distresses me how many people were tormented and killed, and how many wars were fought trying to superimpose one’s religion on another people and their culture. I don’t think the Prince of Peace had this in mind when he told us to “Love thy neighbor.” He demonstrated what he meant as he healed the sick, fed the poor and gave the Sermon on the Mount.

    And YES, I too presumed that Gregory was an Illuminating Scribe in a monastery.

  194. February 19, 2015 - 11:20 pm | Permalink

    Well, I was surprised to find that Gregory was an illuminator of Armenia, rather than of manuscripts! From my 21st century Western perspective, I’m not thrilled by the official state religion thing (although how interesting that we only ever hear about Constantine in terms of making Christianity legal & official), nor by the “son of the bishop taking over the bishopric” (this is part of the reason that Roman Catholic priests are celibate). I really like the Cappadocian influence, and his deep orientation towards the monastic life of prayer, though.

    But perhaps the biggest reason I’m voting for St. Gregory, the illuminator and patron saint of Armenia, is that about ten years ago, I had a theology/spirituality email penpal who was Armenian Orthodox. By her encouragement and example, she introduced me to a devotion to the saints, not only or even primarily as intercessors, but as companions in my daily struggles. She reminded me that the great cloud of witnesses was always available to me, as listeners, as exemplars, and as companions in my daily struggles; that I could look for saints who had practiced, struggled, or succeeded at things that I was struggling with, and be assured of their companionship. I remember one time in particular, when I was very overwhelmed by the yardwork I had to do, I thought of her advice, and remembered that St. Benedict had placed a high value on manual labor in his Rule. So as I worked away, pulling up weeds and trimming hedges and raking up the mess and all that, I talked to St. Benedict about it, and thought about his life, and felt supported.

    So in honor of my penpal Janine, St. Gregory of Armenia gets my vote.

    I do love the icon of St. Brendan; though those monks look pret-ty nervous!! Maybe they’re not so sure of his piloting skills. 🙂

  195. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
    February 20, 2015 - 12:22 am | Permalink

    I voted for Brendon, not because I’m Irish (I’m English, Scots, and German) but because as a United Methodist I cherish his willingness to itinerate in order to follow God’s call. At age 77, I also need his example of continuing to have adventures in God’s service at an advanced age. Also, as a married clergy, I don’t understand Gregory’s and his wife’s decision to end their marriage in order to serve God. I feel called to marriage as well as to ministry, and the marriage occurred first, before the call to ministry.

  196. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    February 20, 2015 - 12:27 am | Permalink

    Quite a few people seem to be taking Brendan’s boasting about not asking for directions as fact, or at least as an authentic tradition, and voting for him because of it. I assumed it was a humorous note added by the Celebrity Author. Was I mistaken?

  197. Danny's Gravatar Danny
    February 20, 2015 - 3:09 am | Permalink

    I was all set to vote for Brenda until I saw that he “inspired Columbus”. The Episcopal Church has apologized for the Doctrine of Discovery but for some it seems those are just words. Shame on you David for your colonialist insensitivity.

  198. February 20, 2015 - 9:58 am | Permalink

    2.19.2015 [Brendan]

    my coracle is
    so small, and
    your great ocean
    so deep

    waves and ice
    and lost souls
    upon islands

    Lord may I
    find your tir’na nog
    and never
    sail away.

    Thursday after Ash Wednesday

    • Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
      February 20, 2015 - 10:21 am | Permalink

      Len, thank you so much for this beautiful prayer-poem. I shall pray it often.

    • Donald Lowery's Gravatar Donald Lowery
      February 20, 2015 - 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Len, that prayer is wonderful.
      Don Lowery

  199. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
    February 20, 2015 - 10:17 am | Permalink

    What happened to my comment from yesterday? Did I do something wrong?

    • Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
      February 20, 2015 - 10:19 am | Permalink

      Oops! There it is!

  200. Peggy Floyd's Gravatar Peggy Floyd
    February 20, 2015 - 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Wow tough, I like the vessel used and the thought of angelic direction. Brendan the Navigator it is!

  201. Bob Lawson's Gravatar Bob Lawson
    February 20, 2015 - 5:57 pm | Permalink

    I was too late to vote, but Brendan was my guy. I remember seeing the metal sculpture of him and his three buddied huddled in their leather boat at a windy turn in the road on the Ring of Kerry.

  202. Audrey's Gravatar Audrey
    February 21, 2015 - 9:40 am | Permalink

    Are we really expected to believe that Brendan saw Judas on a rock in the ocean? Gregory would surely get my vote!

    • Deb Narvaiz's Gravatar Deb Narvaiz
      February 21, 2015 - 2:02 pm | Permalink

      I Can certainly believe hexsaw a natural formation that he thought looked like Judas!

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