Francis of Assisi vs. John Wycliffe

Who’s ready for another full week of hard-hitting saintly action? Well, clearly YOU are since a) you’re reading this and b) you’ve  been hitting “refresh” on your web browser continually since 7:50 am EST just in case the SEC erred and posted this matchup a few minutes early. 

After an entire weekend experiencing LMW (Lent Madness Withdrawal) symptoms, your balm has been delivered in the form of Francis of Assisi vs. John Wycliffe. Time to pull out the ubiquitous Wycliffe bird bath that likely graces your garden and start reading about these two medieval saints.

Speaking of birds and other creatures great and small, we hope you read the SEC’s statement released over the weekend assuring the Lent Madness public that no animals were harmed in the formation of the 2015 bracket.

But enough stalling. The Madness is back. Get to it!

unnamedFrancis of Assisi

Francis was born into a wealthy family in the early twelfth century. His younger years were spent like many rich young men of the day — partying rather than praying. A series of events, including an imprisonment and a serious illness, began to shift Francis’s priorities and awareness. On a pilgrimage to Rome, Francis was moved to compassion by encounters with beggars outside St. Peter’s Cathedral.

When Francis returned home, he broke from his old life, taking up the disciplines of poverty and devotion. While attending Mass one day, Francis heard the words of Jesus from Matthew’s Gospel, asking his disciples to leave all and follow him. These words guided Francis’s life henceforth. He became an itinerant preacher embracing poverty, humility, and devotion to the Holy Eucharist. He soon had people joining him in his example of ministry. When the number of followers reached twelve, Francis wrote a rule for the group and soon obtained papal approval for the “friars minor” as they called themselves.They continued to grow and encouraged a similar society for women (founded by Clare of Assisi) as well as a Third Order for lay associates.

Francis was not a priest and evidence that he might have been a deacon comes mainly from the account by Bonaventure, who wrote of Francis’s use of a cave in the Italian village of Grecio to preach about the Nativity. Francis used a manger and two live animals (an ox and an ass) to teach about the Babe of Bethlehem. Thus, we have the first recorded account of a crèche. The hay Francis used in the crèche was reported to have cured local cattle of disease.

There are many legends surrounding Francis’s interactions with animals. From preaching to birds to freeing fish and rabbits caught for meals, Francis was often reported to call these creatures “Brother” and “Sister.” The source of the stories is unclear, but Francis expressed his love of creation and an understanding that we are in relationship not just with each other as humans but with all of creation in his “Canticle of Brother Sun.” While Francis composed several other prayers, he most likely was not the author of the prayer most commonly attributed to him — “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace” — since its composition date is 1912, several centuries after Saint Francis died.

In prayerful preparation for Michaelmas 1224, Francis received the stigmata, the five wounds of Christ. He received care for these wounds in several cities, but in 1226 he requested to be taken back to Portiuncula, the site of the church where he first heard the words from Matthew bidding him to give up all he had and live the gospel. He died where his call was birthed on October 3, 1226, and he was canonized less than two years later.

He devoted himself to a life of preaching the gospel by caring for the poor as one of them, by honoring God in all creation, by his profound devotion to prayer and humility, and by his forming community to join him in God’s ministry.

Collect for Francis of Assisi

Most high, omnipotent good Lord, grant your people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world: that following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of you delight in your whole creation with perfectness of joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Laurie Brock

SuperStock_1916-3159John Wycliffe

John Wycliffe was an early supporter of reform in the Roman Catholic Church. Born in Yorkshire, England, Wycliffe received an excellent education at Oxford University. He earned his doctorate in 1372 and came to be considered one of Oxford’s leading philosophers and theologians. Remembered by the Church as both a translator and controversialist, Wycliffe conformed to the mold of faithful people who did amazing things but would probably never be anyone’s first choice to share a beer with (see also John the Baptist, Cardinal Walsingham, and the Apostle Paul).

Not everyone was a fan of Wycliffe’s criticism of the doctrine of transubstantiation, his challenge of indulgences, and his repudiation of private confession. His deep belief that every Christian should have access to scripture in their own language made him a forerunner of the Protestant Reformation and Public Enemy #1 for the Roman Catholic Church.

He was summoned to appear before the Bishop of London in 1377 to answer to the charges of heresy, but before the trial could start, recriminations on both sides filled the air and erupted into an open fight, ending the trial. Three months later, Pope Gregory XI issued five church edicts against Wycliffe, in which Wycliffe was accused on eighteen counts and was called “the master of errors.”

The Church tried to silence him but it was too late. Wycliffe had by this time many followers known as Lollards. They preached anticlerical and biblically centered reform. The more the Church attacked and suppressed Wycliffe’s teachings, the more determined his followers became. At one point the Lollards were driven underground, but they remained a constant source of irritation to the English Catholic authorities until the English Reformation made their views the norm.

John Wycliffe died December 28, 1384, from a stroke. In May 1415 he was declared a heretic, and his writings were banned. Wycliffe’s impact on the church was so great that forty-three years after his death, officials dug up his body, burned the remains, and threw the ashes into the River Swift as a protest against his teachings.

Collect for John Wycliffe

O God, your justice continually challenges your Church to live according to its calling: Grant us who now remember the work of John Wycliffe contrition for the wounds which our sins inflict on your Church, and such love for Christ that we may seek to heal the divisions which afflict his Body; through the same Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Nancy Frausto


Francis of Assisi vs. John Wycliffe

  • Francis of Assisi (66%, 4,824 Votes)
  • John Wycliffe (34%, 2,478 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,302

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236 Comments to "Francis of Assisi vs. John Wycliffe"

  1. Francis of Granby's Gravatar Francis of Granby
    March 2, 2015 - 8:02 am | Permalink

    A Few Fun Facts for Francis:

    -He wrote what is thought to be among the first, if not the first, works of literature in the Italian language (or a dialect thereof), “The Canticle of Brother Sun” (see “All Creatures of Our God and King,” The Hymnal 1982, #400, whose lyrics are a paraphrase of Francis’s song by Anglican priest William H. Draper);

    -In 1223, he commissioned the first known Christmas crèche (and preached so movingly on the Nativity that the faithful entered the sanctuary after Mass to take pieces of the straw as relics; it was said that “sick animals who ate it recovered their health, and that women in labor touched with it has easy deliveries”) (Thompson);

    -He urged his brothers to adopt a practice of putting out “special food for the birds and the beasts at Christmas so that in their own way they might rejoice at the birth of the Savior” (Thompson);

    -He was the first person to receive the stigmata (1224) (believe in the stigmata or not, as you wish, but the wounds were surely not, as a sixteenth-century German Protestant minister averred in book with a preface by Martin Luther, the result of a brawl with St. Dominic);

    -In “an age that ascribed depression to diabolical powers, ” he was “a compassionate brother,” with “a special gift for consoling those who suffered from it” (Thompson);

    -“He accepted into [his] community anyone who applied. There was no test, no waiting period” (Acocella);

    -He was characterized by “an extreme natural sweetness,” a quality “attested to by everyone who knew him.” […] “He was courteous, genial, extroverted—he was fun, a quality not always found in saints—and he laid it upon the brothers, as a duty, to be cheerful. […] He couldn’t hate anyone. […] He was different, morally, from most of us.” (Acocella); “All the first-hand accounts converge to paint a picture of the kindest young man in the world. ‘Kind’ is the epithet that is endlessly repeated.”(Green)

    • Christina Thom's Gravatar Christina Thom
      March 2, 2015 - 10:13 am | Permalink

      Jesus would be proud of anyone who irritated the authorities over making it easier for the every day person to believe. He did allot of that himself. Oh Wycliffe all the way.

      • March 2, 2015 - 3:45 pm | Permalink

        Going in, I thought I would be voting for Francis, but after I read the synopsis of John Wycliffe seeing the need to fix some of the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church, I voted for him. I pray daily that some Muslims step up and act to extirpate those terrorist tenets in the radically violent sects and replace those beliefs with God and Allah inspired tenets such as “Love Thy Neighbor” and “Thou Shalt Not Kill.”

        • March 2, 2015 - 3:50 pm | Permalink

          Any other thoughts out there?

          • MegN's Gravatar MegN
            March 2, 2015 - 7:17 pm | Permalink

            As an Episcopalian tired of hearing the “divorce theory” of the founding of our denomination , I am rooting for Wycliffe, one of the true forces for the split from Rome, all the way. However, I do recognize the “nice person to have a beer with” and animal kindness factor in popularity. Very glad that God’s Grace and purpose covers all those in the contest, not just the popular, or the winners.

          • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
            March 2, 2015 - 7:23 pm | Permalink

            As an Episcopalian, I’m really puzzled by all these glowing references to and comments about Pope Francis. Call me funny if you will.

          • March 2, 2015 - 8:37 pm | Permalink

            I read the comments written by Allan Chapman and now I wish I had followed by original desire to vote for John Wycliffe!

          • Gail Renborg's Gravatar Gail Renborg
            March 2, 2015 - 9:27 pm | Permalink

            Although I am pleased to learn of John Wycliffe, of whom I knew nothing until now, I have to say that I cannot think of a Saint that I admire or love more than St. Francis. I was fortunate enough to visit Assisi this past fall, and it was truly a place of great spiritual presense. Although the town was brimming with tourists, there was a reverence displayed by pretty much everyone; a hush that was so respectful it was palpable. In contrast, the Vatican was a circus of noise and activity. I sometimes feel that Francis’ spirit drives me. I would not be me without the knowing of him. I judge my actions by his standards.

    • Mary Jane Ingalls Buchanan's Gravatar Mary Jane Ingalls Buchanan
      March 2, 2015 - 10:32 am | Permalink

      All Creatures of our God and King: One of my favorite hymns and played at my wedding. I voted for John Wycliffe THIS TIME to honor the revolutionary spirit that characterizes our faith. Question authority, dare to change, love in the face of hate, seek to understand. Splendid day to all.

  2. Francis of Granby's Gravatar Francis of Granby
    March 2, 2015 - 8:03 am | Permalink

    For further exploration of St. Francis (includes the works cited in the previous post):

    The Little Flowers of St. Francis, in multiple editions (translations of I Fioretti di San Francesco) (beautiful, brief, fairy-tale-like legends)

    “Rich Man, Poor Man: The Radical Visions of St. Francis,” by Joan Acocella, The New Yorker (January 14, 2013)

    Francis of Assisi: A New Biography, by Augustine Thompson, O.P. (Cornell University Press, 2012) (scholarly but accessible and concise)

    The Very Lowly: A Meditation on Francis of Assisi by Christian Bobin (New Seeds, 2006) (translation of Le Très-Bas) (stunningly beautiful text, highest possible recommendation)

    God’s Fool: The Life and Times of Francis of Assisi by Julien Green (Harper, 1987) (translation of Frère François) (lovely, very readable; perhaps inspired by I Fioretti, the story is told as a series of vignettes)


    “The Flowers of St. Francis” (film, 1950, dir. Rosselini) (odd, haunting)
    “Francis of Assisi” (film, 1961, dir. Curtiz) (“camp” but surprisingly touching)

    Among the innumerable paintings of St. Francis, see especially works by:

    El Greco
    Giotto (or whoever painted the frescoes in the Upper Church of the Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi)

    • Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
      March 2, 2015 - 10:33 am | Permalink

      Another movie, which influenced my spiritual life deeply: “Brother Sun, Sister Moon”, with music by Donovan (1970’s)

    • Sister Janet's Gravatar Sister Janet
      March 2, 2015 - 10:50 am | Permalink

      My favorite book about Francis is The Passionate Troubadour, by Edward Hays. It is an imaginative telling of the story, influenced by the author’s own brand of kindness and love of all people and creatures. It was one of those page-turners that I didn’t want to end!

    • Patrick Harvey's Gravatar Patrick Harvey
      March 2, 2015 - 1:15 pm | Permalink

      By far my favorite Francis biography is Paul Sabatier’s Life of St. Francis of Assisi. Reading it was literally a life-changing experience. It spent decades on the banned Index and was out of print for a long time but is now available again. One caution, there’s a badly abridged version of the Sabatier out there titled The Road to Assisi. Avoid it. It’s basically Francis sanitized and with all of the controversy and much of the life sucked right out of him. An English version of the original is available and the two are in no way comparable.

      • March 2, 2015 - 1:28 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for this. I am still very fond of Chesterton’s bio of Francis.

    • Gail Renborg's Gravatar Gail Renborg
      March 2, 2015 - 9:31 pm | Permalink

      Thank you so much for this bibliography. I hope to to find the time to explore all of the items you have offered.

  3. Francis of Granby's Gravatar Francis of Granby
    March 2, 2015 - 8:05 am | Permalink

    One last comment (I promise). Like all good hagiographies, the story of St. Francis blends fact and myth. In his case, the two elements are equally compelling and the marriage between them is particularly felicitous. This may explain, in part, his extraordinary popularity.

    • Vicki Wadlow's Gravatar Vicki Wadlow
      March 2, 2015 - 8:42 am | Permalink

      Thank you so much for this wonderful information!

    • Jennifer Wicke's Gravatar Jennifer Wicke
      March 2, 2015 - 8:53 am | Permalink

      These comments, interpretations, and recommended readings are themselves fioretti, or flowers of Francis! Thanks so very much!

      • Francis of Granby's Gravatar Francis of Granby
        March 2, 2015 - 9:39 am | Permalink

        Thank you for this!

    • TM's Gravatar TM
      March 2, 2015 - 8:57 am | Permalink

      Thanks for all the fun info! I felt for Wyclife on this one. He was a gutsy guy, and he brought some important issues to the forefront; but when it comes to Francis, for me there was just no contest– almost no matter who he went up against. Beyond my personal fondness for him (and so many people’s), the fact is, he changed the face of Christianity– and continues to– for so many people, back to one of gentleness and compassion, humility and inclusion. And all this through that beautiful combination of myth and history, metaphoric and embodied truth, that makes Christianity what it is.

      • Francis of Granby's Gravatar Francis of Granby
        March 2, 2015 - 9:02 am | Permalink

        So well said. Thank you.

        • Carol's Gravatar Carol
          March 2, 2015 - 9:44 am | Permalink

          I have always loved St. Francis for his peaceful loving presence, however, today I was compelled to vote for Wyclife. In 2015, we need a model of confronting wrong and reforming the Church which all too often turns a blind eye to the realities around them. Everyone loves the little animals. As followers of Christ, we need to grapple with evil.

          • Diana Lucas Leavengood's Gravatar Diana Lucas Leavengood
            March 2, 2015 - 10:09 am | Permalink

            Carol: I totally agree and that is why I went for Wyclife. It was a hard choice but in the end I know that he was the right choice and that I would even have a beer with him given the opportunity.

          • Billie Mae Gordon's Gravatar Billie Mae Gordon
            March 2, 2015 - 11:41 am | Permalink

            This was a struggle. I love St. Francis and all that he stood for but I have to agree that Wyclife was what the church needed at that time. I agree with Carol about both of them.

          • Cath Fenton's Gravatar Cath Fenton
            March 2, 2015 - 1:04 pm | Permalink

            It really isn’t fair putting Francis against Wycliffe. The other day I didn’t want to vote for either candidate, today I wanted to vote for both, especially as I’ve been reading a history of Christianity which has covered both.

          • glendalea's Gravatar glendalea
            March 2, 2015 - 3:52 pm | Permalink

            That’s the reason I voted for Wycliffe. Only I didn’t know it until your words resonated with me. You are right. As followers of Christ we do need to grapple with evil.

          • Jane's Gravatar Jane
            March 2, 2015 - 4:35 pm | Permalink

            Completely agree, I had to go with Wycliffe. It’s easy to love the animals, hard to go against authority. Sadly, I don’t think Wycliffe will advance. The beasts are too cuddly.

          • Michelle's Gravatar Michelle
            March 2, 2015 - 6:07 pm | Permalink

            I felt the same way. I started reading with the thought that I didn’t really need to read the blog since “who could possibly compete with St. Francis?” After reading about Wycliffe I have to vote for him. He was a rebel with a worthy cause!

        • Mary's Gravatar Mary
          March 2, 2015 - 11:00 am | Permalink

          This was a very hard choice. Carol expressed my thoughts exactly.

      • Mariana Bauman's Gravatar Mariana Bauman
        March 2, 2015 - 9:42 am | Permalink


      • Susan's Gravatar Susan
        March 2, 2015 - 12:16 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for your note. I admire Wycliffe, but had to go with Francis.

  4. Peggy's Gravatar Peggy
    March 2, 2015 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    Francis for the Golden Halo!

    • Denise's Gravatar Denise
      March 2, 2015 - 8:46 am | Permalink

      I agree! St. Francis will go all the way!

  5. March 2, 2015 - 8:10 am | Permalink

    Another no brainier for me. Francis for me!

  6. Cricket's Gravatar Cricket
    March 2, 2015 - 8:10 am | Permalink

    Sorry, Wycliffe, but you are going down!
    “Extreme natural sweetness” is hard to resist!!!

  7. Will Robinson's Gravatar Will Robinson
    March 2, 2015 - 8:13 am | Permalink

    Voting for the Underdog in this matchup. Go Wycliffe!

    • Carolyn D. Mack's Gravatar Carolyn D. Mack
      March 2, 2015 - 9:20 am | Permalink

      My priest (Episcopal) said to me (joking) yesterday after church that I don’t understand that I need to be thinking about the likely winners and the brackets here (like for March Madness) rather than voting my heart or my mind based on the information given (explaining why I have only backed two winners so far). But I don’t fill out March Madness brackets and I didn’t fill out a bracket for Lent Madness either. Francis was a very fine person as he matured and saw the error of his ways. But, the non-prodigal daughter in me joins the Lollard in me voting for one of the men who set the stage for the Reformation, a great and inspirational teacher whose work also supported English nationalism against the Roman Church, with Jan Hus later using Wycliffe’s ideas to support Bohemian national identity, as well. And unlike Hus, Wycliffe managed to escape burning at the stake until long after he was dead of natural causes so that shows either human or divine protection along with the silliness of those who would dig him up to burn his remains. I also love describing to my students a back alley Lollard deal over an English language gospel like its some sort of black market or drug deal. “Your walking home at night and you hear from down an alley, (stage whisper) ‘Psst, how’d you like to read the Gospel according to St. Matthew in English?'”

      • Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
        March 2, 2015 - 9:38 am | Permalink

        I’m with you, Carolyn,– I don’t fill in the brackets and I go with my heart instead of “for the win.” Francis is my man today, but the blogger and the commenters are making the Wycliffe case so effectively, even my cats would understand if I’d voted the other way.

        • Glenis Elliott's Gravatar Glenis Elliott
          March 2, 2015 - 1:20 pm | Permalink

          I am with you and Carolyn, plus as I have said before there are really no losers in Lent Madness. Lots of winners since we get to learn about many saints, plus the amazing SEC

      • Susan's Gravatar Susan
        March 2, 2015 - 10:10 am | Permalink

        As one who has voted for the loser almost every day so far, I’m certainly not thinking about winners and losers. I even voted for William Laud.
        More seriously, much as I love Francis, it’s Wycliffe’s determination that gets me.

      • Johnny's Gravatar Johnny
        March 2, 2015 - 10:14 am | Permalink

        Well said Carolyn.

      • Ellen Mintzmyer's Gravatar Ellen Mintzmyer
        March 2, 2015 - 10:39 am | Permalink

        Good points and some of the reasons I voted for Wycliffe. The world knows Francis, and we do need his gentleness and compassion. But I agree, reform and naming evil what it is, and surviving, this is needed today.

      • Jim Bimbi's Gravatar Jim Bimbi
        March 2, 2015 - 12:41 pm | Permalink

        I ignored my own advice today and cast my vote for Wycliffe, knowing full well that the Francis groupies would probably carry the day. My bracket is busted, but I am content in my soul.

      • Susan3's Gravatar Susan3
        March 2, 2015 - 12:47 pm | Permalink


        I like savvy fighters and voted Wycliffe–like Jim and others, I know sweetness is easy to like, but I’d rather read the Bible than follow a celebrity saint! Despite the fact that I have his image in my house.

    • susan's Gravatar susan
      March 2, 2015 - 9:30 am | Permalink

      me, too…hard to resist an underdog who challenged the church fathers.

      • Victor of Sturbridge's Gravatar Victor of Sturbridge
        March 2, 2015 - 10:51 am | Permalink

        Above — “backed only two winners” — “voted for the loser almost every day”? —
        Assuming this round goes as it has begun, my record will be o for 9 because I vote my heart and mind, not for the one I think likely to win. I understand why some people read the comments (so far) before they vote, and that’s fine, but I prefer to read the initial statements, add what I know (if anything) about the two saints, then vote before looking at any results. Under basic statistical assumptions of independence (I’m a mathematician), the odds of my “scoring” 0 out of 9 are 511 to one — anyone else with me among those few thousands of participants? It’s all fun and informative, so I don’t mind losing and losing and losing.

  8. Thomas van Brunt's Gravatar Thomas van Brunt
    March 2, 2015 - 8:15 am | Permalink

    Francis will probably win this and perhaps go on to get the Halo. He deserves it. But Wycliffe is such an important figure to anyone who reads the Bible. What an anguish causing choice. Ok….its Wycliffe.

  9. Tutu Lois's Gravatar Tutu Lois
    March 2, 2015 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    gotta stand up for wycliffe today, even though i’m sure francis will win…hope people read the post to better appreciate the debt we all owe to wcliffe (no caps today – have a broken elbow and typing is difficult)

    • Ellen Gracie's Gravatar Ellen Gracie
      March 2, 2015 - 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Broken elbow! Oh my. Prayers for healing!

  10. Jim Bimbi's Gravatar Jim Bimbi
    March 2, 2015 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    I feel that Francis has received his reward, and wonder if the sentimentality that is such a part of the popular view of his life would have him fleeing into the forest. Admire his witness, but if I had my choice I think I’d share that beer and conversation with John Wycliffe.

    • Jim Bimbi's Gravatar Jim Bimbi
      March 2, 2015 - 12:39 pm | Permalink

      Note to Caroline Mack (above): I ignored my own advice today and cast my vote for Wycliffe, knowing full well that the Francis groupies would probably carry the day. My bracket is busted, but I am content in my soul.

  11. Holly's Gravatar Holly
    March 2, 2015 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    I have Francis on my bracket, but voted for Wycliffe because even grumpy academics need love. That and I suspect Francis didn’t need my vote.

    • March 2, 2015 - 10:02 am | Permalink

      Yeah, my bracket says Francis goes all the way. But my vote went to Wycliff. No matter how you vote, let us pause to give thanks for the man who risked his life so that we could read the bible in our own language. That the Lord took him home 43 years before they could get the fire lit tells me that the Lord himself liked this guy.

      • Diana Lucas Leavengood's Gravatar Diana Lucas Leavengood
        March 2, 2015 - 10:12 am | Permalink


    • Doctor M's Gravatar Doctor M
      March 2, 2015 - 11:00 am | Permalink

      I was all set to vote for Francis but after reading the post, and then reading more about Wycliffe in Wikipedia, I must vote for him! And I have a quibble: according to the Wikipedia entry: “Thorpe says Wycliffe was of unblemished walk in life, and regarded affectionately by people of rank, who often consorted with him, took down his sayings, and clung to him.” So who says he was a cranky academic?! People not only wanted to drink with him, they clung to him! Wycliffe, I’m afraid, once again, the establishment (this time, of Lent Madness) will overlook your invaluable contributions to our faith, but I for one, will vote for you! And maybe someday share a celestial beer.

    • Megan's Gravatar Megan
      March 2, 2015 - 2:45 pm | Permalink

      Grumpy academics DO need love Holly! And by golly, as someone who enjoys reading the Bible in my native tongue, today I vote for Wycliffe. (But I still love fuzzy animals, brothers and sisters.)

  12. Molly's Gravatar Molly
    March 2, 2015 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    I voted for Wycliffe. My favorite kind of person who believed in the Common Man. Also somebody who can rile up that kind of anger has to be doing something right.

  13. Snacktime's Gravatar Snacktime
    March 2, 2015 - 8:27 am | Permalink

    Both loved the Church passionately enough to call it to greater adherence to the Living Word. You attract more flies with honey than with vinegar, through. I voted for Francis but am really glad that there’s a place for offputting prophets like Wycliffe.

  14. Diane's Gravatar Diane
    March 2, 2015 - 8:27 am | Permalink

    I was born on the Transitus, around the time that St. Francis died.

    My husband and I had the opportunity to travel in Italy a few summers ago. The tour gave us the Sunday as a day off. We figured out the train schedule from Rome and took a train up to Assisi. We got there in time for the high mass in the Basilica. Following the service, we joined the long line of pilgrims who went downstairs to the crypt, where St. Francis is entombed.
    This is the live webcam (right now it isn’t working) of the chapel.

  15. Madamesenora's Gravatar Madamesenora
    March 2, 2015 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    Wycliffe was a bit of a jerk, to put it mildly – that irritating person who thinks he is always smarter than everyone else.

  16. Katherine's Gravatar Katherine
    March 2, 2015 - 8:31 am | Permalink

    I would like to protest putting up Wycliffe against Francis. Wycliffe was a giant for us… I hated not voting for him whom I admire but no one could beat Francis!

    • Nora's Gravatar Nora
      March 2, 2015 - 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Totally agree! My thoughts exactly. Would’ve loved to see a different match-up so they both could move on.

  17. Scott Elliott's Gravatar Scott Elliott
    March 2, 2015 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    My debt to Francis knows no bounds, and I am confident that Francis will win this matchup, and at least make it to the Faithful Four, but I voted for John Wycliffe “The Morning Star of the Reformation,” and I hope he comes in at 49%.

  18. Bill Sier's Gravatar Bill Sier
    March 2, 2015 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    An interesting description of Wycliffe – “Remembered by the Church as both a translator and controversialist, Wycliffe conformed to the mold of faithful people who did amazing things but would probably never be anyone’s first choice to share a beer with.” It speaks volumes about the man that and the fistfight at the cathedral. I recall a phrase from my youth “The Saints belong in Heaven, because they are hell to live with on Earth.”
    But would one want to share a beer with Francis?? He wore the same clothes for most of his monastic life, day in and day out. Leaving his personal habits(!) behind, would you want to sit and have a beer with him?? Or Saint Paul, or Saint Peter for that matter?? Great thinkers who could be stinkers?? Fathers of our faith, who like regular fathers might be a bit much to take from time to time??

    • March 2, 2015 - 9:11 am | Permalink

      I suspect sitting with Francis would be being bathed in love, whether you wanted or needed it or not, whether he smelled funny or not. I think that spirit of love–coupled with simplicity–is what prompted our present Pope to take his name.

    • Francis of Granby's Gravatar Francis of Granby
      March 2, 2015 - 9:52 am | Permalink

      Would I sit and have a beer with St. Francis? Yeah, I’d be willing to sit and have a beer with the guy described as “courteous,” “genial,” “extroverted,” “cheerful,” and “kind.”

  19. Alison Bentley's Gravatar Alison Bentley
    March 2, 2015 - 8:35 am | Permalink

    As an avid birdwatcher since the age of 8 and a Lay Reader formerly serving the church of St. Francis of the Birds in St-Sauveur, QC, there’s only one choice for me!!

  20. Frances Jennings's Gravatar Frances Jennings
    March 2, 2015 - 8:35 am | Permalink

    Where would we be without Wycliffe? As a former Cof E John gets my vote!

  21. March 2, 2015 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    My daughter’s youth group did a pilgrimage to Assisi and followed the steps of Francis. For her and those young minds and hearts, I cast my vote for Francis.

  22. March 2, 2015 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    I, along with millions of others, to have gained much from the vernacular Bibles we now read, thanks, in part, to Wycliffe. Yet my vote goes to Francis, whose sweet nature and constant walk with and among the most lowly is surely an example we all need to follow more. And who can argue with the humane treatment of animals? Hard choice, yet Francis is such an iconic figure it is impossible for me to resist voting for him.

  23. NJ's Gravatar NJ
    March 2, 2015 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    I voted for Francis, though Wycliffe is to be admired greatly for his view that scripture should be available to all in their own language. Grateful still for the work of Wycliffe Bible Translators today for continuing this work.

  24. March 2, 2015 - 8:41 am | Permalink

    I love Frances and his gentle ways. However, I also love a good rebel and voted for Wycliffe because he fought the establishment for a good reason.

  25. March 2, 2015 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    Francis is everybody’s sentimental favorite. Who doesn’t love animals and those who protect animals, or the role model of a rich man who gives away everything and wears rags (Early Hippy??). But for elevating the Bible above the priestly class and encouraging the laity to find God on a personal level, I have to vote for Wycliffe. Being so hated by the authorities that his corpse gets burned decades later is a great testimony to his unorthodoxy.

  26. Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
    March 2, 2015 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    Poor Wycliffe….

  27. Sara P. Howrey's Gravatar Sara P. Howrey
    March 2, 2015 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    How can we not vote for Wycliffe? He appealed to me immediately with his courage to speak his truth. I believe most votes for St. Frances are sentimental although I do admire what we know of his example.

  28. Steve P's Gravatar Steve P
    March 2, 2015 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    Wycliffe is a straight up badass. Both are great candidates, but I want to read the blogging about Wycliffe much more than Francis…

  29. TJ's Gravatar TJ
    March 2, 2015 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    I love Francis but my vote goes to Wycliffe. Anyone who risked death at the hands of the church for the belief that everyone should be able to read scripture in their native tongue is cool with me even if they were not an obvious choice for a drinking buddy. Besides, if you’re an argumentative drunk Wycliffe may have been perfect!

  30. Fiona Haworth's Gravatar Fiona Haworth
    March 2, 2015 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    All creatures of our God and King is a favourite hymn of mine (sadly un-singable in Lent). I love Francis for taking seriously the natural world and our fellow creatures, for his rejection of worldly goods. I am intrigued by his encounter with Islam, meeting the Sultan in 1219. There are themes in the life of Francis life which are very relevant today. All this said, I am voting for Wycliffe because the church always needs irritants, and God loves the grumpy too!

  31. Michele's Gravatar Michele
    March 2, 2015 - 8:48 am | Permalink

    I think the joy and delight in which Francis lived his life is why I chose him. I think all too often we forget that wild abandonment on celebration of all God’s creation is what it’s about – even in Lent. I am voting in my soul not my head. If anyone has ever walked the streets of Assisi they could nothing else.

  32. Kim's Gravatar Kim
    March 2, 2015 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    As much as I love Francis, as a Latin American historian currently working on issues of colonial era translations of the catechism into Native American languages I have to ponder this one a bit more.

  33. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    March 2, 2015 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    Francis also tried to end the Crusades in 1219 by voyaging to Cairo in hopes of converting the Caliph. The Caliph granted an audience to the strange, ragged little man and listened respectfully to what he had to say, but unfortunately was not persuaded. How different the world might have been if Francis had successfully pulled that one off!

    What I find compelling in this pairing is Francis’s utter uniqueness. If he hadn’t lived, there is no reason to think another countercultural figure would have risen from the mire of the Thirteenth Century to replace him; and his influence on the Church, the whole Church, has been incalculable then and ever since.

    Wycliffe and the Lollards were also heroes of boldness and devotion; but at least to me it seems that in their absence it’s likely that the reforms they championed would have come about in some other way. So my vote went to Francis largely on the principle of “sine quo/qua non.”

    • Francis of Granby's Gravatar Francis of Granby
      March 2, 2015 - 9:44 am | Permalink

      Well said.

  34. MusicResonator's Gravatar MusicResonator
    March 2, 2015 - 8:53 am | Permalink

    These two initially seemed hard to choose between. I voted for the less obvious Wycliffe, as he seemed to have more impact on the growth of Christianity, where Francis’ approach, while commendable, seems inward and personal.

  35. Mary Catherine Miller's Gravatar Mary Catherine Miller
    March 2, 2015 - 8:54 am | Permalink

    Looking forward to learning more about Wycliffe; although, it will sadly most likely have to be through self study. His collect caught me by my heart. An apropos prayer for the modern day Church…”Grant us …contrition for the wounds which our sins inflict on your Church, and such love for Christ that we may seek to heal the divisions which afflict his Body.”

  36. Katrina's Gravatar Katrina
    March 2, 2015 - 8:55 am | Permalink

    Though I love Francis dearly, I have to throw my lot in with the renegade who foresaw what has become the Episcopal Church. Thank you, John Wycliffe.

  37. Gloria's Gravatar Gloria
    March 2, 2015 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    I’m going Wycliffe. Francis needs no help, but Wycliffe was the pebble in the shoe that makes us consider our errors. A grumpy curmudgeon, but worthy.

    • Diana Lucas Leavengood's Gravatar Diana Lucas Leavengood
      March 2, 2015 - 10:16 am | Permalink

      Gloria: I love the pebble in the shoe analogy. Thank you.

      • Lithophyte's Gravatar Lithophyte
        March 2, 2015 - 6:50 pm | Permalink

        We trust that Cursillo was a great experience! Many Blessings No snakes

        Due to Zoological issues must go with Francis Sigs, Brandy, and Mocha must be served

  38. Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
    March 2, 2015 - 8:58 am | Permalink

    I fully expected to vote for Francis — loved him forever and have irritated for Blessing of the Animals everywhere I go (now I’m at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine I don’t have to irritate because it’s done with such festival and joy there) but then there’s Wycliffe who was an irritant. Oh how I can relate to that!! And to be dug up and burned after being dead — now that’s a Master Irritator. Gotta go with Wycliffe. Sorry Francis. I’ll just get another ferret in penance.

  39. Joyce's Gravatar Joyce
    March 2, 2015 - 8:58 am | Permalink

    I pray in thanksgiving for the Society of St. Francis, especially for Brother Dunstan who taught me as a child in FL while on a preaching trip to the parish of my childhood. I pray in thanksgiving for the departed soul of the Rt Rev Jim Kelsey of tertiary of the SSF, a former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of N. MI. In the Episcopal Diocese of Northern MI, there is a Roman Catholic conference center that they allow us to use. I think of seeing a lovely statue of Francis and the animals quite covered with snow… such that he nearly had a mitre of snow. May all you snow bound, become snow birds and join us in FL –

  40. Ruby's Gravatar Ruby
    March 2, 2015 - 8:58 am | Permalink

    I, we, have been “”beggars outside of St Peter’s” in Rome from the death of John XXIII until Francis came along and brought the spirit of St Francis of Assisi,, kindness and the power of kindness and a smile, back to Rome. Thanks, I do appreciate Wycliffe for his clarity and bravery.

  41. March 2, 2015 - 8:58 am | Permalink

    Francis is reported to have said something to the effect: “Proclaim the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.” One of my favorite “saintly” quotes. I admire Wycliffe greatly and give thanks to God for his scholarship and the impact he has had on the church [and I, too, love irritants], Francis embodied the Gospel of Christ and so gets my vote!

  42. Sonia's Gravatar Sonia
    March 2, 2015 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    Francis is my favorite saint. One of my middle names is Frances – strictly coincidence, came from my father and his family; I think it was a latinization of Freeman, the one time last name. However, I am putting aside my sentimentality to vote for reason and education.

  43. Jimmy's Gravatar Jimmy
    March 2, 2015 - 9:06 am | Permalink

    St.Francis is my favorite saint, as an animal lover and someone who expresses our interconnection with all of life, he gets my vote. Plus at the Episcopal Youth Event this past summer, Francis beat Michael in a vote of the churches youth

  44. Patsy's Gravatar Patsy
    March 2, 2015 - 9:06 am | Permalink

    I chose Francis when I filled out my bracket, but it was hard not to vote for Wycliff. I wouldn’t like having to read the Bible in Latin or Greek although I am having a fine time reading The Nyew Testament in Gullah.

  45. Dan's Gravatar Dan
    March 2, 2015 - 9:07 am | Permalink

    Wow! Why were 2 Giants of the Faith pitched against each other so soon in the voting? I could honestly go either way. I ended up voting for Wycliffe, simply to make his loss less severe. In God’s eyes, they are both winners.

  46. March 2, 2015 - 9:08 am | Permalink

    Though as an EfM mentor I am all for translators like John Wycliffe and having the Scriptures available to all in a language they can understand, today I am particularly thankful for the ministry of one of Francis’ friars.

    Fr. Richard Rohr’s books and teaching have reinvigorated my own practice of prayer and engagement with the Scriptures, so my vote goes to Francis today.

  47. Margery's Gravatar Margery
    March 2, 2015 - 9:08 am | Permalink

    St Francis speaks to my soul with the model of his life, kindness, and fun-loving generosity of spirit.

    Wycliffe speaks to all the practicality of my religious & spiritual life. His influence challenged many of the loathsome practices of the day and endured to create a new approach for the faithful.

    Toughest bracket yet. My heart says Francis. My head says Wycliffe. Today, my head rules. I may have a beer to celebrate & further reflect. Oh, what Lent Madness brings to life!!

  48. Susan Comer's Gravatar Susan Comer
    March 2, 2015 - 9:10 am | Permalink

    I was poised to vote for St. Francis as my model Saint for all times. I’ve had a statue of him in my garden, I’ve sung his Canticle, I love his hewing to the path of Christ and his example for all of us. His life did not seem to take as much courage, however. He had everything of this earth, realized that it is not where happiness and godliness lies, and followed the path of love and Christ, which heals the soul. Wycliffe, on the other hand, questioned the “wisdom” of the Catholic church that hindered the ability of the common people access a faith and study not mediated by clergy, at great danger to himself, and paved the way for us to grow in our relationship with God. I voted for Wycliffe.

  49. Gloria Rousseau's Gravatar Gloria Rousseau
    March 2, 2015 - 9:12 am | Permalink

    Battling the establishment to establish another establishment….I’ll take kindness, compassion, and the belief that we are in relationship to all of creation.

  50. March 2, 2015 - 9:12 am | Permalink

    Two so different, yet profoundly vital, men…. a very tough choice to begin this week. I go with Francis for his radicalism… and the sense I have had lately of reading about Isis radicals… from affluent families etc… who leave home to follow a religious conviction, but one of deep violence, whereas this Christian radical .. and others like Clare… left their affluent homes to follow a religious conviction of profound peace and compassion. The difference is striking.

  51. Mary W.'s Gravatar Mary W.
    March 2, 2015 - 9:15 am | Permalink

    Kudos to Wycliffe for riling up the Catholic church (a need that seems to be continual), but I have to go with Francis. Francis recognized that man was a part of creation and needed to show respect and care for it long before that was anywhere near the norm. The attitude that humans were ‘rulers’ of creation, both above it and without having to show regard for it, was way too prevalent at that time. For that, as well as the general love and respect for other humans, he gets my vote.

  52. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    March 2, 2015 - 9:19 am | Permalink

    I’m just not getting the “I voted for the rebel” theme. Francis was a colossal rebel and a huge irritant, but we tend not to see him that way because, by the grace of God and the sheer force of his personality and example, he more or less compelled the establishment to embrace him and his seedy band of followers.

    And the beer thing is a true red herring. The chances of sharing a beer with Wycliffe far outrun those of sharing one with Francis who, lest we forget, was Italian.

  53. Mary W. Cox's Gravatar Mary W. Cox
    March 2, 2015 - 9:19 am | Permalink

    Not just animals,
    but all creation, holy;
    poverty as wealth.

    Go, Francis!

  54. Susan Boyer's Gravatar Susan Boyer
    March 2, 2015 - 9:20 am | Permalink

    Without Francis, we would not have the blessing of Richard Rohr and his daily messages of Alternative Orthodoxy. It seems to me that Fr Rohr has also a great deal of Francis’ cheer and kindness, now inviting a worldwide digital community to let go of dualism and enmity and embrace unitive consciousness with the marginalized. Not to mention a kinder gentler Pope. Francis for Golden Halo

  55. Alec Clement's Gravatar Alec Clement
    March 2, 2015 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    Had to vote for Wycliffe…what came to mind was “Fight the good fight with all your might”….While St Francis was I his cave..Wycliffe was on the ramparts!

  56. Kelley Brown's Gravatar Kelley Brown
    March 2, 2015 - 9:23 am | Permalink

    This was a tough one, but I voted for St. Francis of Assisi. Primarily because the anthem that I learned in children’s choir eons ago based on the prayer attributed to him – “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace….” will now be stuck in my head for the rest of the day. With all due respect to the man for whom the international Bible translation society is named – and to whom we all owe a great debt – my vote goes to the gentle lover of animals. Particularly as we deal with the death of my beloved dog this past Friday.

  57. March 2, 2015 - 9:23 am | Permalink

    3.2.2015 [Francis]

    the trappings of
    earthly weal,
    home, hearth,

    let go for the
    eternal non-trappings
    of heart, health,
    and soul

    brother Francis
    you lead
    the way.
    Monday in 2Lent

  58. Ed Busch's Gravatar Ed Busch
    March 2, 2015 - 9:27 am | Permalink

    All Hail Francis. Love his “biographies, and when possible show the film Brother Sun, Sister Moon to anyone who will sit still for a couple of hours. Not glorified in the Church much, Wycliffe is an example of serious belief in the priesthood of all believers and probably not heard of by most. Yet we thrive on his example hardly realizing his existence. May there be many more of both.

  59. jack zamboni's Gravatar jack zamboni
    March 2, 2015 - 9:27 am | Permalink

    Sorry to have to choose between these two, but it’s Francis hands down for me. After all, I’m rector of St. Francis, Dunellen, NJ!

    In addirion to the other fine resources on Francis others have posted, I highly recommend the DVD/workbook program, “Embracing an Alternative Orthodoxy: Richard Rohr on the Legacy of Francis” from Church Publishing. We’re using it for our Lenten Adult Formation and it is wonderfully eye-opening. Rohr takes Francis’ teaching and that of his successors far beyond the sometimes sentimental picture of Francis many have.

    I also love the flower child version of Francis in the classic movie, “Brother Sun, Sister Moon.”

  60. Kathy Floerke's Gravatar Kathy Floerke
    March 2, 2015 - 9:27 am | Permalink

    It’s hardly fair to include St. Francis at all. Surely nobody has a chance against him. Maybe he should be awarded a Golden Halo for Life (or After Life) and retired from competition.

    • Tessa Lucero's Gravatar Tessa Lucero
      March 2, 2015 - 10:45 am | Permalink

      Francis has been on the slate before (2010) and made it through three rounds before Julian of Norwich beat him out in the Final Four prior to losing the final vote to George Herbert. His opponents, though, were J. Schereshrewsky (?sp), Hilda of Whitby, and Aelred — not exactly household name saints. Others do have a chance against him.

  61. Adam Naff's Gravatar Adam Naff
    March 2, 2015 - 9:29 am | Permalink

    Translation of the Bible, making Jesus more accessible to the masses. After all isn’t that what the church is supposed to do, lead people to Jesus? The curmudgeonly Wycliffe for me. Although St Francis has been one of my favorites since seeing the simple wood carvings of him in Santa Fe when I was little.

  62. March 2, 2015 - 9:30 am | Permalink

    Looks like this will be the first losing vote I cast, but seeing just what kind of effect Wycliffe had on the entrenched powers of his day I couldn’t resist.

  63. Michelle's Gravatar Michelle
    March 2, 2015 - 9:30 am | Permalink

    My EfM group just read about Wycliffe and the Lollards. Gotta give it to a man who so upset the powers that be that 40 years later they dug him up so they could execute his bones!

  64. Sharon Lunden's Gravatar Sharon Lunden
    March 2, 2015 - 9:31 am | Permalink

    This was a painful choice, the Morning Star of the Reformation up against the perennial favorite Saint. My Baptist roots deeply admire anyone providing Scripture to people in their own language, but my husband is a former Franciscan, so in the interest of family harmony…

  65. Dale McNeill's Gravatar Dale McNeill
    March 2, 2015 - 9:34 am | Permalink

    I love Wycliffe and have his translations. But Francis has had such an important role in the lives of so many of my friends, I had to vote for him.

  66. Kathy Hartley's Gravatar Kathy Hartley
    March 2, 2015 - 9:34 am | Permalink

    This was a tough one for me surprisingly. I ended up going with Francis, although there is a lot I like about Wycliffe. Francis seems to be all about love; Wycliffe seems to be more about righteousness. Both are good and worthy, but I choose love.

  67. Linda's Gravatar Linda
    March 2, 2015 - 9:35 am | Permalink

    This was a tough one because Wycliffe was a courageous man. However, my love of St Francis and his compassionate ministry won out.

  68. Martha's Gravatar Martha
    March 2, 2015 - 9:39 am | Permalink

    We all like Francis… how can you not? But Wycliffe showed a strength of character, a commitment to truth, and a willingness to stand up to power that gets my vote. Imagine his dedication to translate the Bible with quill by candlelight so people could read Scripture in their own language. That is commitment.

  69. Scottie Vajda's Gravatar Scottie Vajda
    March 2, 2015 - 9:44 am | Permalink

    Although Francis was a gentle soul, Wycliffe got out there and put it all on the line for reform. My vote goes for Wycliffe.

  70. Barbara from St. Barnabas's Gravatar Barbara from St. Barnabas
    March 2, 2015 - 9:49 am | Permalink

    I vote for St. Francis. He cared for the poor and was loving and kind. He had a love of creation and understood that we are not just in relationship with other humans – but all of creation.

    Thank you to Francis of Granby for your book & movie recommendations. It’s an excellent list!

    A favorite from St. Francis:

    “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
    Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
    Where there is injury, pardon;
    Where there is doubt, faith;
    Where there is despair, hope;
    Where there is darkness, light;
    And where there is sadness, joy.

    O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
    to be consoled as to console,
    to be understood as to understand,
    to be loved, as to love.

    For it is in giving that we receive,
    It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
    and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
    ― Francis of Assisi

    • Gene Kleppinger's Gravatar Gene Kleppinger
      March 2, 2015 - 10:22 am | Permalink

      While the prayer is beautiful, it was not written by St. Francis. As noted in the LM biography, its earliest known publication is 1912. It was first (mistakenly) attributed to St. Francis in 1927.

      • Katherine Schroeder's Gravatar Katherine Schroeder
        March 2, 2015 - 10:58 am | Permalink

        I have to say I was somewhat relieved to learn that Francis had not written that prayer. Although few could fault the sentiments in it, it always seemed to be more full of “me” and “I” than something Francis actually had written would have been.

  71. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    March 2, 2015 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    And the “courage” thing, and the “Francis in his cave” thing. Surely a reading of Francis ‘s historical life, setting the sentimental accretions aside (but not discarding them — they’re wonderful in their own right), can leave no doubt that the man had great courage, and, though like us he needed solitude and unlike us took time to enjoy it, was very, very far from being a hermit.

    • Francis of Granby's Gravatar Francis of Granby
      March 2, 2015 - 9:59 am | Permalink

      Excellent points, Davis. Contrary to what some seem to think, Francis was in fact a rebel; he was courageous; he did not live his life in a cave; etc. His legacy is real, profound and abiding. Those allergic to “sentimentality” might do well to look beyond the garden statues.

  72. Raymond Groshong's Gravatar Raymond Groshong
    March 2, 2015 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    An English reformer from North Yorkshire who advocated a vernacular Bible – it has to be Wycliffe.

  73. Linda Clader's Gravatar Linda Clader
    March 2, 2015 - 9:56 am | Permalink

    I’d love to see some Lent Madness match ups someday of just the people who contributed to making the scriptures available to the laity. Luther, Coverdale, Tyndale, Wycliffe, even the committee that produced the KJV. Wycliffe doesn’t stand a chance against Francis, but I hope this competition raises awareness of the debt we owe to nerdy, crotchety people who translate and study the nuances of ancient tongues so that the rest of us can receive what the ancients thought and knew.

    • John Miller's Gravatar John Miller
      March 2, 2015 - 10:28 am | Permalink

      I am eternally grateful to such people and to those who carry on in their tradition. In their honor, John Wycliffe gets my vote today as well.

    • Betsy Hooper's Gravatar Betsy Hooper
      March 2, 2015 - 12:50 pm | Permalink

      Linda, our church has stained glass windows honoring Wycliffe, Tyndale, and the translators of the KJV (one each); if the Lent Madness SEC ever decides to include them all, we can offer one-stop copyright-free graphics! We have a Francis window also, but my heart is with Wycliffe for the same reasons many have already mentioned.

  74. Elaine Culver's Gravatar Elaine Culver
    March 2, 2015 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    All credit to St. Francis for his love of animals, the poor, and all creation. My vote, nevertheless, goes to Wycliffe, because he risked martyrdom for his belief that Christians should be able to read Scripture in their own languages.

  75. March 2, 2015 - 10:00 am | Permalink

    Francis will no doubt win, and is the face of Christianity as it should be, loving and radically kind. The Dalai Lama and Francis would have a beer together, if they drank beer.

    However, I’m going to vote for Wycliffe. Not only did his translations spread the Word, but they have provided a corpus of translated texts that have helped preserve or at least memorialize the vanishing languages and cultures of the world.

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      March 2, 2015 - 10:17 am | Permalink

      I am so in debt to Wycliffe for the legacy of translations — I have about 50 different ones. The publishers of those are also in debt to him, as I am to them.

  76. Alan C's Gravatar Alan C
    March 2, 2015 - 10:02 am | Permalink

    This was a tougher choice than I thought it would be. Wycliffe’s biography is pretty compelling. The Church can use an irritant or two, and I like to support the underdog. But I went for Francis partly because we desperately need peacemakers in the world now, and I’m not sure we need a lot more Bible translators. Besides, I’m not always sure giving people unfettered access to the Bible has been an altogether good thing.

    • Katherine Schroeder's Gravatar Katherine Schroeder
      March 2, 2015 - 10:53 am | Permalink

      Had to chuckle when I read your comment. Yes. When you see what some alleged Christians have done with their access to the Bible, it does give you pause doesn’t it?

  77. Mike Essig's Gravatar Mike Essig
    March 2, 2015 - 10:06 am | Permalink

    My dog wanted me to vote for St Francis, but alas, my dog can’t vote. I went with Wycliffe

  78. Tom Gerald's Gravatar Tom Gerald
    March 2, 2015 - 10:06 am | Permalink

    How many boomers among us weren’t impacted by the movie “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” (aka ~”Romeo & Juliet” meets “Love Story” by way of “Jesus Christ Superstar” minus the rockin’ soundtrack~)?
    Still, my vote goes to Wycliffe whose questioning of and acting against authority should have carried us all through the turbulent “Sixties”!

    • Lory Garrett's Gravatar Lory Garrett
      March 2, 2015 - 10:49 am | Permalink

      Tom Gerald: You won me over! (And thanks for the reminder there’s still room for this boomer.)

  79. Joe Stroud's Gravatar Joe Stroud
    March 2, 2015 - 10:10 am | Permalink

    What Carol said, (9:44 am post).

  80. Anthony Lee's Gravatar Anthony Lee
    March 2, 2015 - 10:13 am | Permalink

    I hate to say it, but the very fact of Francis’s phenomenal popularity, even among the irreligious who may not even understand what his life and work were all about but just like statues of someone with a bird on his shoulder, counts against him in my book–even though I think his “Canticle to the Sun” is one of the greatest hymns in Christian history. On the other hand, I’m rather fond of contentious and controversial reformers who are an irritation to authorities, particularly at a time (before and during the Reformation) when the authorities were spectacularly wrong.

    • Sister Janet's Gravatar Sister Janet
      March 2, 2015 - 11:12 am | Permalink

      Jesus was also very popular among people who didn’t really understand what his life and work were all about! As a Franciscan tertiary, I see that very popularity as a sign that people are hungry for gentleness and deep joy, and I figure it’s an opening to tell them more about what Francis (and Jesus!) were all about!
      And while neither seems to have been particularly cranky, and only one of them was executed for it, both Jesus and Francis were very much reformers who were an irritation to authorities! Francis received support from some within the church establishment, but fierce opposition from others!
      None of which is to disrespect what Wycliffe did, which was very very important, and I reap the benefits from it every day when I read the scriptures in English translation!

  81. March 2, 2015 - 10:20 am | Permalink

    I was prepared to vote for Francis, but I read the write up on Wycliffe and was reminded of the need for those who challenge and push for reform. The fact that they dug him up to burn his remains, to me, means that he must have been on to something that deeply disturbed the comfortable in the church. I’m sure Francis will win, and that will be fine with me. But my vote went to the reformer.

  82. Kim's Gravatar Kim
    March 2, 2015 - 10:23 am | Permalink

    I adore my two rescue puppies. Next one I get I will name Frank in honor of St. Francis. The legacy of his commitment to the least of these is a spirit of social justice is at the heart of what Christianity should always be. However, my vote goes to Wycliffe in what I know is a losing cause today. His commitment to access to the Bible in the vernacular has had the effect of at least documenting (if not saving) multiple indigenous languages. More importantly, that idea, that we all have the right to understand our faith on our own educated terms and not have it dictated to us is also bedrock to social justice Christianity. He was gifted with the “speak truth to power” gene that is also part of social justice. And finally, gotta love a guy who was so dangerous that “officials dug up his body, burned the remains, and threw the ashes into the River Swift as a protest against his teachings.” Must have been onto something!

  83. March 2, 2015 - 10:24 am | Permalink

    I have a great fondness for Francis of Assisi. I think his gentle spirit towards all of creation is greatly needed in a day when the creation is being destroyed. We need to understand that we are in relationship with the creation, and that it is not there for us to exploit. Learning about Francis can help us with that. The current Pope took the name Francis to honor him, and I think his work is generally in line with the work of Francis. If Francis of Assisi wins the Golden Halo, I will buy the mug. 🙂

  84. Michael's Gravatar Michael
    March 2, 2015 - 10:30 am | Permalink

    When I first saw the names I thought Francis but having read about them both above I am going for Wycliffe because he wanted me to be able to read the bible. And having your bones dug up, burnt and strewn in a river just because someone didn’t like what you did in your life is so cool.

  85. Bee Jay's Gravatar Bee Jay
    March 2, 2015 - 10:30 am | Permalink

    It’s hands down for Wycliffe!
    Where would we be without vernacular scripture? eh?
    Francis is almost an urban legend. So many things about him are fictional. And, yes, not all truth is factual. But – – -.
    I really admire Wycliffe. Courageous and intelligent and well educated. My kind of guy!

  86. Heather C's Gravatar Heather C
    March 2, 2015 - 10:31 am | Permalink

    St. Francis already gets plenty of press. Today had to vote for someone who sought to bring the Word of God to all people in their own language – Go Wycliffe!

  87. Grace Cangialosi's Gravatar Grace Cangialosi
    March 2, 2015 - 10:41 am | Permalink

    Well, I can’t think of anyone I’d pick over Francis, but I’ve enjoyed learning about Wycliffe.
    I’d like to point out, however, that in his time Francis was just as much of a rebel and reformer of the church as Wycliffe. He was courageous in his opposition to the excesses of the institution and wasn’t exactly the darling of the Vatican!

  88. Hilda's Gravatar Hilda
    March 2, 2015 - 10:43 am | Permalink

    Although Im an Anglican and applaud Wycliffe’s efforts and successes in reforming the Roman Catholic Church of his day, I have to vote for St. Francis. He preached reform by his way of life without words. As a lover of nature, animals and people, I identify more with him than with Wycliffe.

  89. Katherine Schroeder's Gravatar Katherine Schroeder
    March 2, 2015 - 10:48 am | Permalink

    As a Roman Catholic I just have to vote for Wycliffe. He “got it” long before anyone else did. I was relieved to read that he died of natural causes before they could go medieval on him. And even then they had to go and dig him up later and burn him just — because. Not one of the RC Church’s finer moments. He was one gutsy guy. Francis was a sweetheart, but he’s got plenty of positive PR going for him already. Wycliffe today.

  90. Dotty's Gravatar Dotty
    March 2, 2015 - 10:52 am | Permalink

    Right brain! Left brain!
    Love St. Francis all the way! My hand surprised me and voted for Wycliffe!
    We must do what the Holy Spirit calls us to…both did this! I greatly appreciate the determination to challenge authority when needed. Wycliffe all the way!

  91. Betsey's Gravatar Betsey
    March 2, 2015 - 10:52 am | Permalink

    As with every day in the Madness, two fine people and only one can move forward. It’s Francis for my click. My heart still really misses my fur baby who traveled the Rainbow Bridge a couple years ago, and the present Pope has done much to impress me. He’s just been such a breath of fresh air.

  92. Jen E. Ochsner's Gravatar Jen E. Ochsner
    March 2, 2015 - 10:52 am | Permalink

    What would it be like today if the Bible had not been translated into English etc. His work still goes on! Although St. Francis reeks of love for all creatures, and brought to us the crèche, my vote goes to John Wycliffe.

  93. Karen's Gravatar Karen
    March 2, 2015 - 10:52 am | Permalink

    Let’s see: theology vs. compassion. Gotta go with compassion. Francis it is.

  94. Claire's Gravatar Claire
    March 2, 2015 - 10:54 am | Permalink

    Aaaaaaaack! I thought this one was going to be easy. I have Francis for the halo, but now having gotten to know about Wycliffe, I don’t know anymore. Will I vote for Francis or John? At first Francis was a no-brainer for me. Now, I am no longer sure. John paved the way to the English reformation, without which we would not have the Anglican Church, the church who adopted me with open arms when I left the Roman Catholic Church because many of its doctrines and actions became untenable.
    I will let this one sit for a bit and vote a little later.

    • Claire's Gravatar Claire
      March 2, 2015 - 12:08 pm | Permalink

      My cats would not forgive me if I voted for John instead of Francis. Also, considering that my name is Claire, the choice is almost a given. 🙂

  95. Bill Ericson's Gravatar Bill Ericson
    March 2, 2015 - 10:55 am | Permalink

    I am going for Wicliffe even tho I am a follower of Francis.

  96. Linda Brown's Gravatar Linda Brown
    March 2, 2015 - 10:59 am | Permalink

    These two candidates represent, in a way, different parts of our better selves, attributes that we admire and would like to emulate (“grant us grace so to follow the good examples of all thy saints”). Francis is sweet and sentimental ~ it’s the face that we all want to the world to see. Wycliffe, though, is the pointed pragmatist ~ it’s the part of our selves that we would like to think we could and would bring to the fore if needed, but in the end often lack the courage to live out. This is a personality test! Will we put our sweet face on or are we courageous enough to let the world see our tough side, and to suffer the consequences of forgoing sweetness when pointedness is what is needed? Both attributes are laudable and necessary. Which will we show today?

    • Vicki's Gravatar Vicki
      March 2, 2015 - 12:05 pm | Permalink

      I agree in a way… there are times when we need to be stern (which is the way wonderful John Wycliffe can come across. But i don’t see Francis as being sentimental, since i don’t equate kindness and deep compassion as sentimental. I also think it usually takes a great deal of courage to both give up the creature comforts of wealth and to be kind, compassionate, gentle in a hard world. Francis IS a very powerful model for sainthood today; at least for me he is. In a world of ecological crisis we seem as a community/species to lack the courage to give up even a few our creature comforts to save our planet, or the compassion to live as if we know that it’s not just here for us, but for all of God’s children, regardless of species. Wycliffe did some fine stuff, and the Lollards were cool (sans bow ties or fezes, alas) but i think, feel, and believe that Francis’ model of how to live is the one we need most for the long haul in a world fraught with conflict and greed.

  97. March 2, 2015 - 11:03 am | Permalink

    I am deeply formed in my heart, by the life of St. Francis. Also, my mother was a Third Order Franciscan and was buried in her Fransican habit, so my love for him is strong. However, after reading Wycliffe’s story, I had to vote for him. His courage and theological understanding are exactly what we need in our church today. We are going to “polite” ourselves out of any relevancy for the world in which we live. We are terrible about having open and frank and honest discussions when we’re in the midst of conflict. We’re especially reluctant to name and call out bad decisions made by people who have authority over us. I don’t mean we should bash those with whom we disagree, some of us do that really well, but rather we should be willing to openly state when we don’t agree. Bashing one another is another way of shutting down open and free discussion. Wycliffe exemplified what we need today. We’ve had a couple of national headline events in recent months, (GTS fiasco and Bp. Heather Cook) neither of which has been handled well by our leaders. We had the spotlight and we didn’t shine well. We could’ve used the crises to model a just and redemptive church and we squandered it by our posturing, feeding ego, and protecting turf. Thank God for Wycliffe’s example!

    • Linda Brown's Gravatar Linda Brown
      March 2, 2015 - 11:46 am | Permalink

      Well said, Sylvia ~ we need to learn manage disagreement and conflict well, individually & corporately.

  98. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
    March 2, 2015 - 11:08 am | Permalink

    I would wish that Wycliffe were paired with somebody else. I cannot resist voting for Francis, who has been my most special “spirit guide” for most of my life. The anthem “Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace” was sung at both my college graduation and my ordination. I had nothing to do with the planning of either service. Someone wrote that Francis had “only” to do with the internal, personal relationship with God; but is not that the foundation for everything we do outwardly? Francis has been such a huge part of my spiritual formation that I just can’t vote for anyone else!

  99. Ian Strout's Gravatar Ian Strout
    March 2, 2015 - 11:09 am | Permalink

    Francis is the image many think of when they picture a saint… and so it is not surprising that he is in the lead. Wycliffe on the other hand was a thorn in the side of those who wielded power in his day, fighting for reform… quite a match-up. the soft and soothing saint vs. the rebel. both were writers, but I think that Wycliffe’s translating has enabled the gospel to reach far, FAR, more people than Francis could have.

    I am likely voting for the losing candidate, but I believe John Wycliffe to be the Saint we need today!

  100. shawn's Gravatar shawn
    March 2, 2015 - 11:14 am | Permalink

    I do admire Wycliffe and am grateful for him and intend to do more reading up on him but I cannot deny my connection to St. Francis and his love for creation. I think of him often. I have 5 birds, a rabbit and a cat in a very small apartment. They are all rescues ( I do not believe in caging animals but there’s nothing we can do once the deed is done unfortunately…..selling animals should be outlawed!). I do not have furniture because my “children” (except the cat) have very large houses(cages….I hate the term) and there is no room for furniture….but who cares? There’s lots of LIFE in here! Anyway I also have the privilege for us to get to know each other on a very intimate level and they truly are brothers and sisters. We are all equal (yet diverse) in the site of the Lord. But we are called to serve them rather than the other way around because we can.
    Just an aside my first two birds (Lovebirds) were named Pinky and Keno by their previous family. (The birds were not happy with the little girl and the little girl was not happy with them). After receiving them into my home I prayed about changing their names. The Lord spoke very clearly: Francis and Sissi!

  101. Lithophyte's Gravatar Lithophyte
    March 2, 2015 - 11:14 am | Permalink

    We have a yellow nape amazon parrot + two spoiled Burmese felines that told me I must go with Francis or move out. So we followed the party line on this. Sorry Wycliffe there are decision days that we are obligated to do what the majority tells us to do.

  102. Barbara Gay's Gravatar Barbara Gay
    March 2, 2015 - 11:16 am | Permalink

    St. Francis is my favorite saint and I think he will go all the way this time. But as much as I love Bible study and adult continuing ed at church, have to go with Wycliffe. How can we really understand the source of love if we cannot read God’s word?

  103. David Crosson's Gravatar David Crosson
    March 2, 2015 - 11:18 am | Permalink

    Wouldn’t Francis foul out for hugging all of the other team’s players? And he would give no offense at all.

  104. David M.'s Gravatar David M.
    March 2, 2015 - 11:27 am | Permalink

    St. Francis vs Wycliffe?! Titans clash. Voted for St. Francis because his centuries of impact on the Church and the Poor, but Wycliffe is a saint for all Protestants. Tough choice and both should be in the Final Four.

  105. Jan Robitscher's Gravatar Jan Robitscher
    March 2, 2015 - 11:29 am | Permalink

    It was a hard choice, but in honor of my faithful guide dog, Veronique, I voted for Francis. Incidentally, I was surprised that the otherwise wonderful biography of Wycliffe did not give him more credit for the beginning efforts toward an English translation of the Bible. I also loved the wonderful additions to the biography of St. Francis in the comments.

  106. March 2, 2015 - 11:32 am | Permalink

    Well, my companion, Togo [see my avatar] is quite happy that I voted for Francis. I know this because he keeps nodding his head!

  107. Diane Norton's Gravatar Diane Norton
    March 2, 2015 - 11:49 am | Permalink

    Once again among the losers. Wycliffe got my vote.

  108. Brixham Beth's Gravatar Brixham Beth
    March 2, 2015 - 11:58 am | Permalink

    It seems that Wycliffe had writing on his garment – super stock – what is that all about? Perhaps it is just my mobile having a joke?
    Voted for him anyway, I could never get to grips with Latin.

  109. Debby Thomas's Gravatar Debby Thomas
    March 2, 2015 - 11:58 am | Permalink

    A very difficult choice. Assisi the town and its ‘cave’ offer a rich spiritual experience as does the story of Francis. Wycliffe, however, received my vote today . At Oxford University there is a college that continues to reach out with its many programs, especially a Summer School – that remains a living testament to this often overlooked saint. Check it out for a study/vacation in the world of Carroll, Tolkien, Lewis at the college of Wycliffe Hall.

  110. Brixham Beth's Gravatar Brixham Beth
    March 2, 2015 - 12:03 pm | Permalink

    My husband when consulted said the picture probably come from a company that want to hang onto copywrite so put on a watermark.
    How boring, I had hoped Wycliffe was finding funds by endorsing a product.

  111. Claire's Gravatar Claire
    March 2, 2015 - 12:09 pm | Permalink

    My cats will not forgive me if I vote for John. Also, considering that my name is Claire, it is pretty much a given.
    I have cast my vote for Francis.

  112. March 2, 2015 - 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Another tough one today. We clearly need both kinds of followers of Jesus, those in the trenches providing love and comfort to the less fortunate, and those who fight on a political level to effect real change. I went with Wycliffe because he did what I cannot.

  113. Terry Proctor's Gravatar Terry Proctor
    March 2, 2015 - 12:21 pm | Permalink

    St FRancis. Totally St Francis!! Neither my animals nor my Richard Rohrian theology would allow me to choose any other!!

  114. lehall's Gravatar lehall
    March 2, 2015 - 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I got interested in Wycliffe and ended up reading the 1912 New Catholic Encyclopedia entry for him. (here: It’s a generally unflattering portrait that probably says just as much about Francis Urquhart who wrote it as is does about Wycliffe. He does mention that the New Testament was pretty widely available in English before Wycliffe. I don’t know enough to judge the claim, but I found it fascinating.

  115. Pat's Gravatar Pat
    March 2, 2015 - 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Lets see – Wycliffe bucked accepted church establishment big time; did not stray from his ministry and mission; rebuked the church authority; challenged accepted theology, provided translations to many; gave comfort to those chased underground for their beliefs; and also managed to die on his terms. Although not mentioned, I believe he kept a cat or two. More like Christ than Francis? debatable – yet both in their own lives were worthy of being Christlike and of great value to our church! Wycliffe is my vote!

  116. Nancy of Day's Gravatar Nancy of Day
    March 2, 2015 - 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Is anyone else having trouble voting? I’ve tried two devices and two different wireless connections and neither seems to work.

  117. Grampster41's Gravatar Grampster41
    March 2, 2015 - 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Wycliffe all the way as beginner of the English Reformation. Francis wasn’t really so sweet. And, I Wish our society had as much compassion for abused and starving children as it does for abused and starving animals.

  118. Joy's Gravatar Joy
    March 2, 2015 - 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Really really hard decision today! I’m so torn. Almost didn’t vote. Finally went with Francis only because I’ve been to Assisi, sat for a long time in front of the cross of San Domiano, and felt both comforted, challenged, and supported to continue in my ministry.

  119. Kathy's Gravatar Kathy
    March 2, 2015 - 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Wycliffe it is. How could we imagine not having access to scripture other than through a mediator?? Francis was truly a wonderful man, but I am sure he doesn’t need my vote!

  120. Kay Richardson's Gravatar Kay Richardson
    March 2, 2015 - 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Wycliffe birdbaths? Are you daft??? Wycliffe was a sharp-tongued zealot and no one’s instrument of peace, “so much a scholar and so little a saint,” as one historian put it. He was also self-serving. While railing against Church wealth, he was living off the appointed parish of Lutterworth (near Birmingham) while residing in Oxford. His claim to sainthood is his translation into English of Jerome’s Vulgate Bible, but he was such a polarizing and divisive figure that translating the Bible into English was made illegal and remained so until after the Reformation. Wycliffe does belong on our calendar of saints — God works in mysterious ways — but I will not vote for him.

  121. Toni Ponzo's Gravatar Toni Ponzo
    March 2, 2015 - 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Love St. Francis and he’s responsible for some great music (and other stuff) but had to go with the guy who got in the face of the establishment. We need more like him today.

  122. Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
    March 2, 2015 - 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Once again, I vote for the underdog–as it were. John Wycliffe may not have been someone with whom to have a beer (or ale or mead or whatever they were drinking in the 1400’s) but he stirred things up and most importantly began the tradition of bringing the Bible to ordinary people.
    I agree with Kathy that Francis was an amazing person who has influenced many over the centuries, but he doesn’t need my vote. John just might.

  123. Cheryle's Gravatar Cheryle
    March 2, 2015 - 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I struggled a bit because I had some inclination toward Wycliffe, but in the end Francis won my vote as he has always held my heart.

    In honor of Francis, I bring you this heartwarming story:

  124. Art's Gravatar Art
    March 2, 2015 - 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Kind of hard to vote against Francis with the current Pope taking on his name. I did though.

  125. Ron's Gravatar Ron
    March 2, 2015 - 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Was babtisted and became an Episcopalian in Moab, UT at St. Francis,, I have to say this has always been my favorite Saint.

  126. Jon's Gravatar Jon
    March 2, 2015 - 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Wasn’t Wycliffe the guy who thought that the church should be forbidden to own property on the theory that devout, wealthy people are better stewards of church buildings?

    I like having Scripture in the vernacular, but making the church so profoundly dependent on the wealthy is just crazy talk.

    • Linda Brown's Gravatar Linda Brown
      March 2, 2015 - 6:45 pm | Permalink

      Wycliffe was one who supported the secularization of ecclesiastical properties ~ not b/c he thought the wealthy would be better stewards, but b/c he was in favor of the church renouncing temporal role of the clergy. It was also a time when the clergy had a tendency to misuse ecclesiastical property, in which case Wycliffe thought it should be taken away. (De civili dominio)

  127. Pj's Gravatar Pj
    March 2, 2015 - 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Wycliffe. As on Facebook, do not be distracted by the cute little animals…

  128. Anne Tanner's Gravatar Anne Tanner
    March 2, 2015 - 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Interesting … judging from the comments here, I think Wycliffe won. (Yes, I read the comments before I vote.) I think everyone decided that St. Francis would walk away with it and voted the underdog. That wouldn’t be the first time that happened this year, either. But who cares, with two deserving saints. OK, now I’ll vote … for Francis.

  129. Janice Zitzmann's Gravatar Janice Zitzmann
    March 2, 2015 - 1:53 pm | Permalink

    This is an impossible choice.

  130. March 2, 2015 - 1:57 pm | Permalink

    My favorite prayer about St. Francis says that God sent St. Francis “when the world had grown cold” to heat it with his passion for God. Today’s world is in need of such a saint, someone to set us ablaze with love for God again. Francis also confronted the evils of his day; namely, the heresy that claimed that the material world was so evil that it could not have been created by God. He journeyed to the Holy Land during the Crusades to confront those who were guilty of the horrible things that were done in God’s name. He preached to the Sultan and tried to convert him to Christianity. The Sultan was so taken with this little man and his goodness that, while he did not convert, he did allow Francis to return to the Christian camp without harming him. The story of the wolf of Gubbio also shows us Francis confronting evil. The “wolf” was a rapacious man who was savagely dealing with the townsfolk of Gubbio. For all of these reasons, Francis gets my vote today.

  131. March 2, 2015 - 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Trust me, not everyone loves animals and certainly they don’t all love people who defend animals . . . but my vote is for Brother Francis – it would be nice to see a Religious win the Golden Halo!

  132. March 2, 2015 - 2:07 pm | Permalink

    NOT fair – Butting poor John up against Francis – popularity can be a killer!
    That being said, they both were reformers of the church each in his own way, addressing issues of the Faith in their time.
    A note about Francis – everybody loves the “bird bath saint”, few want to follow him in
    the ascetic mystical journey. Living the way of the cross is hard compared to sentimental feel good spirituality.

  133. Susan Maurine's Gravatar Susan Maurine
    March 2, 2015 - 2:11 pm | Permalink

    I’m in a open-air restaurant and there are scads of birds dive-bombing our food. Bah to the birds! I vote for Wycliffe!

  134. Judy Hoover's Gravatar Judy Hoover
    March 2, 2015 - 2:21 pm | Permalink

    I cannot help but vote for someone who preached to the birds. Or so they say he did.

  135. Megan J's Gravatar Megan J
    March 2, 2015 - 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Once again I find myself voting for the guy I didn’t expect to vote for. I love St. Francis, I love what he did, what he inspired others to do, and his basilica in Assisi is one of the most profoundly God-imbued physical places I have ever been.
    But Wycliffe! He fought not only for what was right, but also what was practical. Accessible scripture is nothing to laugh at, while (in my opinion) indulgences are. He forced people to think about what they believed, to such an extent that he was declared a heretic years after his death, and after that dug up and burned. That is an amazing testimonial to his work and I have to vote for him.

  136. sally fox's Gravatar sally fox
    March 2, 2015 - 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Francis it is for me. I, too, have taken Animal Blessings everywhere I’ve served (if they did not already have one). Even if Francis did not actually pen The Prayer of St. Francis, it bears his spirit and evokes his image. It’s still his prayer as far as I’m concerned.

  137. Linda Maloney's Gravatar Linda Maloney
    March 2, 2015 - 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Voted for Wycliffe because we have so much in common! (though I’m much more High Church than he).

  138. Mark Willems's Gravatar Mark Willems
    March 2, 2015 - 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Looking forward to the kitsch round –
    Francis: innumerable statues of a guy holding a bird
    Wycliffe: EVERY English Bible EVER printed
    Wycliffe it is.

  139. Carol Virginia's Gravatar Carol Virginia
    March 2, 2015 - 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Wycliffe followed the ‘Road Less Traveled” with the courage needed for the future well-being of the Church. I would gladly have voted for his exemplary leadership, but for an incredible visit to Assisi, where upon the solitary morning (off season) walk toward the mountaintop Statue, the dozens upon dozens of birds in the treetops could be heard ensemble in truly joyful birdsong. Inspiring. Love, it would seem, is the redeeming truth.

  140. Ellen Ekstrom's Gravatar Ellen Ekstrom
    March 2, 2015 - 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Brother Francis has had his day in the sun – let’s see a revolutionary spirit like Wycliffe advance in the wonderful madness.

  141. rodney's Gravatar rodney
    March 2, 2015 - 3:00 pm | Permalink

    All weekend I was all set to vote for Fran – but, after reading the thorn in the side our friend John was to the Catholic Church, I changed my mind! Yes, he may not be the guy you want to have a beer with, but I’m not really a beer drinker anyway!!!!

  142. Carolina's Gravatar Carolina
    March 2, 2015 - 3:04 pm | Permalink

    I have a great deal of respect for Wycliffe’s desire to ensure the scripture was in the laity’s native tongue, but Francis saw the scripture in the very Creation, and for that he has my vote.

  143. Sr. Brigidssm's Gravatar Sr. Brigidssm
    March 2, 2015 - 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Has to be Francis…I’d be another one freeing rabbits from traps… Also I love wolves too….!Actually I love all creatures, and love the idea of preaching to them, of course they have many things to teach me..

  144. March 2, 2015 - 3:16 pm | Permalink

    For me this was almost as difficult a choice as last year’s decision between John and Charles Wesley. Nevertheless, I ultimately voted for John Wycliffe rather than Francis. Firstly, because I have a soft spot for the Anglican Reformers in Lent Madness. They tend to get hosed because many people in our church grew up in the Roman Catholic church and have never heard of them, or heard them described as monsters by RC apologists. Secondly, Francis is an example of virtues proper to all people, and he challenged society to do more to help the poor. Wycliffe, OTOH, is an example of specifically Christian virtues and he challenged the church to be true to its particular calling, the Gospel.

  145. Ginny Berkey's Gravatar Ginny Berkey
    March 2, 2015 - 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Loved the dialogue today. The bibliography information is great. Hard choice, but having walked the paths St. Francis walked and feeling deep peace, I had to go with Francis.

  146. Amy Fallon's Gravatar Amy Fallon
    March 2, 2015 - 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Most likely because I was introduced to Francis as the ’70s hippy dippy bird bath saint, I have never really warmed to him. Wycliffe has his flaws, but anyone who made it easier for me to read the bible in my own language gets my vote.

  147. March 2, 2015 - 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Both promoted significant reforms. Both faced stiff opposition from ultra-conservative forces in their own times.
    Today, Francis serves as an example of Christianity at its best for Christians of all traditions, for people of other living faiths, and for all people of good will.
    Sadly, Wycliffe today seems to be an positive symbol mainly for evangelical Protestants who cherish the split from Rome.
    While I honour both the historic Francis and the historic Wycliffe, in terms of their iconic status today, the ecumenist in me must vote for Francis.

  148. Suzanne's Gravatar Suzanne
    March 2, 2015 - 4:02 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think there is anything “easy” about responding to God’s call to renounce one’s old way of life and start over in the service of the needy. Francis spread God’s Word and opened his heart to see that Christ was in the beggars in front of the church, not just the ceremony inside of it. I think his vibrant example of living faith makes him at least as popular as his connection to animals.

  149. Kelly Pulsifer's Gravatar Kelly Pulsifer
    March 2, 2015 - 4:13 pm | Permalink

    For me, there is no saint to compete with Francis. In fact, I had Francis and Teresa of Avila in the final round of my original bracket and gave the Golden Halo to Teresa because Francis has the current Pope. It seemed only fair. Alas, my bracket was shattered in the first round! I will stay with Francis to the Halo. Wycliffe was significant, but critical. Francis is positive love. I tire of negativity and criticism.

  150. Brian Perkins's Gravatar Brian Perkins
    March 2, 2015 - 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Can you imagine if we didn’t each have our own Bible, but had to hope a well-reasoned Gospel was being given to us? In a church like ours where thoughtful debate and intellect are valued, we are especially indebted to Dr Wycliffe. Thank you, sir, and God bless. I’ll buy that first beer in heaven.

    • Kris Austin's Gravatar Kris Austin
      March 2, 2015 - 9:04 pm | Permalink

      Here, here!

  151. John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
    March 2, 2015 - 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Here’s my take on Wycliffe. He belongs to a trinity of saintly men–Wycliffe, Spinoza, and Machiavelli–who opened the way to the distinctly modern view of REASON as having a positive value in Western culture, and by extension in Western Christianity. All three were demonized in their time–most of all Niccolo, whose given name became a nickname for the Devil–a sure sign that they were on to something important. Along with its close relative, Experience–were added to Scripture and Tradition to form the “Anglican quadrilateral of Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience.” These four are the canon (measuring instrument) by which we examine our teachings in the faith. Before their time, the canon had only Scripture and Tradition as components, and in ages where literacy was confined to the few, pronouncements of what was sound teaching and sound practice could be monopolized by religious elites. Hence the attempts by elites to stamp out their ideas by branding them heretical or atheistic and then prohibiting their dissemination. Those who belonged to the party of reason and experience, a party whose roots go back to antiquity, were constrained to spread the ideas subversively. You published a treatise and denounced, say, Spinoza in the preface; in the body of the treatise you presented Spinoza’s leading ideas as though you’d just thought of them yourself. And everyone who took the trouble to read the treatise saw through this literally life-saving ruse, and the elites of Europe became enlightened almost against their will. A corollary of this with special reference to the English-speaking world is that at this distance it’s very difficult to discern who’s a true Lollard and who isn’t. A case in point is Chaucer, who shows a profound sympathy for Lollard ideals without naming Wycliffe. The portrait of the poor county Parson in the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales echoes point by point the portrait of Wycliffe in this Lent Madness matchup. In fact, it could have been written by a member of the SEC proficient in Middle English verse composition. Writing at a time when the dilemma posed to advanced intellectuals could be summed up as publish AND perish, Chaucer may well have chosen the more prudent option. Bottom line here: Wycliffe should be remembered not as a generic trouble-maker or anti-authority rebel, but as a confessor (not martyr) to our modern understanding of the Faith. Without him, no us.

  152. Cecelia Rood's Gravatar Cecelia Rood
    March 2, 2015 - 4:58 pm | Permalink

    My dogs and cats tied me up and voted for St. Francis can’t vote again, so I am stuck with their decision.

    • John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
      March 2, 2015 - 5:07 pm | Permalink

      So did I! 2 word explanation: Pope Francis. He’s been opening a door through which the party of Reason and Experience can enter the Catholic Church in greater numbers. True saints complement and complete one another. Isn’t that the message of Lent Madness?

  153. Geoff McLarney's Gravatar Geoff McLarney
    March 2, 2015 - 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Have to go with the deacon over the enemy of the faith, although the latter seems not to be a deal-breaker for as many as I expected (there’s surely an unkind Episcopalian joke in there somewhere).

  154. j's Gravatar j
    March 2, 2015 - 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Pope Francis took his name from a true revolutionary. At a time when the religious orders were unspeakably rich and powerful and holed up in their monaster-estates with peasant-serfs making them piles of $$$$, Francis and his brothers minor had no land. They had no money. They had no shoes. By their very existence, they were a thumb in the eye of the establishment, a true reproach. The cardinal from the New World knew what he was about – his reform was to bring everyone down off their high horses as Francis had, and return his church to its true mission. It is sad that the Franciscans by the 18th century had lost their way to the extent that they enslaved thousands of natives in Alta California at the behest of the Spanish Crown, and for not a little lucre of their own. Bonaventure, Francis’ biographer, is the namesake of the mission town in which I live. But I go for Francis the mendicant and his true vision and mission.

  155. March 2, 2015 - 7:35 pm | Permalink

    At a time when the gap is widening between rich and poor, St. Francis’s devotion to the poor speaks directly to us with startling relevance.

  156. Nancy Gilmour's Gravatar Nancy Gilmour
    March 2, 2015 - 7:52 pm | Permalink

    My reform-minded self makes me appreciative of Wycliffe, but my emotions square with Francis. Francis was introduced to me by my friend Louise who chose him as her patron saint and exhibited throughout her life and work the same kindness and concern for the poor and indigent. Thanks to her love and devotion to Francis, I learned the value of simple service and quiet compassion. In memory of my dear friend, today I vote for kindness.

  157. Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
    March 2, 2015 - 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Today LM presents the case of the Repentant Sinner vs. the Unrepentant Sinner.
    In his younger days, wealthy, spoiled Francis lived the high life—for himself. Francis changed when he recognized crushing poverty and, perhaps, saw the face of Christ. Francis left his family, and his clothes, to serve the poor and became our beloved St. Francis, kind to all people and to animals.

    Later, John Wycliffe, the good boy, earned advanced degrees at Oxford and began to teach. And think. And challenge some ideas. The church did not like the challenge. John did not repent. The CB told the rest of the story.
    I’m thinking about a garden statue of John Wycliffe with various translations of the Bible nearby…

  158. Kris Austin's Gravatar Kris Austin
    March 2, 2015 - 9:03 pm | Permalink

    This is a tough one. How can you say no to St. Francis? Yet Wycliffe’s “deep belief that every Christian should have access to scripture in their own language made him a forerunner of the Protestant Reformation”. Vote to Wycliffe.

  159. Matthew Rohde's Gravatar Matthew Rohde
    March 2, 2015 - 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Francis went through a lot and gave up so much. I couldn’t not choose him.

  160. Miss J's Gravatar Miss J
    March 2, 2015 - 9:45 pm | Permalink

    I have one statue of Francis (zero birds, one shovel) but multiple Bibles in English (both in print & in iOS apps), so I’m voting for the person who made all those translations possible.

    Also if you are interested in the work of translating of Scripture into various indiginous languages around the globe check out

  161. John L.'s Gravatar John L.
    March 2, 2015 - 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Forget the beer–Which one would you rather spend eternity with? Don’t think I even need to suggest the answer.

  162. March 2, 2015 - 10:09 pm | Permalink

    There’s so much more to Francis than his love of animals – I think the sentimentalization of Francis in this way has also been a form of sanitization and domestication.

    His personal renunciation of wealth, and his request to found an order based on the renunciation of wealth, was a reproach and a reform of common church practices of the day. He tried to stop one of the Crusades, acting as an ambassador for Christ and speaking with the leader of the opposing forces in good faith.

    Most of all, he embodied a preferential option for the poor: something we remain in special need of today.

    • Nancy Gilmour's Gravatar Nancy Gilmour
      March 2, 2015 - 10:46 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, yes! It’s tempting to reduce revered and famous personalities to simple stereotypes. Kudos to all those here who are helping to flesh out the persons behind the personas.

  163. Charlyn Heidenreich's Gravatar Charlyn Heidenreich
    March 2, 2015 - 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Wycliffe for me. He did more for the English church and now I understand why the Bible translators use the name Wycliffe name.

  164. Christi Hill's Gravatar Christi Hill
    March 2, 2015 - 10:48 pm | Permalink

    John Wycliffe, the first Episcopalian. Of course he gets my vote! He verbalises my beliefs 100%

  165. Nancy T/'s Gravatar Nancy T/
    March 3, 2015 - 12:02 am | Permalink

    St. Francis is getting a lot of attention and admiration possibly because of the popularity of the current Pope, who seems to want to emulate him insofar as it might be poswible in the Vatican!

    So, I voted for Wycliffe. We needed the Bible in languages we can understand.

  166. Kathryn Albrecht's Gravatar Kathryn Albrecht
    March 3, 2015 - 1:58 am | Permalink

    While I do not miss simplistically literal, unquestioned, two-dimensional concepts of transubstantiation nor do I miss the ridiculous, shallow and insane racket of indulgences, I must say there ain’t NOTHIN’ to beat a good confession in the presence of a good confessor!! Nonetheless, Wycliffe is my man. What courage (and rage)!

  167. Chris P's Gravatar Chris P
    March 3, 2015 - 5:09 am | Permalink

    As a Franciscan Tertiary I have an obvious bias, but as an Anglican I am pulled the other way! Both saints (officially or otherwise) saw what was wrong with the Church and did what they felt called to do to start putting things right. Francis was (as his Testament shows) utterly loyal to the Church while Wycliffe saw his way through defiance of “authority”. As in so many binary choices, I want both-and! So in the spirit of Francis (as I see him) I vote for Wycliffe.

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