Odo of Cluny vs. Mechtild of Magdeburg

We continue our march through the Saintly Sixteen this week as Lent Madness rolls on! In this round of Quirks and Quotes we’ll continue to get to know our merry band of saintly souls in ever deeper ways. Don’t forget, you can always return to the first round to refresh your memory of the basic bios by clicking the Bracket Tab.

Today it’s Odo of Cluny taking on Mechtild of Magdeburg. To get here, Odo snuck past Theodore the Studite while Mechtild trounced Isaac the Syrian. Also, if you’re in the market for a baby name, or need to suggest one to your daughter-in-law, we think “Odo” or “Mechtild” will soon wind up on the most popular list. Get ahead of the curve!

Whoever wins today will join Stephen and Florence Nightingale (who made it past Henry Beard Delany on Friday 53% to 47%) in the Elate Eight. Onward!

Odo of Cluny

Odo of Cluny, renowned for his reformation of the monasteries, was a man of deep prayer himself, and often spent days in dedicated prayer, especially at the Tomb of St. Martin. Like St. Francis, Golden Halo Winner in 2015, Odo encountered humans and animals intent on disrupting his prayer life. The animals proved much easier to deal with.

“From the sides of the road the foxes came out, at first following behind and watching him, and then throwing themselves in his way. But when they saw that they could not turn the eager youth from the straight path that he was pursuing, snarling and rushing at him with gaping mouths, they threatened to seize him by the throat. He neither fled nor resisted, but with legs together and shoulders hunched defended himself only with his shoulders and arms…[and] he guarded only his throat from their mortal wounds. Then suddenly a wolf came running swiftly and freed him from their attacks, and from thenceforth showed itself tame and acted as his companion.”

John of Salerno, the writer of this account argues if we find this difficult to believe, we should remember the life of St. Paul, whose grave was prepared by lions; blessed Ammon, whose monastic cell was guarded by dragons; or Florentius, who convinced a bear to guard his lambs. So Odo having a wolf as a prayer companion is not odd. At all.

During meals, the monks would read. When the reading ended, the meal was done and the monks were to resume their daily duties of prayer. Odo, after eating, would gather up the crumbs that had fallen from his plate, not wanting any food to be wasted. The abbot ended the reading with Odo holding a handful of crumbs. “He did not know what to do, for when the reading stopped he did not dare to death them, nor yet to leave them lest they should be lost. He therefore closed his hand on them thinking it would be best to keep them to offer to the abbot.” When they left their post-meal chapel, Odo prostrated himself at the abbot’s feet to offer the little pile of crumbs. But on opening his hand, Odo discovered the crumbs had transformed into a heap of pearls. The community was amazed and we read they immediately used the pearls to decorate a chalice.

Odo is also the inventor (or one of them) of attributing letters of the alphabet to musical notes. He’s also credited with identifying the note b-flat. Several hymns composed and attributed to Odo survive. A visitor to Cluny heralded the monks as a choir whose chants were dazzling prayers for the salvation of all souls. One of his hymns, composed for the Feast Day of Mary Magdalene, captures the dazzling love of an encounter with Christ:

She sees Jesus rising
victorious from the grave
and earns that first joy

Laurie Brock

Mechtild of Magdeburg
Mechthild of Magdeburg received her first Holy Spirit vision at the age of twelve. Was this a quirk or something normal in the thirteenth century? It’s hard to know and evidence of other quirky behaviors is long lost to history.

As an educated young woman she shared her visions through her writings:

“The love of God has moved my pen,
My book is not from the mind of men.”

She wrote on loose pages she believed were a gift from God. Friar Henry of Halle collected her writings dividing them into a series of books called The Flowing Light of the Godhead.

As her works were collected she said, “I was warned by some that my book might give much offence, and that it would be burnt as evil teaching. And I turned to my Beloved, as was my wont, and said to Him that if it were so, He had Himself misled me, for it was He who commanded me to write it. Then did He reveal Himself to my sorrowful heart, as if He held the book in His right hand, and said, ‘My beloved one, do not be sorrowful. The truth can be burnt by no man. He who would take it out of My Hand must be stronger than I.”

Mechthilde wrote in flowery Middle Low German; unusual since most wisdom literature during this period was written in Latin. She noted “of Latin I know nothing… And now, Lord, I will commend these writings to Thy tender mercy; and with a heart that sighs, and with eyes that weep, and with a downcast spirit, I pray that they never may be read by a Pharisee, and I pray also that Thy children may so receive them into their hearts, as Thou, O Lord, hast of Thy truth given out of Thy store to me.”

Like most members of the Beguine community where she lived, her time was spent tending those in need. She wrote of caring for the sick “to comfort them with the lovely words of God, and to refresh them also in a gentle way with earthly things, for God is very rich. It is needful also to bestow much care on the cleanliness of the sick-room, and it is a good thing to be merry and to laugh with them, but in a godly manner.”

While she was dedicated to serving others, her most joyful time was spent in prayer, “Prayer has a marvelous power, it makes the bitter heart sweet, and the sorrowful heart glad, and the  poor rich, and the foolish wise, and the fearful bold, and the sick strong, and the blind to see, and the cold to burn.”

— Beth Lewis

Odo of Cluny vs. Mechtild of Magdeburg

  • Mechtild of Magdeburg (52%, 4,181 Votes)
  • Odo of Cluny (48%, 3,908 Votes)

Total Voters: 8,089

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Mechtild of Magdeburg—Unknown Artist, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

170 Comments to "Odo of Cluny vs. Mechtild of Magdeburg"

  1. Diana's Gravatar Diana
    March 27, 2017 - 8:07 am | Permalink

    For Odo of Cluny and Mechtild of Magdeburg
    Tune: Leoni, Hymnal ’82, 372, Praise to the Living God

    Two saints of great renown
    Who sought to do God’s will
    Took diff’rent roads to sanctity
    As all saints will.
    One worked hard for reform
    For Benedict’s true way.
    One stepped outside of rigid norms
    To live God’s praise.

    A true monastic star,
    His trek to holiness
    Was convoluted ‘cause his dad
    Failed his promise.
    A man of strict precepts
    This Odo held the line.
    No shifting of the Rule’s true shape
    He thought was fine..

    Mechtild knew from her youth
    That God was her true love.
    Through Flowing Light of Godhead Bright:
    She lived and wrote.
    As Beguine cared for those
    The world had left behind.
    Reviled for life beyond strict rule;
    Her light still shines.

    For Odo and Mechtild
    We offer up our praise.
    Two saints of mindset quite diverse
    To choose today.
    ‘Twas by the Grace of God
    they lived and served, and they
    still speak to us of faithfulness;
    of holy ways.

    • Michelle's Gravatar Michelle
      March 27, 2017 - 8:20 am | Permalink

      Lovely. Thanks for the poetry. I hope the SEC is gathering all of these poems together.

      • Suanne's Gravatar Suanne
        March 27, 2017 - 11:35 am | Permalink

        Indeed! Thank you, Diana. Enjoy reading your gift to us each day.

      • Doctorjan's Gravatar Doctorjan
        March 27, 2017 - 2:01 pm | Permalink

        Me too!

    • Amy's Gravatar Amy
      March 27, 2017 - 8:54 am | Permalink

      Thank you. Wonderful poetry.

    • John flanagan's Gravatar John flanagan
      March 27, 2017 - 10:29 am | Permalink

      I voted odo of clunky cause his name sounds like George Cluney

      • Andrea's Gravatar Andrea
        March 27, 2017 - 3:15 pm | Permalink

        I voted Odo because he was a musician and identified B flat! What would we do without B flat?!!

        • Judith Peterson's Gravatar Judith Peterson
          March 27, 2017 - 5:12 pm | Permalink

          Use A sharp?

    • kesmarn's Gravatar kesmarn
      March 27, 2017 - 10:40 am | Permalink

      I’d love to hear these sung! Thanks again.

    • Beth Parkhurst's Gravatar Beth Parkhurst
      March 27, 2017 - 10:43 am | Permalink

      Oh, thank you!

    • Willo's Gravatar Willo
      March 27, 2017 - 10:55 am | Permalink

      Your poetry is beautiful. I too hope the SEC is gAthering them all together and will find a way to share them all.

    • Caitlin's Gravatar Caitlin
      March 27, 2017 - 12:06 pm | Permalink

      How can you not vote for a guy who has a wolf for a prayer companion?

      • Carol Riddick's Gravatar Carol Riddick
        March 27, 2017 - 1:10 pm | Permalink

        That almost got my vote, too.

      • Pamela Payne's Gravatar Pamela Payne
        March 27, 2017 - 1:44 pm | Permalink

        Exactly my thoughts! Our parish of St. Edmund’s also has a wolf mascot (the wolf guarded the head of St. Edmund after the king was killed by the Vikings for refusing to give up Christianity). But Mechtild is very inspiring and it was a hard decision.

      • March 27, 2017 - 4:10 pm | Permalink

        That wolf thing was what made me vote for Odo! I love wolves!

      • Alicia Calsyn's Gravatar Alicia Calsyn
        March 27, 2017 - 6:15 pm | Permalink

        I am with Caitlin! I cannot vote against a man with a wolf as a prayer partner! 🙂

    • Yol's Gravatar Yol
      March 27, 2017 - 1:32 pm | Permalink

      Wonderful, Diana!!

    • March 27, 2017 - 3:55 pm | Permalink

      Most excellent, Diana!

    • Robert Coates's Gravatar Robert Coates
      March 28, 2017 - 12:09 am | Permalink

      I voted for Mechtild. Begin the Beguine.

  2. Michelle's Gravatar Michelle
    March 27, 2017 - 8:17 am | Permalink

    Tough one. Mechtild’s writing regarding caring for the sick “to comfort them with the lovely words of God, and to refresh them also in a gentle way with earthly things, for God is very rich. It is needful also to bestow much care on the cleanliness of the sick-room, and it is a good thing to be merry and to laugh with them, but in a godly manner.” got my vote.

    • Nancy C.'s Gravatar Nancy C.
      March 27, 2017 - 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I almost went with Odo (being a music lover) until I read the passage you quote above from Mechtild, as well as her beautiful writings on the power of prayer. So Mechtild it is!

  3. Jules's Gravatar Jules
    March 27, 2017 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    As a music lover, I voted for Odo, but I know he’s going to get trounced by Mechtild because that’s just how the brackets are going this year.

    • Georgene Kruzel's Gravatar Georgene Kruzel
      March 27, 2017 - 2:17 pm | Permalink

      I fear your prediction be true!

  4. Harriet's Gravatar Harriet
    March 27, 2017 - 8:26 am | Permalink

    Voted for Mechtild, not sure why…either really fit.

  5. Kathleen Sheehy's Gravatar Kathleen Sheehy
    March 27, 2017 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    Odo’s wolf buddy almost swayed me, but Mechtild’s words on prayer were the clincher. Truly the battle of the bizarre names today, however!

    • Laura's Gravatar Laura
      March 27, 2017 - 12:20 pm | Permalink


  6. Kandice's Gravatar Kandice
    March 27, 2017 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    Yikes! This is when Lent Madness gets really difficult, and only three comments so far this morning to reflect on!! Mechtild won my heart and vote in the first round and does it again today.

  7. Lois Keen's Gravatar Lois Keen
    March 27, 2017 - 8:32 am | Permalink


  8. Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
    March 27, 2017 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    Mechtild it is. “It is a good thing to be merry and to laugh wth them.” For that and “joyful” prayer time. I used to think saints were a little too somber and unapproachable. Thanks again madness people.

  9. March 27, 2017 - 8:35 am | Permalink

    Yow! I think Odo’s chances are going to be diminished by his write up being so heavy on miracle stories. They don’t seem to go down too well with the LM voting crowd.
    By the way, just to avoid confusion, it was Paul the Hermit whose grave was dug by lions, not Paul the Apostle.

    • Sandra Gustafson's Gravatar Sandra Gustafson
      March 27, 2017 - 10:06 am | Permalink

      Re: Paul
      Thank you for the clarification. As read the bio piece I wondered to myself, “where did they get that idea?!?!”. I should have thought of the fact that there are many Pauls.

    • John Crittenden's Gravatar John Crittenden
      March 27, 2017 - 10:20 am | Permalink

      I agree Harlie. The online write-ups were heavily weighted toward Mechtild, all the huggy-feeley things. The Odo write-up, however, did not really relate to his accomplishments, but rather to this hocus pocus about wolf-child experiences, which, if they happened, we’re not the central reason for his saintification. I went with Mechtild, however, for her “saintliness”.

      • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
        March 27, 2017 - 12:11 pm | Permalink

        Well this is the Quirks & Quotes round you know.

  10. March 27, 2017 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    I thought I would back Odo, love the story of the foxes and the wolf by the way. I wonder what the foxes had against them? Also I love singing hymns, any by Odo in the hymnal, btw? But I appreciate Mechtild’s willingness to go on her own, as opposed to Odo’s insistence on strict following of Benedict’s rule. I’ve always been fond of those who follow their own path. Next cat name: Mechtild if it’s a girl, Odo if it’s a boy!

    • March 27, 2017 - 9:53 am | Permalink

      I think Odo’s call (the reformation of monasteries) required him to be a stickler for Benedict’s Rule. The problem with the monasteries was that they had grown so very lax. To bring them back into Benedict’s holy way, Odo had to insist on a strict following of that way. It was making exceptions and granting concessions that got the monasteries into the mess they were in. Of course, all our actions should be subject to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but sometimes that guidance is in favor of the rules.

    • Linda Burnett's Gravatar Linda Burnett
      March 27, 2017 - 1:23 pm | Permalink

      when attending spiritual directors training we all choose a saint to read about and report on. My choice was Mechtild, so had to go with her. I am however, impressed by Odo as well and would have voted for him if my loyalties were not already spoken for. Anyone with such a deep connection to our 4 legged friends that he had one as a prayer partner has my heart.

  11. Elaine's Gravatar Elaine
    March 27, 2017 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    Let’s hear it for B-flat!

    • Melody Yuhn's Gravatar Melody Yuhn
      March 27, 2017 - 8:52 am | Permalink

      Hear, hear!

      • Kathy's Gravatar Kathy
        March 27, 2017 - 9:51 am | Permalink

        What would we do without F-A-C-E and Every Good Boy Does Fine. And B flat is perfect forLent!! Odo!!

        • Yvonne's Gravatar Yvonne
          March 27, 2017 - 12:28 pm | Permalink

          Yes! I agree. Where on earth would we be without B-flat! As soon as I saw that, it was Odo for me. And the wolf… you can’t argue with a wolf.

          • Andrea's Gravatar Andrea
            March 27, 2017 - 3:18 pm | Permalink

            Agree heartily!
            Animals, musical alphabet, gets my vote.

  12. March 27, 2017 - 8:50 am | Permalink

    Very torn this morning, but finally went for the writer over the musician.

  13. Fran's Gravatar Fran
    March 27, 2017 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    Ok, being that I am such a softy for animals, I could not help but vote for Odo. I agree his chances are slim because his story is so far fetched! But I still think Odo deserves to advance to the next round!

  14. Nancy Strong's Gravatar Nancy Strong
    March 27, 2017 - 8:54 am | Permalink

    Love the Beguines! Therefore, Mechtild got my vote!

  15. March 27, 2017 - 8:54 am | Permalink

    There is a tenuous link between the “Beguines”and the famous Cole Porter song “Begin the Beguine.”

    • Verdery Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery Kassebaum
      March 27, 2017 - 11:57 am | Permalink

      Really? That would be so cool. I read about the Beguines in Education for Ministry (Diarmaid MacCulloch’s “Christianity : the First Three Thousand Years”) and wondered about the name.

      This is making the “music vs. mystic” choice even harder.

    • Robert Coates's Gravatar Robert Coates
      March 28, 2017 - 12:12 am | Permalink

      It has at least one b-flat in it.

  16. John The Beard's Gravatar John The Beard
    March 27, 2017 - 8:59 am | Permalink

    Friend of wolf and shape-shifter gets my vote again. Regardless, the winner of this round will surely get trounced by the heavy hitters already in the Elate 8.

  17. PhilEsq's Gravatar PhilEsq
    March 27, 2017 - 9:01 am | Permalink

    Let’s not forget that Odo’s life work was the reformation of monasteries, preserving and cleansing monastic life, enabling it to survive to provide us with examples of prayerful and mindful living, long before “mindful” was hyped as the solution to everything. On with Odo!

  18. Ann E's Gravatar Ann E
    March 27, 2017 - 9:05 am | Permalink

    Odo gets my vote. Giving us B-flat, friend of wolves, and lover 0f prayer.

  19. Leamarie's Gravatar Leamarie
    March 27, 2017 - 9:05 am | Permalink

    I love it that Mechtild was concerned about cleanliness at a time that conjures up only muddy surroundings and most folks living with filth, no sanitation, and ignorance of the importance of more sanitary conditions. She clearly had a sense of humor, too, and believed God has humor,too. I like that. Mechtild for me today, though I am sorry
    Odo doesn’t get the credit he is due for naming musical notes, esp B flat.

  20. Lynn D. Bonney's Gravatar Lynn D. Bonney
    March 27, 2017 - 9:08 am | Permalink

    I’m reading a book about the Beguines — so my vote has to go for Mechtild.

  21. Dutton in Madison, GA's Gravatar Dutton in Madison, GA
    March 27, 2017 - 9:17 am | Permalink

    Odor is still my boy, even in defeat, though Mechtild is certainly a worthy opponent. Guardian animals for mad every day.

  22. Barbara J. Ruhe's Gravatar Barbara J. Ruhe
    March 27, 2017 - 9:17 am | Permalink

    Mechtild–hands down. My grandmother was born in Magdeburg. On a recent trip to Germany we visited Magdeburg. The first place we stopped was the Dom! I like to think my grandmother and her family had often visited the Dom and since it was begun in 1209 perhaps Mechtild did also. It is exciting to think one has walked in the footsteps of a saint.

  23. Dutton in Madison, GA's Gravatar Dutton in Madison, GA
    March 27, 2017 - 9:19 am | Permalink

    Meant to type “guardian animals for me . . . ” my iPad often has a mind of it’s own.

  24. Corban's Gravatar Corban
    March 27, 2017 - 9:19 am | Permalink

    I voted for Odo today. Though it can be very easy to be distracted when attempting to pray, not all of us will be defended from attacking foxes by a wolf. Perhaps this tale attempts to prove that dog truly is man’s best friend?

  25. Freeman Gilbert's Gravatar Freeman Gilbert
    March 27, 2017 - 9:23 am | Permalink

    Aside from her trailblazing contribution to Middle High German literature, Mechthild is thought by many to have influenced the great pioneer of Italian literature, Dante with her geography of hell and her evocative descriptions of the suffering souls in hell and purgatory. Some see her as the Matelda in Paradiso, a possible homage of Dante to his imaginative predecessor.

  26. Doc's Gravatar Doc
    March 27, 2017 - 9:26 am | Permalink

    I basically voted for the first domesticated wolf, otherwise known as Man’s Best Friend (and also Women’s). If you’ve ever been blessed with one of these, you know how saintly a companion they are.

  27. March 27, 2017 - 9:29 am | Permalink

    I’ve been reading “The Wisdom of the Beguines” by Laura Swan, so Mechtild got my vote. The book by Laura Swan is a very interesting read about a women’s movement with which I was not familiar

  28. March 27, 2017 - 9:34 am | Permalink

    Beautiful essay this morning at Huffpost about how the ACA, flawed though it is, has fundamentally changed America’s expectations of who is worthy of care. So, it’s appropriate to celebrate this morning one of the pioneers of nursing, Mechthild.

    • Rev Douglas McLemore's Gravatar Rev Douglas McLemore
      March 27, 2017 - 11:43 am | Permalink

      I’m with you Beth!

  29. Sofie's Gravatar Sofie
    March 27, 2017 - 9:35 am | Permalink

    Not sure who the “Pharisees” were that Mechthild referred to (hypocrites? Jews?), but I find it troubling that she would exclude anyone from the opportunity to, perhaps, be changed by her writings. Until I read that I leaned in her direction, but I’m persuaded by Odo’s humble sweetness, and by his connection to animals, which is special to me. So although I think Mechthild will win the day, I voted for Odo.

  30. Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
    March 27, 2017 - 9:42 am | Permalink

    I voted Odo, or as I like to call him, Chants With Wolves. I really want his recipe book for leftovers. He would bring so much to the kitsch round. And what would we do without B flat?

    • Deborah Hays's Gravatar Deborah Hays
      March 27, 2017 - 11:29 am | Permalink

      I was undecided until Chants with Wolves swayed my vote. Can’t wait for a full moon. Odo is the saint.

      • Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
        March 27, 2017 - 11:46 am | Permalink

        [me smiling]

    • Linda Burnett's Gravatar Linda Burnett
      March 27, 2017 - 1:29 pm | Permalink

      “chants with wolves”. Love that. And B flat.

      • Judy's Gravatar Judy
        March 27, 2017 - 1:52 pm | Permalink

        The B flat is what got me. The Chants with Wolves was great also. Go Odo.

  31. Cap'n Black's Gravatar Cap'n Black
    March 27, 2017 - 9:42 am | Permalink

    The wolf theme would make great coffee cup kitsch.

  32. March 27, 2017 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    My father-in-law is suffering from Alzheimer’s. He does not know who his sons are, let alone who I am. But one of his caregivers could get him to laugh and even dance, and we catch a glimpse of the Dad we knew before. Mechthild, for such care of the sick.

    • John Crittenden's Gravatar John Crittenden
      March 27, 2017 - 10:08 am | Permalink

      Very amazing to bring the “light”. To one such as your father-in-law. These individuals seem to be locked in dark cells and cannot reach out from that place as their communication tools have left them. They are not, however, as one might think, actually separated, but the experience of the isolation is what is devastating to their confidence and self perception, most of what comes from the externally imposed reactions of “normal” folks. Have faith, continue to build up their self perception, let them know you know that they are still, inwardly, cognitive, emotional, and loving beings.

      • Carol in Alberta's Gravatar Carol in Alberta
        March 27, 2017 - 11:58 am | Permalink

        Here, here!

    • March 27, 2017 - 10:10 am | Permalink

      That was very touching, Ruth. God bless your father-in-law, his sons, and you. And the caregiver who brought you a glimpse of the Dad you knew before.

  33. March 27, 2017 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    Tough choice! After much consideration, I went with Mechthild. The b-flat was attractive, but the poetry composed for the sick won me over.

  34. Benny Wanna Be Hinn's Gravatar Benny Wanna Be Hinn
    March 27, 2017 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    As a Pentecostal, Mechtild had me at “received her first Holy Spirit vision at age 12”!

    • Linda Burnett's Gravatar Linda Burnett
      March 27, 2017 - 1:32 pm | Permalink

      love those mystics, as well as the pentecostal /charismatic brethern amongst us to keep the mystery and mystical alive and well.

  35. John Crittenden's Gravatar John Crittenden
    March 27, 2017 - 10:02 am | Permalink

    I voted for Mechtild of Magdeburg. It seems that saints are creatures of God in whom the miraculous forms a core of their living and perceptions. Odo seems much more like a normal human. All this talk about foxes attacking him, foxes are, well foxy, not vicious creatures and do not normally run in packs. He is more of a human struggler with questioning, helped by the spirit and his intellectual capabilities to do what is expected of the gifted. Mechtild, however, saw this inner light and lived, much as though she were blind even before her blindness. I want to read her stories now. Odo lived his life, had his effect, which is appreciated.

  36. Barbara Ross's Gravatar Barbara Ross
    March 27, 2017 - 10:03 am | Permalink

    Peg, I love Chants with Wolves! And I enjoyed singing Diana’s words out loud to one of my favorite hymn tunes, Leoni. I’m impressed with this community’s wit and creativity. But that hasn’t made the choice easier. I still can’t decide between the animal lover who gave us musical notation and the woman who brought laughter and cleanliness into the sickroom.

  37. Mrs. B.'s Gravatar Mrs. B.
    March 27, 2017 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    How do a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington know who is “worthy of care?” Along with Sofie I voted for Odo, the reformer, musician, and lover of animals.

  38. Sister Mary Winifred's Gravatar Sister Mary Winifred
    March 27, 2017 - 10:12 am | Permalink

    The bread crumb story is also included in Legenda Monastica – not sure it has anything to do with Odo, but voted for him anyway.

    • Celia Metz's Gravatar Celia Metz
      March 27, 2017 - 11:28 am | Permalink

      That story immediately brought to my mind the line “…we are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table…” so my vote today is for Odo.

  39. Sharon's Gravatar Sharon
    March 27, 2017 - 10:15 am | Permalink

    Spirit animal vs mystic visions. Doesn’t seem much difference exists. And for those who wonder what we would do without B-flat, we would still have A-sharp, as my limited musical vocabulary tells it.

  40. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
    March 27, 2017 - 10:17 am | Permalink

    Musician/reformer vs. writer/nurse/mystic
    with enormous gratitude for both
    I vote for Mechtild

  41. Lisa Keppeler's Gravatar Lisa Keppeler
    March 27, 2017 - 10:18 am | Permalink

    Well, I’m going with Odo this time. I’d forgotten about his wolf… and then B-flat and this lovely lyric:
    She sees Jesus rising
    victorious from the grave
    and earns that first joy

  42. Timothy J's Gravatar Timothy J
    March 27, 2017 - 10:24 am | Permalink

    Shocked to see this huge lead by Mechtild. She didn’t turn bread into pearls. Don’t get her at all.

  43. Brenda McHenry's Gravatar Brenda McHenry
    March 27, 2017 - 10:24 am | Permalink

    I’m dealing with a 14 pound terror of a dog who in recent times, probably because of surgery, pursues , snarls and rushes at me for reasons of his own. Working at getting him to return to his “friendly wolf” stage. So it was Odo for me today–that and the b-flat thing.

  44. March 27, 2017 - 10:25 am | Permalink

    I guess I was mistaken when I wrote earlier that Odo’s miracle stories would turn people off. Even though he’s losing, people love the fox/wolf story!

  45. March 27, 2017 - 10:29 am | Permalink

    Mechtild seems like a great gal. Odo – awesome that he discovered? Invented? B flat. It’s hard to weigh the magical stories that accompany the medieval saints. Monastic reformer or prolific writer, visionary, pioneering female scholar?
    I voted Mechtild.

  46. Carolyn D. Mack's Gravatar Carolyn D. Mack
    March 27, 2017 - 10:36 am | Permalink

    Voted Vernacular writing so Mechtild.

  47. Linda Hale's Gravatar Linda Hale
    March 27, 2017 - 10:40 am | Permalink

    This was a particularly tough one for me as both seem so very worthy.

  48. Joanne's Gravatar Joanne
    March 27, 2017 - 10:51 am | Permalink

    Was going to vote for Odo for Trekkies-Deep Space 9 character, but since I prayed so much yesterday, the Comment on Prayer swings it in Mechtild’s favor.

    • Connie Hartquist Jacobs's Gravatar Connie Hartquist Jacobs
      March 27, 2017 - 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Joanne, I’ve been waiting for someone to make the connection with Odo of DSN! That Odo was the spiritual center of the series, wonderful character played by master actor Rene Auberjonois. I’ve often wondered if the series ‘ writers knew of Odo of Cluny. Happy Lent Madness…

  49. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    March 27, 2017 - 10:52 am | Permalink

    Saint Mechtild all the way!

  50. Lauren D's Gravatar Lauren D
    March 27, 2017 - 10:59 am | Permalink

    Friend of a domesticated wolf (aka dog), not a waster of food (whose hands are oyster-like), and singer and composer of monastic chants – Odo has my vote today!
    Maechtild is a solid contender, though, and I’ll be happy to vote for her in future rounds if she wins..

  51. Pat Floerke's Gravatar Pat Floerke
    March 27, 2017 - 11:05 am | Permalink

    I’m aware that I often vote as much for the celebrity bloggers as I do for the saints themselves. Both Beth and Laurie did a great job today.

  52. Beth Parkhurst's Gravatar Beth Parkhurst
    March 27, 2017 - 11:15 am | Permalink

    Odo of Cluny for his generosity to the poor, his humility, and his courage.

    Generosity: Even though his monastery was poor, Odo gave money to all beggars. When a poor person gave the monastery a gift, Odo would insist on paying the donor for the gift, and his payment would be more than the gift’s worth.

    Humility and courage: Whenever another monk would accuse Odo of a fault — which apparently happened pretty often since many of his fellow monks were jealous of him — Odo would throw himself at his accuser’s feet and beg forgiveness. One time Odo’s abbot became angry at him for bringing to the monastery a young noblewoman who wanted to become a nun rather than get married (her father’s wish). Odo’s reply to the abbot (thanks, Wikipedia): “Oh lord and father, ever from the moment that thou didst deign to receive me, a sinner, I have seen that thy sole care was the saving of souls. Other abbots may study to gain materials things and please men. Thou, relying on mercy and virtue, seek’st through the salvation of souls to please God alone. I wished to follow thy example in saving this virgin to the glory of thy name. For although in the end her tears overcame me, yet I was not unmindful of thy reproach, but I had rather suffer the flagellation of my holy father than be held guilty for her soul. And would that I could free all the women bound in the chains of the flesh who live in this province, and thou flagellate me for each in thy pious manner.”

  53. March 27, 2017 - 11:21 am | Permalink

    Odo, because who doesn’t want a wolf for a prayer partner? But it wasn’t an easy choice.

  54. Jennifer S.'s Gravatar Jennifer S.
    March 27, 2017 - 11:24 am | Permalink

    I strongly suspect the “Pharisees” she refers to would be church authorities whose behaviour she calls out in other of her writings and with whom she could be described as having an uneasy relationship. The church of the time claimed the exclusive right to interpret Scripture and it was especially forbidden for women to exercise any sort of general preaching or teaching ministry. Some like Mechtild got away with it by having their writings vetted by a sympathetic male authority and/or by associating with cloistered orders so the church could keep an eye on them. I love her story and her willingness to call it as she sees it, from the love of God to rascally human behaviour.
    But gosh, Laurie Brock. Swarming foxes and bread pearls. You’re making this a hard choice!

  55. March 27, 2017 - 11:25 am | Permalink

    Had to go with Odo, not because I am a devout Deep Space Nine Fan, but because he named the B flat.
    B Flat is the key that most bagpipes play in!

  56. Jane's Gravatar Jane
    March 27, 2017 - 11:27 am | Permalink

    Ooo I’m happy Mechtild won! My daughter-in-law did recently give birth to a beautiful little girl, but I discovered St. Mechtild too late for her to give the child that name; I know she would have jumped at the chance to do so! I was charmed by Odo’s crumb tale, tempted to vote for him although I sispected tales about him just might be a bit of baloney, but Mechtild was a writer as I am, and she worked with the sick, and I was a health care worker for years; not on the scale of excellence she was of course, but I truly feel a bond with her. On ward Mechtild!

  57. St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
    March 27, 2017 - 11:28 am | Permalink

    Begin the Beguine! I am hopeful to see that music show up in the kitsch round. Prayer seems to be the commonality for both saints today (indeed, all the saints). Mechtild would appeal to Virginia Woolf, as she seems to be an early-ish example of a woman who found a room of her own, and paper to write on. I can understand the glee of believing sheets of paper were gifts from God. I hate to turn away from Odo’s little foxes, which remind me of the Song of Songs. Those little foxes get around! but they seem to make spiritual experiences better. Though Mechtild has no little foxes, she still manages, like Rumi, to get to the Beloved. She wrote in the vernacular, and she had concern and compassion for the sick. I wish I could turn bread crumbs into pearls, but so far I lack that gift. I cannot see myself offering bread crumbs to the abbot, but I can see myself happily and faithfully writing every day and growing in spiritual grace and strength through that practice. She was an educated woman, something to celebrate. And the quill and ink well amid the medieval wall tapestries are pretty cool.

  58. March 27, 2017 - 11:28 am | Permalink

    This is getting harder and harder,as it does every year. Both deserve to move forward to the Eight!! Still contemplating my vote because I have been singing in a choir most of my life and have also championed women’s rights my entire adult life. This is really tough!

  59. John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
    March 27, 2017 - 11:32 am | Permalink

    Had to go for Odo as I’m a fan of Franciscan piety, and clearly Odo’s wolf and the wolf of Gubbio were kissin’ cousins. Francis, like Mechtild,wrote in the vernacular, and the tale of the handful of crumbs that became a handful of pearls illustrates the Christian experience of being made precious (which we always were, are, and will be) by the agency of our Savior. And then there’s his contributions to music, the art that reveals what the Kingdom of Heaven will be like.

  60. Darren's Gravatar Darren
    March 27, 2017 - 11:34 am | Permalink

    Where is Oliver!?!?

    • March 27, 2017 - 12:03 pm | Permalink

      Last week someone (can’t remember who) theorized that Oliver and his family may be away on a Spring Break trip. Actually, none of our younger commenters have been posting lately, so I bet it is Spring Break that has caused their disappearance.

      • Darren's Gravatar Darren
        March 27, 2017 - 12:38 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, good call. I hope our younger commenters return soon! I love the diversity in this group, especially the honest insight of the youth!

  61. Meredith Hales's Gravatar Meredith Hales
    March 27, 2017 - 11:52 am | Permalink

    I’m kinda stuck this morning! Wish I could vote for both! Odo’s humility and persistence in prayer vs. Mecthild’s visions, writings and care for the sick, presents a hard choice. So it all may boil down to pearls, wolves, and b flat!

  62. Izzie's Gravatar Izzie
    March 27, 2017 - 11:54 am | Permalink

    Odo. I love wolves they’re beautiful and cute. Also not hurting the foxes was brave we could use that these days.

  63. Heather's Gravatar Heather
    March 27, 2017 - 12:04 pm | Permalink

    A difficult choice. Thank heavens that there is heaven where such choices do not have to be made, rather all the saints have golden halos. Nevertheless, I am going to the dogs–the canine cousin wolf–and voting for Odo. Wolves are beautiful singers, too. Maybe he got the B-flat from the wolf? That might be a worthy addition to his hagiography

  64. Anthony Lee's Gravatar Anthony Lee
    March 27, 2017 - 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Well, with my inveterate sympathy for underdogs and anyone connected with music, I went with Odo, even though his connection with music seems rather tenuous, beyond attributing letters to tones and writing a few hymns (the few that survive) about St Martin. But I was rather perplexed by the story about the bread crumbs. Why did he save them? Why didn’t he just eat them? I never leave crumbs behind on the table or the plate, and I’m not known for fastidiousness. Sometimes hagiographic myths are really weird. Dragons guarding your cell–yeah, sure!

    • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
      March 27, 2017 - 12:31 pm | Permalink

      At first I thought he was saving them for his wolf-dog or (as I have occasionally done) for the birds, but then he decided to give them to the Abbot, which puzzled me. The bread-pearl chalice must have been quite beautiful though.

      • Sister Mary Winifred's Gravatar Sister Mary Winifred
        March 27, 2017 - 2:08 pm | Permalink

        He could not eat the crumbs once the meal was ended – that would be against the vow of obedience; nor could he throw the crumbs away – that would be against the vow of poverty. No matter what he did with the crumbs he would be breaking one vow or another, so he took them to the Abbot. You have no idea how complicated the Religious Life is until you’ve lived it!

  65. Carol in Alberta's Gravatar Carol in Alberta
    March 27, 2017 - 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Odo, purely for the wolf, even though Mecthild was obviously born a nurse. Tough choice.
    I ask as others have: where is Oliver?

  66. March 27, 2017 - 12:24 pm | Permalink

    As much as I love the story of Odo, the words of Mechtild move me to tears. So I vote for Mechtild. But I remain deeply thankful for Odo’s identification of b flat.

  67. Freddie Dwyer's Gravatar Freddie Dwyer
    March 27, 2017 - 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I have Benedictine friends named Odo, but feel no guilt at voting for Mechtild, one of the greatest poets the Christian church has ever produced. Also a feisty woman unafraid to take on the church hierarchy at a time when that was becoming increasingly dangerous.

  68. Elizabeth's Gravatar Elizabeth
    March 27, 2017 - 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Odo for his wolf buddy, though he could have taught a thing or two to that saint from a few years ago who got eaten by seals.

  69. Brigid Courtney's Gravatar Brigid Courtney
    March 27, 2017 - 12:52 pm | Permalink

    being a wolf person myself, I voted for Odo

  70. Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
    March 27, 2017 - 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I voted for both in the last round. I love the sound of bagpipes. One of my favorite characters on Star Trek:  Deep Space 9 was the shape-shifting Odo who served as the station’s chief security officer. The snippet of a hymn about previous Lent Madness winner Mary Magdalene is lovely.

    Yet still I felt the need to vote for the Beguine, Mechtild of Magdeburg, because #ShePersisted in following the Spirit at a time when those in power in the church were not exactly open to the ministry of women in the area of preaching & teaching. That’s what tipped the scale today.

    And as to the question of who is worthy of care, the only truly Christian answer is every single human on the planet. We are all created in the image of God. Which reminds me of something the Archbishop of York said on the BBC last year about Matthew 25 and our being judged on how we treat others. When did we see You with a pre-existing condition Lord and take away your health insurance?

    • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
      March 27, 2017 - 1:00 pm | Permalink

      To clarify the italics at the end is my extrapolation on Matt 25. The Archbishop’s remarks were more general.

      And speaking of Archbishops . . . I miss the Archbishops’ commentary on Lent Madness.

      • Pamela Payne's Gravatar Pamela Payne
        March 27, 2017 - 1:57 pm | Permalink

        Well done, Miss Jan!

        • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
          March 27, 2017 - 3:35 pm | Permalink


    • March 27, 2017 - 9:30 pm | Permalink

      Loved your paraphrase of Matthew 25. Very clever!

      • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
        March 28, 2017 - 8:37 am | Permalink


  71. Timothy Cole-French's Gravatar Timothy Cole-French
    March 27, 2017 - 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I voted for odo because he created my favorite music note 😀 (legit)

  72. Carol Riddick's Gravatar Carol Riddick
    March 27, 2017 - 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Although I voted for Mechtild I am leaving strict instructions (since I may die before the event) that my first Great Grandchild, be it male or female, be named ODO!

  73. Linda Burnett's Gravatar Linda Burnett
    March 27, 2017 - 1:17 pm | Permalink

    when attending spiritual directors training we all choose a saint to read about and report on. My choice was Mechtild, so had to go with her. I am however, impressed by Odo as well and would have voted for him if my loyalties were not already spoken for. Anyone with such a deep connection to our 4 legged friends that he had one as a prayer partner has my heart.

  74. Claire's Gravatar Claire
    March 27, 2017 - 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Not a fan of notes labeled as letter. Soooo, it’s Odo’s doing, eh? That’s a point against him 😉
    No Latin, no problem! Never learned Latin, never felt the need as the vernacular is living language.
    Mechtild got my vote.

  75. Mary Lynn's Gravatar Mary Lynn
    March 27, 2017 - 1:22 pm | Permalink

    ODO!! 🙂

  76. Kathy Wisconsin's Gravatar Kathy Wisconsin
    March 27, 2017 - 1:26 pm | Permalink

    In the first round I voted for Mechtild but now I chose Odo. Although both are very worthy, I felt Odo accomplished more and prayed at the tomb of St. Martin who is our patron saint!

  77. March 27, 2017 - 1:31 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Odo – mainly for his B-flat, a very important note in hymnody.

  78. Mary W.'s Gravatar Mary W.
    March 27, 2017 - 1:36 pm | Permalink

    The Sprit moved me towards Odo today; it must have been the music. Though Mechtild almost had me with the quote about cleanliness in the sick room, one of her earlier quotes was a bit too cloying. Which is hardly fair, but that’s the way my thoughts went down. I wouldn’t be terribly disappointed if she won.

  79. Gretchen Pritchard's Gravatar Gretchen Pritchard
    March 27, 2017 - 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Suggestion to the SEC: Make it the ELECT eight. No, it doesn’t rhyme, but it doesn’t have to rhyme; the theme here is alliteration, not rhyme. And “Elate eight” is not English. “Elate” is a verb, not an adjective. “Elect” is an adjective AND also actually makes sense in this context.

    • March 27, 2017 - 4:17 pm | Permalink

      Maybe they’ll make an exception for Luther’s bracket, letting him vie for Elect status. (Would be a better fit for Calvin, of course, but he’s not playing this year.)

    • Kathy in Nicaragua's Gravatar Kathy in Nicaragua
      March 27, 2017 - 5:46 pm | Permalink

      Actually, according to my Webster’s, “elate” can also be an adjective (labeled “poetic”). It appears to mean the same as “elated.”

      • Deacon Mildred's Gravatar Deacon Mildred
        March 27, 2017 - 10:14 pm | Permalink

        Since I watched the PBS show on the Brontë sisters last night, I like Merriam Webster’s example sentence for “elate” as an adjective: “I smiled to myself and felt elate — Charlotte Brontë”

        The usage is not very common these days, but our saints weren’t common, either. SEC, I vote for keeping the Eight Elate rather than Elect.

  80. REX MCKEE's Gravatar REX MCKEE
    March 27, 2017 - 1:45 pm | Permalink

    ODO… out in the world, in the tradition of Francis….

  81. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    March 27, 2017 - 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Both very worthy of honour, but Odo having a wolf as a prayer companion swayed me in his favour. I miss having a canine prayer companion so my vote is in great thanksgiving for the dogs who have graced my life.

  82. Amy C.'s Gravatar Amy C.
    March 27, 2017 - 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Odo’s story of the foxes and wolf remind me of Carlos Castenada and the peyote vision quest.
    I much prefer the terror of passion to the terror of attack.
    I admire how she faced being in intimate relationship with God; with humility, courage, and delight.
    My vote was for Mechtild.

  83. Doctorjan's Gravatar Doctorjan
    March 27, 2017 - 2:05 pm | Permalink

    The Beguines were one of the first “active” orders in the church, living together and serving those in need. They had to fight mighty hard to do this, as women were either married or stayed in cloistered convents. Mechtild sounded like a lovely nurse, cleaning and singing and laughing with her patients! She was way ahead of her time. Imagine her up against Florence!

  84. March 27, 2017 - 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Both choices seem too far fetched, too much legend I can’t bring my self to vote for either one.

  85. Dr Paul's Gravatar Dr Paul
    March 27, 2017 - 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Mechtild the Beguine!

  86. Cindy Lufkin's Gravatar Cindy Lufkin
    March 27, 2017 - 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Odo, although Mechtild was also worthy, because I’m to present chant as a spiritual discipline Saturday and am still gathering odds and ends, and that last paragraph seemed a gift from a saint.

  87. J.J. Cape Cod's Gravatar J.J. Cape Cod
    March 27, 2017 - 2:51 pm | Permalink

    As an often merry but musically challenged Registered Nurse I must cast my vote with

  88. Lee Greenawalt's Gravatar Lee Greenawalt
    March 27, 2017 - 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Factual or not, the concept of a companion wolf and of B flat causes my spirit to soar.

  89. Jan Curtis's Gravatar Jan Curtis
    March 27, 2017 - 3:02 pm | Permalink

    At University, rather long ago, I actually knew a young woman named Mechtild, called “Maggie” I believe. She was a foreign student from Germany, and told me her name was really Mechtild, an old name. I liked her, so in her memory and because of the cleanliness of the sickroom and the laughter in same, I voted for Mechtild.

    • March 27, 2017 - 4:22 pm | Permalink

      I think “Mechtild” is an early German form of the name “Matilda”.

  90. Megan Devlin's Gravatar Megan Devlin
    March 27, 2017 - 3:36 pm | Permalink

    As one who feeds three animals at home, I thought it no wonder the animals gave Odo a hard time, since he would not share his crumbs. And Mechtild beat the Protestants in sharing her theology in the vernacular (at least for Germans) so she should get credit for that and her good works!

  91. Adelaide Kent's Gravatar Adelaide Kent
    March 27, 2017 - 3:51 pm | Permalink

    The Beguines were wonderful. I wish we could revive that order in this century. I am for Mechtilde all the way.

  92. March 27, 2017 - 4:21 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Mechtild this time around, as I did the last time. The style of spirituality and common life practiced by the Beguines was one of the early signs of a broadening and a renewal in Christian faith and life during the later Middle Ages.

  93. March 27, 2017 - 4:23 pm | Permalink

    As my vicarious Lenten penance for the bad behavior of my fellow foxes, Odo gets my vote and not my fangs or claws. 😉

  94. Mariclaire's Gravatar Mariclaire
    March 27, 2017 - 4:33 pm | Permalink

    I wanted Mechtilde, but was over-ruled by all four of my children. They argued that Mechtilde merely showed signs of mental illness, but I know who I would want at my bedside

  95. Janene's Gravatar Janene
    March 27, 2017 - 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Love Mechtild. Would love to know more about the Beguines. Going to Google them.

    • March 27, 2017 - 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Look for the book by Laura Swan. It is a very interesting and inspiring book.

  96. Peggy Hans's Gravatar Peggy Hans
    March 27, 2017 - 4:52 pm | Permalink

    As a church organist, Odo’s B-flat was very tempting, but I was won over by Metchtild’s care and concern for the sick, especially the comment “it is a good thing to be merry and to laugh with them…” However, if I get a new cat sometime, I think I might name him Odo.

  97. Edwina's Gravatar Edwina
    March 27, 2017 - 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Oh to have been able to sit in the quiet beguine garden with Mechtilde …

  98. Walker Shaw's Gravatar Walker Shaw
    March 27, 2017 - 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Foxes and wolves aside, I vote for the poet saint, Mechthild of Magdeburg.

    “I cannot dance, Lord, unless you lead me.
    If you want me to leap with abandon,
    You must intone the song.
    Then I shall leap into love,
    From love into knowledge,
    From knowledge into enjoyment,
    And from enjoyment beyond all human sensations.
    There I want to remain, yet want also to circle higher still.”
    – Mechthild of Magdeburg

    • March 27, 2017 - 11:23 pm | Permalink

      Wow! Thanks for sharing that, Walker.

  99. March 27, 2017 - 6:54 pm | Permalink

    This was a tough one. I went with Odo because of the music, foxes, wolves and the fact the he was a Benedictine and tried to re-organize the monasteries. I liked Mechthild be-cause here name was close to Matilda (my mother’s middle name, which she hated. I don’t think I would suggest the name “odo” to one of my grandchildren as a possible name for the next great grandchild.

  100. March 27, 2017 - 6:56 pm | Permalink

    This was a tough one. I went with Odo because of the music, foxes, wolves and the fact the he was a Benedictine and tried to re-organize the monasteries. I liked Mechthild be-cause her name was close to Matilda (my mother’s middle name, which she hated.) I don’t think I would suggest the name “odo” to one of my grandchildren as a possible name for the next great grandchild,,however. .

  101. andrea's Gravatar andrea
    March 27, 2017 - 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Odo. Wolf as prayer companion, hymns, B-flat, and attributing letters of alphabet to musical notes. Without B (and B-flat), we wouldn’t be able to “Begin the Beguine”-this version is by Artie Shaw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCXVxE_YeP4 (not sure link works)

  102. Mollie Douglas Turner+'s Gravatar Mollie Douglas Turner+
    March 27, 2017 - 11:54 pm | Permalink

    Late weighing in today, but delighted to run into CB Megan Castellan most unexpectedly at a conference center! And to cast a vote for Mechtild, though Odo did make his appeal. It was close!

  103. Linda from St. Ed's's Gravatar Linda from St. Ed's
    March 28, 2017 - 4:10 am | Permalink

    To be honest, I’m not particularly drawn to either of these saints, but I’m going with Odo.

  104. Cornelia Keller's Gravatar Cornelia Keller
    March 29, 2017 - 12:38 pm | Permalink

    My new email address is. Swmbo1936@gmail.net

    I do not want to miss any madnrss!

Comments are closed.