Congratulations to 2015 Golden Halo Winner — Francis of Assisi

Francis GH

The Lent Madness Supreme Executive Committee congratulates Francis of Assisi on his victory in Lent Madness 2015. With over 8,200 votes cast, Francis and Brigid of Kildare staged an epic neck-and-neck race throughout the day, fueling saintly passions across the globe. The SEC has certified the election (after having to zap some votes from several over-voters). In the end, rest assured that the result was close but clean.

To honor this achievement we have taken the liberty of rewriting his famous Canticle of the Sun. We suggest this be used in every Easter Day liturgy — either in the context of the sermon or as a communion anthem.

Canticle of the Sun
(Golden Halo Edition)

Most high, all powerful, all good SEC!
All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.
To you, alone, Tim and Scott, do they belong.
With a few Celebrity Bloggers thrown in.
Since we don’t pay them much. Mostly free mugs.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your voters,
especially through my Brother Oliver,
who once was seven but now is eight.
His voting touch has been a thing of beauty!

Be praised, my SEC, through Sister Brigid;
in the heavens you have made her bright, precious, and beautiful.
Though not victorious. I might add.
Oh, she of the “Silver” Halo.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Facebook and Twitter,
through which you give your creatures sustenance
and a venue for holy trash talking.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Bracket;
the large poster-sized one that is useful and understated
and holds the place of honor in every church parish hall.

Be praised, my SEC, through Brother Kitsch,
through whom you brighten the night
with glow in the dark statues of the Virgin Mary,
who, by the way, will never be put in the bracket.

Be praised, my SEC, through Sister Golden Halo,
who shines brightly and emits such a blinding aura
that we are unworthy to look her way
for by you, SEC, with the help of the Lent Madness voting public
does she crown the head of victory.

Praise and bless the SEC, and give thanks,
for they serve with such unsurpassed humility.

But wait, there’s more!

Francis GH mugCommemorate this great moment in church history by purchasing your very own Francis of Assisi mug. It features Francis with the words “2015 Golden Halo Winner” and “Lent Madness.” This is the perfect gift for every Lent Madness voter, every saint lover…or really anyone who drinks liquid in any form. For that matter, you can always use this mug as a birdbath. The Francis of Assisi Golden Halo Winner Lent Madness 2015 mug is white ceramic, ready to hold 11 ounces of your favorite beverage or something for the birds. Pre-order yours now for just $11. Buy five or more for just $9 each. They’ll ship soon! Buy now!

BRIGID FANS: Your pleas have been heard by the SEC. Due to the exceedingly close nature Brigid glass_webof the competition for the Golden Halo, we are awarding the first ever Silver Halo to Brigid of Kildare. Stay tuned for your chance to own a Lent Madness Brigid-inspired pint glass. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter accounts, because we’ll announce when the Brigid pint glass is available in the Lentorium. It should be sometime in the next few days.

For now, have yourself a blessed Holy Week and joyful Easter. You’ve earned it!


For the Golden Halo: Francis of Assisi vs. Brigid of Kildare

Charles Wesley

2014 Golden Halo Winner Charles Wesley prepares to welcome this year’s saintly champion.

We embarked upon this Lent Madness journey over five weeks ago on “Ash Thursday.” With your help we have whittled the field of 32 saints down to two: Francis of Assisi and Brigid of Kildare. Who will win the coveted Golden Halo of Lent Madness 2015? Only 24 hours and your voting participation will reveal this holy mystery.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, we’ve met some truly remarkable saintly folks along the way. Perhaps you learned about some saints you’d never heard of or maybe you renewed acquaintances with saints who have long offered inspiration. Of course the entire notion of placing saints in a bracket is absurd — each “contestant” has already earned a crown of righteousness in addition to a “golden halo.” But at the heart of Lent Madness is the abiding conviction that encountering those who have come before us in the faith enriches and enlivens our own walk with the risen Christ.

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Brigid of Kildare vs. Egeria

Well, one thing is for sure in this round. Celebrity Blogger extraordinaire Megan Castellan will have a saint vying for the Golden Halo tomorrow. Yes, Megan is advocating for both Brigid of Kildare and Egeria, as she has throughout Lent Madness 2015. The real mystery is how she will trash talk herself!

The winner of today’s battle will face Francis of Assisi for the Golden Halo tomorrow on Spy Wednesday. Francis trounced Molly Brant, one of the true cinderallas of this year’s bracket, 71% to 29%.

To get to the Faithful Four, Brigid defeated Elizabeth, Dionysius the Great, and Kamehameha while Egeria beat Hildegard, Thomas Ken, and Frederick Douglass (click on the names of the vanquished foes to refresh your memory about the information shared about Brigid and Egeria in previous rounds).

Don’t forget to catch this week’s episode of the Emmy-winning (fine, we were robbed — again) Monday Madness. Tim and Scott offer Oliver, everybody’s favorite seven-now-eight-year-old Lent Madness oracle, official birthday greetings and share news of great joy — how you can pre-order a mug featuring the to-be-determined 2015 Golden Halo winner.

Oh, and does voting for saints feel somehow at odds with the solemnity of Holy Week? Click to read Scott’s contribution to the blog of St. Luke in the Fields in New York City, in a post titled Lent Madness: Holy Competition in Holy Week? Spoiler Alert: He thinks it makes perfect sense.

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Monday Madness — March 30, 2015

purple tvJust because it’s Monday in Holy Week doesn’t mean Tim and Scott take a break from Monday Madness. This week’s action-packed episode includes a review of the Faithful Four and a hint about how you can learn the meaning of the term Spy Wednesday. Scott and Tim also wish everyone’s favorite voter, Oliver, a happy eighth birthday. They also reveal exclusive details about a mug, soon to be available, to commemorate this year’s Golden Halo winner. Actually, you can pre-order it right now.

Lastly, the Supreme Executive Committee hopes that you will do more than vote in Lent Madness this week. You are encouraged to find your way to a local church for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigil of Easter.

Don’t forget to make time to binge-watch the entire Monday Madness series at Lent Madness TV.

Francis of Assisi vs. Molly Brant

And then there were four. We started Lent Madness 2015 with 32 saints and now you can count the remaining saints on one hand (and still have a thumb left over). Who will win the coveted Golden Halo? Only a few short days and your voting participation will give us the answer. But it’s come down to this: Francis of Assisi, Molly Brant, Brigid of Kildare, and Egeria.

Today we begin the first of two Faithful Four match-ups as Francis of Assisi takes on Molly Brant. Tomorrow, Egeria will face Brigid of Kildare. Then on Spy Wednesday you, Lent Madness voter, will decide who wins the 2015 Golden Halo. (What exactly is “Spy Wednesday?” Thanks for asking. Click here to read all about it).

In this round we ask our Celebrity Bloggers to briefly answer one question: “Why should Saint XX win the Golden Halo?” Today, Laurie Brock (Francis) and Maria Kane (Molly) continue to shepherd these two saintly souls through the 2015 bracket.

Speaking of which, how about a round of applause for our fabulous team of Celebrity Bloggers who toil away in the trenches of Lent Madness without nearly enough recognition? They are truly the backbone of this operation and are worthy of our gratitude. Please do hound them for autographs when you spot them wearing sunglasses and baseball caps just trying to lead normal lives.

To make it to the Faithful Four, Francis defeated John Wycliffe, Cecilia, and Thecla while Molly beat Swithun, Cuthbert, and Bernard Mizeki. (Click on the names of defeated opponents to relive the previous saintly battles and refresh your memory about these two saints).

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Spy Wednesday?

imagesAs the Lent Madness faithful are fully aware, voting for the Golden Halo takes place on the Wednesday of Holy Week. You may have heard the Supreme Executive Committee refer to this day as “Spy Wednesday.” Unlike many terms associated with the saintly smackdown, the SEC did not, in fact, make up this name on a whim. Thus, as several of you have asked us about this unusual name for the Wednesday in Holy Week, we thought we’d shed some light on this.

First of all, Spy Wednesday does not refer to James Bond, the Cold War, or even the famous Spy vs. Spy comic strip popularized by Mad Magazine (though there is an uncanny resemblance here to Tim and Scott).

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Frederick Douglass vs. Egeria

In the last battle of the last full week of the last ever (just kidding!) Lent Madness, the last spot in the 2015 Faithful Four is up for grabs. Who will join Francis of Assisi, Brigid of Kildare, and Molly Brant (who defeated Bernard Mizeki 59% to 41%)? Will it be Frederick Douglass or Egeria? Well, that’s up to you.

To make it this far, Frederick Douglass defeated Dorcas and Juan Diego while Egeria got past Hildegard of Bingen and Thomas Ken.

Lent Madness will continue on the Monday of Holy Week with Francis of Assisi vs. Molly Brant. On Tuesday Brigid will take on today’s winner. Then it all comes down to Spy Wednesday as the two remaining saints will compete for the right to wear the 2015 Golden Halo. Stay with us, folks, The End is Near!

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Bernard Mizeki vs. Molly Brant

With yesterday’s victory for Brigid of Kildare over Kamehameha IV, 55% to 45%, half the Faithful Four is set. Brigid and Francis are in with two remaining spots up for grabs. Today it’s Bernard Mizeki vs. Molly Brant. Tomorrow Frederick Douglass faces Egeria. Things are fast and furious as we race toward the finish line of Lent Madness 2015! Oh, yeah, and Easter.

To get to the Elate Eight, Bernard defeated Margaret of Antioch and Jackson Kemper while Molly bested Swithun and Cuthbert.

Let’s face it, some saints are more prone to kitsch than others. We’re grateful to those Celebrity Bloggers who have not been dealt low hanging saintly kitsch fruit. Like those advocating for today’s saints. Kudos for kitschy kreativity!

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Brigid of Kildare vs. Kamehameha

The Elate Eight, and our endless fascination with saintly kitsch, continues with Brigid of Kildare facing Kamehameha IV. To make it this far, Brigid defeated Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist) and Dionysius the Great. Kamehameha trounced William Laud before besting David Oakerhater.

Yesterday, Francis of Assisi trounced Thecla 71% to 29%. Tomorrow the Elate Eight continues with Bernard Mizeki taking on Molly Brant.

While we all know the real point of Lent Madness is to be inspired by saintly souls and grow closer to Jesus during this holy season, this doesn’t mean the competitive spirit remains completely dormant. Over the years, thousands of dollars have been raised in parishes that use the saintly smackdown for charitable purposes. In most places this involves parishioners filling out and submitting Lent Madness brackets in advance with a small donation. When the Golden Halo is awarded, the one who “wins Lent” gets to decide which charity gets the pot.

The point it, we’re curious about how people’s brackets are faring? Does anyone have a 11081669_10153232593998385_2072347019_nperfect bracket? Is anyone 0-for-Lent? One of Tim’s parishioners was pleased to report he’d only gotten three wrong heading into the Elate Eight (see photo). Of course, as he put it, “Most years I only have three correct at this point.”

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Thecla vs. Francis of Assisi

And then there were eight. We started with 32 saints and 3/4 of them have been sent packing. Welcome, friends, to the Elate Eight. Things kick off with Thecla taking on Francis of Assisi. To make it to this point, Thecla defeated John Keble and Brendan the Navigator while Francis of Assisi beat John Wycliffe and Cecilia. (Elate Eight Bonus: click on the names of vanquished foes to refresh your memory by reading the write-ups from previous rounds).

Yesterday, Egeria defeated Thomas Ken 54% to 46% to nab the final spot. After today’s battle, it’s Brigid of Kildare vs. Kamehameha, Bernard Mizeki vs. Molly Brant, and Frederick Douglass vs. Egeria. One of these eight will be awarded the coveted 2015 Golden Halo!

This round is also known as the Saintly Kitsch round. After basic biographies, quotes and quirks, what else could there be? There are always some folks who take offense to this approach — we call them Kitsch Kranks. This round is not meant to belittle or demean our saintly heroes but to have some fun and gaze in wide wonder at the breadth of devotional practice. So kindly relax and enjoy the spirit of the Madness as we push ever onward toward our goal.

Finally, if you want to know more about, and see some examples of, saintly kitsch, tune in to this week’s episode of Monday Madness in which Scott and Tim also reveal why Lent Madness is the Original Saintly Smackdown©.

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