For the Golden Halo: Mary Magdalene vs. Emma of Hawaii

We began this Lent Madness journey over five weeks ago on "Ash Thursday." We started with 32 saints and have now whittled the field down to two: Mary Magdalene and Emma of Hawaii (who staged a wild comeback against Dietrich Bonhoeffer yesterday).

Along the way we've met some truly remarkable holy women and men. Perhaps you learned about some folks 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 Lent need not be gloomy or depressing. After all, what could be more joyful than a season specifically devoted to being drawn into deeper relationship with the risen Christ?

In the process of this whimsical Lenten devotion we have made some new online friends, encountered a community of believers who take their faith but not themselves too seriously, learned some things, were inspired by saintly witnesses, and had a lot fun along the way.

We literally couldn't have done this without our "Celebrity Bloggers" to whom we offer sincere gratitude. Dr. Meredith Gould, the Rev. Penny Nash, the Rev. Bosco Peters, Canon Heidi Shott, the Rev. (Bracket Czar) Adam Thomas, the Rev. Laura Toepfer, the Rev. Neil Alan Willard, and the Rev. Chris Yaw -- you guys rock!

Finally, thanks to all who have participated in this devotional journey. We've loved having each one of you along for the "madness" and on behalf of the Supreme Executive Committee we wish you a blessed Holy Week and a joyous Easter.

Oh, wait, there's one more thing before we set our face toward the Triduum. Cast your vote for either Mary Magdalen or Emma of Hawaii -- the 2012 Golden Halo hangs in the balance! The polls will be open for 24 hours and the winner will be announced at 8:00 am Eastern time on Maundy Thursday.

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!"
John 20:18

Mary Magdalene: Giovanni Savoldo, c.1535-1540

Excerpts from a lament by the Pacific Commercial Advertiser upon Queen Emma’s death in 1885.

Auwe! Auwe! The bitter wail resounds,
From far Kauai to bold Hawaii’s shore;
The people’s grief and sorry know no bounds,
For their loved Ema-lani is no more.

---Auwe! Auwe! The mourning nation cries;
Auwe! Auwe! She does not heed its grief;
Auwe! No more she wipes the weeping eyes,
No more she gives the sick and poor relief.

The King and lowliest native equal share
The common grief, for each has lost a friend,
And closer draws the bond of sympathy -
The throne and hut unite their tears to blend.

And not alone Hawaiians grieving cry,
The Haoles join in universal moan;
America extends her sympathy,
And England’s Queen will mourn a sister gone..

Kaleleonalani is not dead!
She sleeps on earth, but wakes in Paradise;
Rejoince we then and lift the drooping head,
She is but veiled from our mortal eyes.

And so we leave her sleeping sweet in God.


NOTE: At 4:13 p.m. EDT, the Supreme Executive Committee removed 120 votes for Emma, based on heavy repeating voting from a single location. We are glad you are enthused about your saints, but please vote only once!

[poll id="35"]


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146 comments on “For the Golden Halo: Mary Magdalene vs. Emma of Hawaii”

  1. How often those words have inspired me, "I have seen the Lord"; The fervent hope of every Christian. All of the Saints we have learned about have seen the Lord in their own way and time in the faces of those they served. But, our dear Mary was the first. Like us she went to the tomb in sorrow and came away with joy! And it transformed her life. In a time when women were discounted, she was a faitful witness.

    1. Amen! I am sure to be much like Mary, initially feeling the sadness throughout this Holy Week, then exceeding JOY at the reminder that Easter's message is as simple as Mary's declaration: Jesus is RISEN, indeed!

  2. Tim and Scott. I am confused. There is a comment at the end of the Bonhoeffer vs Emma posting that indicates that Bonhoeffer won over Emma (copied below). Please explain.

    "NOTE: At 12:14 a.m. EDT, the Supreme Executive Committee removed 70 votes from Emma of Hawaii. We noticed that there were 20 votes in close succession from a residence in Hawaii and 50 from a residence in Arizona. While we commend your enthusiasm, we do not commend repeat voting. We’re watching this one carefully, so don’t vote more than once, please.

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer vs. Emma of Hawaii

    Emma of Hawaii (51%, 1,388 Votes)
    Dietrich Bonhoeffer (49%, 1"

    1. Some people voted multiple times in Dietrich vs. Emma. We subtracted those votes. The indicated result is correct. Emma beat Dietrich by the results which are shown.

    2. If your results look like mine, the name of the loser - nope can't call him that -- non-winner Bonhoeffer is bolded in the final results. That's happened in other contests and tricked me before as well, so that may be why he had the temporary illusion of victory in your eyes.

  3. So glad that Emma made that wild comeback. And she could do so again, perhaps. But I've been with Mary all the way, and happily cast my vote for the Magdalene!

    1. "The form of the crucified disarms all thinking aimed at success, for it is a denial of judgment. Neither the triumph of the successful, nor bitter hatred of the successful by those who fail, can finally cope with the world. Jesus is certainly no advocate for the successful in history, but neither does he lead the revolt of the failures [gescheiterte Existenzen] against the successful. His concern is neither success nor failure, but willing acceptance of the judgment of God." (Bonhoeffer,_Ethics_, p. 90)


  4. Sorry. I do not know what I saw earlier either. I just revisited, including the results pasted in my earlier comment, and see now in the results that Emma won. Hmmmmm. My apologies for any confusion I caused.

  5. Mary Magdalene was blessed with much love (and such Love), and she had physical propinquity as well as a spiritual bond with her Savior. Emma also had much Love, but her propinquity to Christ was over and through many generations. Since I have voted for the underdog throughout these 32 days, I shall continue--loving both.

    1. I too voted for the Mag, but I always thought that the Ascension gave us all equal propinquity regardless of generations.
      Now a little story -- several years ago I was waiting in the Porter's lodge at Magdalen College (Oxon) while he was on the phone with an obviously new police dispatcher trying to explain where assistance was needed: "Maudlin College, M A G D A L E N Maudlin." (Phonetic version of course.)

  6. Mary M. gets my final vote. Thanks, guys, for an entertaining and enlightening Lenten diversion!

  7. I really thought I would vote for Mary of Magdala, but the words Jesus said to Thomas after the resurrection came to me after reading that wonderful tribute to Emma about the blessedness of those who have not seen, yet believe. Emma got my vote.

  8. Queen Emma Kalanikaumakaamano Kaleleonālani Naʻea Rooke has got my vote for this!!!

  9. Mary all the way!! Thank you all for a wonderful experience this Lenten season. It was wonderful, and I am already looking forward to next year!!

  10. I had MM as my final pick (going against Cramner). I voted for her. Since the first round I read a book on her and have come to a new understanding of her and her role in Christianity. While this certainly a fun Lenten practice, it deepened in faith in ways I did not expect. Thank you SEC... And everyone who contributed comments daily.

  11. I have now voted in every contest. Where's my tattoo? I have to make an apppoinent aty local tatoo parlor. I was promised a tatoo!

      1. Sharon, I'm not certain where, when, or under what circumstances a tattoo was promised but, as a proud wearer of body art, I can pretty much guarantee you that tat's can be habit forming. so somebody should deliver a tattoo to this refusal can get pretty ugly.....

  12. Casting a final all this madness...for the woman of Magdala who wept in the garden in grief, and was rewarded for her faithfulness with a visitation and peace and joy of the first Easter.
    I have so enjoyed this diversion/education/entertainment. It has been enlightening (if a little bit frightening) and despite somelingering reservations as to the authenticity of the voting...I'm enjoyed the comments and information...and the fun. That's what it was all about. 😉 blessed Holy Week and a Joyous Easter to eeryone!

  13. I've been playing and promoting this among friends for a couple of years now, but this year was the best so far!! It has been really fun to watch this grow and thrive. I voted for Emma - I will be using her in VBS in NavajoLand this summer, so I'm hoping to add this win to her story!!

  14. My rector very much admires DB (a frequent topic in sermons) and it was fascinating to weigh him against so many other inspiring people.

    Thus I must go with Emma, truly an inspiring woman and the only one to best DB.

    Thanks to all, and a blessed Holy Week. May our high notes, sermon topics and photocopiers rejoice.

  15. Hats off to the Supreme Executive Committee (justly named) and the Celebrity Bloggers! At the end of my first Lent Madness, I am grateful for your hard work and your sense of humor. It's put a whole new spin on Lent for me. Muchas gracias!

    1. I second that -- this has been an incredible experience and I have learned so much, laughed often and enjoyed being part of this incredible community. Can't wait till next year!

  16. Still I think it was a lot easier to be a saint when one was in close personal contact with the living Jesus. But 1900 years later, one woman, a grieving mother and widow, who saved her people, both body and soul, is to me epitomizing no Cinderella but a true saint. "Blessed are those who have not seen [Jesus] and yet believe." Jn 20: 29.

  17. Many thanks to the SEC and the Celebrity Bloggers. This was my first Lent Madness. And I think it was the first time I have had fun with my Lenten discipline. I learned a lot and am looking forward to Lent next year. I am voting for Mary but really, it doesn't matter. I sing a song of the saints of God ... and I mean to be one too!

  18. Well, this is not at all where my bracket ended up, so I have no real stake in this outcome. But I cannot see voting for Emma against such competition as the Magdalen!

  19. I have really enjoyed participating in Lent Madness - even learned some things a long the way! Without DB in today's vote, it was a very easy decision - I have voted for MM all the way, and also DB.
    I look forward to Lent, 1913 (a first!).

  20. Oh, Emma, how I love you, but THE Apsotle to the Apostles get my full backing in this vote. Go Mary Magdelene, the original Bad Girl of The Bible!

    I truly have enjoyed this, and learned some things along the way. Thanks for your time and efforts in doing this. Can't wait until next year! ;o)

  21. "I have seen the Lord." It still all boils down to that one line.....five simple words that sum it all up for me. The Magdala is the one Jesus chose to make know His glorious victory over sin and death. Amen. I'll truly miss LENT MADNESS and reading all the sincere and zany, and even the ????? ones from some interesting folk. The Padres Schenck and Gunn and guest writers are all to be commended for bringing some real joy and knowledge into my life for these few weeks. I still don't know where I was during the first two years. Oh yes, my offer to come to Nashville still stands as folk here still don't understand what I even meant by LENT MADNESS...Hellbent on UT and KY, I reckon....Bye, y'all.....alla y'all !!!!!

  22. I echo the thanks of many to the SEC and the CB's, all of whom have done a fantastic job. But, I am with Ann on this final vote. Without DB in the "championship" round, the Lady from Magdala must prevail. (In a way, I have to admit I am relieved; had DB still been in the running, I am not sure how I would have voted!) And now, I simply pray that all of us have had/will continue to have a(n appropriately) troubling Holy Week and a blessed Easter.