Free Lent Madness Article!

January 25, 2013
Tim Schenck

freeDo you edit a parish or diocesan newsletter? Do you have a Lenten issue coming out? Are you desperate for material? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then this post is for you. You see, here at Lent Madness we take seriously our commitment to make your life easier. We know you're busy during these waning days before Lent trying to decide whether to give up chocolate or wine or coffee (not a chance!).

So below, you'll find an informational article about Lent Madness that you're welcome to use verbatim or adapt for your own use. And if you aren't the William (or even Patty) Hearst of your parish? Feel free to send it along to friends -- it's a pretty basic explanation of what Lent Madness is all about.

If you need the Lent Madness logo to run with this, either go to Google images or contact us for a high resolution version. Or you could always use the "FREE" button you see to your left -- everybody likes free stuff!

Lent Madness 2013
The Saintly Smack Down

What do you get when you combine a love of sports with holy saints? Lent Madness, of course. Based loosely on the wildly popular NCAA basketball tournament, Lent Madness pits 32 saints against one another in a single-elimination bracket as they compete for the coveted Golden Halo. But it is more than that: Lent Madness is really an online devotional tool designed to help people learn about saints.

Lent Madness began in 2010 as the brainchild of the Rev. Tim Schenck, an Episcopal priest and rector of St. John’s Church in Hingham, Massachusetts. In seeking a fun, engaging way for people to learn about the men and women comprising the church’s calendar of saints, Schenck came up with this unique Lenten devotion. Combining his love of sports with his passion for the lives of the saints, Lent Madness was born on his blog “Clergy Family Confidential.”

Starting last year, Schenck partnered with the Rev. Scott Gun, Executive Director of Forward Movement (the same folks that publish Forward Day by Day) and Lent Madness went viral, reaching over 50,000 people and getting mentioned in everything from the Washington Post to Sports Illustrated (seriously).

Here’s how it works: on the weekdays of Lent information is posted about two different saints on and then participants vote to determine who goes on to the next round. Each pairing remains open for a set period of time – usually 24 hours – and people vote for their favorite saint. 16 saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the Golden Halo. The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks, explore legends, and even move into the area of saintly kitsch. It’s fun, it’s informative, it’s the saintly smack down!

To win in 2013, will take grit, determination, holiness, and perhaps some good old-fashioned luck. This year Lent Madness features a slate of saints ancient and modern, Biblical and ecclesiastical including John the Baptist, Martin Luther King, Hilda of Whitby, Luke, Dorothy Day, Benedict of Nursia, Martin Luther, and Harriet Tubman as they vie to fill the shoes of 2012 winner Mary Magdalene.

This all kicks off on “Ash Thursday,” February 14, and will continue throughout the 40-day season of Lent. To participate, log onto, where you can also print out a bracket and fill it out to see how you fare or “compete” against friends and family members. Like that other March tournament, there will be drama and intrigue, upsets and thrashings, last-minute victories and Cinderellas.

If you’re looking for a Lenten discipline that is fun, educational, occasionally goofy, and always joyful, join the Lent Madness journey. Lent needn’t be all doom and gloom. After all, what could be more joyful than a season specifically set aside to grow closer to God?


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29 comments on “Free Lent Madness Article!”

  1. This really sounds like a fun way to learn more about the saints. Can you give me an idea of typical daily time commitment? I need to make sure I can make it work with busy family schedules before committing. Thanks.

  2. Hi Wendy. Glad you're thinking about participating. The short answer is that it takes about three minutes a day. If you sign up for the email updates on the home page, you'll receive a message every time there's a new match-up between saints (generally the weekdays of Lent). You read about the two saints and click to vote. Quick, easy, informative, fun!

    Now if you want to delve deeper you can check back throughout the day as we often get about 75 comments per battle. You can either comment yourself or just read through them. People share why they're voting for a particular saint or add info or just offer commentary.

    Hope you'll join us for the adventure!

  3. I actually used your free article in an email to my fellow parishoners, but when spell checking it, found that Rev. Scott's name is misspelled! (GUN vs GUNN). Just FYI.

  4. I will put this on the congregation's FB page. I might suggest a brief "What is Lent Madness" post on that page, with a simple explanation and link to this, this close to the beginning of Lent. It's time to get the word out!

  5. I have been chomping at the bit for Lent Madness to strike again! Now it is not far off. My husband and I would never accuse the SEC of not giving away free materials. Both of you have our utmost respect and admiration. We have the giant bracket poster affixed to a wall and the Saintly Scorecard. On the appropriate day, let the Madness begin! We're ready!

  6. I just forwarded this to a Lutheran pastor in NJ (after all we have some Lutheran bloggers this year) so the word (and the brackets) are spreading.

  7. I have been diligent in welcoming the bloggers but when you named them + their home sites, I was mini-appalled! Only one is from the South-Lexington KY! I'm a Tar Heel born; Tar Heel bred; and when I die, I'll be Tar Heel dead! and I live Nashville TN. Baltimore is NOT in the South. If any blogger drops out (Not the KY one who fell off her horse 2 yrs. ago) replace with a died-in-the-wool Southerner. I seldom, if ever, complain but this bears attending to in a BIG way. My thanks to the SEC. Love y'all!

    1. Not to worry - after a decade in the hills of the Smokies and the Blue, and now a decade in Texas, my Southern drawl is pretty well solidified. So you should probably vote Drogo, Methodius, and Kierkegaard. 🙂

  8. I'll be posting your article on my Facebook page; Spiritual Formation in the Diocese of Western MA. Thanks for making it available; and let the games begin!!!!

  9. I just made up a bulletin insert with your letter on one side and the brackets poster on the other for both of the congregations that meet in our church!

  10. Well, if we want to whine about where the celebrity bloggers are from, I will whine (which I never really d0) that there is no one from the southwest. There are Episcopalians in the southwest, and even some Lutherans of all flavors (including the ones not in communion with us).

  11. Scott and Tim, I have been waiting eagerly for wisdom and guidance on the mystic convergence of the Feast of St. Valentine and the Fast of Ash Wednesday. Surely you have insight to offer! The modern replacement of St. Valentine with Cyril and Methodius, who have only historicity to recommend them over the martyr Valentine, is, I regret to say, sad. Have you naught to offer your faithful Lent Madness followers?

      1. When, O when will the SEC suitably honor the Eastern Orthodox tradition of Holy Fools? This would have been the perfect year.

  12. Last year during Lent Madness one of the followers replied each week with a poem about the saint she chose. As I recall there were requests made to have all the poems compiled into one document. Is this available and if so, how can it be purchased or found?
    Thank you!