Harriet Tubman vs. Hilda of Whitby

The ever-kontroversial Saintly Kitsch Week continues with a tough choice between Harriet Tubman and Hilda of Whitby. Harriet made it thus far by storming past Nicholas Ferrar and Martha of Bethany. Hilda of Whitby made it to the Elate Eight by overwhelming Samuel Seabury before holding off a pesky Ignatius of Antioch. The winner of this match-up will earn a spot in the Faithful Four and a date with Frances Perkins. Get a preview of today's match-up from the hardest working video blogger this side of the Yukon Territory, Maple Anglican.

Yesterday we bid farewell to a valiant Florence Li Tim-Oi as she was soundly defeated by Oscar Romero. The martyred archbishop of El Salvador will now face the winner of tomorrow's battle between Luke and Dorothy Day.

We're halfway through the Elate Eight! By the weekend there will be just four saints standing. Is your favorite still in the bracket? Do you have someone you're passionately pulling for? Are you out campaigning and driving all of your friends and relatives crazy with this little churchy game you're playing? Has Lent ever been so awesome? Have you ever dreaded the approach of Easter? These are some of the questions hanging out there as you prepare to face more kitsch.

37991_12555_4625_XTPLBSTKR1_-1853363819Harriet Tubman

Harriet Ross Tubman, abolitionist, activist, soldier, spy, visionary and all-around fighter for justice, has much paraphernalia to her illustrious name.

First of all, there is an elementary school named after Harriet. They have much merchandise for the purchasing, and they are the Harriet Tubman Frogs. No clue why, but hey, frogs are intrepid little amphibians with their transforming and their adaptiveness! So, you go Harriet Tubman Frogs of Washington DC! Hop with bravery!

keep_going_mico_the_bearWhile you're hopping, you might get scared. In this case, why not get a cute Harriet Tubman-quoting teddy bear? YES. These exist.

(Ok, it would appear that this bear is quoting Hilary Clinton, who is quoting Harriet Tubman, at the '08 DNC, all in support of Obama in 2008. Which is a heck of a lot for one small bear's tummy to do, but still. Behold a multitasking teddy bear!)

If the idea of a politically-affiliated plush toy upset you, I have a solution. Behold, Harriet harriet_tubman_steinTubman barware! We have several options here:harriet_tubman_bff_drinking_glass

One, if you are assured of your closeness with Lady Moses, and one if you have some humility about you, somewhere.

(These are also available as wine chillers, for you die-hard Episcopalians.)

pl_harriet_tubman_throw_pillowBut if you are inspired, and want to fully decorate your abode in this theme, this can be done. Here, Tubman-themed throw pillows, and Tubman-quoting messenger bags.

(You thought the bear was confused on his message -- I don't know what the throw pillow is communicating. But you can get that message on a teddy bear too, so if the earlier teddy bear confused you, here's a viable alternative. You can also get this message on a pet bowl, which I'm not even going to attempt to unpack.)

Then, we have the usual dizzying array of t-shirts. Again, we have ones for those who want to take on the saint's identity:hello_my_name_is_harriet_light_tshirt

And finally, we have my personal favorite:have_a_harriet_moment_womens_long_sleeve_tshirt

As for me, I am totally ordering one of those glasses.

-- Megan Castellan

Hilda of Whitby

Hilda, the great Abbess of the double monastery at Whitby, is more appropriately known as Hild of Streaneschalch (this proper Old English form of her name). However, since most of us can barely spell Episcopalian without spell-check, she is known in the church and throughout the world as Hilda.

whitby_abbey_england_uk_hat-r7c5cc4609cd94da391a654b73f85537e_v9wfy_8byvr_216Whitby is seaside town in the English county of North Yorkshire. The actual monastery was sacked by the Vikings in the 9th-century and dissolved under Henry the VIII’s reign, eventually falling into ruins. The Abbey ruins inspired Count Dracula’s castle and served as a prominent landmark for sailors. So, if you’re looking to meld God and the current vampire fad together, you can purchase this stunning hat that shows you are hip and holy, all at the same time. Especially tasteful is the elegant “trucker cut” of the hat, sure to be flattering on clergy and laity alike.

Being a coastal town, the beaches of Whitby are home to ancient ammonite fossils. To the mere novice, they might simply lookSilver like the fossilized remains of prehistoric predatory squid-like creatures (hey, I wonder the Sy-Fy Channel has considered a “The Horrors of Hilda” movie, pitting predatory squids against Dracula? But I digress…). To the knowledgeable readers of Lent Madness, you know that these are in fact the skeletal remains of the plague of snakes that Hilda turned to stone after they messed with the wrong abbess. Scientists even named the genus of these particular ammonites Hildoceras. Hilda’s ammonites exist today, commonly known as snakestones. You, too, can order any number of jeweled settings such as this lovely silver cuff bracelet. Because trust me, it’s the classiest thing in this post.

marmionIf you’d like to read more about this particular snakes-to-stone account, Sir Walter Scott wrote all about it in his epic poem Marmion, filled with accounts of lust, betrayal, dishonest nuns, duels, being walled up alive, heroism, and love. Hilda’s involvement in the plot of about the locale only, in case you’re wondering if she and John Donne had more in common than being Anglican saints.

Hilda’s monasteries became havens for those looking to worship God, live in community, and be educated. Hilda saw the poetic skills of Caedmon 007and urged him to write poetry in his native tongue. Her efforts as Abbess led to her being named the patron saint of learning, culture, and poetry.  Several schools are named in her honor, including the College of St. Hild and St. Bede, which has produced many scholars, artists, musicians, politicians, religious leaders, and not one, but two – two, I say -- of the actors who portrayed James Bond.

the_abbess_hilda_offering_iphone_4_covers-p176838253281781588en7lp_216Historian JoAnn McNamara says of Hilda: She assumed a prestige usually reserved for bishops when she presided over the Synod where the Irish and Roman churches compete for the allegiance of the Northumbrian king. Hilda is likely most remembered for her presence at the Synod of Whitby. Hilda, along with St. Colman, lobbied for the Celtic expression of Christianity. Wilfrid supported the Romanized expression of the faith. In the end, Wilfrid and his supporters won. Hilda graciously accepted defeat and implored all present to conform to the Synod’s decision. Hilda may have conformed, but legend holds that she remained a critic of Wilfrid for the remainder of her life, even challenging his decision to withhold part of his diocese from one of Hilda’s protégé’s who was establishing a new monastery by sending her personal ambassador to the Holy See. Hilda, it seems, may have conformed to Romanized Christianity, but she still had Wilfrid’s number and may have used her very own iPhone case to call him out on occasion.

Some criticize Hilda’s actions at Whitby. Perhaps if she had lobbied harder, Celtic Christianity would have heldWhitbyshirt the day and produced a very different Church. Maybe. Maybe not. Hilda, we may surmise, was personally not pleased with the outcome, but she did realize the value of community unity over personal opinion. But one does wonder if, had this nifty shirt been available in the Whitby gift shop, she would have made it part of her regular monastic fashion.

-- Laurie Brock



Hilda of Whitby vs. Harriet Tubman

  • Hilda of Whitby (54%, 1,828 Votes)
  • Harriet Tubman (46%, 1,574 Votes)

Total Voters: 3,402

Loading ... Loading ...


* indicates required

Recent Posts



126 comments on “Harriet Tubman vs. Hilda of Whitby”

    1. Here's another Cynthia who's going with Hilda. Not only is her kitsch classy, she's another "she-ro" worthy of our emulation today. Once we find our voices, sisters, keep speaking up for a kinder, gentler, more inclusive Church as Hilda did!

    2. Cynthia from St. Hilda St. Patrick in Edmonds WA, St. Hilda is going to need our help against Perkins! Be sure to remind folks at church (although I am sure they don't need a reminder) about her face-off on Monday. Christ Church New Haven (home to St. Hilda's House-Episcopal Service Corps Program) is behind St. Hilda all the way!!!

  1. I had to vote for Harriet, but this is a tough one. Maybe I'll order a "Whitby Was Wrong" shirt!

  2. So I really respect Ms. Tubman, and what she went through was unconscionable. Also it is hard to judge people from our context when they lived at a different time and in a different context. That being said, in this age where violence and threats of violence is such an issue does it make sense to vote for a gun carrying holy woman who would threaten to shoot any and all people who got scared and wanted to turn back citing, "dead men tell no tales"? I'm just saying.

    1. What's wrong with a pistol packing Mama? Makes sense to me and I wouldn't bet that Hilda wasn't packing something. After all, Jesus made sure that the Disciples were armed before they went to the Garden. He later chose to not fight but he wanted them to be ready to defend themselves and him, if that had been the right thing to do at the time.

    2. I voted for Hilda for many reasons, but thanks to the gun it was NOT a vote against Harriet.

  3. All this is too silly for me. I started out to learn more about the saints,but now I find my time is wasted with all this madness. Ya'll have fun--- I'm done.

    1. Have to say I agree w WT..but will not be done..voted for Hilda with the classiest kitsch..Ya'll have fun w/your madness...I'm staying! Kitsch Krank #1

  4. Well.....Whose feelings will be hurt to the point of leaving LENT MADNESS today? I am so sorry the kitsch offends some of our folk. It's all meant in a positive spirit to just lighten up things during the 40 days of Lent that were torture for me during my formative years. I couldn't leave the Episcopal Church due to threats from my father: "Well, you can walk to St. Philip's just around the corner but if you decide you're going to just up and leave,how do you plan to get to Soldiers' Memorial AMEZ downtown when you can't drive and are too lazy to even contemplate walking?" That's all it took! I welcome kitsch but poor Harriet doesn't have much compared to Hilda but Harriet still got my vote! More kitsch! Better kitsch! That's what I say. Am I the first today?

  5. I think it may have been the Dracula reference that swayed me this time. Or possibly the ammonites. But though I voted for Hilda, I really want a Harriet Tubman Frogs mug since the frog is my totem animal, given me by a Unitarian shaman. Like those folk among whom Hilda lived and worked, I am only a partial convert from paganism. Well, there's a reason they call it Lent Madness!

  6. Voted for Hilda. I like that she caved, speaking as a world class caver myself. And a world class ruer-of-the-day. Lord have mercy upon us.

  7. Love the kitsch! and especially the "Whitby was wrong" T-shirt. Another challenge, but today my vote goes to Hilda...

  8. Well, again my longwindedness kept me from even 2nd or 3rd but I'm after one who has left our ranks. It always distresses me when people are offended by attempts to just provide some lightheartedness in the contest. I just hate to see people get offended by interjections of fun and lightheartedness. As to the "gun and the holy woman", you can't have it both ways...the "paddyrollers" would have returned them all to slavery had they been captured so Harriet's solution was to let them know there was no other alternative..whose state license plate displays the slogan: LIVE FREE OR DIE ?

    1. Now that is really great kitch. I am sorely tempted to order that doll. Comes with her own cape and satchel too. Really well done. I'm still on the fence for today, but if we have to have kitch then ya gotta love kitch that teaches..

  9. So this "Saintly kitsch" stuff is really funny. Thank you LM bloggers for spending so much time digging all this stuff up. In my own internet searches I recently learned about the Hildoceras from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hildoceras Who knew?! So I guess if you are still struggling on who to vote for you should ask the ancient cephalopods the ammonites and they will say (in tiny voices) "Hil-da, Hil-da, Hilda!" 😉

  10. I'm so glad we can be silly Christians even in Lent. Hooray for kitsch! These kitschy blogs are furthering my knowledge of the candidates in a delightful way! Sorry that some can't be "silly for Jesus" (a little like the disciples at Pentecost, maybe?). Possibly we would be more able to display this joy if the Celtic Way had won out at Whitby! Hilda gets my vote, even though I do like the Harriet frog!

  11. As to the complaint involving the gun-carrying holy woman -- I feel that one must use one's whole being in following the Lord -- good sense and strategy along with a very strong heart. So it must be Harriet Tubman -- she followed the drinking gourd and brought her people to safety. Besides, you know that Frances would beat up on Hild, but Harriet might have a chance.

  12. As much as I honor Harriet, today I am voting for Hilda. Not only was my grandmother named Hild, but the snakes and stones did it for me. Where can we get one of those T-shirts? LOVED that! Go Hilda!!

    1. The link on the post should take you there, but if not, you can go to Zazzle and search for Hilda of Whitby. They come in a variety of colours. I thought pink was appropriate for Hilda.

  13. "Have a Harriet moment. Don't look back." Now, THAT, my friends, is an awesome shirt! I agree, the kitsch round is always my favorite. It inspired me so much last year, that I chose joy for my Lenten discipline this year. I bought a copy of James Martin SJ's wonderful "Between Heaven and Mirth", and all of it together has refreshed and invigorated my faith journey. Cheers to all!

    1. My daughter sent that book to me. I am also reading it through it right now. Enjoying it very much....still haven't decided who to vote for today. Doing some more investigating and mulling.

  14. The blogs for both of these today were top notch. I totally giggled through them both. Thank you guys for making Lent meaningful and funny!

    I voted for Harriet but I get the feeling Hilda is going to win the day.

    Shalom, y'all.

  15. Part of learning about the saints, is seeing how we perceive them today and what better way to do that than to see what is available in our consumerist society? For those who feel they have wasted their time because of the kitsch of the Elate 8, I pray you at least learned something new in the first two rounds.

    As for today's match up, it is a tough choice. My daughter has been representing Harriet Tubman in our parish follies but I have been for Hilda all the way. Harriet Tubman was awesome but I think I would prefer to emulate Hilda in my daily life. Besides, how can you argue with a woman who can pray snakes to stone?!

  16. Snakestones and James Bond, Hilda is the kitschiest! She may even trump my other favorite for the halo.

  17. Go Harriet...and btw I'm honestly so confused about the kitsch issue. Because you have a bobblehead of your favorite quarterback - does that make him any less of a professional sports player? Because you have a sweatshirt with --->Your Alma Mater Here<----, does that make it any less of an accredited university? These items may be funny or serious to some as well - but all represent and continue to remind us of these people and/or things that we like...love...worship. May the reminders prevail. As Christians let us use all that we have in our positive toolboxes (including humor) to spread the word and teach others about our history. Even those who may just come to vote for FP (another issue voiced yesterday)...I can't help thinking: Isn't more learning better than less...?

    1. Good points, Dana. Those insights will be helpful in my on-the-fence times about the kitsch.
      Still deciding on my vote in today's contest. I thought Harriet had the best rallying cry -- "Hop with bravery!" -- until The Ammonite Chorus started chanting Hilda's name with their tiny little fossilized voices.

  18. Harriet and Hilda may seem to be poles apart but they aren't. They represent different ways of being courageous in different times. Sometimes you have to "stick to your guns" (Remember Iron Sky Woman from last year?) and sometimes giving way is the most courageous thing to do.

  19. I appreciate the opportunity to learn something of the life of Hilda. I must confess to my total ignorance of her prior to becoming part of Lenten Madness. While I am drawn to Celtic spirituality, and admire Hilda's accomplishments as well as her humility, I must still vote for Harriet Tubman, who risked life and limb for freedom for her brothers and sisters. Follow the drinking gourd!

  20. I can't find an opportunity to vote! Did I forfeit my ballot by skipping to "See all comments"?

    1. My system doesn't allow voting directly either. What you do is go to comments and then back up into the day's cb posts and your vote will be open. This gave me so much exasperation until I got it down. I must go into the comments sectionin order to vote and you may have to also.

  21. In truth, I'm not a kitsch fan, but I know others are. It’s no biggie. (Besides, it washes right off.) I would no more abandon LM because of it than I would abandon my parish because a few of her folks bug me.
    I’ve learned a lot here and am grateful to have done so at such an affordable price. Accept my thanks, all ye who labor here, as we head into the home stretch.

    Oh yeah - I voted for Hild-da-beast – who may have lost a skirmish (stacked deck?) but, like most women I know, continued to walk her talk and fight the good fight.


  22. Turning snakes into stones - and then getting the bracelet - that's good. But I like the beer glass and the T-shirt better. I have Harriet moments all the time ... So Harriet gets my vote! And Lucy - scroll up to vote, above the comments.

  23. I'm sorry for people who drop out. I hate for them to go away with sour feelings about their participation and/or about the other participants. But Lent Madness is optional (unless, like me, you've become addicted and cannot resist checking the vote counts, comments, videos, and blogs) and it's better for some people to opt out than to feel hurt or frustrated. The kitsch round is amusing and in its own way, thought-provoking. But I don't base my votes on the tschotskes--or lack thereof. I'm thinking about who should advance, and why. It's like the dessert round of a cooking competition show--it counts, but you also have to consider the appetizer and the entree rounds in picking a winner.

  24. I love the kitsch, but I'm not using it as a basis for my voting choice. I missed Harriet in the first round, and seem to keep voting against her in the subsequent rounds, which is funny because I've always greatly admired her. That being said, I went with Hilda, who I also admire tremendously and know less about (and who knows that she didn't threaten novices if they wanted to leave!), but like yesterday, won't cry if Harriet wins.

  25. The kitsch is amusing. The person is what counts.

    My only complaint: even enlarging the image as much as possible it is stil hard to read the words on some of the items. What does the bear have on his tummy? And what's written on the Harriet stein? Captions please!

    Also, while the shirt is wonderful, I would prefer it to say "Wilfrid was wrong"!