John Keble vs. Thecla

Today we experience something of a time warp, traveling from the 19th century back to the days of the early church. We encounter John Keble — priest, poet, academic, and major player in the revival of the Church of England and Thecla — companion of the apostle Paul and passionate pursuer of holiness.

In yesterday’s saintly action, Juan Diego advanced to the Saintly Sixteen with a 57% to 43% victory over Hadewijch. He’ll face the winner of Dorcas vs. Frederick Douglass. 

As an aside, we’ve been delighted to see the number of comments that come in throughout the 24 hours each matchup is open. They are a wonderful blend of thoughtful and gracious and educational and inspirational — basically the opposite of nearly every other online forum!

And in case you missed yesterday’s episode of Monday Madness, it included a verifiable miracle involving a corporeal Golden Halo. Not that Tim and Scott are angling to make it into the 2089 bracket or anything…

john-keble1John Keble

Though devoted to his calling as a country priest, serving for thirty years as the vicar of Hursley, John Keble is best known as an influential founder of the Oxford Movement. This movement sought to renew the Church of England through a better understanding and adherence to the practices of the early church. In 1833 he preached the Assize Sermon, soon published with the provocative title “National Apostasy.” Keble was a key player in the Oxford Movement and wrote nine of the ninety Tracts for the Times. In addition to writing poetry, tracts, and sermons, Keble also translated the works of Iranaeus and prepared a three-volume edition of the works of Richard Hooker.

During his life, he was perhaps best known as a poet. First published anonymously, his collection The Christian Year went through ninety-five print editions by the time of his death in 1866. Embarrassed by its success, Keble dedicated the profits to restoring the church building at Hursley. Some of these poems are still familiar as hymns today. He was elected professor of poetry at Oxford in 1831 and held the (non-residential) post for ten years.

In 1845, Keble began exploring the possibility of creating a college at Oxford that would be of moderate cost and hold fast to the best practices of the Church of England. Established in his memory, Keble College quickly shifted focus from theological formation toward more traditional pedagogy but remained committed to making an Oxford education more widely available to all economic classes.

Keble would no doubt be shocked at how distant today’s Church of England is from the established church he sought to renew, but there are still parts of his Assize Sermon that ring true today.

“The surest way to uphold or restore our endangered Church will be for each of her anxious children, in his own place and station, to resign himself more thoroughly to his God and Savior in those duties, public and private, which are not immediately affected by the emergencies of the moment: the daily and hourly duties, I mean, of piety, purity, charity, justice.”

Collect for John Keble

Grant, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know your Presence and obey your will; that, following the example of your servant John Keble, we may accomplish with integrity and courage what you give us to do, and endure what you give us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Laura Darling

Image 1Thecla

Thecla was a follower of the Apostle Paul, whose life was recorded in the Acts of Paul and Thecla, a prominent piece of early Christian literature.

This book recounted a missionary journey of Paul to Iconium, where he was proclaiming “the word of God about abstinence and the resurrection.” Thecla, upon hearing Paul’s message, found herself enraptured. Her devotion to Paul and his teaching so deeply concerned her mother and fiancé (worried that she would follow Paul’s demands to live in chastity), they formed a mob and imprisoned Paul.

Thecla broke into the prison, and when discovered with Paul, they were both brought before the authorities. Paul, enjoying the privilege of both his Roman citizenship and his being born male, was whipped and expelled from the town, while Thecla was sentenced to burn at the stake — an example for those who might consider Paul’s preaching. When Thecla was to be executed, “God took compassion on her, and caused a great eruption from the earth beneath, and a cloud from above to pour down great quantities of rain and hail; Insomuch that by the rupture of the earth, very many were in great danger, and some were killed, the fire was extinguished, and Thecla was preserved.”

Thecla followed after Paul, desperate to be baptized. She traveled to Antioch, where a nobleman fell in love with Thecla and offered Paul money for her. When Paul denied knowing her, the nobleman tried to take her by force. Thecla resisted, and “tore his coat, and took his crown off his head, and made him appear ridiculous before all the people.” Again she was brought before authorities and sentenced to die by being eaten by wild beasts. Facing what she believed to be a near-certain death, Thecla saw a pit of water filled with ravenous seals. Believing this was her only opportunity to be baptized, she threw herself into the water, saying, “In thy name, O my Lord Jesus Christ, I am this last day baptized.” And in another miracle, the seals died before they could devour her.

In the Eastern Church, Thecla is regarded as an “apostle and protomartyr among women.” Observance of her holiness flourished around Seleucia, where a church was built over her alleged tomb. Thecla remains among the most celebrated female saints of the earliest ages of Christianity, demonstrating that regardless of the truth or fiction of her life and story, women have played an indispensable role in the mission and growth of the early Church. In recognizing the holiness of Thecla, the Church honors the witness of all women who have lived and died in sharing the good news of Jesus and his love.

Collect for Thecla

Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love in the heart of your servant Thecla: Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in her triumph may profit by her example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

David Sibley


John Keble vs. Thecla

  • Thecla (58%, 3,942 Votes)
  • John Keble (42%, 2,877 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,819

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315 Comments to "John Keble vs. Thecla"

  1. Bill Scrivener's Gravatar Bill Scrivener
    February 24, 2015 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    Once again we are given someone whose creativity and devotion are well noted vs. someone whose main claim to fame seem to be a series of remarkable (and to me pretty unbelievable) miracles. Frankly Thecla comes across to me as a spiritual groupie and I don’t see what commends her apart from her fanatical determination to be with Paul. Didn’t it occur to her that any number of folks could have Baptized her? Sheesh!

    • Denise Bell's Gravatar Denise Bell
      February 24, 2015 - 8:30 am | Permalink

      I’m with you Bill! Thecla seems like a crazy fanatic, obsessed with Paul, more than anything. I’m for John Keble!

      • Bill Osborne's Gravatar Bill Osborne
        February 24, 2015 - 8:38 am | Permalink

        I am in agreement with Denise & with Bill S. Keble seems to be a more genuine person. Tecla’s groupiness rings probable with me,

        • February 24, 2015 - 1:54 pm | Permalink

          “Groupie’? If Thecla had been a male, impassioned with God and a desire to be baptized, would he be branded a “groupie”? That strikes me as a sexist and patronizing way to label a woman who was passionate in her desire to become a follower of Christ. And, in doing so, she refused to behave. Team Thecla!

          • Jennifer's Gravatar Jennifer
            February 24, 2015 - 3:11 pm | Permalink

            While I chose Keble, I agree with Mary – the “groupie” slur is rarely thrown at a male convert.

          • Robert's Gravatar Robert
            February 24, 2015 - 3:58 pm | Permalink

            Well said! The apostles could arguable be called groupies, except they were chosen.

          • Kathi's Gravatar Kathi
            February 24, 2015 - 6:11 pm | Permalink

            And Paul denied knowing her – after she tried to rescue him from prison? Really?? And I have to agree that I think if she were male this would have been vastly different. Paul would have baptized him and sent him to preach the news. I suppose Paul felt that she should stay in her place and be passionate about her house, hubby and children.

          • Sharon Holmes's Gravatar Sharon Holmes
            February 24, 2015 - 8:18 pm | Permalink

            Hmmm. I’ve never thought of the 12 apostles as groupies.

          • Georgette's Gravatar Georgette
            February 25, 2015 - 12:13 am | Permalink

            I think Keble’s faithful commitment is no more “groupie” than the apostles. What do the people who do not believe in Jesus Christ think of us today … am I a groupie? Hmmm

        • Jeff Sharp's Gravatar Jeff Sharp
          February 24, 2015 - 4:26 pm | Permalink

          I am impressed with Keble’s faithful commitment to parish ministry, his bridging of the academic and the pastoral, his commitment to the renewal of the church and also his work towards establishing the possibility of an affordable education. My vote goes to John Keble.

      • Cath Fenton's Gravatar Cath Fenton
        February 24, 2015 - 1:05 pm | Permalink

        I don’t necessarily agree with the work of the Oxford Movement, but at least John Keble was really real!

        • Susan's Gravatar Susan
          February 24, 2015 - 2:11 pm | Permalink

          He did wonderful things, but nothing that another Godly man could not have done. That’s why I chose Thecla – I doubt most people would have a belief and love for God as strong that they could endure what she did.

    • Susan's Gravatar Susan
      February 24, 2015 - 8:43 am | Permalink

      The Church of England was founded on approving divorce, so I have a hard time with the leaders of this church. And, although he was a good worker for the Church, I don’t find anything exceptional in John. Thecla, however, never put herself before her love for, and belief in, God. I don’t read anything here saying she was obsessed with Paul, but rather that she followed him because he spoke God’s word to her. She wanted to be baptized, not married to Paul. My vote goes to her.

      • Jim Bimbi's Gravatar Jim Bimbi
        February 24, 2015 - 10:08 am | Permalink

        Ah, the old chestnut about the C of E and divorce. I suggest a Lenten discipline of digging a bit deeper into the background and history of the time. Be that as it may, and in spite of my admiration for Keble, my vote goes to Thecla.

      • Marisa's Gravatar Marisa
        February 24, 2015 - 10:49 am | Permalink

        First, I want to state that so far I’ve enjoyed reading about these two saints more than any of the others; this was a more difficult decision. I agree with Susan in part; however, Jim is correct that many need to dig deeper into the background and history which will show that divorce was NOT the reason for the founding of the C of E. PBS recently broadcasted a special on this (wish I had recorded for reference). I agree much with Susan and Jim, and others who voted for Thecla, and stated that she wasn’t a groupie yet she was moved by the Spirit to follow Christ thru following Paul as a spiritual leader. It would have been nice to have known John Keble as well. I’d like to learn more about him. I look forward to more positive comments 🙂 God’s Peace, Marisa

        • Barbara Barnes's Gravatar Barbara Barnes
          February 24, 2015 - 12:20 pm | Permalink

          If we assume Thecia was a real person sans the strange miracles, she should have been wary of Paul because of his celibacy teachings, his sexism, and the way he reportedly treated her. John Keble wrote “Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah,” a lasting gift to the church. I vote for John.

        • Susan's Gravatar Susan
          February 24, 2015 - 2:14 pm | Permalink

          Educate me. I’ve always thought the Church of England was born out of King Henry VIII’s desire to divorce his first wife so that he could have a male heir. Thus, he became the head of a new Church of England, which was separate from the Catholic Church led by the Pope. If this is not true, I really would like to know the truth – no sarcasm meant here. I really would like to know.

          • Robert's Gravatar Robert
            February 24, 2015 - 4:03 pm | Permalink

            It’s my understanding that while the Church of England may have been born out of Henry’s desire for a divorce, but it was not the only factor involved by any means. It was/is sort of a non-papal Catholicism, with lots of reform, though.

          • Holly's Gravatar Holly
            February 24, 2015 - 4:17 pm | Permalink

            He wanted an annulment based on being too closely related, not a divorce, and the practice of such annulments as a technical way out of inconvenient marriages goes back pretty far – look at Eleanor of Aquitaine. The Pope’s reasons for denying the annulment were as political as Henry’s reasons for asking for it (if not more so – there’s some suggestion Henry honestly thought God cursed him for marrying his brother’s widow.) The ultimate question is how much authority should the Pope have, and again that’s a very political one, and it ties into struggles England has been having for over 1,000 years before that (though they also had plenty of waves of loyalty to Rome, too,)

            For me at least, that’s the ultimate question – does the Bishop of Rome have more spiritual power or connection to God’s will than any other religious leader? And my own answer is no, although I can understand that that position deserves a certain amount of respect for its historical importance.

          • John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
            February 24, 2015 - 4:45 pm | Permalink

            In the century after Henry, John Milton scandalized England by arguing for divorce on grounds of incompatibility. Way ahead of his time. The C of E continued to oppose divorce (as distinct from annulment) for centuries and remains touchy on the subject of royal marriages. Back in tbe 60s my mother confided to our family doctor, a fellow Episcopalian, that she wanted a divorce from my father, and he told her, “We all have our crosses to bear.” And my father probably rolled over in his grave when his
            beloved Republican Party nominated a divorced and remarried man (the remarriage while the first spouse was still alive, not the divorce, is what the Church objected to; see the transcript of the Sir Thomas More trial), Ronald Reagan, for president. God and history have a weird sense of humor, as the lives of Saints and rulers show.

          • Laura's Gravatar Laura
            February 24, 2015 - 6:55 pm | Permalink

            Susan, Henry was the only one in England with the political power to make the break with Rome happen. There were a number of clergy and others in the Church of England, not the least of whom was the Archbishop of Canterbury, who admired the reforms that were happening on the Continent and wanted to make changes in England as well. They had to wait until Henry had his own reasons to finally do it.

          • MegN's Gravatar MegN
            February 24, 2015 - 9:29 pm | Permalink

            I’m Episcopal/Anglican, and have followed the reasons for the the split with Rome faithfully. There are both spiritual and secular origins.. (1) Spiritual – the clergy and others following the reforms on the Continent, and the general tone of the Roman Catholic clergy at the time.. without the desire for reform on the part of the clergy and people, NO split would have survived. (2) Secular – yes, the divorce, but in my mind, more pressingly, the finances: Rome was siphoning off financial support from England, while holding lands and peoples under direct management outside the Crown control. The divorce was only 1 of these 4 causes, and was propelled more by a need for an heir than any salacious scandals… but probably chosen as “the reason” over the financial issue, as that would be a bit too… world politic.. and the “boring” reason of a popular religious cry for reform in the church was the sustaining, true reason.

      • Lindy's Gravatar Lindy
        February 24, 2015 - 12:42 pm | Permalink

        They say that men are passionate in their faith.
        For women they say that they are crazy.

        • February 24, 2015 - 1:12 pm | Permalink

          Ain’t it the truth!

        • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
          February 24, 2015 - 1:45 pm | Permalink

          Origen was perhaps(?) passionate, in his mind probably too passionate but he was CRAZY. And then we have the pole sitter — mental aberration is not bound by gender

        • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
          February 24, 2015 - 1:53 pm | Permalink

          Too true, Lindy…..

        • Robert's Gravatar Robert
          February 24, 2015 - 4:04 pm | Permalink

          Tell ’em, Lindy!

      • Robert's Gravatar Robert
        February 24, 2015 - 4:10 pm | Permalink

        I agree with Susan, mainly. There was much more to the founding of the Church of England that just divorce, although I think that wascertainly at the heart of things. Plus, John was English, and I’m of Irish heritage, so it’s hard to support him in any event! : )

    • Susan Pace's Gravatar Susan Pace
      February 24, 2015 - 9:42 am | Permalink

      I totally agree with Bill Scrivener!

      • Diana Leavengood's Gravatar Diana Leavengood
        February 24, 2015 - 10:30 am | Permalink

        I am for Thecla. She was not a groupie. She was devoted and impassioned in her love for God.

        • Patricia Nakamura's Gravatar Patricia Nakamura
          February 24, 2015 - 11:38 am | Permalink

          Paul seems to have treated her very bad, taking his freedom while she was sentenced to burning, later denying he knew her!

          I’m in for Thecla!

          • Cathy Arrington's Gravatar Cathy Arrington
            February 24, 2015 - 4:06 pm | Permalink

            I take “crazy” for God!

      • Elizabeth Byrd's Gravatar Elizabeth Byrd
        February 24, 2015 - 10:43 am | Permalink

        Me too!

        • Elizabeth Byrd's Gravatar Elizabeth Byrd
          February 24, 2015 - 10:46 am | Permalink

          No, no. I meant to agree with Bill Scrivener. Of course, he and I are going by that extra-canonical work, so ….well … now I’m not sure. But it would be Keble for me anyway.

    • Betty's Gravatar Betty
      February 24, 2015 - 10:30 am | Permalink

      Why does the fictional often outweigh the factual in this voting? Would that the members and hierarchy of the Episcopal Church and the Church of England apply some of Keble’s lessons to their own lives. Maybe we wouldn’t be such a minority and might be more successful in winning others for Christ. I also agree with Bill Scrivener!

    • Ann's Gravatar Ann
      February 24, 2015 - 10:32 am | Permalink

      I so agree. Also I’d rather vote for someone real over someone who, undoubtedly unbalanced, may not even have existed.

      • Wynne Osborne's Gravatar Wynne Osborne
        February 24, 2015 - 11:37 am | Permalink

        I’m in agreement with Ann. I like real people who did something tangible or moved the church forward in some way (so I voted for Teresa of Avila). I’m with John Keble on this one.

      • Elaine Jenkins's Gravatar Elaine Jenkins
        February 24, 2015 - 6:45 pm | Permalink

        I’ve sort of observed that pretty much all of the folks we admire in Holy Women, Holy Men are “unbalanced.” Consider Origen who castrated himself and as a teenager would have volunteered for martyrdom if his mother hadn’t hid his clothing, the Desert Mothers and Fathers who withdrew from society to live in caves in the desert, Catherine of Sienna who disfigured herself with boiling water to avoid being married and then married Christ (her wedding ring was his jewel encrusted foreskin), Perpetua and the men and women with her who chose death over homes, families and their children-the catechists with them weren’t officially “arrested” but volunteered to stay with their students in prison and to die with them, Constance and her companions, the Martyrs of Memphis who stayed to nurse the victims of Yellow Fever in the epidemic of 1873 (most of them died) and Jonathan Daniels who pushed aside a young black woman and was killed by a shot gun blast during the civil rights struggle in 1965. To follow Christ is to be a fool.

        • John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
          February 24, 2015 - 7:06 pm | Permalink

          And the fool’s way leads to death and entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. That’s why we speak of a fool’s Paradise.

      • February 24, 2015 - 10:28 pm | Permalink

        When I studied this document in theology grad school, my prof told us that, while the provenance of the text was later than the events it describes, the scholarly consensus was that it was probably based on a real tradition about Thecla, whose veneration is ancient and widespread in the Eastern church.

    • Phil Kober's Gravatar Phil Kober
      February 24, 2015 - 10:36 am | Permalink

      Along the same lines, most of the travels of Paul and his work are documented in the Book of Acts in the Bible, not some non-canonical book like “Acts of Paul and Thecla”. There is a reason why such works are non-canonical. Much of Thecla’s story seems to be about a wild and crazy “groupie” who was just as much a pest to Paul as modern day groupies are to the bands they follow! Indeed, Paul refused to recognize her! Some of the story on its surface seems made up: seals are NOT particularly ravenous for human flesh, indeed I have never heard of a seal eating even one human being! Fish, walrus, manatee, YES; humans, no way!!!!!! Give me a break!

    • Kim's Gravatar Kim
      February 24, 2015 - 11:31 am | Permalink

      Have to agree with you Bill. Give me a real person over a fantastical fan any day!

    • Noreen Ramsden's Gravatar Noreen Ramsden
      February 24, 2015 - 11:33 am | Permalink

      I vote for John Keble because of the inspiration the Oxford Movement gave to the USPG – the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel – and the University Missions – and the courageous stand of Anglican missionaries for the gospel values against the racist colonial powers as well as supporting the ‘heathen’ nations they brought to Christ. The Anglican Church of Southern Africa has been strongly influenced by Anglo-Catholic doctrines.

    • Lesley Hildrey's Gravatar Lesley Hildrey
      February 24, 2015 - 11:44 am | Permalink

      We all know that St Paul was pretty sexist! Poor Thecla, why couldn’t he just baptize her or even defend her when she was attacked, instead of denying he knew her? She was forced to go to such lengths just to get baptized! My vote went to her because of that. That is, despite my respect for John Keble and his noble reasons for founding a college, etc. Thecla was an independent woman when the times were against her. Thank goodness for the miracles, at least God understood!

      • Charlie Houghton's Gravatar Charlie Houghton
        February 24, 2015 - 12:02 pm | Permalink

        I agree with Lesley Hildrey. I am also interested to find that so many are loathe to believe in miracles – we believers of resurrection and the many miracles performed by Jesus in his public life.

      • Ruthi's Gravatar Ruthi
        February 24, 2015 - 5:10 pm | Permalink

        Paul was sexist ,why didn’t he stand up for her? So mean, he got off and she was set to burn.

    • Art's Gravatar Art
      February 24, 2015 - 2:15 pm | Permalink

      Thecla seems pretty unreal and Paul’s views and beliefs uncharacteristic, so I’m going with Keble.

    • Susan F's Gravatar Susan F
      February 24, 2015 - 6:02 pm | Permalink

      I was really taken aback by all the “groupie” comments. Thecla found through Paul and his teachings a way to connect with God. All she want was to be baptized. What did she get, Paul ignoring her and denying he knew her. What did she get a sentence to burning and being eaten by wild animals. My vote is for Thecla.

    • Patty DeMaria's Gravatar Patty DeMaria
      February 24, 2015 - 8:28 pm | Permalink

      Ravenous SEALS? Really? This brings to mind the Killer Rabbit of Monty Python! And why did Paul deny knowing her? I think he showed good sense (for once). Nothing difficult here, it’s Keble all the way.

  2. Kathy Hartley's Gravatar Kathy Hartley
    February 24, 2015 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    This is a HARD one! I like the “back to basics” of the one and the passion of the other. Hmmmmm!

    • Carolyn D. Mack's Gravatar Carolyn D. Mack
      February 24, 2015 - 8:16 am | Permalink

      Absolutely agree that this is a hard one. Going to have to let their histories sink in before I vote.

  3. Thomas van Brunt's Gravatar Thomas van Brunt
    February 24, 2015 - 8:10 am | Permalink

    Thecla’s life sounds as though it were invented by Kut Vonnegut. Keble is the kind of reformer the church needs again.

  4. Thomas van Brunt's Gravatar Thomas van Brunt
    February 24, 2015 - 8:11 am | Permalink

    Kurt Vonnegut. Darn spell check!

  5. Mary W.'s Gravatar Mary W.
    February 24, 2015 - 8:13 am | Permalink

    Thecla, because her fate was sealed by God, ar ar. I wasn’t wowed by either of them, but I’d like to see Thecla make it to the saintly kitsch round.

    • Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
      February 24, 2015 - 12:00 pm | Permalink

      Ooo, good point, Mary! Somehow Keble Kitsch doesn’t sound very likely. But Thecla and seals and fire and the hint of fandom. Hmmm.
      But it’s a hard choice this time.

  6. Susan Mattingly's Gravatar Susan Mattingly
    February 24, 2015 - 8:13 am | Permalink

    As a “new” Episcopalian this vote had me reading about the Oxford movement and learning more about the role of women in the church we know today. Thus, I had to cast my vote for John Keble and his forward thinking, although Thecla certainly deserved careful consideration.
    I was some what surprised that St. Matthias wasn’t on today’s slate as today is traditionally “his” dayh. Perhaps he fought in earlier versions of Lent Madness.

    • Susan's Gravatar Susan
      February 24, 2015 - 8:47 am | Permalink

      I’m surprised at your conclusion, since the Church of England was established to allow for divorce, and you didn’t sympathize with the normal treatment of women from which God saved Thecla. I’m not a woman’s rights person, but I would think those who are would understand how deep Thecla’s love for God was, that she would put herself in a position to be tortured and put to death according to the norms of her time.

      • Michael B. Palazzolo's Gravatar Michael B. Palazzolo
        February 24, 2015 - 9:36 am | Permalink

        Susan, please reread the history of the Church of England. Henry VIII’s desire for a divorce from his (first) Queen was not the sole driving force behind the reformation in England. Where state churches are concerned it is often difficult to separate religion from politics…The U.S. is having a bit of problem with that right now don’t you think?

        • Susan's Gravatar Susan
          February 24, 2015 - 2:21 pm | Permalink

          As I wrote above, please educate me on the other reasons. I’m sure the wealth of the Catholic Church was an issue, as was the ego of Henry being directed by the Pope. But what else? And, to me, you could apply the same to the U.S. Civil War; slavery was not the only issue, but it has become the cornerstone today. I seriously would like to know more, or if there’s a book I can read to learn more, please suggest.

          • Jennifer's Gravatar Jennifer
            February 24, 2015 - 3:58 pm | Permalink

            “There is a public perception, especially in the United States, that Henry VIII created the Anglican church in anger over the Pope’s refusal to grant his divorce, but the historical record indicates that Henry spent most of his reign challenging the authority of Rome, and that the divorce issue was just one of a series of acts that collectively split the English church from the Roman church in much the same way that the Orthodox church had split off five hundred years before.”

          • Anne Burton's Gravatar Anne Burton
            February 24, 2015 - 4:01 pm | Permalink

            If you want to know more you should do your own research instead of asking us to enlighten you. Empower yourself! As did Thecla.

          • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
            February 24, 2015 - 5:27 pm | Permalink

            Into each vote a little snark must fall.

          • Barbara Barnes's Gravatar Barbara Barnes
            February 24, 2015 - 5:30 pm | Permalink

            that remark did seem a little unfriendly.

          • Cindy's Gravatar Cindy
            February 25, 2015 - 12:43 am | Permalink

            Susan, the divorce and particularly Henry’s desire for a male heir was part of the driving force in the English Reformation, but as others have said, there was a great deal more to it than that. And one of the tangled bits of the divorce/annulment matter is religious, as well. Henry’s first wife had been married for some months to Henry’s older brother, who died while still in his teens. There is a text in the old testament forbidding a brother marrying his brother’s wife (Lev. 20:21) and it says the consequence shall be childlessness (or no son). Catherine had a great many pregnancies resulting in stillbirths or miscarriages or infants who died after very brief lives, so it perhaps did genuinely seem to Henry that he was being punished for this Biblical prohibition. The other thing is yes, there was a great deal of political struggle for power between secular princes and the Catholic church. But there was also widespread discontent with Catholic corruption–greedy and sexually active clergy, monasteries that did little good for the laity, priests with no schooling or preparation, being appointed through favoritism, the sale of indulgences (which was seen by reformers as a scam), and more. Efforts had been made to clear these things up, but to little avail, and so a number of clerics throughout Europe began to see breaking with the Catholic church as the only way to have a church that would adhere to ethical systems. Concurrently, there was a move to translate scriptures and perform services in the languages of the people–a concept fiercely resisted by the Catholic church. There was a lot going on, and after Henry got his divorce, he still took a very direct and hands-on approach to every bit of English reforms through the remaining years of his life.

    • Holly's Gravatar Holly
      February 24, 2015 - 11:28 am | Permalink

      That would give St. Mathias an unfair advantage, don’tcha think?

      And as much as I love the crazy ladies, I’m realizing I love the writers more, so I went with Keble. I’m looking forward to voting for both when Margery Kempe comes up. Though by the looks of my bracket, that’s not going to help her much.

  7. Patsy's Gravatar Patsy
    February 24, 2015 - 8:14 am | Permalink

    My own father was a country priest, serving small churches in NC, GA, and summer supply in Vermont. I also love our hymns and honor hymn writers. I vote for the country vicar and poet, John Keble.

  8. Carol Mannchen's Gravatar Carol Mannchen
    February 24, 2015 - 8:15 am | Permalink

    I don’t remember this story of Thecia being in the Bible. Where did it come from?

    • Rambler's Gravatar Rambler
      February 24, 2015 - 8:43 am | Permalink

      “The Acts of Paul and Thecla” is not biblical literature. It was devotional writing that circulated in ancient times, but did not become part of the biblical canon.

      • Pat's Gravatar Pat
        February 24, 2015 - 10:06 am | Permalink

        Thank you, Rambler, for the explanation concerning Thecla. I am inclined to support John Keble because he is more believable.

    • Paul (A.)'s Gravatar Paul (A.)
      February 24, 2015 - 8:57 am | Permalink

      If recognized Saints were limited to those mentioned in the Bible, we wouldn’t have enough to field the first round of Lent Madness.

      • Tessa Lucero's Gravatar Tessa Lucero
        February 24, 2015 - 10:08 am | Permalink

        There’s an interesting thought. I know the field’s limited to those who are recognised in at least one church calendar. How about the figures of the Old Testament? Are they eligible? Think of a matchup between Deborah and Joshua, for instance.

  9. Sarah's Gravatar Sarah
    February 24, 2015 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    I’m much more comforted by a man that reminds us of our calling to the mundane, yet joy-producing acts of piety, purity, charity and justice than by an enraptured woman surrounded by lots of drama everywhere she went.

    • sue's Gravatar sue
      February 24, 2015 - 10:10 am | Permalink

      Perfectly stated!

  10. February 24, 2015 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    Let me see: baptism among ravenous and yet unfulfilled seals or the Oxford Movement? Interesting choice, this one. I was once kept from ascending the steps leading to the pulpit where Keble preached his famous sermon. And no, this wasn’t during worship, but on a Wednesday morning tour of the church (though it would be great preach from that spot). I like to read fantastical hagiography, but I think I’ll stick with feet on the ground truth this time. Keble it is!

    • Susan's Gravatar Susan
      February 24, 2015 - 8:49 am | Permalink

      How many people could, or would, do what either did for the love of God? That’s what led me to vote for Thecla.

  11. Linda Griggs's Gravatar Linda Griggs
    February 24, 2015 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    Ravenous seals. Enough said. Thecla all the way.

    • susan's Gravatar susan
      February 24, 2015 - 8:59 am | Permalink

      exactly! who could resist!!

    • Pam Hyde's Gravatar Pam Hyde
      February 24, 2015 - 9:16 am | Permalink

      Ravenous seals AND fighting off a man who tried to buy her and take her by force! Go Thecla!

    • Phil Kober's Gravatar Phil Kober
      February 24, 2015 - 10:45 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately, seals just plain do not eat human flesh. Fish, walrus, manatees, etc. are their diet! But never a human being, I don’t care how hungry they are!

      • February 24, 2015 - 10:57 am | Permalink

        ravenous seals not being real… it’s a MYSTERY of faith. 😉

    • pHil's Gravatar pHil
      February 24, 2015 - 11:36 am | Permalink

      Yes, both sprinkled AND immersed! Conjuring both Vonnegut AND Hollywood. Something to be said for that. And something to be said for a contest that stirs me to both appreciate and study more of Keble AND to vote for Thecla!

  12. Beth Parkhurst's Gravatar Beth Parkhurst
    February 24, 2015 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    Man-eating seals?

    • Carol Miro's Gravatar Carol Miro
      February 24, 2015 - 8:49 am | Permalink

      And that is why she survived, she was not a man! Too fantastical, my vote goes to the practical John Keble.

    • susan's Gravatar susan
      February 24, 2015 - 9:00 am | Permalink

      well, woman eating, apparently!

    • Laura's Gravatar Laura
      February 24, 2015 - 9:57 am | Permalink

      Yes, Thecla seems passionate. But since when was Paul rational and measured (greates of all sinners and all)? Two peas in a pod those two. And passion for the faith is so rare as to be refreshing…

    • February 24, 2015 - 10:09 am | Permalink

      OK, ok, they were *seals,* not lions or tigers; but she put God over the mundane; AND she broke *into* prison. I realize God can and should be found in the mundane, but I’ll follow a rape-thwarter into righteous battle any day.

    • Phil Kober's Gravatar Phil Kober
      February 24, 2015 - 10:47 am | Permalink

      Please, SEALS do not eat human flesh! Fish, walrus, manatees, etc. are their fare! They are marine creatures. I don’t care how hungry they are, seals don’t eat human beings, male or female! Really!

  13. Diane Wick's Gravatar Diane Wick
    February 24, 2015 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    I admire the courage of Thecla to follow her heart at a time in history when the role of women was not even as elevated as it is now. She is a role model for us; there is still so much to be done.

  14. Cecelia Rood's Gravatar Cecelia Rood
    February 24, 2015 - 8:25 am | Permalink

    It is time we strong role women took to further the word of Christmas and the risk they took to spread the word. So, my vote goes to Thecla.

  15. Betsy Rogers's Gravatar Betsy Rogers
    February 24, 2015 - 8:25 am | Permalink

    I’d love to vote for Thecla, but her story just lacks factual basis. And was she devoted to Jesus…or to Paul??

  16. Vicki Wadlow's Gravatar Vicki Wadlow
    February 24, 2015 - 8:27 am | Permalink

    Once again I voted on the losing side! Keble did so much for the church that I felt he deserved my vote. Although Thecla certainly was a saint to put up with Paul and all of his rejections that led to her trials. One can only hope for such Divine Intervention when faced with ravenous seals.

    • MegN's Gravatar MegN
      February 24, 2015 - 9:40 pm | Permalink

      Vicki, I voted for Keble as well. Not all the votes are in, and this is the first time for Keble on Lent Madness, so I hold hope for the future. I had not known his name before (although I did know about the Oxford Movement), and was glad to learn something new. Each decade needs a Keble, not sure how many Theclas we could gain practical inspiration from..

  17. Matthew's Gravatar Matthew
    February 24, 2015 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    Definately Thecla. We here so much about martyrdom, it’s nice to see one escape.

  18. Alison Bentley's Gravatar Alison Bentley
    February 24, 2015 - 8:29 am | Permalink

    Have to admit the dedicated country vicar who tried to make education available to all wins my vote over the St. Paul groupie!!

    • Susan's Gravatar Susan
      February 24, 2015 - 8:55 am | Permalink

      Why would you call someone willing to die to be baptized a “groupie”? John Keble did wonderful things, but any good man could have done these. Would you risk your life, facing a terrible death, to be baptized?

      • Bill Scrivener's Gravatar Bill Scrivener
        February 24, 2015 - 9:21 am | Permalink

        First of all it’s not clear to me that she had to die to be Baptized – it seemed to be more about having Paul do it. And he made clear his desire not to be associated with any particular person’s Baptism. “Groupie” may be a bit snarky but frankly that’s how she comes across to me. Besides, I don’t buy the miracle accounts associated with her – they remind me too much of the tales mendicants would fabricate as they would sell their indulgences.

        • Linda Brown's Gravatar Linda Brown
          February 24, 2015 - 1:28 pm | Permalink

          “Groupie” may be too harsh a word, but one wonders about her attachment/commitment to Paul vs. a commitment to God or Jesus. There is the baptism issue Bill mentions. Then she lived to be 90, according to The Acts of Paul and Thecla, and either died in Rome or was (miraculously?) transported to Rome to be buried w/ Paul there. Hmm. Guide me, O thou great Jehovah!!

  19. PhilEsq's Gravatar PhilEsq
    February 24, 2015 - 8:36 am | Permalink

    First, gotta go with the poet.
    Second, gotta keep memories alive, and (I feel) Thecla’s story is much more widely known.

  20. PhilEsq's Gravatar PhilEsq
    February 24, 2015 - 8:37 am | Permalink

    Be not upset. When you vote early in the day, you are clearly voting without worrying which saint is trending upward; you are establishing a trend. Yeah, Keble!

  21. Vicki Hughes's Gravatar Vicki Hughes
    February 24, 2015 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    Ah, Thecla seems to show Paul in his misogynistic least mode. And there were both positive and negative aspects of the Oxford movement… i lean towards Thecla despite the questionable evidence of her reality… yet Keble wrote some beautiful stuff and was probably a fine parish small town priest – a calling that has drawn some of my finer friends. Delaying a vote until i’ve had a think. Are there seals in the kitsch round? I think i like the seals best.

  22. Betsey's Gravatar Betsey
    February 24, 2015 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    I liked John Keble’s style than Thecla’s story.

    The line from his Assize Sermon, “the daily and hourly duties, I mean, of piety, purity, charity, justice” makes me think of the KJV 1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” Charity has been interchanged with love, but I like the use of the word charity for giving more of a verb identity and doing/showing helpful activity.

    I also like the connection to Richard Hooker, realizing it means an influential English theologian and not the pseudonym of a certain MASH author 🙂

  23. martin's Gravatar martin
    February 24, 2015 - 8:39 am | Permalink

    (Age 7) I voted for Thecla because she was a teacher for Paul. She is like Jill Poll in Narnia

    • Molly Reingruber's Gravatar Molly Reingruber
      February 24, 2015 - 9:17 am | Permalink

      This. <3

    • Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
      February 24, 2015 - 9:42 am | Permalink

      Martin’s got it right. So much grumpiness about back to basics here today. I’m casting my vote for love!

    • bridget's Gravatar bridget
      February 24, 2015 - 10:57 am | Permalink

      Interesting point. Let’s have Narmia characters in future Lent madness! Reepicheep v. Thecla would have been interesting.

      • Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
        February 24, 2015 - 12:08 pm | Permalink

        Ah, but Reepicheep is such a gallant mouse that he would step aside so Thecla could win. (Or he’d challenge the seals to a duel.)

        Yes, seals don’t eat humans, at least on this planet, but there aren’t any sword-wielding mice here, either.

    • Megan J's Gravatar Megan J
      February 24, 2015 - 3:20 pm | Permalink

      Martin, that is soooo right! Thank you for pointing that out. I love Jill Poll!

  24. Ernest Warren's Gravatar Ernest Warren
    February 24, 2015 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    My vote was for our poet, priest, reformer. I agree with others that we need more folks to look towards the Oxford Movement and a return to basics.

  25. Harry Alford's Gravatar Harry Alford
    February 24, 2015 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    You had me at Oxford Movement. Keble all the way!

  26. Robert Corey's Gravatar Robert Corey
    February 24, 2015 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    Though a lesser light of the Oxford movement, which I credit for their even being a Lent Madness, Keble was the pilot light. Thecla??? The bio reads like a creepy groupie.

    • Robert Corey's Gravatar Robert Corey
      February 24, 2015 - 8:43 am | Permalink

      I hate when people make they’re/there/their mistakes — and here I’ve gone and made my own…

      Edit, Bob …. Edit! Most forums allow such after the fact.

  27. Clark Wadlow's Gravatar Clark Wadlow
    February 24, 2015 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    Seriously? Seals in the Mediterranean world?

  28. Denise's Gravatar Denise
    February 24, 2015 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    Thecla was waaay out there. Yes. But she was denied so much! She totally gets my vote.

  29. February 24, 2015 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    Having studied at Oxford and partied at Keble College, I have to go with John Keble. However, I will say, my hat’s off to woman who can follow the apostle Paul!

  30. Karen Pearson's Gravatar Karen Pearson
    February 24, 2015 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    Given that after Mary Magdalene and the BVM we hardly hear about women in the early church (many translations even masculinized “Julia” to “Julius”), I voted for Thecla as a reminder that women were as deeply committed to the Way as men were.

  31. Kathy Hartley's Gravatar Kathy Hartley
    February 24, 2015 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    Martin, I am so proud of your thoughtful comments! I agree that committed teachers are crucial — but I have to admit that I finally voted for John Keble. Keep playing, Martin!

  32. Gail Davis's Gravatar Gail Davis
    February 24, 2015 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    Thecla! Remembering people who are willing to give up their lives for Christ.

  33. Deborah Randolph Bratcher's Gravatar Deborah Randolph Bratcher
    February 24, 2015 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    Standing to vote for John Kreble. So grateful for the Oxford Movement and it’s influence on the Anonymous 12 Step programs of today. I celebrated my 11th year of stable recovery in Emotions Anonymous last year. Vote for John! He and Christ are still healing lives.

    • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
      February 24, 2015 - 10:16 am | Permalink

      The 12 Step movements were influenced by the Oxford “Group,” not the Oxford Movement. I was a bit confused by that at first, myself – but they are two different things.

      • Deborah Randolph Bratcher's Gravatar Deborah Randolph Bratcher
        February 24, 2015 - 10:37 am | Permalink

        Thank you Barbara and Madness friends on facebook for the correction about the Oxford Group. I have seen materials using both names. Still standing with John.

        • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
          February 24, 2015 - 10:45 am | Permalink

          Nothing wrong with that! I almost voted for him, too…. 😉

      • Robert Bruce's Gravatar Robert Bruce
        February 25, 2015 - 2:03 am | Permalink

        Thanks for that clarification; I was wondering why none of the posts mentioned the 12-step movement. I have found that the followers of Lent Madness are well informed, which I greatly appreciate.

  34. Susan Maurine's Gravatar Susan Maurine
    February 24, 2015 - 8:50 am | Permalink

    Without People like Thecla and their support of Paul and the infant church, there might not have been a John Keble nor anything to reform.
    Go, Thecla!

  35. Deborah DeManno's Gravatar Deborah DeManno
    February 24, 2015 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    The model of Thecla- condemned TWICE to die because of her faith and DENIED by Paul (ok, why am I surprised?) made this choice easy.

  36. February 24, 2015 - 8:53 am | Permalink

    Thecla’s story inspired many women in the early church to devote their lives to Christ. Her commitment to chastity was a revelation in a world where women were not given the choice of who or whether to marry, whose lives were fully controlled by men, and where many died in childbirth. Chastity represented a life of radical freedom for women, away from the control of men, and Thecla’s example empowered many early Christian women to claim independent lives of devotion to Christ. Go Thecla!

    • Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
      February 24, 2015 - 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for that information, Suzanne. Sometimes a person can be an inspiration to others whether or not s/he actually existed. Hmmm.

  37. February 24, 2015 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    Praying to be always pure in heart, my vote goes to John Keble.

  38. Marie Cantrell's Gravatar Marie Cantrell
    February 24, 2015 - 8:58 am | Permalink

    I base my vote on the last paragraph of the above essay. “demonstrating that regardless of the truth or fiction of her life and story, women have played an indispensable role in the mission and growth of the early Church. In recognizing the holiness of Thecla, the Church honors the witness of all women who have lived and died in sharing the good news of Jesus and his love.” I dispense with being bound by facts rather than imagination and see this as a vote for many other imaginative but unnamed women.

  39. Lee Greenawalt's Gravatar Lee Greenawalt
    February 24, 2015 - 8:58 am | Permalink

    Thecla’s story may inspire, perhaps to do some wild act, like stalking a leader, expecting miracles. The Oxford movement produced saintly results, bringing Good News to common folk. That is not as spectacular as “ravenous seals,” but better leads people to Christ.

    • MegN's Gravatar MegN
      February 24, 2015 - 9:49 pm | Permalink

      Well said, Lee… Thecla’s story is inspirational on so many levels that can go wrong – martyrs these days include more often suicide bombers than journalists in the Middle East. We need Good News and common folk-type saintly results, humility and inspiring thought.. as John Keble exemplified.

  40. Christina+'s Gravatar Christina+
    February 24, 2015 - 9:04 am | Permalink

    Grateful for her early witness, with perhaps some hyperbolic details thrown in – ferocious seals? Shrieking eels? – I voted for Thecla.

    • pHil's Gravatar pHil
      February 24, 2015 - 11:50 am | Permalink

      Darn! I voted for Thecla assuming the deserving Keble would be landsliding.
      But just for the record, even though seals do not eat human flesh, this former avid NW sea kayaker can attest that seals are not to be toyed with. They are aggressive, strong, and could easily attack, bite, drown, or otherwise kill a human.

  41. mary ann's Gravatar mary ann
    February 24, 2015 - 9:04 am | Permalink

    Considering how the early church felt about women, St Thecla gets my vote today. Just because of the way she kept fighting back.

  42. Evelyn's Gravatar Evelyn
    February 24, 2015 - 9:05 am | Permalink

    Thecla, who seems to be pretty well known in the Eastern Church, certainly had the more exciting story, although many of the details have surely been exaggerated over time. But I had to vote for Keble, the author of two verses of one of my favorite hymns, “Blest are the pure in heart” (#656 in the 1982 Hymnal).

  43. Sherryl's Gravatar Sherryl
    February 24, 2015 - 9:07 am | Permalink

    I find my votes tend towards people who ‘get things done’ and not to the heavy-duty spiritual types. I also realize I feel uncertain what they are trying to tell me. So for Thecla her behaviors seemed more “love struck” …but was it for Paul or the Christianity. We will never be sure, I’m thinking.

  44. February 24, 2015 - 9:10 am | Permalink

    I am with John Keble. Once again, I choose fact over legend. The story of Thecla, as much as I admire women role models, just seems too far fetched, and the facts may be a bit obscured in the two thousand years since she lived. Keble has a lot going for him, seeking to reform an established church……that is hard, and brave.

  45. Francis of Granby's Gravatar Francis of Granby
    February 24, 2015 - 9:13 am | Permalink

    Three resounding cheers for the Oxford Movement!

  46. Molly Reingruber's Gravatar Molly Reingruber
    February 24, 2015 - 9:13 am | Permalink

    Both are so wonderful, what a tough match-up. The Spirit today is calling me to vote for Thecla, in honor of those who need healing from rape, sexual abuse, and oppression. Thank you Thecla, for your faith and fierceness.

  47. Daniel Nieciecki's Gravatar Daniel Nieciecki
    February 24, 2015 - 9:14 am | Permalink

    For the first time, my choice is, as of now, in the lead. I’m breaking my rule this time and opting for the probably exaggerated legend over verifiable historical accuracy. I admire Keble’s work, but the excitement of Thecla’s tales outweighs his bucolic contemplativeness. If Thecla is not already the patron saint of fangirls (and fanboys!) she definitely should be.

  48. February 24, 2015 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    Though Thecla’s devotion to her faith is certainly impressive, I find her a little inaccessible. Truth be told, I’m not terribly familiar with the Oxford Movement, either, but John Keble’s poetry is beautiful; he gets my vote.

  49. JustMeJo's Gravatar JustMeJo
    February 24, 2015 - 9:18 am | Permalink

    I love a feisty woman!

  50. Judy Fleener's Gravatar Judy Fleener
    February 24, 2015 - 9:19 am | Permalink

    Thecla? How can so many people vote for her when John Keble is her opponent. Tis a puzzlement.

  51. Tom and George McFarland's Gravatar Tom and George McFarland
    February 24, 2015 - 9:20 am | Permalink

    Our Diocese was strongly shaped by our second Bishop, John Freeman Young who was an adherent of the Oxford Movement, tractarians. Keble’s influence from the architecture of our little historic chapel to our spiritual journey causes me to vote for him even though miraculous escape from ravenous seals is very compelling.

  52. Chris Carter's Gravatar Chris Carter
    February 24, 2015 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    The Oxford Movement very significantly shaped theology and liturgy in the Anglican Communion for over a century. It is fair to say that worship in the Episcopal Church today would be very different absent the Oxford Movement, of which Keble was an important leader. His poetry was lovely and approachable and very much as influential as the various tracts of the Movement. Thecla may be admirable in her zeal, but it is hard to see that she had significant impact on spreading the faith.

  53. February 24, 2015 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    Keble has my vote today. I relate to his service in small congregations and appreciate some of the deep spiritual views of the Oxford Movement (although I’m more of a low church kind of guy).

  54. Londa Clark's Gravatar Londa Clark
    February 24, 2015 - 9:24 am | Permalink

    As a person who first found God in the 12 Step fellowships, I have to vote for John Keble. The 12 Step programs got their start by hanging out with the Oxford Movement folks! I have to pay tribute to my spiritual ancestor! Thank goodness that Bill W and Dr. Bob had the Oxford Movement.

    • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
      February 24, 2015 - 10:31 am | Permalink

      Actually, that was the Oxford “Group.” I mixed those two up at first, too, but they are two different things.

  55. February 24, 2015 - 9:27 am | Permalink

    I’m wondering why these first few choices have been women against men and whether that is reflected in the winners so far being the female. Thecla’s experience sounds like one of the Grimm Brothers tales. Ravenous seals…really???

    • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
      February 24, 2015 - 8:45 pm | Permalink

      It hasn’t all been women against men. The first round was Gregory against Brendan. And David won over Teresa.

    • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
      February 24, 2015 - 9:08 pm | Permalink

      It’s not all women against men. The first round was Gregory against Brendan. The three subsequent rounds have been female vs male, but of those only one of the winners is a woman.

      • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
        February 24, 2015 - 9:13 pm | Permalink

        Please excuse the doubled up replies. The first one took so long to be posted, I assumed it was lost and so I sent a second one. I hate technology!

  56. Anthony Lee's Gravatar Anthony Lee
    February 24, 2015 - 9:28 am | Permalink

    I’m no fan of either improbable miracles or chastity. Considering Keble’s considerable output of poetry, I’m surprised that only two of his poems (10 and 656–and only half of 656) are in the Hymnal 1982, but they’re good hymns. His activity in the Oxford Movement is another star in his crown.

  57. Kai's Gravatar Kai
    February 24, 2015 - 9:29 am | Permalink

    I am struck by the place Thecla has held in the Church over the ages. Despite the fantastic character of her narrative, which reads like the sort of story someone would write to defend the depth of the people’s admiration or devotion,I voted for her because the fact of her memory puts her among the very few faithful women for whom we even have a name. I’ll take her as a representative of the unnamed women who chose to follow Jesus despite the society’s habit of denying them freedom to make their own choices.

  58. Priscilla's Gravatar Priscilla
    February 24, 2015 - 9:33 am | Permalink

    As a grandma of a HS senior, I would vote for anyone who helped make a college education more accessible!

  59. Pauper or a Princess's Gravatar Pauper or a Princess
    February 24, 2015 - 9:35 am | Permalink

    Reading Thecla’s story has taught me that Paul was a schmuck. She follows him, as did so many, and he betrays her.

    • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
      February 25, 2015 - 5:23 am | Permalink

      I’m sure there was a martyred 1st century woman whom the character of Thecla is based upon, but I am surprised at the number of commentators who accept everything in “The Acts of Paul and Thecla” as absolute truth. As was stated in the bio, this book is non-canonical. You won’t find it in any Bible, and the Paul it presents is not the man we see in the canonical New Testament. If we believe that he would betray someone simply because a non-canonical book tells us he would, then what’s to stop us from believing the (non-canonical) “Infancy Gospel”, which tells us that the child Jesus miraculously killed three people.

  60. Alan Christensen's Gravatar Alan Christensen
    February 24, 2015 - 9:37 am | Permalink

    Keble has much to commend him. Thecla’s story may be apocryphal, but it’sa great story! I also wanted to break the streak of the more modern person winning the matchup.

  61. Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
    February 24, 2015 - 9:39 am | Permalink

    Thecla’s biography is laced wth metaphor, I’m guess If not, if you’ve every played Telephone, you know “rats at her heals” could become “ravenous seals” very easily. Thecla’s real and passionate pursuit of Christianity wins my vote today, with all due respect to the poet. As others have noted, the kitsch potential is off the charts.

  62. Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
    February 24, 2015 - 9:41 am | Permalink

    Yikes, please read “guessing” for “guess”, imagine a period after it, and then swap “ever” for “every.” Pardon my crumby editing.

  63. Fiona Haworth's Gravatar Fiona Haworth
    February 24, 2015 - 9:41 am | Permalink

    Ravenous seals ? The miraculous death of said seals? On the grounds of caring for our fellow creatures, I can’t vote for Thecla.

  64. Ralegh's Gravatar Ralegh
    February 24, 2015 - 9:43 am | Permalink

    I agree that it is a tough choice. As a lover of the Episcopal liturgy, I am drawn to Keble. Thecla appeals to me for her wild story, and I’d like to promote the women who have done so much with so little recognition. Keble’s writings sound impressive as well, and I appreciate what he promotes as proper Christian behavior. In the end, I decided to vote for him with a touch of sadness as not being able to vote for both. I wish I had Thecla’s courage.

  65. Richard's Gravatar Richard
    February 24, 2015 - 9:45 am | Permalink

    Much of my life is mystic all head will not work for me, A lack of faith is nothing to brag obout.

  66. Alan C's Gravatar Alan C
    February 24, 2015 - 9:49 am | Permalink

    Keble has much commend him, and as a modern reader I’m a bit put off by the early church’s emphasis on celibacy. Nonetheless, and even though Thecla’s story may be apocryphal, it’s such a great story I had to vote for her, much as I did Christina the Astonishing last year. Plus I wanted to break the streak of the more contemporary person winning the matchup.

  67. Jim W's Gravatar Jim W
    February 24, 2015 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    I’ll vote for a real person commemorated as a Saint any day vs. a legend and fabrication of the early church in Thecla. Do you know how many virgin martyrs there are commemorated in the calendar of the church year? Each one has some variant of the same story – they will not marry a pagan nobleman and preserve themselves in virginity for Christ. Miracles are attested in their martyrdom. So, come on – vote John Keble to victory!

  68. February 24, 2015 - 9:53 am | Permalink

    I think you (SEC) yanked our chain a bit by putting soap opera star, possibly fictional Thecla up against rock solid Keble. So, typifying what is wrong with society today, I voted for Thecla.

  69. Kim Forbes's Gravatar Kim Forbes
    February 24, 2015 - 9:53 am | Permalink

    John Keble seems to be a saint for our times. I pray fervently for a resurgence of Keble-like pious, practical and polite people. Thecla would fit right in if she lived today, maybe even have her own reality or Web show: World’s most extreme devotees or some such thing.

  70. Jerry Rankin's Gravatar Jerry Rankin
    February 24, 2015 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    Having spent a large part of my ordained life in small congregations, I relish the joys and understand the challenges. John Keble seems to me to have been a well grounded, eyes opened servant whose faith in God and love for God’s people was fully and courageously expressed. Regarding the “miraculous” elements of Blessed Thecla, and all such stories….meh.

  71. Jen E. Ochsner's Gravatar Jen E. Ochsner
    February 24, 2015 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    Despite the many near disasters in her life, her love of Jesus Christ spared her. Hoping, no knowing, despite the difficulties I face today, that like Thecla, Jesus is my deliverer!

  72. Matt Vegas's Gravatar Matt Vegas
    February 24, 2015 - 10:02 am | Permalink

    I have always loved Kebble’s words in hymn#10 “New every morning is thy love” and hymn#656 “Blest are the pure in Heart.” As a professional Vegas musician and lover of hymnody, you can guess who has my vote.

  73. Grace Cangialosi's Gravatar Grace Cangialosi
    February 24, 2015 - 10:03 am | Permalink

    I figure if God liked Thecla enough to save her miraculously TWICE, I’d better come down on her side! Besides, Keble already has an honored place in the history of the faith and Anglicanism in particular, that the Golden Halo would just be gilding the lily…so to speak!

  74. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    February 24, 2015 - 10:04 am | Permalink

    I can’t resist a strong, passionate woman. Thecla gets my vote. You go girl!

  75. February 24, 2015 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    No contest here. I love the story of Thecla. Her devotion is so total that she follows after Paul begging to be baptized and finally takes on that task herself when Paul keeps putting her off. We should all be so devoted to our faith that we take action whether others are on or side or not. And even though it’s not quite March and women’s history month, I vote for Thecla.

  76. Danielle Clark's Gravatar Danielle Clark
    February 24, 2015 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    I’m struggling with Thecla’s apparent infatuation with Paul and his teachings. I’m wondering why Paul would deny knowing her. I may have to find her story, in full. Perhaps, that will clarify.

  77. February 24, 2015 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    Keble gets my vote. Seems very much a voice for our age as for his, “National Apostasy” striking a wake-up call for our culture going secular, or into a jaded fundamentalism, as much as his….
    That poet thing doesn’t hurt either…

  78. john miller's Gravatar john miller
    February 24, 2015 - 10:09 am | Permalink

    Thecla’s bio looks like something Hollywood would latch on to….lots of drama and lots of special effects. Keble just plodded along, doing the hard stuff. My admiration is for Keble whose work still sustains us.

  79. Hilda's Gravatar Hilda
    February 24, 2015 - 10:10 am | Permalink

    Wanted to vote for Tecla because of her strong faith but as a singer, my love of “Sun of my Soul” and “The Voice that Breathed O’er Eden” (two of John Keble ‘s hymns) won out.

  80. February 24, 2015 - 10:13 am | Permalink

    I’ll go with the persistent Thecla.

  81. Mike Hadaway's Gravatar Mike Hadaway
    February 24, 2015 - 10:14 am | Permalink

    Keble as the founder of the Oxford Movement reminds us who we are and what God’s Church actually is. He stands in a line of reformers like Francis, Clare, Dominic, Theresa, the Wesley brothers who see a Church that has to a degree forgotten that and call us back to were we came from (read what these saints actually did and wrote – not what there followers did).

    The early Church was full of women saints who followed their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (not Paul). Dorcus, Mary of Bethany, Mary of Magdela, Phoebe (who validates women in Holy Orders and shatters the argument of women having a lesser place in the Church), and hundreds of others known and unknown. What these women have in common is they actually exist. Thecla may or may not have.

    I’ll stand with John Keble.

  82. Laurel C.'s Gravatar Laurel C.
    February 24, 2015 - 10:15 am | Permalink

    May I, like Thecla, find the strength to stand for God not matter what comes across my path. Her courage and determination. And ultimate passion for God inspires me. In many places in the world today, it is still as dangerous to follow Christ and to fight oppression.

  83. Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
    February 24, 2015 - 10:15 am | Permalink

    Last year we had the snails, this year we’ve got ravenous seals. Great tragedy and comedy there.

  84. February 24, 2015 - 10:22 am | Permalink

    I am amazed as the current vote count. Keble is/was a REAL person, Thecla is more imagined then real not much of a mach up in my mind and to see her, at the moment, ahead is a true disapointment. And that is from a “Low Church” woman!

  85. Melanie Barbarito's Gravatar Melanie Barbarito
    February 24, 2015 - 10:22 am | Permalink

    A person whose “history” is questionable vs. a person whose contribution to the Body of Christ is well-documented and which blesses us today . . . no contest. Going with Keble. However, I continue my historical trend of voting with the minority. Sigh>

  86. Kay Rawlings's Gravatar Kay Rawlings
    February 24, 2015 - 10:22 am | Permalink

    I am inclined to vote for John Keble and the Oxford Movement for bring back religious orders. I don’t think there is a connection between the Oxford Movement and the Oxford Group, from which sprang Alcoholics Anonymous. But I would put my support behind Frank Buchman, founder of the Oxford Group, it he were ever part of Lend Madness!

  87. Doris's Gravatar Doris
    February 24, 2015 - 10:22 am | Permalink

    The essay on Keble’s sermons, poetry and hymns inspire me to look up his spirit-filled works. However, Thecla’s tale of her (hyped-up) holy Christian adventure while surviving brutal executions by religious leaders destined to kill her, has my vote because I can learn from her example. I should begin my very own remarkable Christian adventure every day.

  88. February 24, 2015 - 10:25 am | Permalink

    2.24.2015 [John Keble]

    poetry, prophecy
    God’s voice of
    what if, if we
    do not change.

    a blessing to
    a nation, a call
    to clarity and

    Tuesday of 1Lent

  89. Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
    February 24, 2015 - 10:28 am | Permalink

    I’m an Anglo-Catholic very grateful to John Keble and his movement – but my vote goes to Thecla.

    This is from the Wikipedia article about Thecla (

    ‘Thecla gained a massive “cult-like” following, and became perhaps the most prominent figure for female empowerment at the time. She listened to Paul’s teachings to fear nobody but God, and live in chastity. She demonstrates these teachings on several occasions starting from the first time she heard Paul speak by leaving Thamyris, fighting off Alexander, and surviving several life threatening situations. She traveled to preach the word of God and became an icon encouraging women to also live a life of chastity and follow the word of the lord.’

    Here’s a photo of her statue in Ma’loula (Syria):,_Maaloula.jpg

    • Elizabeth's Gravatar Elizabeth
      February 24, 2015 - 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for the link. The fresco is so etheral, I’m tempted to vote Thecla just on that basis.

      • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
        February 24, 2015 - 12:31 pm | Permalink

        It is wonderful, isn’t it?

    • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
      February 24, 2015 - 12:30 pm | Permalink

      More from the article:

      ‘In the Eastern Church, the wide circulation of the Acts of Paul and Thecla is evidence of her veneration. She was called “apostle and protomartyr among women” and “equal to the apostles.” She was widely cited as an ascetic rôle model for women. ‘

      • Barbara Barnes's Gravatar Barbara Barnes
        February 24, 2015 - 12:38 pm | Permalink

        Interesting. Thanks.

  90. Liz's Gravatar Liz
    February 24, 2015 - 10:30 am | Permalink

    I feel really bad about the seals and don’t believe they intended to eat Thecla. I’ve had some remarkable encounters with seals, even swimming with them. And hymn 10, with John Keble’s text, is one of my very favorites. However, I am voting for Thecla as a prototype of all the unknown women who were leaders in the early church, and whose passionate longing for God and devotion to the gospel still empowers us, even if we do not know their names.

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      February 24, 2015 - 10:45 am | Permalink

      I’m all for uplifting and broadcasting (no pun intended) the early and not so early, (even the current ones) women leaders of the church but I’d rather not be painted with the brush that makes a crazy infatuated, some might say demented, woman as a leader to be emulated. There are times when restraint is a good thing. GO JOHN!

  91. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    February 24, 2015 - 10:30 am | Permalink

    Shrieking eels, sorry Thecla. I’ve known John Keble through his hymns all my life, and they demonstrate a deep devotion to God. I’m not swayed by the miracles purported to be experienced by Thecla, nor that she was inordinately devoted to Paul. Keble all the way.

  92. Elaine Culver's Gravatar Elaine Culver
    February 24, 2015 - 10:32 am | Permalink

    The toughest choice yet. I have no doubt that Thecla was completely committed to Christ, but so little is known about the life of the actual person. The earthquake and rain seem plausible, but “ravenous seals” seems rather a stretch. My vote today goes to John Keble, who seems to have been a priest with the perfect balance of devotion, scholarship, and artistry.

  93. Bee Jay's Gravatar Bee Jay
    February 24, 2015 - 10:45 am | Permalink

    I’m a bit surprised the Thecla is in the lead! All truth is not factual, so the remarks about her possibly not being “real” don’t affect me.
    As one who loves liturgy, and “high” church, I vote for Keble. A friend of mine came up with the phrase “The Majesty of Mystery.” I think that’s what the Oxford Movement gave back to the church. Anglo-Catholic worship can rival, and even surpass, Roman Catholic.

  94. February 24, 2015 - 10:45 am | Permalink

    I think it’s so interesting that we feel bound by facts when it comes to saints, preferring the verifiable to the legend…even though if we applied that standard to scripture we’d have a very slim volume indeed.

    Thecla was an inspiration to women–a reminder that they too could follow Christ, even when rejected by the men of the movement while they were attempting to be free of the control of the men in their lives. Whether the miracles happened or not is as irrelevant as whether Jesus literally walked on water or whether Moses parted the Red/Reed Sea. She pointed people to a reality larger than herself, and made it possible for women to become leaders in a movement that changed the world. She definitely wins.
    And to say she’s annoying or a groupie…feels to me like the way passionate/loud women are usually discounted.

  95. Melissa's Gravatar Melissa
    February 24, 2015 - 10:46 am | Permalink

    What the cla?
    I never heard of Thecla, despite a year studying Paul.
    So, I want to thank the Supreme Executive Committee for including her. But I find it disturbing that so many people are doubting her story and treating her like a lunatic stalker groupie.
    I voted FOR Keble because he read and helped spread the work of Hooker. I did not, like a vocal bunch, vote AGAINST Thecla. I’d say either one earned a spot, but probably not the halo.

    • February 24, 2015 - 11:02 am | Permalink

      Gotta ask the group, all of whom know more about church history and theology than I…

      If Thecla were Thec, and male, would we be calling him a “lunatic stalker groupie?” Or would we be more careful to acknowledge his (dubious) passion? Just wondering. And yes, I do have a bumper sticker on my car that says “Well-behaved women never make history,” so I am biased. But still.

      • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
        February 24, 2015 - 11:17 am | Permalink

        If Thecla were a man he would still be demented, stalker, obsessed, etc. Sex has nothing to do with it. But in Theclas’s case, maybe it did.

        • February 24, 2015 - 11:40 am | Permalink

          Really? When was the last time we referred to a man following a man as a “stalker?” Jesus had twelve stalkers, did he?

          Seriously, is our view of Thecla colored by the fact that her story *isn’t* canonical? Or, if the “ballad of Paul and Thecla” were canon, would we be just the tiniest bit more respectful of her passion?

          And please, people…We’re Christians. We believe in the Ultimate Ghost Story…yet we balk at (wo)man-eating seals??

          • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
            February 24, 2015 - 12:00 pm | Permalink

            According to te bio, Thecla was doing a bit more than “following” as in “the disciples”. Breaking into the jail to be with Paul? Self baptism by death. There are many accounts of men being stalkers. Ask some of the women who’ve had them therorize them.

          • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
            February 24, 2015 - 12:02 pm | Permalink

            Sorry folks, that wasn’t supposed to be “theorize”. Terrorize was what my mind wanted — just washed my fingers and can’t do a thing with them!

  96. Patty Weber's Gravatar Patty Weber
    February 24, 2015 - 10:49 am | Permalink

    I am struck by an earlier comment by Bill S about the miraculous saving of Thecia’s life, that it seemed unbelievable. I think that’s pretty much the definition of a miracle, right? What colossal faith it must have taken for a women back in that day to strike out on her own because she believed she had heard the word of God. Go Thecia!

  97. Cheryle's Gravatar Cheryle
    February 24, 2015 - 10:59 am | Permalink

    Thecla’s story is so fantastical as to be compelling. And I have great respect for someone who wants to be baptized so desperately that she would subject herself to danger. However, Keble appeals to me in his steadfast perseverance, his reluctance to stand in the spotlight, and his example that more of us might be likely to follow – “for the saints of God are just folk like me.” So, dear Thecla, while you spark the imagination, Keble speaks to my heart.

    And I note that, once again, I’m backing the losing saint!

  98. Tom Jensen's Gravatar Tom Jensen
    February 24, 2015 - 11:03 am | Permalink

    A Paul-stalking woman ,who, when she is about to thrown to some ravenous human-eating seals, decides it’s time for her baptism?! Hollywood can’t make up a better story than this! She the “Christina the Astonishing” of the 2015 bracket. As tempting as it was, I went with John.

  99. Francis of Granby's Gravatar Francis of Granby
    February 24, 2015 - 11:03 am | Permalink

    For what it’s worth, the esthetics of the Keble College chapel are insane. In the best possible way.

  100. February 24, 2015 - 11:06 am | Permalink

    Um … would we be calling Thecla a groupie if she were male? I mean, I don’t see anyone calling Luke a groupie. Or Mark or Barnabas.

    I would have loved to have known Thecla’s story before the hagiographers got to it. There has to be a reason she had a following in Seleucia …

  101. Tutu Lois's Gravatar Tutu Lois
    February 24, 2015 - 11:06 am | Permalink

    Thecla means a great deal to Syriac-speaking Christians today, especially those forced to flee the conflict in Syria. I have visited the town in Syria, north of Damascus, where St Thecla is honored (you can visit the small canyon where she is said to have made her escape). Until recently this town also had a womens monastery — the nuns were taken hostage last year by Islamic militants, but eventually released unharmed. To my mind, Thecla is not just an ancient saint but a relevant one today.

    • Mariana Bauman's Gravatar Mariana Bauman
      February 24, 2015 - 6:28 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for that bit of information. I knew about the nuns being kidnapped but never read any names connected to the convent/monastery. The Eastern Church has kept more saints ‘alive’ than we and many of them did lead miraculous lives. However,
      I still voted for Keble because his work in our part of Christ’s kingdom has been so important and lasting. Surely someone could ‘conjour’ up some Keble Kitsch!

  102. Ann E's Gravatar Ann E
    February 24, 2015 - 11:08 am | Permalink

    Thecla’s story is thrilling, but it sounds like just a story. John Keble studied and wrote and thought deeply about his faith, and had an enormous influence on many. He was a gifted poet. He was a true pastor to his people. He didn’t seek glory in the world but served his Savior with all his considerable gifts. He gets my vote. Still, the carnivorous seals are a fine image!

  103. Marney's Gravatar Marney
    February 24, 2015 - 11:13 am | Permalink

    I voted FOR Keble. I was raised on Oxford Movement theology. As far as Thecla and her passion, methinks a couple of generations hence people are going to wonder how we could believe the things we do.

  104. Adrienne's Gravatar Adrienne
    February 24, 2015 - 11:13 am | Permalink

    mother named for theckla … can’t help it, plus it’s a really cool life she lived!

  105. Sophie Mills's Gravatar Sophie Mills
    February 24, 2015 - 11:14 am | Permalink

    I really don’t like these pairings! It seems as though we are comparing two completely different dimensions of the holy, both valuable in their different ways.

    • February 24, 2015 - 11:44 am | Permalink

      pehaps that’s the point of the pairings…

  106. Erica's Gravatar Erica
    February 24, 2015 - 11:21 am | Permalink

    So far I’ve voted for the saint I can find more to admire in their bio and can verify from other sources and witnesses. Thecla raises a lot of questions–what was her part in furthering Christianity, were her actions as recounted here done to inspire others or were they motivated for selfish reasons, who was she reaching out to in order to lead them to live a more godly life? Keble’s actions and bio have no fantastical elements, he was pushing to instill in others his love of God, and he was actively reaching out to others. As a woman, I’d love to vote for Thecla but I have to go with Keble in this round.

  107. Lea's Gravatar Lea
    February 24, 2015 - 11:24 am | Permalink

    Sorry, no contest. I’ve read extensively about early Christianity and Thecla is hardly spoken of in Christian circles. Certainly I never heard a peep about her until I began reading the apocryphal gospels and I didn’t need any miracles (ravenous seals?!) to know that this lady was a special person. I apologize, Mr. Kebler, but Thecla has won my heart and my vote.

  108. Laura's Gravatar Laura
    February 24, 2015 - 11:25 am | Permalink

    I was disappointed at Teresa of Avila’s loss to David Oakerhater, but I could understand it. But John Keble losing to Thecla? Possibly, many voters have little comprehension of the influence this humble man has had on the Anglican/Episcopal church and the devotions many of us take for granted today. To vote for someone else whose existence is questionable….. The story of Thecla may have had great influence on real people but so has George Bailey from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. I love the story but would not vote for him to win the Golden Halo.

    • Geoff McLarney's Gravatar Geoff McLarney
      February 24, 2015 - 2:40 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, I fear that Keble’s failure to advance (as it now appears will be the case) is sort of emblematic of the esteem the Catholic heritage of the Episcopal Church is (not) held in. I can understand the “equity-seeking” voting – and have used that strategy myself – but I’m surprised a story as thin as Thecla’s can win so decisively. And I am a little surprised that more of those objecting to the “groupie” characterization on feminist grounds are not put off by yet another generic story of a virgin preserving her purity in the face of a rapacious pagan. Sometimes it seems like that was the only way for a woman to attain to sainthood in the Early Church: NB that there is no corresponding category of “virgin” for male saints.

  109. February 24, 2015 - 11:31 am | Permalink

    While there are species of seals that might be dangerous to humans (Leopard seals, Elephant seals, possibly Gray seals), I am guessing that the seals that Paul and Thecla would most likely have encountered would have been Mediterranean Monk seals, described as shy and not particularly social creatures. However, it does appear that Monk seals were associated with all sorts of myths and legends, including their transformation into nymphs or mermaids. William M. Johnson writes that this seal was “branded as a pest that threatens fish stocks and damages fishing nets. . . Such hostility was probably responsible for transmuting the mermaid seal into the sea devil in the folklore in the Dark Ages, and also inspired the myth that the seal would hunt down fishermen in vicious, tooth-gnashing, packs.” – See more at:
    So this may be the origin of the “ravenous seals” that Thecla faced.

  110. Greg's Gravatar Greg
    February 24, 2015 - 11:43 am | Permalink

    I had a difficult time deciding so I read the comments, which I rarely do before voting. I love learning from the comments and those more knowledgeable. Im still undecided, think Ill take the day on it, maybe read and learn more this evening. Please keep commenting about whether I should vote for a miracle story or a factual poet, don’t care if Im on the winning side or not, don’t care if I vote for facts or dubious stories. I love it all!

  111. John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
    February 24, 2015 - 11:44 am | Permalink

    Whew! This pairing was the most interesting introduction to the Oxford Movement imaginable. On the one hand Keble, instigator of reform, whose influence on virtually all aspects of Anglicanism today is subtle and far-reaching. On the other the kind of saint whose cultus the Oxford Movement encouraged, one belonging to an age when when the value of romance as an invitation to embark on a life of holiness was joyously affirmed, especially in the Orthodox churches. Secular romance novels were wildly popular in the first four centuries AD, as archaeological evidence shows; only pornography was more popular. The Acts of Paul and Thecla spoke to people as they lived, where they lived, and how they lived, and by giving Paul and Thecla equal billing, the romance redressed the patriarchal imbalance in the official version of the “faith once given to the saints.”
    Back to the Oxford Movement: one of its publishing ventures was a series on the lives of early British saints. The historian James Anthony Froude was pressed by his brother to write one of these legends up for the series. Froude dutifully produced a Life of St. Neot, but on the last page his conscience impelled him to add, “This is all, and indeed rather more than all, that is known to men of the life of Blessed Neot, but certainly not more than is known to the angels in Heaven. So it is with Thecla, whose influence down through the centuries is by us mortals not calculable. Besides, that icon bears a strong, I might say an uncanny resemblance to one of the strongest and saintliest woman I know, without whom my own faith, hope, and love would not have been renewed several years ago. This vote’S for Thecla and Phyllis!

    • February 24, 2015 - 11:46 am | Permalink

      AMEN, John Lewis!

      • John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
        February 24, 2015 - 11:54 am | Permalink

        Thanks right back at you, Tracey! This one really hit me where I live. If I ever overcome my fear of technology, I’ll say more about the role of IMAGINATION in religious life.

    • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
      February 24, 2015 - 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for that, John Lewis; wonderful story about Froude and Neot. I’ve never heard it before, but it fits perfectly here!

      • John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
        February 24, 2015 - 12:51 pm | Permalink

        I found the Neot story in a Penguin book on the Oxford Movement a long time back, and it stayed with me!

  112. Veronica's Gravatar Veronica
    February 24, 2015 - 11:47 am | Permalink

    People – Henry’s divorce might have been approved because of the schism with Rome, but was not the reason for the schism. Please read the history of the Church of England and of the Oxford Movement. My vote is with Keble, even though Thecla’s passion is persuasive. We could use his wisdom in the modern church.

  113. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
    February 24, 2015 - 11:49 am | Permalink

    Apparently my vote is the kiss of death to one of the saints every day! At least this year. Fond of the mystics as I am, believing as I do, that no woman should have someone’s sexual desires forced on her, a veteran of serving two parishes as their first female pastor, I still have other reasons for voting for John Keble: I am also a lifelong singer, devoted to hymnody (and many hymns born in the Church of England turned up in Methodist hymnals) and to education. As a happily married clergywoman, I am not in sympathy with the church’s history of devotion to perpetual virginity. Some are called to celibacy, some are called to marriage. I vote for John.

  114. Diane Carroll's Gravatar Diane Carroll
    February 24, 2015 - 11:51 am | Permalink

    Had to go with Thecla, had a nun in grammar school named Thecla and she helped me to learn to trust in God.

  115. February 24, 2015 - 11:56 am | Permalink

    I vote for Thecla. Early Church history/oral tradition was written and controlled mostly by men. Thecla comes across as a crazed groupie who annoyed Paul, but the same sorts of authors made Mary Magdalene into a prostitute. Influential women don’t come off well. At least we still know Thecla’s name, the tradition that she inspired many women in the early church to follow her example, that she risked execution multiple times- the killer seals were no doubt added later. As a linguist, my inclination is to deconstruct the texts and try to find the hidden history of women in the early Church.

    • February 24, 2015 - 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Christine Parkhurst, I first read your name as “PANKhurst,” and I thought, it’s a miracle! And she’s still a feminist!

      Thecla may be a holy nut, but what was Theresa of Avila? I suspect she may have annoyed Paul as well.

  116. Deborah DeManno's Gravatar Deborah DeManno
    February 24, 2015 - 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Interesting that many criticize the Acts if Paul and Thecla as being non-canonical and then are wound up about the seals. Maybe the writer didn’t have their taxonomy down and they were walruses? Would sea-monsters make it better. Have you heard of metaphor? Or do you also hold to a firm 6 days for creation? I have a PhD in biology and didn’t get stuck on the seals. It was Thecla’s persistence in her faith and seeking to be baptized in spite of Paul that turned my vote.

  117. Betsy's Gravatar Betsy
    February 24, 2015 - 12:04 pm | Permalink

    On Ash Wednesday our service was small enough that we stood around the altar for communion preparations. It made me think aobut the early church, when people gathered in small groups to profess faith in somehting new to the world. Those people were brave and independent thinkers, going against the cultural norms. They carried the message forward to us. Not that John Keble is without significant influence, but he too needed those early followers, who were all groupies, or at least probably viewed that way by their unbelieiving friends and family. So Thecla gets my vote today.

  118. doctorm's Gravatar doctorm
    February 24, 2015 - 12:24 pm | Permalink

    It’s so tempting to vote for a female leader of the early church (females in church history being so often overlooked), BUT I cannot vote against one who influenced my favorite poet ever, Gerard Manley Hopkins. Keble it is …

  119. Debby Thomas's Gravatar Debby Thomas
    February 24, 2015 - 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Intrigued both by mysticism and the Oxford Movement., I enjoyed several summers of study at Wycliffe Hall and delightful final celebrations at Keble Hall.. Despite my allegiance to reviving the real and creative women of faith, we need poets willing to write as well as swim.

  120. L Hannan's Gravatar L Hannan
    February 24, 2015 - 12:38 pm | Permalink

    I was wondering if the “first” nominee on the ballot is the one to loose. Is there any scientific foundation for this? Just wondering.

  121. Nancy E. Day's Gravatar Nancy E. Day
    February 24, 2015 - 12:42 pm | Permalink

    “ravenous seals”?

  122. Gloria Rousseau's Gravatar Gloria Rousseau
    February 24, 2015 - 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Last night I listened to the audio version of The Last Week by Borg and Crossan who spent their academic lives studying Jesus, a man who may once have been called crazy or fanatical. Now the term passionate is used to describe him. Yet in a few minutes of reading about Thecla, she is often dismissed as a groupie, a drama queen (my term), or crazy. So I want to recognize her passion and dedication to the Good News. Keble gets points fot his intellect and wisdom, but I haven’t seen anything about passion in the comments on him. Though he expressed it differently, he must have been passionate about the church to have dedicated a lifetime to it…the church today needs both passion and wisdom. Now to go back and vote! I still don’t know where my stylus will land.

    • Karen H.'s Gravatar Karen H.
      February 24, 2015 - 4:40 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Gloria – I am currently reading Borg’s wonderful book “The Heart of Christianity” and agree that truth trumps fact when it comes to faith. I’m voting for Thecla.

  123. Solange De Santis's Gravatar Solange De Santis
    February 24, 2015 - 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Because I am incredibly shallow, I almost voted for the handsome guy, then went with the spectacular story of Thecla, who broke INTO prison, escaped being burned at the stake and threw herself into a pool of ravenous seals (say what?) in order to be baptized. Hollywood, where are you?

  124. February 24, 2015 - 1:03 pm | Permalink

    As an alumnus of Keble College – this one is a no-brainer for me

  125. February 24, 2015 - 1:08 pm | Permalink

    You got me at ravenous seals. I voted Thecla.

  126. February 24, 2015 - 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Well, the description of Thecla’s life and times certainly sounds rather Monty Python-esque (ravenous seals? Why not the Comfy Chair?). I attended a lecture a couple of years ago that focused on Thecla, and her importance, as well as the Church’s effort in later centuries to downplay her contribution (and that of other women) in the significance of growing the early Church. She apparently was more than just a” Paul groupie” and ascended to a leadership role that over time was forgotten, or simply re-written to diminish her. I like the write up on Keble, but I’m casting a vote for Thecla. May the best saint move on to the next round!

  127. Mark Gallagher's Gravatar Mark Gallagher
    February 24, 2015 - 1:15 pm | Permalink

    The bio of Thecla is an interesting yarn but my willing suspension of disbelief evaporated at the introduction of human-eating seals. My vote goes to Keble but I will go to see the biopic about Thecla (if the casting is right).

  128. Carla's Gravatar Carla
    February 24, 2015 - 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Really can’t do ravenous seals…lion, tigers, or bears perhaps. But seals????

  129. Claire's Gravatar Claire
    February 24, 2015 - 1:28 pm | Permalink

    I was an 18-year old Postulant in a semi-cloistered women’s religious community. An ancient, diminutive Sister named Thecla, would seek out all the “newbies”. She would take both of your hands in her tiny ones, look into your eyes and say: “You must love the Lord passionately, passionately, passionately”. Sister Thecla was the embodiment of Saint Thecla for me and for generations of women who wanted to follow the Lord.

    • February 24, 2015 - 2:14 pm | Permalink

      SEC, there really needs to be a thumbs-up option. Not to elevate a particular comment over another in actual rankings, but to indicate, dare I say it, “ditto!”

  130. j's Gravatar j
    February 24, 2015 - 1:30 pm | Permalink

    For those of us who don’t get to Madness until coffee break, Pacific Standard Time, is there some way to go back to the comments of the previous day’s match?

    • Deacon Georgia's Gravatar Deacon Georgia
      February 24, 2015 - 1:48 pm | Permalink

      Yes, as a fellow PST person. When you first open, you can still scroll down to the previous days matchup and click on the names. Then at the top right of the page there is tiny script linking to the comments and you can click on that.

  131. Carmen's Gravatar Carmen
    February 24, 2015 - 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Thecla has my vote – a strong woman with deep convictions that she follows to the max in the face of familial opposition and the threat of death.

  132. Sally M's Gravatar Sally M
    February 24, 2015 - 1:47 pm | Permalink

    This is particularly a difficult choice. As a woman, I believe the enormous contributions of the female gender to God’s church has and should continue to be recognized and honored. But John Keble’s contribution to the Oxford Movement and the subsequent development of AA, Al-Anon, and all 12 Step Programs is too difficult to ignore! So many lives were transformed by Keble’s life. My vote MUST be for this gentle parish priest.

    • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
      February 24, 2015 - 2:16 pm | Permalink

      It’s the Oxford “Group” that influenced the founding of A.A.; the Oxford Movement was reform movement in the Church of England that began about a century earlier.

  133. Wendy L. Bell's Gravatar Wendy L. Bell
    February 24, 2015 - 1:49 pm | Permalink

    You had me at “ravenous seals.”

  134. Rich's Gravatar Rich
    February 24, 2015 - 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Thecla also has my vote – but as an icon, a symbol, of the triumph of God’s intent that we all are equal before the Lord’s eyes in faith and respect in the Church, even if it’s been 2000 years and we still aren’t on the same page as our Creator.

  135. Deacon Georgia's Gravatar Deacon Georgia
    February 24, 2015 - 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Who’s Thecla I asked when I received an icon as a gift from the estate of a retired deacon. It also said protomartyr. Wait! I thought Stephen was the protomartyr. So I looked Thecla up and first found her story. What I am reading today in these comments is the strong backgrounds of each of us. Thecla is/was more well known in the Eastern Church, Keble in Anglicanism. Thanks, SEC, for bringing the very large community of saints to our attention regardless of what faith background we come from (or not). And today I feel that Thecla is the underdog, so I’m voting for her.

  136. Unitarian Onlooker's Gravatar Unitarian Onlooker
    February 24, 2015 - 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Wow, first time actually reading the comments — just terrific. I’ve read Keble before but this matchup sent me to read Thecla (in Bart Ehrman’s “Lost Christianities”). Ehrman: Tertullian reported that a church tribunal tried and convicted a presbyter in Asia Minor for fabricating the miraculous tales of Thecla as a way to make Paul’s journeys more exciting. I’m voting for Keble.

    • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
      February 24, 2015 - 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Tertullian had ulterior motives.

      From Wikipedia ( “It is attested as early as Tertullian, De baptismo 17:5 (c 190), who inveighed against its use in the advocacy of a woman’s right to preach and to baptize. “

      • Unitarian Onlooker's Gravatar Unitarian Onlooker
        February 25, 2015 - 8:33 am | Permalink

        Good catch. I’m changing my vote to Thecla. Better story anyway.

  137. Glenis Elliott's Gravatar Glenis Elliott
    February 24, 2015 - 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Thecla for me. No particular reason other than I like Paul and his teachings. Tough choices either way!!!!

  138. TJ's Gravatar TJ
    February 24, 2015 - 2:53 pm | Permalink

    I usually enjoy the wild exploits of long-ago saints. Whether the stories are true or not they often still hold some message for me. Today though, it’s John Keble because I love anyone who makes higher education more accessible so that more people have an opportunity to stretch themselves and contribute to the world without being limited by their class or birth.

  139. Carol D's Gravatar Carol D
    February 24, 2015 - 3:11 pm | Permalink

    So many people unthinkingly discount women’s role in establishing the church. We need to hype ourselves to be recognized. Anyway Mary M saw the metaphor. Thecla was SEALED as a saint by God.

  140. JTWojtowick's Gravatar JTWojtowick
    February 24, 2015 - 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Great friendships portrayed. Though Paul and Thecla could be classed, today, a bit O-C D.
    But the great friendships of Ambrose St John, John Newman and John Keble – what dimensions of conversation and mirth. He got my vote for his good company.

  141. Patricia McWhorter's Gravatar Patricia McWhorter
    February 24, 2015 - 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Although Thecla’s name is unfamiliar in the West, she is remembered throughout the world.
    St. Thecla Churches abound, and, until a few years ago, pilgrims came to visit what is purported to be her tomb in Ma’loula, Syria. A small mountain village north of Damascus, Ma’loula is one of the few places where Aramaic was in daily use by the villagers and the nuns who cared for the tomb, monastery and church.

    Reached by climbing narrow, steep steps carved into the mountainside, flickering candles, sweet incense, and tiny vases of local flowers adorned Thecla’s small,cramped cave tomb. Visiting her tomb was a holy experience heightened by the love and fervor of the Aramaic speaking nun who was our guide. How prophetic that she mirrored Thecla’s emotions and call to proclaim Jesus as Lord!

    Two years ago, Syrian rebels besieged the village, desecrated the church, and kidnapped approximately twelve nuns.

    In honor of St. Thecla, of her determination to follow Christ despite the consequences, and of the nuns who loved and cared for her, my vote is for St. Thecla.

    Shame on Paul for treating her so badly!

  142. Megan J's Gravatar Megan J
    February 24, 2015 - 3:29 pm | Permalink

    I think I’m going to have to vote for Thecla. I can’t know if she was real, but her story is inspiring and full of mystery, kind of like a parable. I’ve never heard of ravenous seals before, but in prior comments there is a marvelous link about leopard seals killing a woman in Antarctica, so I’m not going to quibble. And if seals were synonymous with pests, then they illustrate the point well. Yep. I’m pretty sure I’ve talked myself into voting for Thecla. Pretty sure.

  143. Randall Byrd's Gravatar Randall Byrd
    February 24, 2015 - 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Thecla, you go girl. You get my vote, but RAVENOUS SEALS?? Must have been imported from Lebanon.

  144. Randall Byrd's Gravatar Randall Byrd
    February 24, 2015 - 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Could we have Seals in the Lentorium next year? After they have been thru the annual Pet Blessing, of course.

    • Megan J's Gravatar Megan J
      February 24, 2015 - 3:51 pm | Permalink

      Brilliant! Maybe a collection of killer animals that show up in the lives of the saints?

      • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
        February 24, 2015 - 5:38 pm | Permalink

        If there are seals in the Lentorium next, I think we really do need to be fair and have snails there also.

  145. Ron Fox, BSG's Gravatar Ron Fox, BSG
    February 24, 2015 - 3:56 pm | Permalink

    @Susan…. You can read lots more on this at Anglicans Online, under Church History at

    But here is some basic stuff……

    “There is a public perception, especially in the United States, that Henry VIII created the Anglican church in anger over the Pope’s refusal to grant his divorce, but the historical record indicates that Henry spent most of his reign challenging the authority of Rome, and that the divorce issue was just one of a series of acts that collectively split the English church from the Roman church in much the same way that the Orthodox church had split off five hundred years before.” (Anglicans Online)

  146. Michelle Pittenger's Gravatar Michelle Pittenger
    February 24, 2015 - 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Neither story desperately inspired me, but I must say “Ravenous Seals” would be a marvelous name for a rock band!

  147. February 24, 2015 - 4:24 pm | Permalink

    My vote is for Keble on the grounds of historicity. Thecla seems to be a fictional character in a pious legend, similar to many of the legends which made the rounds in the ancient and medieval churches.

  148. Dorothee's Gravatar Dorothee
    February 24, 2015 - 4:27 pm | Permalink

    In other news, why are some commentor’s names red and others black?

  149. Anne Clayton's Gravatar Anne Clayton
    February 24, 2015 - 4:28 pm | Permalink

    For those of you who doubt that diving in amongst the seals was brave, consider that penguins often fall victim to ravenous seals – in fact they will have the odd “volunteer” give up his life to save the multitude. A familiar story I’m sure.
    It’s Thecla for me.

  150. Betsy Rossen Elliot's Gravatar Betsy Rossen Elliot
    February 24, 2015 - 4:47 pm | Permalink

    For the first time, I’ve read through all the comments and find it a fascinating, uplifting discussion. I’m still undecided but still have some time. One request: before you click “Post Comment,” take the 60 or fewer seconds it takes to reread and correct your comment. It’s very distracting to negotiate the typos and missing words. (I’m a proofreader by trade and can’t help myself.)

  151. Louise's Gravatar Louise
    February 24, 2015 - 4:49 pm | Permalink

    As exciting as Thecla’s story may be, my vote has to go to John Keble for his influence on the Oxford Movement….which had a great influence on my own family. My gg grandfather, although baptised in the COE, was ordained a Methodist preacher. By 1851, however, he became disenchanted with Methodism and was re-ordained as an Anglican priest. Of his 7 sons, 5 became priests in the COE, my g grandfather among them. Like many “Tractarians” before them, they often served in “slum” parishes in both England and Trinidad where they were much loved.

    • Francis of Granby's Gravatar Francis of Granby
      February 24, 2015 - 5:46 pm | Permalink

      How proud you must be! Thanks for sharing your family’s amazing story.

  152. Heidi Shott's Gravatar Heidi Shott
    February 24, 2015 - 4:59 pm | Permalink

    For those of you who say seals don’t eat people… just ask Buster Bluth.

    • Molly Reingruber's Gravatar Molly Reingruber
      February 25, 2015 - 9:53 am | Permalink

      Brilliant! I had completely forgotten about Buster! I hope to hear some more “Arrested Development” references in the next round!

  153. Diane Norton's Gravatar Diane Norton
    February 24, 2015 - 5:14 pm | Permalink

    First time I have been on the winning side, feeling a tinge of sadness for the old boy. Two strong candidates. Well written commentaries. I voted for Thecla because I like her astonishing story. It pleases me that she has been honored a lot by the Eastern wing of our church, and because she is a woman. An atypical vote for me.

  154. February 24, 2015 - 5:23 pm | Permalink

    My criterion for Lent Madness is simply this: “Which Saint seems more mad?” Thecla wins this one in my book.

  155. Melissa Ridlon's Gravatar Melissa Ridlon
    February 24, 2015 - 5:25 pm | Permalink

    I’m voting for Thecla – real or fictional – as a symbol of all the un-named women who did and (unfortunately) still do make it possible for the male dominated leadership to prevail. They may not have been eaten by seals or burned at the stake, but they have certainly lived the pain of being unappreciated, dismissed and treated as nothing but “crazy groupies.”

  156. Elizabeth's Gravatar Elizabeth
    February 24, 2015 - 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Thecla–because anyone who would fight so hard against a ridiculous societal norm such as being sold into marriage (or worse) is worth my vote!

  157. Rodney's Gravatar Rodney
    February 24, 2015 - 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Thecla – Really???
    not for me – my vote goes to John

  158. Deb's Gravatar Deb
    February 24, 2015 - 5:51 pm | Permalink

    I voted for John Keble because I love that the Episcopal Church has so much of the early Christian tradition, while retaining modernity and reason. I did not know today that he was among those responsible for bringing so many of the early rites back into the church. I might not be Episcopalian if not for John Keble, so he has to get my vote.

  159. Pat's Gravatar Pat
    February 24, 2015 - 5:58 pm | Permalink

    A tough match, compelling me to read and reread. Though I admire John Keble’s focus on the church’s original tenets and his productivity in so many ways, I’m sure touched by Thecla’s zeal and tenacity. Her holiness and the miracles she experienced speak for themselves!

  160. John Lawrence's Gravatar John Lawrence
    February 24, 2015 - 6:29 pm | Permalink

    I would probably have voted for Thecla if I thought she really existed. But gee, folks, don’t we have enough problems as the Church when people think we’re just dealing with fantasies and superstitions???? Isn’t it time to get real?

  161. Susan Maurine's Gravatar Susan Maurine
    February 24, 2015 - 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Ay-yi, John, have you read the gospels? The miracles, the healings, the Reaurrection? You don’t think a lot of people consider those to be fantasies?

    • Robert's Gravatar Robert
      February 25, 2015 - 2:06 pm | Permalink

      You go, Susan! John’s comments about fantasies and superstitions struck me exactly as you reponded.

  162. Catherine Ambos's Gravatar Catherine Ambos
    February 24, 2015 - 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Is it fair for someone to add his favored candidate into the Prayers of the People on Sunday just because he’s the cantor that day? Not sure the Rector realized what was going on. We’ll see whether that helped Thecla

  163. Catherine Ambos's Gravatar Catherine Ambos
    February 24, 2015 - 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Sorry–the addition of Thecla was in The Great Litany.

  164. Martie Collins's Gravatar Martie Collins
    February 24, 2015 - 7:19 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Mr. Keble, as his parishioners probably called him. He seemed to be facing the same kinds of problems we are. But he reimagined the Church of England. By the way, what hymns did he write?

    • Barbara Barnes's Gravatar Barbara Barnes
      February 24, 2015 - 7:57 pm | Permalink

      Quite a few. You can Google it. the one I found that I love is Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah.

  165. Anne-Marie's Gravatar Anne-Marie
    February 24, 2015 - 8:03 pm | Permalink

    My ten-year old had decided even before we got to the ravenous seals. Ravenous seals!

  166. Barbara from St. Barnabas's Gravatar Barbara from St. Barnabas
    February 24, 2015 - 8:34 pm | Permalink

    My vote is for Thecla – for her devotion to Paul, her faithfulness and determination to be baptized. She threw herself into a pit of ravenous seals in order to be baptized. You have to vote for a woman like that!

  167. February 24, 2015 - 9:56 pm | Permalink

    I consider Thecla the patron saint of women clergy and preachers; victims of sexual assault; and uppity women everywhere. Thecla is my girl!!

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      February 24, 2015 - 10:03 pm | Permalink

      I’m definitely an uppity woman as witnessed by my comments today, I’m a victim of sexual assault, I preach and there is NO WAY that Thecla is even remotely my patron. I wouldn’t put up with Paul for one thing.

      • February 24, 2015 - 10:21 pm | Permalink

        No offense intended, Donna: just sharing my enthusiasm & perception of Thecla and her story. (Which I see as almost entirely separate from Paul, actually; I think of the major part of the document as the story of Thecla and Trifina, the widow and bereaved mother who sheltered her and advocated for her.)

  168. Elizabeth Massey's Gravatar Elizabeth Massey
    February 24, 2015 - 9:57 pm | Permalink

    Recently, I was studying a painting of the Madonna and Child with Two Women Saints by
    El Greco that was on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. The saint on the left was originally to represent Thecla, a martyr and saint of the early Church. The artist later designated her by a different name. If you have a chance to see this painting in person or reproduction, you may be as stunned by its beauty and the technique of its composition the way I was. And I will always remember Thecla.

  169. Debbie J's Gravatar Debbie J
    February 24, 2015 - 10:28 pm | Permalink

    I have greatly enjoyed participating in Lent Madness and this study of the saints. I have also liked reading everyone’s comments and points-of-view. I voted for Thecla because I loved her passion for Christ in her life.

  170. Anne Lemay's Gravatar Anne Lemay
    February 24, 2015 - 10:29 pm | Permalink

    Tough choice! While I admire the Oxford movement and the hymns, my son’s cat is named Thecla Cleopatra Jones, and I didn’t realize that there was a saint for her. She is sweet, and curls up with us every night, hugging my arm, so Thecla – a most unusual saint, to be sure – gets my vote. Certainly not the most profound reason for voting, but there it is! A vote for the patron of our cat!

  171. Jane C's Gravatar Jane C
    February 24, 2015 - 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Thecla was devoted to Paul but could she have also been categorized as an early stalker? Why did he deny knowing her? Maybe he wished he didn’t know her. Nevertheless, I’ll vote for Thecla for her narrow escapes, especially from the pit of voracious seals. But what’s the end of the story? Was she eaten by wild beasts? Vote for Thecla and maybe we will find out in her next round.

  172. Linda Maloney's Gravatar Linda Maloney
    February 24, 2015 - 11:18 pm | Permalink

    I had the fun of reading and writing about Thecla a few years ago, in connection with pushing back against the misogyny of the “Pastoral” epistles (1-2 Timothy and Titus). See Dennis R. MacDonald, “The Legend and the Apostle” for some good info. Even if you don’t share his conclusions, there’s food for thought.

  173. Em's Gravatar Em
    February 24, 2015 - 11:27 pm | Permalink

    Once again it looks as if I’ll be on the losing side come morning; I’ve only been in the majority for Brendan the Navigator thus far, but there’s a lot of voting ahead! I voted for Keble the poet and Tractarian, and since my bro-in-law is a Keble alumnus, in gratitude for Keble’s working to establish an affordable college at Oxford.

  174. Michael's Gravatar Michael
    February 25, 2015 - 12:11 am | Permalink

    As a recent convert to the Episcopal church, I learned that the Church of England was really founded by Elizabeth I wanting to stop all the fighting between Catholics and Protestants in England. Sure, Henry wanted a divorce and an heir which was a major contributing factor in England’s split from Rome, but that wasn’t the beginning of the Church of England. (Susan, I hope that helps)

    • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
      February 25, 2015 - 6:24 pm | Permalink

      Actually, Elizabeth was not the founder of the Church of England any more than Henry was. If anyone can be called the “founder” of the Church of England, it is Augustine, who brought Roman Christianity to Britain in 597 and made his See at Canterbury. Even so, there were Christians in that country since the 4th century, if not earlier and the Celtic Church was well established before Augustine arrived. It is true that Henry wanted his first marriage “annulled” so he could wed again and try for a male heir. This led to the break with Rome. But a new Church was not created. It was the same organization, with (on the whole) the same leadership, the same congregants, the same buildings, the same Church. There were a few reforms instituted during Henry’s reign, but by and large, the teaching and practice of the Church was unchanged. After Henry’s death, Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, made numerous reforms in the Church of England and introduced the first Book of Common Prayer. It was at this time that the Church began to take on it’s “Anglican” character. King Edward was a staunch supporter of Cranmer’s reforms. When he died he was succeeded by Mary, who suppressed the BCP, executed the Archbishop, and re-established Papal authority over England. After Mary’s death, Elizabeth came to the throne. There was indeed a lot of conflict between Protestants of various stripes and Catholics. In order to bring peace to the country Elizabeth supported a “Middle Way” for the Church of England, which was designed to unite the different religious groups. But she did not found this Church. It was the same Church of England that had been there since Augustine.

  175. February 25, 2015 - 2:59 am | Permalink

    Although I respect immensely the following of Paul by Thecla, I am struck by the writings of John Kelbe, and his profound effect on the Church of England, the Anglican Communion and the outlying churches, such as the Episcopal Church of the USA. These brief writings got me to do a Google search on John Keble’s Assize Sermon, and I found (then read) the following website:
    This gave me a deep appreciation for the work John Keble did that influenced for the positive the Anglican Communion.

  176. Rayelenn's Gravatar Rayelenn
    February 25, 2015 - 5:22 am | Permalink

    Well it all depends on how the story is told, doesn’t it? Intrigued by Thecla, I have just read several othe tellings of her story. None of them make her look like a groupie nor her devotion to the teachings of Paul as crazed fandom. Nor is there any mention of starving seals — the Gosoel of Paul and Thecla apparently describes her as having been tied to a lion but rescued from the ravenous male lions by the fiercely protective female lions. Also for those who fear that Thecla may not even be real — there are apparently quite a lot of other documents verifying her existence, not just the Gospel of P and T which Terttullian suppressed, presumably because it advocated for a strong role for women in the Church. Our Suoreme Executive Commmittee is well-known for a bit of wordplay a bit of tongue-in-cheek a bit of hyperbole to keep things lively and fun and perhaps to entertain themselves in the deep midwinter, snow on snow — but if we go beyond the excellent tomfoolery sometimes we get a better picture. I wasn’t going to vote for Thecla — the roadie, the bothersome, the eaten-by-seals — but having read more widely now I will!

    • Betsey's Gravatar Betsey
      February 25, 2015 - 8:15 am | Permalink

      Nicely written comment, Rayelenn. I quickly gave my vote to John yesterday, but over the course of the day and learning more about Thecla from other sources and commenters’ insights, I now won’t mind at all if Thecla goes far (all the way?) into the Golden Halo competition.

  177. Abigail Ann Young's Gravatar Abigail Ann Young
    February 25, 2015 - 10:56 am | Permalink

    I don’t understand how you could put a likely fictional character (Thecla) up against an actual person! The Acts of Paul and Thecla were likely written more than 100 years after the events they purport to describe. I think this is somewhat disingenuous and more than a bit misleading!

  178. Miss J's Gravatar Miss J
    February 25, 2015 - 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Point of information:
    Henry VIII wanted an ANNULMENT **not** a divorce. He wanted the Church to say his marriage to Catherine of Aragon never legitly happened. That would leave him free to have a Church wedding to Anne Boylen while CofA was still alive. (Of course if Henry had known what we now know about human reproduction he would have known that the problem was with himself.) When he couldn’t get an annulment from Rome (that the Spanish army was at the gates of Rome wasn’t helping Henry’s cause) he needed to find a different way. At least he only beheaded a third of his wives, and the second annulment, unlike the first, was by mutual consent. (Anne of Cleves, a Protestant who survived the reign of _Bloody Mary_, lived until sometime during the reign of Elizabeth I.)

    Remember it is:

    Note on divorce, remarriage, & the CofE – When the present Quern’s uncle, Edward VIII, wanted to marry Wallis Warfield Simpson, an American divorcee he ended up being forced to abdicate in favor of his brother, who became George VI. And the current Prince of Wales could not marry the now Duchess of Cornwall in a church wedding, even after the death of his ex-wife, Princess Diana,since Camilla’s ex-husband is very much still alive. Instead they had to have a civil wedding. They were allowed a blessing of the rings at St. George’s, Windsor Castle. (I suspect that allowing that was not an easy decision.)

    Also, in Victorian England a divorce required an literal act of Parliment! and the CofE was just fine with that.

    Here endeth the history lesson!

    • John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
      February 25, 2015 - 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Well done, you! In the event that the Prince of Wales survives the Queen (an event that many in the UK are praying against), it will be interesting to see what style and titles the new sovereign will bestow on the present Duchess of Cornwall.

Comments are closed.