In the penultimate (we love that word here at Lent Madness) matchup of the Saintly Sixteen, South African Bernard Mizeki faces Midwesterner Jackson Kemper. The winner will tangle with Molly Brant in the Elate Eight.
Yesterday, Brigid of Kildare took care of Dionysius the (evidently-not-so) Great 63% to 37% and will square off against Kamehameha in the next round.
Enjoy a weekend voting respite but be prepared to return bright and early Monday morning for the last battle of the Saintly Sixteen between Egeria and Thomas Ken. Then it's on to the Elate Eight! Oh, and go to church on Sunday. The SEC encourages that.
Bernard Mizeki's commitment to proclaiming the Gospel to the people of Africa led to his untimely death. Yet his courage, sacrifice, and commitment inspires thousands to gather every year to celebrate his life.
In 2013 Bernard Mizeki’s festival was held at his shrine for the first time in over five years. Before that the event had taken place in an area located about seven miles away due to the actions of former bishop Nolbert Kunonga, who barred any pilgrims from the shrine.
This festival gathers over 20,000 people for two days to dance, sing, and pray. After a religious service, thousands of pilgrims swarm to the hill where it is believed the body of Bernard Mizeki miraculously disappeared. Pilgrims draw water from the nearby stream believed to have been used to clean out Bernard Mizeki’s wounds. The water is believed to hold healing qualities
The zeal to dance and sing never dwindles throughout the two days of celebrations. For miles the praise songs in various African languages can be heard. Despite the low nighttime temperatures and scorching daytime temperatures, those who gather to pray and worship recognize Bernard Mizeki as one of the most important people in Africa.
The Most Rev. Albert Chama, Primate of the Church of the Province of Central Africa and Bishop of Northern Zambia, explained in an interview about the festival, the importance of the event and the relevance of Mizeki's example to the Christian people:
African Christians should know that the route they have chosen is not without challenges or hurdles. Christianity is about actions, some of which can lead to death. All pilgrims should remember that death in Christ is in fact a gain. The event itself shows the importance of Christianity among Africans, Bernard Mizeki was an African who was martyred for propagating the Good News to fellow Africans at a time when they did not understand the Christian faith.
In the same interview the Bishop of Harare, the Rt. Rev. Chad Gandiya, goes on to recognize Bernard Mizeki's deep commitment to God and his people.
Even after being warned, he decided to preserve the lives of others at the expense of his own. As a shepherd, you don’t desert people that have been put under your care. Having been in exile for a long time, we understand and find a lot of relevance and comfort from his life.
The indefatigable Jackson Kemper established much of the Episcopal Church of the Midwest, including the Dioceses of Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota, as well as the seminary Nashotah House.
He is memorialized in churches throughout the region, as in this stained glass window from St. Paul’s, Kansas City, Missouri. In the lower left-hand corner, he is riding a horse -- a fitting tribute, as he covered a territory of 450,000 miles, mostly by horseback.
He also appears in the novel The Deacon as a ghost who haunts Grace Church, Madison, Wisconsin. He might not have liked being fictionalized. According to his biographer, “He did not care for Shakespeare, and abhorred Byron.” He did, however, enjoy the occasional novel (“particularly, it is remembered, Judge Haliburton's ‘Sam Slick’") and “let his children read Scott's romances, but not too many of them at a time, fearing lest they should acquire a taste for fiction.”
Bishop Kemper “rose early, at five o'clock in summer and six in winter, and attributed his established health in large measure to his habitual morning bath in cold water, followed by the use of the flesh brush.” He wasn’t a total ascetic, however. It’s noted that he took lots of sugar in his coffee, and tea “very much sweetened.” After dining at 1:00 with family and guests, “if weather permitted, he would drive for hours or ride horseback, for he never acquired the habit of taking a nap in the afternoon.”
Not that weather stopped him from traveling. “He went once for twenty miles in a driving snowstorm without seeing a house; one night he was glad to share with eleven others the shelter of a log house of a single room; the snow drifted in and lay in heaps upon the middle of the floor: no one troubled himself to remove it, and it did not melt in the slightest degree.” St. Paul’s Church in Palmyra, Missouri, credits its founding to Bishop Kemper and bad weather: in 1836 when ice on the Mississippi stopped his travel, Bishop Kemper visited Palmyra, and sent a priest to establish the parish the following year.
When he was 62, Bishop Kemper accompanied one of his priests in Iowa. “One winter's night, when they had found shelter in a poor cottage on the plains, somewhere west of Dubuque, they were snowbound by a sudden and violent storm; in the morning all the water in the house was frozen; and they had to shovel a path through the snow to the shed where they had put their horse, to give him provender.”
For 11 years of his ministry, he did not have a permanent residence. Finally, in 1846, “Bishop Kemper took possession of a rustic homestead, thenceforth humorously known as ‘the Palace,’ hard by Nashotah” which became his home base until the end of his life.