Brendan the Navigator vs. Thecla

SixteenWelcome to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen! With Barbara’s defeat at the hands of Thomas Ken 67% to 33%, we’ve collectively narrowed the field down from 32 saints to 16. Now the truly hard work begins on the journey towards the 2015 Golden Halo. 

Lent Madness, like Lent, is part endurance race and we encourage those who have come thus far — both voters and contestants — to buckle down for the duration and, in the words of Saint Paul, to “Run with perseverance the race that is set before you.”

In this round, we move past basic biographies and delve into what we like to call “Quirks and Quotes.” We’ll learn some unusual facts about our saints and hear about them, either in their own words or in words uttered or written about them. Some of our holy men and women are quirkier than others and some are more quotable. As always, remember these matchups are neither fair nor for the faint of heart. If you want a bland Lenten devotion you’ve come to the wrong place.

The Saintly Sixteen begins today with Brendan the Navigator taking on Thecla. If you need a refresher from the first round you can do one of two things: consult your handy Saintly Scorecard or click the Bracket tab and scroll down. Our Bracket Czar, Adam Thomas, provides links to every previous matchup meaning you can, with just a few clicks, access the initial bios. Now go read and vote. There is work to be done!

St Brendan 2Brendan the Navigator

Brendan lived a long a full life in service to God. His courageous and adventurous spirit led him to the ends of the world. The many hagiographies written to honor him speak to the inspiration he provided to the faithful. Even the most fantastic stories give a glimpse of his extraordinary character.

As Brendan and his friends set out to sea he insisted that they follow Jesus’ command to the seventy that they bring no provisions, trusting that God would provide all their needs. He encouraged his fellow travelers, “Fear not, brothers, for our God will be to us a helper, a mariner, and a pilot; take the oars and helm, keep the sails set, and may God do unto us, his servants and his little vessel, as he wills.”

A little later, they encountered a maiden of the sea. She was enormous — one hundred feet tall, nine feet between her “paps,” and a middle finger seven feet long. She had been pierced with a giant spear and had died. Brendan brought her back to life and baptized her into the faith. Upon baptizing her, Brendan asked if she would like to return to her home or if she would like to go to heaven. She answered, “To heaven, for I hear the voices of the angels praising the mighty God.” Brendan therefore gave her the body and blood of Christ and she died without distress.

In Brendan’s travels he saw both the horrors of hell and the glories of paradise. In one particularly poignant episode, he and his companions found themselves in a great storm of hail and snow. Some of the brothers complained to him, “Holy father, the cold in the infernal regions is not more intense than what we feel now.”

To this Brendan replied, “You speak like ignorant rustics. We have seen Judas, the betrayer of our Lord, in a dreadful sea, on the Lord’s Day, wailing and lamenting, seated on a rugged and slimy rock… Against the rock there rushed a fiery wave from the east, and a wave of icy coldness from the west alternately, which drenched Judas in a frightful manner; and yet this grievous punishment seemed to him a relief from pain, for thus the mercy of God granted this place to him on Sundays as some ease amidst his torments. What therefore must be the torments suffered in hell itself?”

For five years they traveled without injury or incident. At one point they needed to find land in order to properly celebrate the Easter Eucharist. Brendan encouraged his friends with the promise that “God is able to provide us with land in any place he pleases.” God’s good pleasure was the back of a whale named Jasconius.

After a long and full life, Brendan died. As he died, he raised his eyes to heaven, and echoing the words of Christ, uttered, “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit; save me, O Lord my God.”

David Creech


Thecla is among the earliest saints of the church, and is often referred to as “Equal-to-the-Apostles,” for the fervor of her witness to Jesus Christ and the power of her example.

While the story of her life as documented in the Acts of Paul and Thecla may raise a few eyebrows – with its scintillating accounts of Thecla twice making miraculous escapes from martyrdom, including a notable self-baptism by throwing herself into a pool filled with ravenous seals – Thecla’s life and ministry made an undeniable and well-documented impact on the early church.

The great Cappadocian Father Gregory of Nyssa hailed Thecla as an example of holiness and asceticism in one of his homilies, writing that “she undertook the sacrifice of herself, by giving death to the flesh and practicing great austerities, extinguishing in herself all earthly affections, so that nothing seemed to remain living in her but reason and spirit.” His comments resonate with the Acts of Paul and Thecla, which intimate that Thecla belonged to a wealthy family of status and privilege, and that, as Butler noted in his Lives of the Saints, “She forsook father and mother, and a house abounding in gold and riches where she lived in state and plenty: she left her companions, friends, and country, desiring to possess only the treasure of the love and grace of God, and to find Jesus Christ, who was all things to her.”

Early Christians almost unanimously regarded Thecla as a protomartyr, even though she did not die a martyr’s death. In the sense that the word martyr comes from the Greek word meaning witness — one who bears testimony to their faith with the whole fullness of their life — Thecla most certainly meets that definition.

Perhaps the great affinity for Thecla among so many came from the reality that in her, they saw a picture of themselves. In the portrait of a woman pursuing great risk to hear the gospel as preached by Paul, early Christians could see the risks they bore in order to hear and preach the gospel. In the vision of a woman who the powers of the world would have put to death many times over, they found an exemplar for what it means to be a witness to Jesus Christ, even at the cost of their own lives.

Thecla’s own confession of faith, recorded in the Acts of Paul and Thecla, are perhaps the most simple yet persuasive testimony to the power of her witness in the face of adversity: “I am a servant of the living God, and as to my state, I am a believer on Jesus Christ his Son, in whom God is well pleased. For that reason none of the beasts could touch me. He alone is the way to eternal salvation and the foundation of eternal life. He is a refuge to those who are in distress, a support to the afflicted, a hope and a defense to those who are hopeless.”

David Sibley


Brendan the Navigator vs. Thecla

  • Thecla (62%, 3,655 Votes)
  • Brendan the Navigator (38%, 2,216 Votes)

Total Voters: 5,871

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205 Comments to "Brendan the Navigator vs. Thecla"

  1. March 12, 2015 - 8:03 am | Permalink

    Go Brendan. Sail away!

    • Gail Adams's Gravatar Gail Adams
      March 12, 2015 - 10:44 am | Permalink

      As a world traveler, I have to go with fellow traveler Brendan. The world is large, and God calls us to see its wonders.

  2. Oliver- 7 year old's Gravatar Oliver- 7 year old
    March 12, 2015 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    I vote for Thecla because she looks like a warrior and she almost died and didn’t.
    Go Thecla.

    • March 12, 2015 - 11:26 am | Permalink

      You rock, Oliver!

    • Katherine Schroeder's Gravatar Katherine Schroeder
      March 12, 2015 - 5:38 pm | Permalink

      Oliver, I look forward to your comments every day. And I voted for Thecla too.

  3. March 12, 2015 - 8:11 am | Permalink

    Brendan for the Golden Halo!

  4. Yao Ren's Gravatar Yao Ren
    March 12, 2015 - 8:11 am | Permalink

    Come on, Brendan! Navigate your way ahead!

  5. Tom Van Brunt's Gravatar Tom Van Brunt
    March 12, 2015 - 8:13 am | Permalink

    Not much to like here. Two people who did not do what legend says they did. Pure myth. One of these two will be defeated by Francis or Cecilia in the next round.

    • March 12, 2015 - 10:02 am | Permalink

      i am with you. Neither impresses nor inspires me.

    • Phil Kober's Gravatar Phil Kober
      March 12, 2015 - 11:10 am | Permalink

      Ditto! I am likewise unimpressed by either one!

    • Marla Martin Hanley's Gravatar Marla Martin Hanley
      March 12, 2015 - 11:38 am | Permalink

      There is a time and place – and bracket – for legend!

      • teopa's Gravatar teopa
        March 12, 2015 - 2:20 pm | Permalink

        i have to concur with both, Marla and the above, one of these two will appropriately vie for the lesser title of ‘legendary’ saint. However mox nix to me which. I voted for travel, just because.

      • Judy B's Gravatar Judy B
        March 13, 2015 - 12:56 am | Permalink

        As an English teacher with a specialty in rhetoric, I believe there is indeed a place for legend and story. One hopes to find more than mere historicity here. Stories are transformative, can be received on many levels and may not be factually convincing, but there’s still truth to be discerned. Of course it’s not an either/or matter when reading something as huge as faith. There’s plenty of room both/and. When reading these two stories, I fo myself wondering about the cultural contexts in which they gained power to be retold. I wondered about what it was like to be a receiver of those stories when they were first making the rounds orally and serving a variety of audiences and purposes throughout the years. I voted for Thecla because of her proximity to early days of a new faith. Now I am going to dig a little deeper to try to find out what was in the book about her. Blessings to all saints!

    • Bill's Gravatar Bill
      March 12, 2015 - 1:32 pm | Permalink

      Which is why I’m voting for neither. I find little to inspire me in either of these curious individuals.

    • Sarah Brockmann's Gravatar Sarah Brockmann
      March 12, 2015 - 2:16 pm | Permalink

      My sentiments as well.

    • March 12, 2015 - 4:40 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I’m finding little other than pious legends with the descriptions given of either Brendan or Thecla. Historicity, please!

      • March 12, 2015 - 5:15 pm | Permalink

        Yes, the words I’ve been looking for! “Pious legends” and “historicity.”

    • MegN's Gravatar MegN
      March 12, 2015 - 7:47 pm | Permalink

      Both have been over-embellished, and are less than inspiring.

      But looking to the secondary attributes, I like the story theme “don’t complain, things could be worse” (Brendan) slightly better than the “denial of all fleshly sentiments” (Thecla)… Brendan it is.

  6. Linda Murdock's Gravatar Linda Murdock
    March 12, 2015 - 8:14 am | Permalink

    I’m a boater-sticking with Brendan

  7. Barbara from St. Barnabas's Gravatar Barbara from St. Barnabas
    March 12, 2015 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    I vote for Thecia – “a woman pursuing great risk to hear the gospel.”

  8. Bill Ericson's Gravatar Bill Ericson
    March 12, 2015 - 8:17 am | Permalink

    Even tho I am a former sailor my vote goes to the one from scripture.

    • Tara's Gravatar Tara
      March 12, 2015 - 9:10 am | Permalink

      I wouldn’t necessarily call the Acts of Paul and Thecla “scripture”….

      • Phil Kober's Gravatar Phil Kober
        March 12, 2015 - 11:11 am | Permalink

        There is good reason why the “Acts of Paul and Thecla” is a non-canonical writing!

  9. Anne Burton's Gravatar Anne Burton
    March 12, 2015 - 8:19 am | Permalink

    I was set on voting for Brendan, but ended up voting for Thecla. Must have been the seals. Two fantastical saints – I love the stories.

    • pHil's Gravatar pHil
      March 12, 2015 - 9:26 am | Permalink

      But setting out into the unknown sea opens you to far more dangers than ravenous seals. Plus, Brendan has a much more musical name. We gotta sing about these saints, you know.

  10. Betsy Swank's Gravatar Betsy Swank
    March 12, 2015 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    God providing land on the back of a whale is such an apt metaphor I had to vote for Brendan.

    • Scott Elliott's Gravatar Scott Elliott
      March 12, 2015 - 8:35 am | Permalink

      “I am a servant of the living God, and as to my state, I am a believer on Jesus Christ his Son, in whom God is well pleased.” That does it for me!

  11. Dave H's Gravatar Dave H
    March 12, 2015 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    I wouldn’t want to mess with a giant sea maiden with a seven foot long middle finger – I can’t even conceive of the road (or sea) rage potential there. Besides, I’ve always been partial to Brendan. The first hymn I ever learned was “Eternal Father strong to save..” (Thanks to Noyes Fludde). So this one I can navigate with ease.

  12. Tara Soughers's Gravatar Tara Soughers
    March 12, 2015 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    I voted for Thecla. Women, particularly women mystics seemed to be discriminated against in the first round. If even Teresa of Avila (who celebrates her 500th birthday this year) couldn’t survive the first round, what hope is there for any woman to win the golden halo.

    • Gail Renborg's Gravatar Gail Renborg
      March 12, 2015 - 10:23 am | Permalink

      I hear that! Sisterhood is powerful! Let’s stick together. Thecla it is. And, between her and Dorcas, I’m not sure who had to deal with more taunting for having the ugliest name of any woman around!

    • Nan Ross's Gravatar Nan Ross
      March 12, 2015 - 9:51 pm | Permalink

      My sentiments exactly. Thank you. Did you know there were far more desert mothers than desert fathers? Mary Earle told me that this morning on a C D I listened to on the way to work. Go Thecla!

    • Judy B's Gravatar Judy B
      March 13, 2015 - 1:14 am | Permalink

      Totally, Nan! While a male’s story might be represented as courageous for setting out (rather foolishly) for the sea, a woman’s story comes off as overly “pious.” We need to be good readers! I was crestfallen when Theresa lost. Go, Thecla!

  13. Patrice's Gravatar Patrice
    March 12, 2015 - 8:35 am | Permalink

    I’m more inspired to follow the single-minded Thecla than the guy who didn’t ask for directions and basically sailed around in a circle for several years.

    • Ellen Gracie's Gravatar Ellen Gracie
      March 12, 2015 - 8:49 am | Permalink

      Ha ha!

      • March 12, 2015 - 7:21 pm | Permalink

        Yes I am really laughing out loud. I will have to explain the raucous outburst to my lovely husband king who adores sat navy and GPS devices.

    • March 12, 2015 - 8:59 am | Permalink

      Big grin! 🙂

    • Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
      March 12, 2015 - 9:23 am | Permalink

      Love it!

    • Tessa Lucero's Gravatar Tessa Lucero
      March 12, 2015 - 10:35 am | Permalink

      One wonders how many of the tales of Brendan’s exploits were inspired by those of Odysseus…

    • Linda Brown's Gravatar Linda Brown
      March 12, 2015 - 3:08 pm | Permalink

      At risk of being in violation of the lighthearted ethos of Lent Madness, I wd note that Brendan did, indeed, ask directions (of God) and stayed the course on his journey until God told him his mission was over ~ whereupon he went back to his first calling and founded schools and missions and monasteries. He has the mystical component, to be sure, but also the worker bee component. Both are wonderful!

      • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
        March 12, 2015 - 4:03 pm | Permalink

        Amen, Linda.

    • Katherine Schroeder's Gravatar Katherine Schroeder
      March 12, 2015 - 5:41 pm | Permalink

      You said it! And he must have been hitting the mead pretty hard to come up with those fish stories too.

      • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
        March 12, 2015 - 5:58 pm | Permalink

        WOOW! That one humorous ” slip” of the CBer pen about Brendan not asking directions has really haunted and hurt him! It’s too bad since her does had historicity.

        • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
          March 12, 2015 - 6:04 pm | Permalink

          So sorry! I just washed my hands and can’t do a thing with my fingers! I meant that Brendan does have historicity.

  14. Ralegh's Gravatar Ralegh
    March 12, 2015 - 8:44 am | Permalink

    I admire a woman so beloved by God even ravenous seals wouldn’t eat her.

  15. Laura's Gravatar Laura
    March 12, 2015 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    The Eucharist on a whale’s back! Love it! Sail on, St. Brendan!

  16. Pat's Gravatar Pat
    March 12, 2015 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    Sorry, just can’t deal with the ravenous seals!

  17. Ellen Gracie's Gravatar Ellen Gracie
    March 12, 2015 - 8:50 am | Permalink

    Thecla for the golden halo!

  18. helene from Middletown, Ohio's Gravatar helene from Middletown, Ohio
    March 12, 2015 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    Who can resist going with a strong warrior woman? Go Thecia, girl-power for today! h+

  19. Edna English's Gravatar Edna English
    March 12, 2015 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    Even though I realize Lent Madness isn’t at all about me, I can’t suppress the influence of my Irish roots, my love of the ocean, nor the saltwater that runs in my veins as a resident of a seaside Town. I can’t resist Brendan’s stories, and I get the truths they represent. Thecla was my choice in the first round, but this time Brendan wins my vote.

  20. Susan Comer's Gravatar Susan Comer
    March 12, 2015 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    Thecla for me. If Gregory the Illuminator had won the first round against Brendan, I would have voted for him. Thecla provides to me a greater example of the life in service to God than does Brendan the Sailor Man.

  21. Tutu Lois's Gravatar Tutu Lois
    March 12, 2015 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    Thecla is too important to the threatened Syriac and Aramaic speaking Christians – in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon – for me to ignore her today.

    • Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
      March 12, 2015 - 10:06 am | Permalink

      Thanks for that information, Tutu Lois. That tipped me over to vote for Thecla.

    • Patricia McWhorter's Gravatar Patricia McWhorter
      March 12, 2015 - 11:05 am | Permalink

      Another thank you to Tutu Lois. Prayers for all of our middle eastern Christians who currently suffer persecution. Remember the Sisters of Ma’loula who care for Thecla’s shrine.

  22. Martha's Gravatar Martha
    March 12, 2015 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    Brendan it is for me! He stands in our church foyer with hand poised upon the rudder of his boat. Which, by the way, most of the younger set enjoy a short boat ride on each and every Sunday. Hoist the sails and away we go, Brendan the Navigator! Navigate me on the true course.

  23. Lithophyte's Gravatar Lithophyte
    March 12, 2015 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    Working and living for a short time under waves, a should have been taken with Brendan; however, Thecla’s message is a very powerful statement. Go girl

  24. Molly Reingruber's Gravatar Molly Reingruber
    March 12, 2015 - 8:58 am | Permalink

    “He is a refuge to those who are in distress, a support to the afflicted, a hope and a defense to those who are hopeless.” Thecla

  25. Mary Louise's Gravatar Mary Louise
    March 12, 2015 - 8:59 am | Permalink

    I love Brendan. I named one of my sons for him. I wouldn’t name anything Thecla. Really?

  26. Nancy Gossling's Gravatar Nancy Gossling
    March 12, 2015 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    Anchor=hope for Brendan the Navigator.

  27. Mary Louise's Gravatar Mary Louise
    March 12, 2015 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    I love Brendan. I named one of my sons for him.

  28. March 12, 2015 - 9:01 am | Permalink

    Go Thecla!

  29. Anne Monahan's Gravatar Anne Monahan
    March 12, 2015 - 9:09 am | Permalink

    Well, I like to travel light and so did Brendan (even before the ravenous airline beasts started charging for checked bags) but my vote goes to Thecla, the original Do It Yourself Baptism woman.

    • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
      March 12, 2015 - 9:37 am | Permalink

      The airlines are the new dragons.

  30. Alene's Gravatar Alene
    March 12, 2015 - 9:10 am | Permalink

    Anyone who meets a giant mermaid and baptizes her has my vote. Talk about inclusion of diversity in the church!

  31. Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
    March 12, 2015 - 9:12 am | Permalink

    Brendan go bragh!

  32. Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
    March 12, 2015 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    I love the stories of both these Saints and voted for each of them in the first round. Oh, the madness of choices! Brendon and Thecla have led me to ponder the risk early Christians took as the navigated the waters of a pagan world. What great examples of risking all to follow Jesus and of God’s saving grace! I will vote for Thecla to honor the women who were also Apostles but were left out of the Canon of Scripture. She must have been every bit as impressive as Paul!

  33. March 12, 2015 - 9:17 am | Permalink

    Thecla’s story, which was new to me, is inspiring! I voted for her last time and she continues to impress and inspire me. Brendon’s meanderings seem more like a way to test God’s faithfulness .

  34. Mary W.'s Gravatar Mary W.
    March 12, 2015 - 9:19 am | Permalink

    I liked them both. Tough choice, but in the end it’s Thecla for me. There’s too many others that are dissin’ her.

  35. shawn's Gravatar shawn
    March 12, 2015 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    I love the fact that Thecla is scriptural and an example to common life.

  36. Kathleen Sheehy's Gravatar Kathleen Sheehy
    March 12, 2015 - 9:26 am | Permalink

    I thought Brendan would be a shoo-in for my vote, but Thecla gave me pause! However, Brendan won the day – for me. Not looking good for him overall right now!

  37. amy's Gravatar amy
    March 12, 2015 - 9:27 am | Permalink

    Servant woman, woman warrior; an apocrophal sister. Without early Christians of such passion where would we be now?

  38. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    March 12, 2015 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    Having voted for the Illuminator in the first round, I voted this time for Brendan as Most Improved, in thanksgiving for the supersession of “Hahaha, I never asked directions” by “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit; save me, O Lord my God.” Just goes to show that even when it comes to last words a second chance can be transforming.

    I suppose I should add a disclaimer to the effect that my vote has nothing whatever to do with the fact that my great-grandfather John Jackson Davis, the Marine from Skibbereen, is said to have earned his U.S. citizenship through service on board the Constellation during the Civil War. Nor is it against women, who I agree have been getting the short end of the Golden Stick this year, or against Iconians. Indeed some of my best friends, including Fr. Tim, are iconic.

  39. March 12, 2015 - 9:45 am | Permalink

    I see the comments are starting to get snippier and more holier-than-thou this round. Oh well. This was tough, but Thecla won out. Sorry, Frederick Buechner.

    • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
      March 12, 2015 - 10:01 am | Permalink

      Gosh, Charles, I hope the placement of your comment after mine is just an unfortunate juxtaposition. I certainly meant no offense.

      But even looking back over all of today’s comments so far, I don’t find the ones to which you refer — certainly not by comparison with several of the viperous depths of Round One.

    • March 12, 2015 - 10:19 am | Permalink

      I would add that some are taking this way too seriously. Lighten up folks. It’s just a simple Lenten exercise in getting to know some past people of faith. It’s not a culture/social/gender war!

  40. March 12, 2015 - 9:51 am | Permalink

    It was a hard decision but I was won over by Thecla, who despite going up against ravenous seals, was determined to be baptized. You go, Thecla!

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      March 12, 2015 - 10:00 am | Permalink

      I must say that I don’t understand the lack of hand wringing and theological head shaking over Thecla’s self baptism as compared to the conditional rebaptism scandal of a couple of days ago.

  41. Brian Perkins's Gravatar Brian Perkins
    March 12, 2015 - 9:53 am | Permalink

    As a life long navigator, I must vote for Brendan. For unlike him I never in 30 years headed to sea without provisions. I have great faith in God, but fail that high mark. He is therefore a saint to inspire and a great one for me!

  42. Jeff Sharp's Gravatar Jeff Sharp
    March 12, 2015 - 9:59 am | Permalink

    Just a note:The quote in the lead paragraph of today’s posting (“Run with perseverance… “) is from the anonymous book of Hebrews. While Paul has been suggested as the author there have been others including Barnabas and Apollos. Best to just refer to the book.

  43. Lindy's Gravatar Lindy
    March 12, 2015 - 10:00 am | Permalink

    Brenden is an adventurer.

  44. Fiona Haworth's Gravatar Fiona Haworth
    March 12, 2015 - 10:05 am | Permalink

    Voted for neither in the first round so came to today with no inclinations either way. Swayed in the end by Thecla’s confession. Besides, how could Gregory of Nyssa be wrong. (Still troubled by a lack of empathy for animal welfare – ravenous seals that are slain, using the back of a whale as land…)

  45. Gail's Gravatar Gail
    March 12, 2015 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    Thekla for me! Not only do I relate, but she is the name of what was my brave, faithful cat. This definitely sets her apart!

  46. Michelle Crull's Gravatar Michelle Crull
    March 12, 2015 - 10:09 am | Permalink

    The additional information about Thecla in today’s blog made me admire her even more. I didn’t find the “ravenous seals” as unbelievable as some since we have historical evidence of the Romans throwing Christians to all sorts of hungry animals (not just lions).

    • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
      March 12, 2015 - 10:46 am | Permalink

      The seals got a whole lot more credible when I realized — though I don’t claim to be an expert on seal-exploitation — that all you probably have to do to make a seal ravenous enough to eat a saint is to starve it. The Romans certainly were capable of that.

  47. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    March 12, 2015 - 10:12 am | Permalink

    Both good candidates but had to vote for Thecla. She speaks to me.

  48. Beth's Gravatar Beth
    March 12, 2015 - 10:12 am | Permalink

    I always seem to vote for the loser. Go Brenden

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      March 12, 2015 - 10:58 am | Permalink

      Brendan’s not a loser!

      • Robert's Gravatar Robert
        March 12, 2015 - 2:57 pm | Permalink

        Tell ’em, Donna! Since it’s so close to St. Patrick’s Day (and I’m of Irish heritage, so probably a little biased!) I was really hoping for Brendan and Brigid in the finals. But Brendan’s definitely not a loser. What faith.

        • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
          March 12, 2015 - 3:22 pm | Permalink

          Brendan’s never a loser but I also hoped that the St. Patrick would pull some strings for Brendan and Brigid. Oh well.

  49. Gloria Rousseau's Gravatar Gloria Rousseau
    March 12, 2015 - 10:13 am | Permalink

    A man may take to the sea alone without provisions….but to insist others do the same is not my style of evangelism.

  50. Peter Fluchere's Gravatar Peter Fluchere
    March 12, 2015 - 10:19 am | Permalink

    Having flown across the ocean as a navigator for the Air Force, I was often the only person awake on the plane. (The co-pilot was awake making radio calls, the auto pilot was flying was taking care of the plane)
    Many prayers were said as I reviewed my primitive calculations (pre-GPS) . This was pencil and paper stuff. I have to give Brendan the nod.

  51. Cat's Gravatar Cat
    March 12, 2015 - 10:19 am | Permalink

    Seals again … vs. “You speak like ignorant rustics.” How fun!

  52. KLF's Gravatar KLF
    March 12, 2015 - 10:30 am | Permalink

    When I was still a teenager and teaching Sunday School, one of my students asked me, “Does God love Satan?” In the few seconds I had to come up with an answer, I assured my student, “Yes, God loves everybody, even Satan.” The idea that even Judas gets a sabbath rest from hell gave Brendan my vote today.

    I always vote first and then look at the results and the comments. I’m stunned by how far ahead Thecla is. I didn’t vote for her in the first round, either. Mysteries never cease!

  53. March 12, 2015 - 10:30 am | Permalink

    Well, it does seem both of these people did indeed live: Brendan all over the aisles founding monesteries and churches long before going off (maybe) on fantastical voyages. Then again, to get around the Isles rather necessitates interesting, if not fantastical, voyages. Thecla either really did live or is representative of other women who chose Christ in the first century and suffered for it; I suppose the embroideries helped those suffering to think, if they could do that, surely I can sing before the lions or gladiators or crucifiers or whoever the authorities are sending to kill me. The comment of Thecla’s and other saints’ stories giving strength to our suffering siblings now in Syria, Pakistan and so on is compelling.

  54. March 12, 2015 - 10:34 am | Permalink

    “We have this hope, a sure and certain anchor for the soul.”

    Though it doesn’t sound like Brendan used his anchor very often, I’ll go with his willingness to set sail in the Lord’s service.

  55. Marjorie Jodoin's Gravatar Marjorie Jodoin
    March 12, 2015 - 10:34 am | Permalink

    Read Tim Severin’s The Brendan Voyage, 1979. The hagiography reads fantastic, but Tim’s recreation of the voyage following the sources gives credence to the liklihood that Brendan and others actually sailed to the New World long before Leif Ericsson and the Vikings. And I seem to recall he quoted some Viking complaint that they were finding a papar (priest or monk) on every rock across the Atlantic.

    • Tessa Lucero's Gravatar Tessa Lucero
      March 12, 2015 - 10:41 am | Permalink

      Thank you for the recommendation! I may have to start opening a tab with the library’s catalog/hold system whenever I read the Lent Madness comments. There are some good book suggestions here.

    • Robert's Gravatar Robert
      March 12, 2015 - 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Excellent book! Read it when it was first published and, coincidentally enough, just re-read it in January. Brendan was so much more than just a traveler or explorer – he founded so many monasteries and cells for monks, taught, and took the faith to so many lands, especially the west of Ireland, but not limited there by any means. It’s funny, as I read the comments, I get the feeling a majority seem to say they’re voting for Brendan, but he’s getting trounced in the voting. Theckla is inspiring, though.

  56. Susan Boyer's Gravatar Susan Boyer
    March 12, 2015 - 10:35 am | Permalink

    With strong appreciation of Millie’s comments, and honor for Thecla as an unsung Apostle, I offer these thoughts on Brendan.

    He did not just sail in circles and accomplish nothing.

    I went back to my beloved book: Celtic Daily Prayer and re-read the section on Brendan. It is titled “In Exploration of a Vision”. The gist of it is that Brendan followed a call from God to enter into a wilderness journey, letting go of everything familiar, and seeking “the land of promise”. To quote Celtic Daily Prayer: “Slight explanation surrounds all these happenings in the deep. Was Brendan’s voyage just vivid imaginings in his sleep? —- The distinction between actual events and interior vision and experiences is not always clear…….Yet real voyages were undertaken, and Tim Severin’s “Brendan’s Voyage” makes interesting reading, as time and again (the author) and his crew found that they were replicating experiences described so poetically in the Brendan accounts, that others had dismissed as fantasy.” So, my takeaway is that there was a physical leaving and journeying over the waters AND there was a spiritual journey deeper into relationship with our Beloved ONE.
    And then, there was a return. When Brendan and his companions found “day without night” – the land of promise, “then came a messenger who spoke to them by name, explaining: ….Return, your mission now is over. God who did call you here, now bids you go. Return in peace, then, to your native shore and tell the mighty secrets that you know.” So he did. “Brendan returned to his earlier task of the founding of monasteries, schools for the gospel, support for the faithful. Still he would follow the flight of the wild goose, the call of the Spirit to seek God’s adventures; and so for ten years around Britain he travelled, engaging in mission and visiting others to strengthen in service and learn from their wisdom.”
    I think I’m waxing on and on because I’m a bit troubled by the disdain I hear in the comments about “fantastical” accounts, which to me are merely attempts to explain with words the inexplicable encounters with God. And there seems to be a thread of belittling mystical experiences in favor of those who actually “do something”.
    Maybe it’s the spiritual director in me. I can’t speak strongly enough in affirming the “both/and” of contemplation AND action; taking the interior journey AND bringing it to fruition in daily life. So, my vote today is for Brendan. (with love for Thecla)

    • Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
      March 12, 2015 - 10:55 am | Permalink

      Susan, I deeply appreciate the depth of your research and sharing about Brendon! After reading this I almost wished I could change my vote. I loved the stories of both these saints, mostly because of the great truth of their witnesses expressed in the myths. I’m one who has struggled with some of the “fantastical” reports in the hagiographies and my struggle has been part of my spiritual journey this Lent. While Brenden’s adventures sound, in part, an attempt to describe his inward journey – beautifully so – others just sound like the politician’s publicity agent hawking them for Sainthood or something. And yet, I am coming to see the great struggle of the early church to spread the Gospel in the early years in the midst of much competition and highly possible persecution. Possibly these stories invited and encouraged Followers to recognize God’s presence and saving grace. I’m still working on this!

    • Linda Brown's Gravatar Linda Brown
      March 12, 2015 - 11:01 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Susan!

    • sue's Gravatar sue
      March 12, 2015 - 11:18 am | Permalink

      Thank you Susan! I’m most drawn to Brendan. I grateful for your great defense and history of his life.

    • Kathleen M's Gravatar Kathleen M
      March 12, 2015 - 6:59 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Susan, for writing so eloquently in defense of Brendan. I, too, felt troubled by what seemed to be a disdain for myth as opposed to fact, and was considering a reply. Then you articulated beautifully so much what I was thinking. In our culture we are so conditioned to think of myth as equivalent to fiction, to be the opposite of truth instead of just another way of speaking about truth. Naturally that doesn’t mean that every detail of each myth must have a symbolic meaning, but I think it is just harder for many people nowadays to think mythopoetically. Brendan’s stories speak to me because he is an inspiring model of bravery and faith, regardless of what may or may not have really happened on his actual voyage. With all respect to Thecla, he got my vote. Thanks too for the info on Severin’s book.

  57. March 12, 2015 - 10:37 am | Permalink

    To sail out upon the seas of life, trusting in God’s grace… and finding it there upon the way. A journey for us all.
    Bless you Brendan.

  58. Amy Carr's Gravatar Amy Carr
    March 12, 2015 - 10:37 am | Permalink

    I like how Brendan’s tales recapitulate Talmudic folk tales of the sea–all haggadic midrash on the sea monsters of Job (and implied in Genesis 1).

  59. March 12, 2015 - 10:42 am | Permalink

    I appreciate Thecla’s witness, but Brendan’s witness transformed a whole nation, and many people right up to the present. His great immram inspired and continued to inspire deep relationship with the Holy, as well as service to the Holy in others.

    • Anne Clayton's Gravatar Anne Clayton
      March 12, 2015 - 12:46 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the new word of the day (for me) “imram” – although I still voted for Thecla.

  60. March 12, 2015 - 10:44 am | Permalink

    My vote is for Brendan. Who doesn’t yearn to celebrate the Easter Vigil on the back of a whale? I wonder if that whale got a little crispy from the Easter Fire…

  61. Corey's Gravatar Corey
    March 12, 2015 - 10:53 am | Permalink

    How can you beat Easter Sunday on the back of a whale?

    • Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
      March 12, 2015 - 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Yes, imagine the bunny hopping out the blow hole with foil-wrapped eggs for all.

      • Carol Justice's Gravatar Carol Justice
        March 12, 2015 - 6:23 pm | Permalink

        The image this brings is just tooo funny!

        • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
          March 12, 2015 - 6:26 pm | Permalink

          A peep or two also, I hope — chocolate mousse, please. Or purple.

          • Robert Andrews-Bryant's Gravatar Robert Andrews-Bryant
            March 13, 2015 - 3:12 am | Permalink

            Oh, yes! Must have Peeps!

  62. Miss J's Gravatar Miss J
    March 12, 2015 - 11:03 am | Permalink

    Thecla has some nice quotes, but to those who have commented about her being in the scriptures, please please please actually read the Canonical books of the New Testament! The Acts of Paul & Thecla is not there and not to be confused with the Acts of the Apostles which follows the four Gospels.

  63. Cheryle's Gravatar Cheryle
    March 12, 2015 - 11:04 am | Permalink

    Once again, I cast my vote for Brendan. Regardless of how fantastical his journeys might seem, I know from my late grandfather’s (1874-1961) stories that one can see amazing things after long periods of time on the high seas! And when we set out on the great Sea of Life, aren’t we dependent on God for our very breath as well as any other “provisions” we need? To me, Brendan is a beacon for all of us as we navigate the uncertain waters of life.

    Thecla is certainly an example to us – and it appears she will win today’s face-off – but Brendan captures my heart and my imagination, as well as my vote!

  64. Patricia McWhorter's Gravatar Patricia McWhorter
    March 12, 2015 - 11:08 am | Permalink

    Another thank you to Tutu Lois. Prayers for all of our middle eastern Christians who currently suffer persecution. Remember the Sisters of Ma’loula who care for Thecla’s shrine.

  65. Terry Proctor's Gravatar Terry Proctor
    March 12, 2015 - 11:16 am | Permalink

    I’m all in with Thekla.

  66. March 12, 2015 - 11:16 am | Permalink

    To honor Rev. David S’s son I vote for Brendan.

  67. Carla's Gravatar Carla
    March 12, 2015 - 11:35 am | Permalink

    Unimpressive…voted against both last round. Enormous maid of the sea ‘s middle finger…is there a message here?…and ravenous seals! I will just flip a coin!

  68. Becky Smith's Gravatar Becky Smith
    March 12, 2015 - 11:36 am | Permalink

    Three reasons I’m voting for Thecla:
    1) Still a bit miffed about the “Groupie” comments from the first round.
    2) I find it disturbing that many seem to celebrate the crazy but adventurous stories about the men in the bracket (like Brendan) and yet dismiss the crazy and grisly stories of women being greatly harmed by men. My heart goes out to these women just thinking about what must have actually happened to have inspired the stories about their torturous lives and deaths.
    3) “Ravenous” does not equal man- (or woman-) eating. I’m thinking Thecla was pretty smart to have jumped into a pit of ravenous seals to avoid being eaten by wild beasts. She knew her pinnipeds!

    • Kim on the Bayou's Gravatar Kim on the Bayou
      March 12, 2015 - 11:58 am | Permalink

      Regarding your second point:
      I’ve noticed that the fantastic stories about men are more palatable than the fantastic stories about women, perhaps because the women are portrayed more as victims of circumstance while the men are more active. Thecla is the rare exception–she wasn’t locked in a tower for her safety.

  69. Deacon Georgia's Gravatar Deacon Georgia
    March 12, 2015 - 11:37 am | Permalink

    With both saints, it’s good to get back to encounters with God’s creation (even if they are seen as ravenous) instead of all that towers and beheading stuff. It was wonderful learning Brendan’s story, but I need to go with Thecla, especially since so many women have been defeated in the first round.

  70. Joe Stroud's Gravatar Joe Stroud
    March 12, 2015 - 11:41 am | Permalink

    Thank you Susan Boyer for bringing a beautiful perspective to what I also perceived as some “snippiness” bordering on belittling on both sides of the “issue,” something I am sure the SEC would disapprove. I have never encountered ravenous seals OR a 100 foot mermaid, but then I also have some problems with guys surviving an evening in a furnace at 10,000 degrees (F or C, take your pick). All of that said, Truth can be communicated in some pretty fantastical ways. With apologies to “Poetry Alive,” V: “Metaphors be with you.” R: And also with you.

  71. Hugh Matheson's Gravatar Hugh Matheson
    March 12, 2015 - 11:43 am | Permalink

    Vote for Brendan, a saint with class, nerve, and a star to steer by. Arrr! My son in Brendan the Aviator. and was named for this one. He was a saint who had a non-violent encounter with a whale; he was one of the first European visitors to Turtle Island, and unlike some others of ignoble memory, he came in peace. Oh that he had been the patron of Columbus, Pizarro, Cortes and the rest.

    • Kim on the Bayou's Gravatar Kim on the Bayou
      March 12, 2015 - 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Good point about Columbus, etc.

  72. Jody's Gravatar Jody
    March 12, 2015 - 11:43 am | Permalink

    Thecla has my vote today!
    Her confession of faith is the heart of Christianity. “I am a servant of the living God, and as to my state, I am a believer on Jesus Christ his Son, in whom God is well pleased. For that reason none of the beasts could touch me. He alone is the way to eternal salvation and the foundation of eternal life. He is a refuge to those who are in distress, a support to the afflicted, a hope and a defense to those who are hopeless.”

  73. Mary Robert's Gravatar Mary Robert
    March 12, 2015 - 11:47 am | Permalink

    I didn’t vote for Thecla in the first round, but this is what got me today:
    “Perhaps the great affinity for Thecla among so many came from the reality that in her, they saw a picture of themselves. In the portrait of a woman pursuing great risk to hear the gospel as preached by Paul, early Christians could see the risks they bore in order to hear and preach the gospel. In the vision of a woman who the powers of the world would have put to death many times over, they found an exemplar for what it means to be a witness to Jesus Christ, even at the cost of their own lives.”

  74. Marc's Gravatar Marc
    March 12, 2015 - 11:52 am | Permalink

    I voted for Thecla this time around. If Gregory of Nyssa thought enough of her to commend her than that’s good enough for me. Plus the seal thing…

  75. Kim on the Bayou's Gravatar Kim on the Bayou
    March 12, 2015 - 11:53 am | Permalink

    Both of these saints abandoned safety — family, food, dry land — to be witnesses for God.

    Thecla’s story inspires me more because she was more than just a traveller and church builder. Without provoking conflict, she was a fighter who was willing to defend herself and her faith.

  76. Anthony Lee's Gravatar Anthony Lee
    March 12, 2015 - 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Well, I’ve already stated my predisposition to Celtics and musicians, so of course Brendan got my vote (even though the biography didn’t mention that he was Irish). But perhaps I’m not reading these biographies in the proper spirit of whimsy. I know hagiography isn’t supposed to be the New York Times, but isn’t a 100-foot-tall mermaid stretching things a bit even for hagiography?

  77. March 12, 2015 - 12:06 pm | Permalink

    “Ravenous seals?” Oh my.

  78. Michael DeVine's Gravatar Michael DeVine
    March 12, 2015 - 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Both certainly were real people, but whose real lives perhaps did not live up to their legends. I will have to go with a real person’s witness – Gregory – and go with Thecla

  79. Robert's Gravatar Robert
    March 12, 2015 - 12:11 pm | Permalink

    I think people are voting for the ravenous seals rather than either saint. Just my impression.

  80. Joanne's Gravatar Joanne
    March 12, 2015 - 12:13 pm | Permalink

    In today’s battle of David vs. David, I went with Mr. Creech. His quotes won me over. Gotta love a sailor who, at the risk of being tossed overboard into frigid waters, is not afraid to refer to his fellow travelers as “ignorant rustics”.

  81. Maggie Proctor's Gravatar Maggie Proctor
    March 12, 2015 - 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Go Thecla! I am in a Lioness Club, and so I love that, in one version of where Thecla was supposed to be eaten by wild beasts, the Lioness in question did not eat Thecla but merely licked her feet.

  82. Vonelle Kostelny-Vogts's Gravatar Vonelle Kostelny-Vogts
    March 12, 2015 - 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Brenden got my vote today because he said “You speak like ignorant rustics.”

    I feel certain that I will be able to quote him before the day is over.

  83. March 12, 2015 - 12:25 pm | Permalink

    I’ll vote for Thecla because she left wealth and comfort to follow a spiritual path that led to danger and suffering. Also, she’s revered in the Eastern church. The Acts of Paul and Thecla, the Gospel of Mary, and other early texts (ex. the Nag Hammadi library etc) probably didn’t make it into the canon because the people who were choosing were men who had a hard time accepting women as apostles, given their background and culture. Lent Madness gives us a chance to meet saints we might not otherwise know about. Wish I could vote for Brendan as well because Celtic Christianity is something I’d like to know more about, too. Susan Boyer, thanks for your explanation. I will certainly check out Celtic Daily Prayer.

    • March 12, 2015 - 12:50 pm | Permalink

      Us nasty men! We also left out of the canon of scripture the Gospel of Thomas and the Shepherd of Hermes and the Didache and the writings of Justin and…

      There are many reasons why something got left out of the canon of scripture. John’s Gospel barely made it and [if memory serves me] Marcion gutted most of the Hebrew texts. Yes, there was no doubt a male cultural bias with respect to inclusion in the canon. But to say that The Acts of Paul and Thecla and other works “probably didn’t make it into the canon because the people who were choosing were men who had a hard time accepting women as apostles” makes it sound as if that was the predominant, if not the only, reason for doing so. And I just do not think this to be the case.

  84. Nancy Sassaman's Gravatar Nancy Sassaman
    March 12, 2015 - 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Brendan, my dad the Navigator (8th Air Force) called him his patron! Steered him through many missions over Europe, through the fields of France, and safely home from Stalag Luft in Barthes.

  85. John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
    March 12, 2015 - 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Tessa Lucero, one of the best-known Old Irish texts is a prose retelling of the Odyssey, so it was certainly known in the milieu where the Brendan legend originated. Another related source would be the genre of beast lore, which blended real and fantastic animals. One of the latter was Fastitocalon, a giant sea-turtle that floated on the sea. When mariners seeking dry land saw him, they dropped anchor and went “ashore,” whereupon Fastitocalon dived and they all drowned. This was an allegory of the wiles of the Devil; the Brendan story introduces a whale, probably an allusion to the “sign of Jonas” and Christian belief in resurrection. Fastitocalon is best known to modern readers from a poem by J. R. R. Tolkien.

  86. Alec Clement's Gravatar Alec Clement
    March 12, 2015 - 12:56 pm | Permalink

    I grew up with legends and fables and never dismissed them as mere fantasy…any more than would I dismiss Jonah’s whale as mere fantasy….
    But I went with thecla this time…found her devotion too much to ignore.

  87. tom chapman's Gravatar tom chapman
    March 12, 2015 - 12:59 pm | Permalink

    I think I am plunged back into 1815 theology with these characters or is this more” EWTN nunsence”! All in all this is fun. Cheers TNC

  88. Diane Norton's Gravatar Diane Norton
    March 12, 2015 - 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Blessed with a long life, active late in life, and a sailor – good stuff. I voted for Brendan.

  89. Dorothy's Gravatar Dorothy
    March 12, 2015 - 1:02 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Thecia, she gave up her earthly possessions , wealth & comfortable life to follow Jesus.

  90. Janice Zitzmann's Gravatar Janice Zitzmann
    March 12, 2015 - 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Thecla and the ravenous seals is no harder to believe than Daniel in the lions’ den.

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      March 12, 2015 - 3:55 pm | Permalink

      Very true. Maybe he was a lion whisperer. No harder to believe than the sun standing still until a battle was finished, etc.

  91. Gary's Gravatar Gary
    March 12, 2015 - 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Brendan, the Saintly monk from Fenet,Ireland was the very first to sail to the New World beating both the Norse and old Chris. Columbus actually studied Brendan’s Navigatium (sic). Good on ya Brendan me lad.

  92. Noele's Gravatar Noele
    March 12, 2015 - 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I think the story portrayed here about Brendan is the hands down winner. However, I voted for Thecla because I stumbled upon her story while I was living in Turkey last year. I’d never heard of a St. Thecla and started researching and was drawn to find the town of Konya where she hailed from, and one of the towns she is reported to have died in the Mersin region called Silifke. Sadly I never did find the precise little spot of her death, though it is said that pilgrimages were made to the site for hundreds of years. I find her inspiring. Partially my inspiration comes from seeing where she came from and living in that (still) male dominated society. To break free from her father and her fiancee and LIVE, is a miracle in itself. That Paul’s words so penetrated her heart that all she wanted was to bear witness to Christ in that rocky land, moves me indeed. Having seen the women there, I can only imagine how inspiring it must have been to them to have an independent woman come and talk with them about God and their worth. Someday I will return and find her. In the mean time I pray for her singleness of heart for that which is true.

  93. Diane HH's Gravatar Diane HH
    March 12, 2015 - 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Just out of curiosity, I went to Wikipedia and here’s a different perspective on the so-called “ravenous seals” and I like this one better: “A nobleman named Alexander desired Thecla and attempted to take her by force. Thecla fought him off, assaulting him in the process, and was put on trial for assaulting a nobleman. She was sentenced to be eaten by wild beasts, but was again saved by a series of miracles when the female beasts protected her against her male aggressors.” Wow, feminist fauna! Also can’t resist the next sentence:
    “Thecla gained a massive “cult-like” following, and became perhaps the most prominent figure for female empowerment at the time.” Go Thecla!

  94. Carol Virginia's Gravatar Carol Virginia
    March 12, 2015 - 1:38 pm | Permalink

    The timing is rife with life despite hot and cold gales while perched on a slippery boulder. My 10 year old car died and I savoured my chance to buy a dream come true. I bought an astonishing new little white Mercedes. The model I chose is….The CLA….
    Now I should explain that Brendan lives across the street and he is a sailor with great navigational skills, and he hangs out at the local Yacht Club to help the older crowd manage their tasks without carting around any provisions. Faith provides. But I remain devouted to “The CLA” …one who is no less faithful. When fellow parishioners chide me ” wonder how many families you could have fed with that dough” I smile and reply,
    “not as many as this little car already did!” And then the nice people laugh.
    I thoroughly support the importance of a powerful Faith, I like Brendon a lot, but in Faithful Confession I must admit “The CLA”
    sets a most admirable standard!
    a very owerful faith.

  95. Kim's Gravatar Kim
    March 12, 2015 - 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Hard to lose either way with this one. I love Brendan so much that I almost named a son Brendan. But Thecla for me this time. Go, women mystics!

  96. Linda Burnett's Gravatar Linda Burnett
    March 12, 2015 - 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Today, perhaps in honor of the upcoming celebration of all things Irish, and for those who brave the seven seas I shall vote for Brendon.

  97. Carol Virginia's Gravatar Carol Virginia
    March 12, 2015 - 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Please ignore that last line. I don’t know anything about its mystical origins, but do you think it really meams ow- erful? 😉

  98. lauraethical's Gravatar lauraethical
    March 12, 2015 - 2:12 pm | Permalink

    I seem to remember a joke with a punchline involving God providing the boat and the person not realizing that he had to row. Leaving for the trip with no food for the crew doesn’t inspire me. Even Jesus started with a few loaves and fishes. Thecla it is.

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      March 12, 2015 - 3:28 pm | Permalink

      Don’t I recall a story about Jesus sending out a bunch of disciples, 70 or so? and telling them not to take extra things but to trust God to provide the places to stay and the people who would feed them. I could be mistaken.

  99. Larry of the Elms's Gravatar Larry of the Elms
    March 12, 2015 - 2:15 pm | Permalink

    While swimming with ravenous seals does have a certain appeal, Eucharist on a whale’s back can’t be beat. Brandon gets my vote today…and my first ever comment, too.

    • Larry of the Elms's Gravatar Larry of the Elms
      March 12, 2015 - 2:17 pm | Permalink

      And my first typo as well…BrEndAn!

  100. Kris's Gravatar Kris
    March 12, 2015 - 2:16 pm | Permalink

    “Thecla remains among the most celebrated female saints of the earliest ages of Christianity” – vs. the guy who didn’t bother with packing and couldn’t stop to ask for directions? (I kid, I kid.) Thecla it is!

  101. Barbara S.'s Gravatar Barbara S.
    March 12, 2015 - 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm. I want Thecla to advance – but I want to vote for Brendan. It’s because of my seagoing ancestors; I just can’t resist tales of wooden ships and long journeys.

    I will wait till later and when I’m sure Thecla’s far enough ahead, I’ll vote for Brendan; it’s the only way I can work this one out….

  102. Brenda McH's Gravatar Brenda McH
    March 12, 2015 - 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Despite the name similarity, I must go with Thecla. Brendan’s adventures seem a bit foolhardy (who goes to sea without fresh water and food?!) And a whale’s back is not my definition of land. Guess I’m just too practical.

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      March 12, 2015 - 3:20 pm | Permalink

      Trusting in God’s goodness to provide for a venture that God calls to seems foolhardy but leaping into a pool of ravenous seals is okay? I really don’t get it I guess.

      • Robert's Gravatar Robert
        March 12, 2015 - 3:26 pm | Permalink

        Spoken like a true Irishwoman (an assumption, given your last name!)! I don’t get it, either, Donna. I still think there are a lot of votes for the ravenous seals rather than the person. : )

        • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
          March 12, 2015 - 3:59 pm | Permalink

          Faith and Bagorah! Your assumption is right on! Donahay before I was Devlin.

          • Robert's Gravatar Robert
            March 12, 2015 - 4:03 pm | Permalink

            I’m of Irish descent, myself! Looking forward to next Tuesday, except for all the American idiots who don’t know what the day is really about. I tend to stay home and have people over for some colcannon and lamb or roast pork, watch The Quiet Man and/or Irish movies that I’ve collected. Tough break for Brendan today.

          • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
            March 12, 2015 - 4:16 pm | Permalink

            Got room for one more? My kinda man — we don’t need to wear green cause we are.

          • Robert's Gravatar Robert
            March 12, 2015 - 4:23 pm | Permalink

            Always room for one more! The only down side this year is I’m going out of town, so I’ll be with friends in Indianapolis. Maybe next year!

          • Robert's Gravatar Robert
            March 12, 2015 - 4:25 pm | Permalink

            Oh, and I almost always wear blue on St. Patrick’s Day, since blue is the color that was first associated with him and is the official color of the Republic of Ireland. It’s fun to let people know that when they as why I’m not wearing green (which I do, sometimes, on St. Patrick’s Day and often during the rest of the year!).

  103. Cathy's Gravatar Cathy
    March 12, 2015 - 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Exercising girl-power in the 1st century….she must have have had some great truths attached to her or else she would have been wiped out of history long ago. I also love the adventurous traveler, using Christ as his navigator, the ultimate adventure. Love both. Voting for Telco.

  104. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
    March 12, 2015 - 3:05 pm | Permalink

    This match was very difficult to me. The main thing it has done is to inspire me to read more about both of these saints who trusted so completely in God’s love and the provenance of Providence. That great trust is what I need most as I navigate the uncharted waters of retirement, not physically strong enough to continue the beloved work to which I was called, but still desiring to serve God and God’s children with all that I am. I think I’ll vote for Thekla, my sister in the faith, but with great love and appreciation for who Brendon was and what he did as well.

  105. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
    March 12, 2015 - 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, I meant Brendan.

  106. Carol Riddick's Gravatar Carol Riddick
    March 12, 2015 - 3:24 pm | Permalink

    I did not vote for Thecla the first time around. I did this time, but not because I did not hold Brenden in highest regard. I have thought a lot about my previous vote and believe that I did not consider how much devotion Thecla had for Christ and what a cost she paid for her beliefs.

  107. Sr. Brigidssm's Gravatar Sr. Brigidssm
    March 12, 2015 - 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Just loving so much the stories of Brendan and his voyages…

  108. Linda Maloney's Gravatar Linda Maloney
    March 12, 2015 - 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Thecla is a very important saint in the Eastern churches!

    • Robert's Gravatar Robert
      March 12, 2015 - 3:51 pm | Permalink

      Yes, and to everyone, or should be! I went with Brendan, though, but it was a tough call. Voted for her in the first round.

  109. Christine CO's Gravatar Christine CO
    March 12, 2015 - 3:53 pm | Permalink

    There was no explanation of why Thecla was standing between a lion and a snake (unless they were actually strangely shaped seals?). Nevertheless, my cats said, “That lady is standing next to a lion, and while she did throw herself into a pool of water, that’s a lot less water than Brendan encountered.” So they said I needed to vote for the lion.


    • Robert's Gravatar Robert
      March 12, 2015 - 3:58 pm | Permalink

      Ha! Excellent!

  110. March 12, 2015 - 4:26 pm | Permalink

    I’m going with Thecla, after much debate with myself. I think it is extremely important to remember that even Paul, who so many mistake for a misogynist, worked closely with women.

  111. Carla's Gravatar Carla
    March 12, 2015 - 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Still hoping for Brendan. Tired of hearing about ravening seals.

  112. Michael's Gravatar Michael
    March 12, 2015 - 5:38 pm | Permalink

    1st Bracket Stats: Total Saints: 32
    Male Saints: 18 (56%)
    Female Saints: 14 (44%)
    Male Saint advances: 11 of 16 (69%), 61% of total Male Saints advanced
    Female Saint advances: 5 of 16 (31%), 36% of total Female Saints advanced
    Commenting voter gender percentages: 80% Female; 20% Male*
    Total voter gender percentages: Unknown
    * Estimated.

  113. Tamara's Gravatar Tamara
    March 12, 2015 - 7:00 pm | Permalink

    The power of St. Brendan was in daring to take the voyage God choose for him. My parish is a defining point – we have to get in the boat we have been called to and trust God! I remain surprised that people seem to believe the story of Thecla is in the canon of Scripture. It isn’t.

  114. jane's Gravatar jane
    March 12, 2015 - 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Oh, it’s almost St. Pat’s Day and Brendan helped keep the faith and spread it afar.

    • Robert's Gravatar Robert
      March 12, 2015 - 8:39 pm | Permalink

      Jane, I’ve been saying that for awhile, glad someone else thinks like that. I was personally hoping for a Brendan vs. Brigid final!

      • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
        March 13, 2015 - 8:50 am | Permalink

        That would have been hellish!

  115. linda m.'s Gravatar linda m.
    March 12, 2015 - 7:40 pm | Permalink

    A little later, they encountered a maiden of the sea. She was enormous — one hundred feet tall, nine feet between her “paps,” and a middle finger seven feet long. She had been pierced with a giant spear and had died. Brendan brought her back to life and baptized her into the faith.
    ok- REALLY? i find this hard to believe or is it some kind of allegory? it’s absurd. i think i voted twice. once early this morning when i was barely awake, and once now, but both for Thecla, you may remove a vote for Thecla, but I don’t think it will make a diff at this point! and may i ask …what is a “pap”? i am thinking breasts, but maybe not.

    • Barbara S.'s Gravatar Barbara S.
      March 12, 2015 - 8:57 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that’s right, linda m.

  116. linda m.'s Gravatar linda m.
    March 12, 2015 - 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Michael- Frances Perkins got the Golden Halo last year and a year or so before that Mary Magdalan got it.

    • Robert Andrews-Bryant's Gravatar Robert Andrews-Bryant
      March 13, 2015 - 3:24 am | Permalink

      Actually, last year it was Charles Wesley who got the Golden Halo. Frances Perkins the year before?

  117. linda m.'s Gravatar linda m.
    March 12, 2015 - 7:42 pm | Permalink


  118. Barb T.'s Gravatar Barb T.
    March 12, 2015 - 9:03 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Thecla and Brendan in the first round. Deciding between them was a challenge.Went with Thecla. For what it’s worth, it is very difficult to say Saint Thecla 5 times really fast.

  119. Daniel's Gravatar Daniel
    March 12, 2015 - 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Later, Navigator!
    I went into this thinking I would vote for Brendan, but I was disappointed by his quirks and quotes. What about his sympathy for Judas? His arguing with demons to extend relief for the traitor? What about him telling his shipmates, “Pull in your oars and let down the sail. Let God take us where he will”? What about his conversations with birds – those same birds who would sing the Divine Office? And how about some more about him reaching the Island of the Saints, “where there is no shadow of night because Christ is the eternal light”? That same Island that some think might have been Canada? Ask Tim Severin about that!

    Without all of that, Brendan is thin and can hardly stand up against she who is “Equal to the Apostles.”

    P.S. I don’t understand all of these comments bashing legend and myth. When we talk about Christian saints, we are in the realm of hagiography. Without hagiography, Lent Madness would quickly become prosaic, tired and dull. Hagiography is part of what puts the “Madness” in Lent Madness. Without it, Lent Madness would just be Lent.

    • Robert's Gravatar Robert
      March 13, 2015 - 9:40 am | Permalink

      Really, Daniel? “What about his sympathy for Judas?” I seem to recall someone saying we should love our enemies, or some nonsense like that. : ) He just did what was expected of him, or else Jesus wouldn’t be Jesus, would he? On to the next round!

      • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
        March 13, 2015 - 9:46 am | Permalink

        Thanks, Robert. As you say, I thought we were supposed to do that sort of thing. I keep getting this stuff wrong.

  120. March 13, 2015 - 12:14 am | Permalink

    had to go with Brendan today, living by the ocean….and loving to be out on the water……..he gets my vote!!

  121. March 13, 2015 - 12:21 am | Permalink

    The posts have helped me grow in appreciation for the older mythic stories. I have had no trouble with towers or magic boats or hungry seals or self baptism or…and I keep coming back to the idea that what seems like over the top violence in the stories of the young women martyrs may be a memory trace of very real acts of torture. I don’t have the mind of a third or fourth century woman and the repetition of the acts in the story seemed to take away whatever impact a less baroque telling would have had on me. But I want to thank the commentators for their reminders of the power of metaphor in faith. I did vote for Thecla, and may try to be in her corner until the Golden Halo is granted, for her courage and love of Christ.

  122. Robert Coates's Gravatar Robert Coates
    March 13, 2015 - 12:48 am | Permalink

    Finally. A fourth century female martyr that didn’t dump on her father. That’s all I wanted.

  123. Nancy T.'s Gravatar Nancy T.
    March 13, 2015 - 1:07 am | Permalink

    I am amazed that at this moment Thecla is very much ahead of Brendan.

  124. Karen's Gravatar Karen
    March 13, 2015 - 1:19 am | Permalink

    I understand wanderlust, and also how terrifying it is to set off into the unknown with a well-packed suitcase. Hats off to Brendan for his travel and for spreading the faith – he gets my vote today.

  125. March 13, 2015 - 1:35 am | Permalink

    So. I’m thinking that perhaps next year we can have all the male saints on one side of the bracket and all the female saints in the other side. That way we will only have to put up with the gender-bashing comments for only one round- the final round.

  126. March 13, 2015 - 9:43 am | Permalink

    It does strike me that voting just on the side of gender is getting a little monotonous, if not oppressive. Just because others (males?) were oppressive in the past… does that make reverse oppression/bias justifiable? Thought we were supposed to be moving BEYOND bias….

    • Cheryle's Gravatar Cheryle
      March 13, 2015 - 10:18 am | Permalink

      I, too, am having a bit of trouble with the gender issues. This is my first year with Lent Madness and I do enjoy the friendly competition, but some of it seems other than friendly. I can buy into the “ancient vs. modern” a lot more easily than “female vs. male.” I’m going with Galatians 3:28. Friday blessings to all!

  127. Bob Kelley's Gravatar Bob Kelley
    March 13, 2015 - 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Should you ever travel to the Faroe Islands, go to a place not far from Torshavn, known as Kirkubor (pronounced Churchubor). This is a place which has three small churches, and the remains of a cell at the waterside. This is a bay where the tides and currents bring in driftwood and other flotsam from the sea. The name of the bay is Brandansvik (Brendan’s Bay). Brendan was not entirely legend, it seems.

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      March 13, 2015 - 2:50 pm | Permalink

      far from it — thank you

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