Dionysius the Great vs. Irene the Great

Remember that passage in the synoptic gospels (Luke 2:24, Matthew 18:1, Mark 9:34) where the disciples start arguing about which one of them is the greatest? Jesus basically tells them to get a life (by losing it). Here at Lent Madness, however, Dionysius and Irene are battling to resolve the question once and for all. In the Battle of the Greats, Dionysius the Great takes on Irene the Great as we crank things back up for another week of saintly action. The winner will take on Brigid of Kildare.

We’re glad to have the drama of Friday’s server crash behind us and Lent Madness is now being hosted on a shiny new purple server using a company that understands “unlimited bandwidth” to actually mean “unlimited bandwidth.” So, vote (once), comment, tell all all your friends to log on at the exact same moment and we should be fine. Thanks for collectively having the patience of a, well, saint. 

LMdionysiusDionysius the Great

Dionysius was born sometime around 190 to a well-to-do pagan family. He attended a church school and was educated to be a priest. He was a bright and well-read child and a student of the scholar Origen. Dionysius became head of the Catechetical School of Alexandria in 232 and was elevated to Bishop of Alexandria in 248, succeeding Heraklas in both posts.

In 249 a series of riots broke out and anti-Christian violence ensued. This soon evolved into the Decian Persecutions. Christians were subjected to all manner of torture and cruelty, with the goal to force them to sacrifice to false gods. It was a time of martyrdom and forced migration as many fled to the deserts for safety.

Dionysius was among those who fled but was later seized after being recognized. He was ultimately freed by a party of Christians and resumed his exile in the desert where he remained until the persecutions came to an end in 251.

Dionysius is remembered especially for his role in how to treat Christians who had lapsed during the persecutions. Many believed there was no possibility for readmission to Holy Communion and the Church after such apostasies. Dionysius, however, offered a way toward reconciliation. He said that after a period of penance and re-baptism, those who had succumbed to pressure would be welcomed back into the Church.

A prayer penned by Dionysius reads,“O God the Father, Origin of Divinity, good beyond all that is good, fair beyond all that is fair, in whom is calmness, peace, concord: Heal the dissensions that divide us from one another, and bring us back into the unity of love that resembles your divine nature.”

Upon returning to Alexandria, Dionysius took up extensive writing, especially opposing heresy and exploring scripture. His work in interpreting scripture was especially admired.

In 257, at the instigation of Emperor Valerian, Christians were once again under persecution and Dionysius was exiled when he refused to sacrifice to pagan gods. After two years of exile, he returned to a city plagued by disease and wracked by violence. In this environment he served five more years as bishop until his death in 265.

Persecution, plague, and violence marked the life of Dionysius, and yet through all of this he remained faithful and diligent, causing Saint Basil to term him “Dionysius the Great.”

Collect for Dionysius the Great

Almighty God, you called your servant Dionysius the Great to be a champion of reconciliation during times of great fear and persecution. Grant us the grace to seek the calm, peace, and concord that mark the things of the kingdom of God, reminding us that our greatest consolation may be found in pondering your holy words, even in the darkest of times. Amen.

Robert Hendrickson

Irene_of_ThessalonikiIrene the Great

Named Penelope and born as a Persian princess in the fourth century, Irene the Great is a legendary figure credited with miracles that astonish the modern reader. To keep her from hearing the gospel, her father (the pagan king Licinius) isolated her in a high tower like a Rapunzel of late antiquity, where she was watched over by thirteen young maidens and the statues of ninety-eight gods. She desperately objected to her seclusion and isolation from her mother and even the sunshine, but Licinius would not relent and sealed her in the tower with his signet ring until she was to marry. In spite of her father, an elderly tutor was hired to teach her. Servants hauled him up into the tower by an elaborate pulley system, and he spoke to her from behind a curtain and taught her about Jesus Christ.

When she reached marrying age, she received a series of signs from God delivered to the tower via an assortment of birds. Her tutor interpreted them as a call to virginity and as omens foreshadowing her suffering for her savior. Penelope was baptized and took the name Irene, which means peace. She initially failed to convert her parents, and like a righteously indignant teenager, destroyed all her father’s idols. As punishment, he threw her under wild horses to be trampled to death, but the horses did not stomp on her and instead attacked Licinius, gravely injuring him. Irene prayed for her father and he was healed in the presence of eyewitnesses, leading to the conversion of her parents and three thousand others.

Later, she refused the governor’s order to cease preaching, and he threw her into a pit of vipers. She remained unharmed for ten days, fed and guarded by an angel until her release. Her life of preaching and miracle-working continued, and thousands more people converted to Christianity.

In 330 the Persian King Sapor II had her arrested, beheaded, and buried. Remarkably, even for a woman who survived a pit of vipers, God resurrected her, and she continued teaching all the way to Ephesus, converting thousands more to the Christian faith! Finally, at divine bidding, she found an unused tomb, made the sign of the cross, and was sealed inside. When her friends returned four days later, the tomb was reportedly empty.

Ironically, those wishing to land a quick and happy marriage are encouraged to pray to Saint Irene, despite her role in history as a virgin and martyr saint. In Greece, she is also the patron saint of policemen.

Collect for Irene the Great

Jesus, you raised up your servant Irene the Great and set her before us as an example of deep thirst for faith and a hunger for righteousness. May we have the discerning spirit to seek more of you, disregarding the detours and damage the enemy may place in our path toward you. Let us, like Irene, never be given over to anger or malice, but continually pray for those who do not know you, never letting violence or intractability steal away the peace and consolation you give us with yourself. Amen.

Amber Belldene


Dionysius the Great vs. Irene the Great

  • Dionysius the Great (58%, 3,466 Votes)
  • Irene the Great (42%, 2,546 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,012

Loading ... Loading ...

214 Comments to "Dionysius the Great vs. Irene the Great"

  1. Sharon Boivin's Gravatar Sharon Boivin
    March 9, 2015 - 8:10 am | Permalink

    I voted for Dionysius the Great, as we more reconciliation in the world.

    • Tara's Gravatar Tara
      March 9, 2015 - 10:07 am | Permalink

      I agree, but today’s match up is do not fair! Finally two individuals who were truly known for Christ like perseverance, faith, and mercy bearing much eternal fruit, unlike some of the crazed fanaticism of some of the past line ups.
      Both Greats are truly great in my book and particularly relevant given the state of affairs these days.

      • Tara's Gravatar Tara
        March 9, 2015 - 10:11 am | Permalink

        ” so not fair”

        • Lea's Gravatar Lea
          March 9, 2015 - 11:58 am | Permalink

          Couldn’t agree more.

          • John Hanson's Gravatar John Hanson
            March 9, 2015 - 1:43 pm | Permalink

            Totally agree, not fair in light of the previous match-ups.

      • Gail Renborg's Gravatar Gail Renborg
        March 9, 2015 - 3:52 pm | Permalink

        Once again, I voted for who I thought would be the underdog – Irene. But, I agree with the voters who think this “unfair.” In addition, I have to say, I will generally vote for the female if in doubt, because women have been underappreciated throughout history, I think.

        • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
          March 9, 2015 - 4:16 pm | Permalink

          Yes, women have been underappreciated in the past, and still are today but shouldn’t we women be concerned that the brightest and the best are the ones who advance, not just on the basis of their womanness?

      • Alice Flick's Gravatar Alice Flick
        March 9, 2015 - 4:00 pm | Permalink

        Spot on! I wanted to vote for both of them.

      • Tim Dewart's Gravatar Tim Dewart
        March 9, 2015 - 4:27 pm | Permalink

        I’m not sure I agree with those who complain that today’s match-up is unfair. None of the match-ups are really “fair” because the contestants are all saints! They had to accomplish a lot to even be considered for the Golden Halo in the first place. If the choices were easy, Lent Madness wouldn’t be half the fun that it is. If you think the choices are hard now, just wait until the later rounds!

    • Jeff Sharp's Gravatar Jeff Sharp
      March 9, 2015 - 10:08 am | Permalink

      Dionysius — “faithful and diligent”

      • Dacid Smith's Gravatar Dacid Smith
        March 9, 2015 - 10:07 pm | Permalink

        But he believed in re-baptism!

    • March 9, 2015 - 10:39 am | Permalink


    • Deborah's Gravatar Deborah
      March 9, 2015 - 10:58 am | Permalink

      We definitely could use his prayer in our church and world today!

    • Wynne Osborne's Gravatar Wynne Osborne
      March 9, 2015 - 12:01 pm | Permalink

      I like your reasoning.

    • Betsey's Gravatar Betsey
      March 9, 2015 - 12:06 pm | Permalink


    • Sue's Gravatar Sue
      March 9, 2015 - 2:28 pm | Permalink

      Although I love the prayer shared that Dionysius wrote which certainly applies today, I have to vote for Irene. What determination and perserverance!

    • Gail Adams's Gravatar Gail Adams
      March 9, 2015 - 2:37 pm | Permalink

      I remember reading about Dionysius, and learning about the tremendous importance of his call to welcoming back the relapsed Christians. My vote goes to him.

      • MegN's Gravatar MegN
        March 9, 2015 - 8:02 pm | Permalink

        I agree, and vote for Dionysius for the same reason- having a PROCESS by which people can rejoin is important. Not immediate forgiveness and ‘that doesn’t matter’, not eternal banishment, but a process where people can thoughtfully claw their way back from the odd place they’d gotten themselves to. There are more ways in which people can go astray in the world now with the Internet… Hate-filled websites, false “news” stations… at some point, by the Grace of God, I hope we will need reconciliation, and know how to do it properly.

  2. Sharon Boivin's Gravatar Sharon Boivin
    March 9, 2015 - 8:11 am | Permalink


  3. Ann B's Gravatar Ann B
    March 9, 2015 - 8:14 am | Permalink

    Exciting though Irene’s story is, Dionysius gets my vote. Healing dissensions is still needed so much.

    • Kim's Gravatar Kim
      March 9, 2015 - 2:06 pm | Permalink

      Dionysius was real; Irene…not so much. Gotta vote for the real person over the legend every time!

    • Karen's Gravatar Karen
      March 10, 2015 - 1:44 am | Permalink

      I definitely agree! While Irene’s tale is exciting, I’m more inclined toward the man who lived and even defined a process to welcome all back to the church

      I’m not so sure of the whole re-Baptism business, but I am assuming it was more in the spirit of ss

      • Karen's Gravatar Karen
        March 10, 2015 - 1:56 am | Permalink

        Whoops – Pilot Error!

        I was going to say “in the spirit of the Baptism of John”, meaning a baptism of repentance.

        Heaven knows we need all the reconciliation, love, and forgiveness we can muster to heal our fractured, broken, hurting churches these days .

  4. Betsy Swank's Gravatar Betsy Swank
    March 9, 2015 - 8:15 am | Permalink

    Dionysus’ prayer is just too timely and moving not to garner him my vote, vipers and wild horses not withstanding.

  5. Nancy Gossling's Gravatar Nancy Gossling
    March 9, 2015 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    Irene, patron saint of policemen, whose name means peace. Holy Mockingbirds, vipers, and wild horses couldn’t stop me from voting for this righteously indignant teenager, drama saint, preacher and martyr. A John the Baptist beheading couldn’t even keep her in the tomb. Vote Irene!

    • Claudia's Gravatar Claudia
      March 9, 2015 - 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Hear! Hear! How could one not vote so…resurrected after being beheaded. Wild horses who would not trample the fair maiden but instead attacked her persecutor!

    • Gail Renborg's Gravatar Gail Renborg
      March 9, 2015 - 3:54 pm | Permalink

      Amen to that!

  6. March 9, 2015 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    It’s that dedication to reconciliation that got my vote for Dionysius!

    • CarolGurioli's Gravatar CarolGurioli
      March 9, 2015 - 8:41 pm | Permalink

      Irene showed forgiveness by praying for her father after he threw her under the bus, oops horses, and that after years of keeping her captive in a tower! Great role model for teens. She is no more legendary than Brigid. Otters vs wild horses and being resurrected after a beheading–I love seeing God’s power on display.

  7. Michael's Gravatar Michael
    March 9, 2015 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    Dionysius just edging it at this early stage. He got my vote for the reconciliation thing as well.

  8. March 9, 2015 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    Dionysius for me — Scripture study and teaching, reconciliation, and seeking “calm and concord” are where it’s at.

  9. Ann E's Gravatar Ann E
    March 9, 2015 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    Although Irene’s vipers and wild horses and prophetic birds are appealing, my vote goes to Dionysius, who lived in times of great peril yet worked for peace and reconciliation. His prayer for the healing of dissension is a gem. We need someone like him today to guide us.

  10. Mary Sier's Gravatar Mary Sier
    March 9, 2015 - 8:26 am | Permalink

    While I agree that Dionysus’ prayer is wonderful and healing dissensions is always needed somewhere, I had to vote for the princess who didn’t run from the horses, snakes, or the ax. She put her faith in God and let Him work wonders through her in horrible situations. Go, Irene!

  11. Susie Webster-Toleno's Gravatar Susie Webster-Toleno
    March 9, 2015 - 8:27 am | Permalink

    Both bios were fun to read, but consider my nod to Dionysus a vote for the collective noun contained therein — “a party of Christians.” I like that (along with his reconciling work, which is so needed in the world).

  12. Kathy Hartley's Gravatar Kathy Hartley
    March 9, 2015 - 8:29 am | Permalink

    Reconciliation and healing dissension. Wow, do we ever need that today!

  13. Steve P's Gravatar Steve P
    March 9, 2015 - 8:29 am | Permalink

    Dionysius gets my vote. I am reminded of the debate in the movie Stand By Me. Between Mighty Mouse and Superman, pick Superman. How can a cartoon beat a real guy? Irene’s account is so amazingly and fabulously hagiographic that Dionysius looks like Superman!

  14. Robyn Williams's Gravatar Robyn Williams
    March 9, 2015 - 8:31 am | Permalink

    I voted for Dionysius, we need more reconciliation in the church, and healing of our differences.

  15. Sonia's Gravatar Sonia
    March 9, 2015 - 8:34 am | Permalink

    I’m not in the mood for “Rapunzels”. wild horses, and snakes. Dionysius all the way!

  16. Mike's Gravatar Mike
    March 9, 2015 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    Forgiveness and second chances! Dionysius for me.

    • Frett's Gravatar Frett
      March 9, 2015 - 12:00 pm | Permalink

      Patron Saint of Second Chances! As appealing as Irene is, I can’t not vote for the far-sighted Dionysius.

  17. Marcia I's Gravatar Marcia I
    March 9, 2015 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    Dionysius. The bird messengers are tempting, but the kindness and forgiveness in Dionysius I find more worthy and relevant. His acts reached out to others; after Father Scott’s post yesterday on 7WD I can do no other.

  18. Carey's Gravatar Carey
    March 9, 2015 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    While I find the story of Irene compelling, I voted for Dionysius for we all deserve a second chance.

  19. Margery's Gravatar Margery
    March 9, 2015 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    Heads up to Irene for a compelling, likely part mythological story. But hands down (vote) to Dionysus for his rewarding tenacity for reconciliation. Very difficult choice today.

    • Tim's Gravatar Tim
      March 9, 2015 - 10:37 am | Permalink

      Better heads up than heads off, no?

  20. Noreen Ramsden's Gravatar Noreen Ramsden
    March 9, 2015 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    A difficult choice as both were peace-makers – but healing dissension among believers seems to me to be the most needful! I vote for Dionysius!

  21. davehall's Gravatar davehall
    March 9, 2015 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    I voted Irene. Persia and the rest of the world could use more princesses like her!

  22. Patrice's Gravatar Patrice
    March 9, 2015 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    I wonder what would happen if we collectively prayed the prayer written by Dionysus for the rest of Lent . . . (?)

    • Ralegh's Gravatar Ralegh
      March 9, 2015 - 10:08 am | Permalink

      Sounds good to me, Patrice! I’m planning on adding it to my Lenten prayers!

    • Nancy Wylie's Gravatar Nancy Wylie
      March 9, 2015 - 10:16 am | Permalink

      Patrice, I think it would be “Great!” Dionysius is one of my heroes for being inclusive in the Church. It seems to me that Church History shows us that inclusiveness wins over exclusiveness.

  23. Ruth's Gravatar Ruth
    March 9, 2015 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    As a teacher, I do love those rebellious teens. Vote Irene!

  24. Susie's Gravatar Susie
    March 9, 2015 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    Did the birds also talk to Cinderella? Just sayin.

  25. pris's Gravatar pris
    March 9, 2015 - 8:47 am | Permalink

    You have to love a teenager who goes against her parents!

  26. March 9, 2015 - 8:48 am | Permalink

    This is my first year voting in the contest for the Golden Halo. The brackets fascinate. The competition is getting intense. Like others have posted, I have to vote for Dionysius the reconciler. That is a tough job. (Not that surviving a pit of vipers isn’t!) Still, reconciliation fits our times.

  27. Kit Kleinhans's Gravatar Kit Kleinhans
    March 9, 2015 - 8:50 am | Permalink

    Is no one else troubled by Dionysius’ insistence on rebaptism?! Irene gets my vote today.

    • Ellen Gracie's Gravatar Ellen Gracie
      March 9, 2015 - 4:55 pm | Permalink

      I am, Kit!

    • CarolGurioli's Gravatar CarolGurioli
      March 9, 2015 - 8:43 pm | Permalink

      That occurred to me as well. If he advances it’s something toremember.

  28. Jen E. Ochsner's Gravatar Jen E. Ochsner
    March 9, 2015 - 8:50 am | Permalink

    Who took Friday’s battle……Balthazaar or Cecilia? Did not receive the results. Thanks!

    • Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
      March 9, 2015 - 9:45 am | Permalink

      Actually, the SEC won, by prevailing over a server that said, “This is not my table” to find transglobal-snowdrift-proof solutions enabling extended voting that in the end led to Cecelia breaking Balthazaar’s heart (Golden Halo-wise), though she did not really shake his confidence.

      • Jen E. Ochsner's Gravatar Jen E. Ochsner
        March 9, 2015 - 1:40 pm | Permalink

        Thanks a bunch, Peg S.

  29. Russ's Gravatar Russ
    March 9, 2015 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    Robyn hit a home run: we need more reconciliation in a world, not just a church, that is being divided in so many unnecessary ways.

  30. Scott Elliott's Gravatar Scott Elliott
    March 9, 2015 - 8:53 am | Permalink

    I guess I have a bias toward real people over people might have been partly real. And a bias toward people who make it easy, rather than hard, to come to church or to come back to church.

    • jane's Gravatar jane
      March 9, 2015 - 1:37 pm | Permalink

      I’m with you. Real versus hidden in mystery. I also love his prayer.

  31. Susan Maurine's Gravatar Susan Maurine
    March 9, 2015 - 8:53 am | Permalink

    Re-baptism? {{shudder}}

  32. Oliver's Gravatar Oliver
    March 9, 2015 - 8:53 am | Permalink

    The princess Irene is cute. I am seven years old and Dionysius is not fun.

    • A Different Jennifer's Gravatar A Different Jennifer
      March 9, 2015 - 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Yay Oliver! I’m on Team Irene too. She does sound like way more fun.
      …though I’m trying to think of something positive to say about Dionysius too. It sounds like he was probably a really good runner!

  33. March 9, 2015 - 8:56 am | Permalink

    Dionysius it is for me! We must still be devoted to reconciliation, the giving of second chances, and the promise of returning to the fold as demonstrated by this saint. If he could promote this view in his time of violence and persecution, so must we be devoted to the same in our time of division and strife. A wonderful model to follow.
    As for Irene, I am persuaded by my incredulity for such miracles as are attributed to her. Normally I am greatly in the female camp, but this is just too much for my modern mind. No doubt she faced hardships, but the story just goes too far for me to entirely trust.

  34. Vicki Wadlow's Gravatar Vicki Wadlow
    March 9, 2015 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    I had to vote for Irene, even though I am sure I am on the losing team. A tower, horses, vipers, beheading…nothing could keep her from her faith! What a Warrior Woman! Go Irene!

    • Carol Townsend's Gravatar Carol Townsend
      March 9, 2015 - 10:06 am | Permalink

      Exactly my thoughts, Vicki! I voted for her because I want her to go onto the next round so we can learn more about her. Ah well…maybe in a future Lent Madness?

      • Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
        March 9, 2015 - 10:17 am | Permalink

        My thoughts as well, Vicki and Carol. A strong, passionate woman. Irene it is.

  35. March 9, 2015 - 9:02 am | Permalink

    I’m not a big fan of re-baptizing on theological grounds, but I’ll cut Dionysius some slack. They were difficult times, and God is gracious. Reconciliation won my vote.

    • Sister Janet's Gravatar Sister Janet
      March 9, 2015 - 10:43 am | Permalink

      The whole re-baptizing thing initially turned me off too, but if you think about it, first of all, he was much closer than we are to the Jewish roots of that sacrament in the mikvah, which is not a once-and-for-all thing, but a continuing thing; always to turn again and be purified. AND, if a sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, perhaps those people needed such a sign of the grace of being accepted.

      • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
        March 9, 2015 - 11:19 am | Permalink

        When placed in such a wonderful context how does the non-viperous vipers, the beheading that didn’t work, the horses that turned around, the drawn-up tutor hold up?

      • TJ's Gravatar TJ
        March 9, 2015 - 9:08 pm | Permalink

        @ Sister Janet- I think that is a sensible and gracious way of looking at why re-baptism might have been deemed necessary. I wasn’t as perturbed by that detail as many folks were though.

  36. Mary E's Gravatar Mary E
    March 9, 2015 - 9:04 am | Permalink

    If he got Basil’s vote, he gets mine. Uneasy times and he had the courage to return to the trenches.

  37. Lesley Hildrey's Gravatar Lesley Hildrey
    March 9, 2015 - 9:04 am | Permalink

    I’m going with Irene. Would love to see Disney make her story!

    • Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
      March 9, 2015 - 9:48 am | Permalink

      I was thinking PBS would take it up. Downton Abbey, maybe in a real abbey. With vipers even!

  38. Tom Brown's Gravatar Tom Brown
    March 9, 2015 - 9:05 am | Permalink

    Irene’s story is marvelous and that’s the problem — too marvelous. This summary leads me to think her feats are entirely legendary while Dionysius seems to be more historical. His work in welcoming lapsed Christians back to the church is exactly the type of ministry we need today as the younger generation in the west strays from Christianity, seeing it as fuddy-duddy at best, bigoted and hypocritical at worst.

  39. Bobbi Tisdale's Gravatar Bobbi Tisdale
    March 9, 2015 - 9:06 am | Permalink

    What the world needs now: Reconciliation.

  40. Snacktime's Gravatar Snacktime
    March 9, 2015 - 9:08 am | Permalink

    Family conflict is one of life’s big sources of suffering, and not many of us would persevere like Irene, what with the vipers and horses and bird divination and thousands of converts and stuff. But today, Dionysus wins my vote. We need wise, learned policymakers.

  41. Susan Boyer's Gravatar Susan Boyer
    March 9, 2015 - 9:23 am | Permalink

    For the young women abducted by Boko Haram and all others who are forced to live in the pit with the vipers, may you be visited by the spirit of Irene to give you courage and fiery peace that endures. And if/when you are returned home, may there be a welcoming Dionysius who does not shame you for your suffering, nor for anything you do to survive. Today I’ll vote Irene in your honor.

    • Cassandra's Gravatar Cassandra
      March 9, 2015 - 10:39 am | Permalink

      Amen. Thank you for reminding us of the suffering of these innocents.

    • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
      March 9, 2015 - 10:53 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Susan! I voted for Dionysius, but really want to put the complainers about the legendary women in a time-out. Women who are persecuted and shrouded and even placed in windowless (or blacked-out windows) homes so that they cannot be seen by men are very real stories of our present day. Once in a while, we get an example of a a young girl trying to be educated, who is shot in the face for that “crime.” That she survived is a miracle, that she won a Nobel is incredible, that she inspires persecuted girls around the world is downright saintly. That people (given history) are likely to see her as merely legend an another 1000 years……just sad. Irene stands for the many whose stories will never be told because they were not incredible enough….

      • Deborah DeManno's Gravatar Deborah DeManno
        March 9, 2015 - 3:46 pm | Permalink

        Thank you Barbra for your comment drawing a parallel between the ‘fantastic story” of Irene and the ‘hard to believe’ story of Malala who simply tried to be eductated, was persecuted by the Taliban who tried to execute her, survived to continue standing up against her oppressors for the cuase of education for women and to share the Nobel prize. Sounds just like a Disney script too but we have seen it with our own eyes. I am so tired of people discounting the saints whose stories are just too fantastic to be real. There are many stories told and handed down from ancient people that seem too fantastic and yet we see the truth in them. My vote today went to Irene.

      • Vicki's Gravatar Vicki
        March 9, 2015 - 9:07 pm | Permalink

        This strand has decided me… and nudged me back to praying for those ‘lost girls.’ The news cycle pushes tragedies aside sometimes and those women deserve/require our on going attention. I also think that in this one perhaps we’re seeing both serious and fun together? which comes out sounding odd in light of the last sentence. But with Joy being ,as Lewis put it , ‘the serious business of heaven,’ and two of the finest living spiritual leaders, the Dali Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu, both living joy in their seriousness… Irene works for me today. Thanks y’all. And of course i shall now spend the rest of the evening humming “Irene Good Night.”

  42. Mary W. Cox's Gravatar Mary W. Cox
    March 9, 2015 - 9:27 am | Permalink

    Forgiving even
    those who walked away from faith?
    That WOULD take greatness!

    Dionysius gets my vote–reconciliation is a practice all too rare in the Church, as in the world.

  43. Michelle Crull's Gravatar Michelle Crull
    March 9, 2015 - 9:30 am | Permalink

    I thought Friday’s match-up was hard! These are getting harder and harder. When I read Dionysus’ write-up, I thought we really need someone like him in the Middle East now (I suspect we will see several in the days to come). Then I read Irene’s and thought a teenager who has so much faith that she survives imprisonment, several attempts to kill her, and is resurrected after being beheaded. Wow! Both of these saints are deserving but I just had to go with Irene as a young woman of such strong faith.

  44. Lane Johnson's Gravatar Lane Johnson
    March 9, 2015 - 9:31 am | Permalink

    I had picked Irene but the prayer of Dionysus really moved me this morning. An earlier commenter said this prayer should be our Lenten prayer. I agree.

  45. Janice Batton's Gravatar Janice Batton
    March 9, 2015 - 9:32 am | Permalink

    SOOOOOOOOOOO GLAD U R BACK!! This is the GREATEST MARCH MADNESS EVER. ABSOLUTELY LOVE LEARNING ABOUT THESE SAINTS AND TODAY SHARED OF FB ASKING FOR IRENE VOTES! We do need reconciliation, however, we also need more individuals willing to be disciples not mere followers. Overabundance of cross wearing bible thumping types who forget FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD.

    • shawn's Gravatar shawn
      March 10, 2015 - 7:49 am | Permalink

      Are you Fenton’s neice?

  46. Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
    March 9, 2015 - 9:33 am | Permalink

    Holy Executioner, Batman! A beheading that didn’t work! Vipers that didn’t vipe. Makes one think of ravenous seals. What will they think of next? Go Dionysius, you’re for real.

  47. Sr. Brigidssm's Gravatar Sr. Brigidssm
    March 9, 2015 - 9:34 am | Permalink

    I agree that reconciliation is a great need in our world, and a good Lenten theme as well. I just loved the fantastic storyof Irene, so thinking Dionysius would come the victor, just had to be rebel enough to vote for Irene.

  48. Linda's Gravatar Linda
    March 9, 2015 - 9:35 am | Permalink

    Irene’s is a story of resilience–also a quality much needed in a hurting world. She gets my vote, but it was a tough choice.

  49. mary ann's Gravatar mary ann
    March 9, 2015 - 9:41 am | Permalink

    I had to go for Dionysius today. Welcoming ex Christians back to the church won it for me. How many of us would have been able to stand up to the persecution and would have left the church because of fear of the authorities. Definitely in this day and age we need this spirit.

  50. elliott's Gravatar elliott
    March 9, 2015 - 9:41 am | Permalink

    I voted for dionesus the great because his name is awesome

    • pHil's Gravatar pHil
      March 9, 2015 - 12:11 pm | Permalink

      And Dionysius, didn’t he, umm, really like wine and wild parties?
      Oh, right, that’s the other one.

  51. Patsy's Gravatar Patsy
    March 9, 2015 - 9:42 am | Permalink

    For my beloved sister Penelope and her late Mother-in-law Irene, I will vote for Irene.

    • Penelope's Gravatar Penelope
      March 9, 2015 - 6:15 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, dear little sister. I added to your vote and forwarded the site!

  52. Judith's Gravatar Judith
    March 9, 2015 - 9:43 am | Permalink

    I had to vote for Irene. I had thought only St. Denis continued to walk after losing his head — but now, here’s Irene. Like St. Denis, she was heard to have said, “The first few miles are the hardest”.

  53. Sarah Hankins's Gravatar Sarah Hankins
    March 9, 2015 - 9:43 am | Permalink

    That was a tough one, but I went with Dionysius; forgiveness and reconciliation are important.

  54. Carol Kangas's Gravatar Carol Kangas
    March 9, 2015 - 9:46 am | Permalink

    Re-baptisim? Really? This was an easy choice for me: Irene!

  55. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
    March 9, 2015 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    What a dilemma! Dionysius’ reconciliation, or Irene’s preaching and praying for those who had so wronged her? She was so much more than a rebellious teenager! I can wholeheartedly vote for the suggestion that we collectively pray the prayer of Dionysius. I’m not ready yet to vote for either of them over the other.

  56. Katrina's Gravatar Katrina
    March 9, 2015 - 9:51 am | Permalink

    I can’t help thinking how things haven’t changed much in lo these many years. Dionysius would’ve felt right at home in the middle east today. Lord, in Dionysius’s name and in Jesus’s name, let this persecution end. Amen.

  57. March 9, 2015 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    I tend to be a little wary of folks who write lots about heresy. Reconciliation is good, but there is plenty of reconciliation in Irene’s story, too. I also think it is worthwhile (unlikely miracles aside — and whenever are miracles “likely”?) to honor those who witness through preaching…especially women since much of our church history between the death of Jesus and now has ignored them. Irene has my vote.

    • CarolGurioli's Gravatar CarolGurioli
      March 9, 2015 - 8:48 pm | Permalink

      I agree with my whole heart and head!,

  58. Mags's Gravatar Mags
    March 9, 2015 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    Irenes story is a fantasy with a true message. Dionysius may be a true story but re baptism, for me no Truth in that, so Irene for me.

  59. Tricia G's Gravatar Tricia G
    March 9, 2015 - 9:56 am | Permalink

    I would welcome anyone who could bring peace and reconciliation to violent times to the saintly 16. Dionysius gets my vote.

  60. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
    March 9, 2015 - 9:59 am | Permalink

    I just voted for Irene. What decided me finally? The collect, which sums up her ministry so beautifully. Plus, it’s hard for a female preacher to deny another female preacher her vote.

  61. Kim's Gravatar Kim
    March 9, 2015 - 10:04 am | Permalink

    Reconciliation and concord. Dionysius it has to be. Between the otters, seals, snakes, wild horses, and birds the SEC better invest in a zoo!

  62. Kathy Hartley's Gravatar Kathy Hartley
    March 9, 2015 - 10:08 am | Permalink

    I am sure there was no theological need for rebaptism, but we do have reaffirmation. Perhaps that is what Dionysius was thinking?

    • Marney's Gravatar Marney
      March 9, 2015 - 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Dionysius pre-dates the decision that baptism was a once-for-all time sacrament. That was made 100 or so years after his time.

    • TJ's Gravatar TJ
      March 9, 2015 - 9:27 pm | Permalink

      @ Kim Hartley- That part of the story made me think of reaffirmation too. Though theology around baptism has changed since Dionysius lived I would imagine that for some people reconciliation with the church is felt more deeply when some ceremony accompanies it. I chose to see it in this light rather than as statement that falling away somehow nullifies baptism.

  63. Sarah Gaede's Gravatar Sarah Gaede
    March 9, 2015 - 10:11 am | Permalink

    Voting in memory of beloved Don Armentrout for Dionysius. Little Don used to say that he would have sacrificed to idols in a heartbeat to keep from being tortured, and was glad that Dionysius would have given him a second chance.

  64. Cheryle's Gravatar Cheryle
    March 9, 2015 - 10:13 am | Permalink

    Well, I voted for Dionysius, but I’m not happy about it. On Friday you gave us two compelling saints from whom to choose; today I have to choose between a bratty teenager and a man who promotes re-baptism? I wanted to vote for Irene for the simple reason that my late husband’s mother shared that name, but her story was just too wild for a Monday morning after changing over to DST. And tantrum-throwing teens never have appealed to me. Dionysius, on the other hand, was – as others have noted – a reconciler, and we need that in our world. So, despite a somewhat legalistic approach he got my vote. (I cut him some slack for the times and that people were still trying to figure out this Christianity thing.)

  65. Matthew's Gravatar Matthew
    March 9, 2015 - 10:16 am | Permalink

    This one was easy — Dionysius gets the strong nod for his spirit of reconciliation. May the Lord raise up more of his ilk in the Church today!!!

  66. Jen E. Ochsner's Gravatar Jen E. Ochsner
    March 9, 2015 - 10:18 am | Permalink

    Irene, and the Persian connection for me……..maybe Irene can lead the present day Persians to the Lord and peace in our time!

  67. Marie Cantrell's Gravatar Marie Cantrell
    March 9, 2015 - 10:18 am | Permalink

    Dionysius, on the basis of the prayer he wrote. Beautiful. BTW where is Maple Anglican this year?

  68. Ellie Tupper's Gravatar Ellie Tupper
    March 9, 2015 - 10:24 am | Permalink

    Re-baptism is a brilliant idea. True Christian forgiveness for people who were forced to lie about their belief just so their families could survive. Not everyone would have been able to traipse off to the desert and survive there. Isn’t Lent supposed to be a time when people who have been separated from the church can come back?

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      March 9, 2015 - 11:24 am | Permalink

      Right on!

  69. Irene's Gravatar Irene
    March 9, 2015 - 10:25 am | Permalink

    How can I not vote for my namesake!

  70. March 9, 2015 - 10:35 am | Permalink

    Good night Irene.

  71. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    March 9, 2015 - 10:48 am | Permalink

    As a resident of the Episcopal diocese of San Joaquin, I must vote for the bishop who seeks to “heal the dissentions that divide us from one another.”

  72. Fiona Haworth's Gravatar Fiona Haworth
    March 9, 2015 - 10:54 am | Permalink

    Wild horses couldn’t keep me from voting for Dionysius 🙂 Lost count of how many second chances I’ve needed so honouring a saint who worked for reconciliation in spite of unease about re baptism.

  73. Janet Holmberg's Gravatar Janet Holmberg
    March 9, 2015 - 10:57 am | Permalink

    Voted for the wild and rebellious woman but oh what a hard choice – ugh.

  74. Bill Ericson's Gravatar Bill Ericson
    March 9, 2015 - 10:57 am | Permalink

    Even tho my loving spouse middle name is Irene I can’t vote for the too magical saint.

  75. Ken Albrecht's Gravatar Ken Albrecht
    March 9, 2015 - 10:58 am | Permalink

    I voted for Dionysius because of his recognition that the church should always be about reconsiliation. The BCP has a format for Reconciliayion of a Penitent. Re-baptism may be too much but I can overlook that he was merciful to those who lost their way.

  76. john miller's Gravatar john miller
    March 9, 2015 - 11:04 am | Permalink

    Dionysius gets my vote due to the relevancy of reconciliation in our times, and especially in our Anglican communion

  77. Betty's Gravatar Betty
    March 9, 2015 - 11:05 am | Permalink

    I think in these troubled times a woman renamed ‘Peace’ and the patron saint of the ironic coupling of marriage and police officers should carry the color towards Resurrection Sunday.

  78. Paul (A.)'s Gravatar Paul (A.)
    March 9, 2015 - 11:14 am | Permalink

    I am constrained to note that Saint Irene the Great is, unfortunately, not the Saint Irene after whom the famous Aegean island of Santorini (officially Thera) was renamed.

    On a related note, when did we decide that “Irene” (from the Greek Ειρήνη) should be pronounced with two syllables (Eye-reen) rather than three (Eye-ree-knee)?

    In my book, peace beats reconciliation, at least for today.

  79. Joe Stroud's Gravatar Joe Stroud
    March 9, 2015 - 11:20 am | Permalink


  80. Miss J's Gravatar Miss J
    March 9, 2015 - 11:25 am | Permalink

    When I read that DtG promoted re-Baptism {{shudder}} I was very ready to vote for ItG, but then I read her hagiography and it was too incredible. All things are possible with God, but seriously? Furthermore Lou F. & Sister Janet make some good points about DtG and “re-Baptism” so though I do believe as the Church catholic teaches that Baptism is a once in a lifetime thing, having taken those two comments into consideration, I will forgive DtG for double dunking and vote for him now but for Saint Brigit next time.

  81. Ellen T's Gravatar Ellen T
    March 9, 2015 - 11:28 am | Permalink

    Dionysus gets my vote. Anyone who could live to age 75 in the time of all that strife and disease was definitely watched over and supported by God. Go seniors!!**

  82. Kim's Gravatar Kim
    March 9, 2015 - 11:29 am | Permalink

    Although all the saints show perseverance in their lives, I thought today’s match-up pitted reconciliation against perseverance. At first, I was tempted to dismiss Irene’s bio as some pretty bizarre stories, but then I decided it depicted faith in times of extreme trial. Irene gets my vote.

  83. Grace's Gravatar Grace
    March 9, 2015 - 11:31 am | Permalink

    This sounded like a vote between a real person and a Disney fantasy! Gotta go with the real person! Besides, I love that prayer.

    Btw, any chance the box for comments could appear right after the voting link so we don’t have to scroll down through all the comments to leave ours?

  84. Cassandra's Gravatar Cassandra
    March 9, 2015 - 11:33 am | Permalink

    Had to go with Irene today. Her faith is something to try to copy.
    Also, how many of us run around like we have our heads cut off? Next time I’m in that position I’ll try praying to Irene!

  85. Grace's Gravatar Grace
    March 9, 2015 - 11:33 am | Permalink

    Uh, never mind! I just saw the comment link on the home page… Mea culpa!

  86. Phil Kober's Gravatar Phil Kober
    March 9, 2015 - 11:35 am | Permalink

    According to scripture there is only one unforgivable sin: blaspheming the Holy Ghost. And my understanding is that the devil, Satan himself, is the only one to have ever blasphemed the Holy Spirit! Dionysius was right to have found a way to welcome those who had fallen away in the persecutions back into the fold. There is too much of the fantastic in Irene’s story ….. I voted for Dionysius!

  87. March 9, 2015 - 11:37 am | Permalink

    I was on board with Irene until the claim of resurrection after beheading and burial. Dionysus wins for my leaning toward historical probability.

  88. Marguerite's Gravatar Marguerite
    March 9, 2015 - 11:51 am | Permalink

    Thank you for your post,Ellie. If publicly redeclaring their commitment to Jesus and Christianity is important to lapsed Christans, through the sacrament of Baptism, what could possibly be the harm? Reconciliation is too important to quibble.
    I,too, vote for Dionysus!

  89. Kay Richardson's Gravatar Kay Richardson
    March 9, 2015 - 11:52 am | Permalink

    Hmmm . . . Is Irene the Great really on TEC’s calendar? I can’t find her there. She may be an obscure Orthodox saint, but I couldn’t even find her in Wikipedia. Dionysius it is, then.

    • Bonnee's Gravatar Bonnee
      March 9, 2015 - 10:22 pm | Permalink

      Maybe the bloggers should tell us which calendar(s) the person appears on?

      • Kay Richardson's Gravatar Kay Richardson
        March 11, 2015 - 7:30 pm | Permalink

        The SEC should indeed clarify whether the saints are on TEC’S calendar. Given the criteria I have seen for inclusion, Irene doesn’t qualify. SEC, please advise!

    • Barbara S.'s Gravatar Barbara S.
      March 9, 2015 - 11:47 pm | Permalink
  90. Michelle's Gravatar Michelle
    March 9, 2015 - 11:56 am | Permalink

    As much as I’m given to drama, I had to vote for Dionysian reconciliation. During the election cycle, and isn’t it always an election cycle, we need all the reconciliation we can get before “culture wars” lead to religious war!

  91. Marj Lewis's Gravatar Marj Lewis
    March 9, 2015 - 12:01 pm | Permalink

    In solidarity with the latest Christian martyrs of Syria and Iraq and North Africa I call upon Irene for her intercession.

  92. Dave's Gravatar Dave
    March 9, 2015 - 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Come on Irene!

  93. Nancy Boerup's Gravatar Nancy Boerup
    March 9, 2015 - 12:09 pm | Permalink

    My brain said Dionysus. for all the practical and reconcilable reasons, but living through all the horses and vipers, tests, etc. gave my heart to a woman of little fear and very deep faith!

  94. March 9, 2015 - 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Dionysus, who reminds me a bit of my favorite living saint, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the end of apartheid in South Africa. What both men have in common is not only their advocacy of reconciliation but their recognition that such reconciliation may require institutional, not just personal, solutions.

  95. March 9, 2015 - 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Let’s get real. With one resurrection already does the empty tomb she had herself sealed in mean there was a subsequent assumption? It seems far more credible that Dionysius did exist and that he really did many of the things attributed to him.

  96. Denise's Gravatar Denise
    March 9, 2015 - 12:13 pm | Permalink

    I had to ultimately go with Irene, but this was a really tough choice. I admire Dionysius for being the champion of reconciliation, but Irene went through a lot, I mean, really, thundering herd of horses? Pit of vipers? That gal’s tough! Although it might be a slightly “Disneyesque” story, her perseverance won my vote.

  97. Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
    March 9, 2015 - 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Irene is impressive, but I go with Dionysus, who found a way to welcome back those who had drifted away from–or just plain rebelled against–the Christian family.

  98. March 9, 2015 - 12:25 pm | Permalink

    According to Lent Madness’s bio of Dionysus the Great, “Dionysius. . . offered a way toward reconciliation. He said that after a period of penance and re-baptism, those who had succumbed to pressure would be welcomed back into the Church.” These comments about requiring re-baptism of apostates have been off-putting to a number of voters today; some have even decided to vote for Irene instead because of this. But when I read the entry on Dionysus in the online Encyclopedia Britannica, it seemed to say something quite different: “On his return to Alexandria in about 260, Dionysius favoured readmitting penitent apostates to the church in opposition to those who wanted to exclude them permanently. Engaged in the bitter controversy over baptism performed by heretics, Dionysius did not insist on rebaptizing converts who had received heretical baptism, but he recognized the right of communities to rebaptize if they preferred.” [http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/164246/Saint-Dionysius-of-Alexandria] In other words, Dionysus did NOT include re-baptism as a condition for apostates to be reconciled to the Church, as today’s Lent Madness bio seems to claim. So, SEC, which is it?

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      March 9, 2015 - 12:36 pm | Permalink

      isn’t the qualifying part there the baptism by heretics?

      • March 9, 2015 - 3:07 pm | Permalink

        Donna, could you please clarify your question for me? Thanks! Susan

        • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
          March 9, 2015 - 3:12 pm | Permalink

          Engaged in the bitter controversy over baptism performed by heretics, Dionysius did not insist on rebaptizing converts who had received heretical baptism,

          • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
            March 9, 2015 - 4:11 pm | Permalink

            That is rather clear.

  99. Diane Norton's Gravatar Diane Norton
    March 9, 2015 - 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Happy to be here . . . proud to be on the winning team this time. Rare for me. The stern visage of the Dionysius portrait reminds me of Barbara Walter’s famous line, “I am not a smiley kind of person.”

  100. Carol Buckalew's Gravatar Carol Buckalew
    March 9, 2015 - 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Sometimes I look at comments before voting and sometimes I go with my first inclination. That’s today and I voted for Dionysius for his reconciliation work. But reading the comments gave me a better understanding for Irene. Thank you Barbara for the comparison to Malala.

  101. Billie Jo's Gravatar Billie Jo
    March 9, 2015 - 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Dionysus had the courage to allow reconciliation with those who wandered off. He got my vote for addressing, with kindness and understanding, a dilemna that continues today

  102. Marilyn D's Gravatar Marilyn D
    March 9, 2015 - 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Irene’s story is “nice,” and I mean nice in a snarky way. I agree with Kathy’s comments about reaffirmation for those who were too scared to admit to being Christian during questionable times. Certainly baptism is a “for life” kind of thing. Still, I’m voting for Dionysius.

  103. Randall Byrd's Gravatar Randall Byrd
    March 9, 2015 - 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Another difficult choice. I have to side with the innovative way of reconciliation. Re-Baptism. It would have been so easy to draw those hard lines we so often see today and exclude rather than a sincere, and loving invitation to come back into the fold.

  104. Carolyn Roper's Gravatar Carolyn Roper
    March 9, 2015 - 12:55 pm | Permalink

    We certainly need reconciliation in today’s world, especially when quasi Muslims are running amok and spreading terror at will. We desperately need God to find us another Dionysius! And for us, the collective will to listen, understand, inwardly digest and act on the Message.

  105. Suzanne's Gravatar Suzanne
    March 9, 2015 - 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Voted for Irene, who is, at present, the underdog. But, good grief, what a woman! Am fascinated by and glad to be introduced to her story.

  106. Na's Gravatar Na
    March 9, 2015 - 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Irene all the way!! Irene is also my mother-n-laws name.

  107. March 9, 2015 - 1:02 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Dionysius because I believe we all need to emulate him. We all need to be accepting of each others lapses, including our own, and accept all who join or rejoin our Faith or other Faiths whose tenets faithfully embody God’s or their Higher Power’s Truths.

  108. Elaine Culver's Gravatar Elaine Culver
    March 9, 2015 - 1:05 pm | Permalink

    This miserable offender’s vote goes for Dionysius. One of the Proper Prefaces for Lent says that Jesus “was in every way tempted as we are, yet did not sin.” I think the reference is to the Monothelite Controversy, in which the hero was Maximus the Confessor, but I sort of digress. If Jesus had not had a human will as well as a divine one, it would be so easy to say, “Easy for you not to sin, Jesus; you’re the second Person of the Trinity.” But we can’t, because he was fully human as well as fully divine, and he didn’t and we frequently do. And then what? So Dionysius the Sensible and Compassionate as well as Great gets my vote today.

  109. Hugh Matheson's Gravatar Hugh Matheson
    March 9, 2015 - 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I vote for Irene. Monty Pythons’ s comment comes to mind, “I’m not dead yet.” Sometimes we need to be. Bit less earnest.

  110. March 9, 2015 - 1:28 pm | Permalink

    I just can’t seem to get over Dionysius’ reaction to persecution of fleeing to the desert and hiding until it was all over. I’m sure that it was the prudent thing to do but prudence rarely begets sainthood. His collect should be “Not in the face! Not in the face!” My vote is for Irene.

  111. Jane C's Gravatar Jane C
    March 9, 2015 - 1:40 pm | Permalink

    My vote goes to Irene, the fourth century Energizer Bunny who kept going, and going, and going to spread her Christian faith.

  112. March 9, 2015 - 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I was all ready to vote for Irene as a mythologized memory of an influential woman in the early church. Then I read Dionysus’ prayer, which is beautiful. The optional baptism seems like a way to welcome people back into the fold if they decided that they didn’t want to be martyrs after all. I can identify with them. Sometimes we aren’t as heroic as we’d like to be. God forgives, and so does Dionysus.

  113. Conny Santana's Gravatar Conny Santana
    March 9, 2015 - 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting. Disney should make the movie, Irene the Great. I’d go see it. I have a problem with the idea of rebaptism and have to thank the commentor who pointed out that Jewish tradition had no problem with the concept. Diyonysus it is.

  114. Pat's Gravatar Pat
    March 9, 2015 - 2:38 pm | Permalink

    I already voted but didn’t have time to comment. Two wonderful people and when I read about Diyonysus I was sold….until I read about Irene….then I was conflicted. Although I suspect Irene had many of the same attributes as Diyonysus, his prayer and the second chance philosophy won me over.

  115. Cathy's Gravatar Cathy
    March 9, 2015 - 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Tough choice. Dionysius for his spirit of not just pursuing forgiveness, but going further with actions of reconciliation (which is even harder) that alleviated suffering on a massive scale, without material intervention.

  116. Anne Clayton's Gravatar Anne Clayton
    March 9, 2015 - 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Had to vote for Irene. Just had to — no sound theological reason, no promptings by the Holy Spirit, no amount of reconciliation by Dionysius could sway me. I am a sucker for a feisty princess.

  117. Heather's Gravatar Heather
    March 9, 2015 - 2:52 pm | Permalink

    While “rebaptism” is troubling, I find myself drawn to a guy whose “forced migration” backfired and had to face the music as it were. Irene’s steadfastness and radicalness is impressive, especially in relation to an abusive father, the threat of trampling horses, a pit of vipers, and an arranged marriage. Dionysius is far more real, and he faced longer lasting threats of persecution, plague, and hostile divisions in the church. I, too, believe the example of a saint who works to keep faith alive and advance the healing of division is more compelling, even if he is less perfect.

  118. Heather's Gravatar Heather
    March 9, 2015 - 2:53 pm | Permalink

    An endorsement by St. Basil is no small thing.

  119. Juli Guy's Gravatar Juli Guy
    March 9, 2015 - 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Patron saint for police… female… preacher… she gets my vote!

  120. Patty Weber's Gravatar Patty Weber
    March 9, 2015 - 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Miracles, people, miracles! By definition they are something that is difficult for us to comprehend and believe. I do believe in miracles (outside of hockey as well as there) and thus Irene gets my vote.

  121. Carolyn Fishwick's Gravatar Carolyn Fishwick
    March 9, 2015 - 3:21 pm | Permalink

    A saint from Egypt and a saint from Iran – what a powerful reminder of the history of the Church in the Middle East and its contribution to our heritage. For the sake of our suffering sisters and brothers in both countries, so difficult to choose between these two, but chose Iran/Persia and the extraordinary Irene.

  122. March 9, 2015 - 3:32 pm | Permalink

    In honor of International Day of Women — VOTE FOR IRENE!

  123. Deb's Gravatar Deb
    March 9, 2015 - 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I’m continuing my trend of voting for saints whose stories sound the most realistic. While it’s possible Irene survived execution twice and was resurrected once, hers is unquestionably the less believable life story. Plus I love Dionysius’ prayer for reconciliation.

  124. Bill Nelson's Gravatar Bill Nelson
    March 9, 2015 - 3:56 pm | Permalink

    How could anyone vote for a guy who ran everytime trouble came over a woman who showed so much bravery for her faith?

  125. Bob Walker's Gravatar Bob Walker
    March 9, 2015 - 4:03 pm | Permalink

    I vote for Dionysius as this was the name of our parish (late) cat. He was a great cat who welcomed all who appeared at our door, as Dionysius welcomed back the Christians who did not flee.

  126. Dennis james's Gravatar Dennis james
    March 9, 2015 - 4:03 pm | Permalink

    so a saint named after the Greek god of Wine? Oh wait, I don’t drink anymore! so a saint who advocated for reconciliation with those who had denied the Christ in times of fear and torture; or wait how many times in my life have I denied the Christ for fear of being labeled a right wing fanatical nutcase? Oh wait, Dionysius is the root of my given name?Dionysius all the way!!!

  127. March 9, 2015 - 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Irene’s story could be a Disney movie!

  128. Ellen Gracie's Gravatar Ellen Gracie
    March 9, 2015 - 4:49 pm | Permalink

    I apparently have to vote for whoever has animals associated with them or who ever is a mystic. So Irene it was.

  129. March 9, 2015 - 4:51 pm | Permalink

    3.9.2015 Dionysius the Great

    forgiveness, the gift
    we all live by
    for none of us
    lives up to
    our billing.

  130. Pat's Gravatar Pat
    March 9, 2015 - 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Remember Jesus suggested we are to forgive 7 times 70 (in one gospel) – more in others: that’s what Dionysius was practicing – that and Staying Calm and Carrying On in spite of exiles, disease and sometimes just being in the wrong place at the wrong time – which I certainly can identify with. Irene was quite the magical person – and an escape artist as well, but was what we would call oppositional at times (not a bad trait either), yet Dionysius captures more of what I’m trying to channel these days!

    • Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
      March 9, 2015 - 8:10 pm | Permalink

      Irene was unbelievably magical!

  131. March 9, 2015 - 5:06 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Dionysius the Great because I was able to use his prayer in a Facebook discussion where a number of retired USAF Combat Search and Rescue folks are advocating carpet bombing of ISIS, as a “solution” to the “ISIS Problem.”

  132. Hilda's Gravatar Hilda
    March 9, 2015 - 5:31 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Irene. I believe in one baptism (contrary to what Dionysius required) and the resurrection of the body (which Irene seems to have experienced).

  133. March 9, 2015 - 5:33 pm | Permalink

    come on people, 10 days in a pit with snakes, a horse stampede having her head chopped off and still being resurrected, clearly, Irene was certainly a saint….worthy of the win!!!!! GO Irene!!!!

  134. Dorothy's Gravatar Dorothy
    March 9, 2015 - 5:48 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Irene, All the trauma she went through. She never gave up , she continue to do God’s work.

  135. Linda from St. Ed's's Gravatar Linda from St. Ed's
    March 9, 2015 - 5:54 pm | Permalink

    I ended up voting for Dionysius but came to a greater appreciation of Irene after reading this account of her life: http://www.antiochian.org/1116814202. Personally, something with several layers of legend stripped away helps me better understand her ministry and witness. (No offense intended toward our Celebrity Blogger, of course!)

  136. Alan Medsker's Gravatar Alan Medsker
    March 9, 2015 - 6:33 pm | Permalink

    So, I find myself always voting for the saint to whom miracles are not attributed, for some reason. I guess I feel like those things are very often really just folklore, and that while real miracles certainly can be performed by Almighty God (who is, after all, Almighty), I believe God would not want us to focus on the miracles themselves but on the healing that they bring to our relationships with God and with each other. I know this is a bit of a ramble. Mainly I am wanting to be commenter # 21,000, I guess :-).

  137. Kim on the Bayou's Gravatar Kim on the Bayou
    March 9, 2015 - 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Alexandria, Egypt was a place of enlightenment where great cultures met, yet Emperor Valerian banished Christians from this city of light.

    Interestingly, the order to banish Christians was rescinded by Valerian’s son after Valerian was captured by the Persian king Shapur after Valerian’s army lost the Battle of Edessa (Valerian spent the rest of his life as a prisoner of war). Dionysus and other Christians were able to return to Alexandria because of Valerian’s shameful defeat.

    Did Dionysius do the right thing by accepting banishment? Would martyrdom have been better? I don’t know. I love the debate over whether it’s better to die for your faith or better to live to fight another day.

    I voted for Dionysius because his life gives us a glimpse of how Christianity has thrived for thousands of years.

  138. John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
    March 9, 2015 - 7:59 pm | Permalink

    According to the Orthodox Wiki article on Dionysius the Great, Dennis (the English given name derived from Dionysius) advocated the reinstatement of apostates who repented and did penance withOUT re-baptism. The SEC account sounds enough like Wikipedia that I wonder whether there is a scribal error in its account. Or maybe there is something tendentious in Orthodox Wiki. Can anyone out there get past this seeming War of the Wikis to resolve this question? I don’t have access to hard copies of sources and commentaries. I’ve voted for Dennis on the grounds of our need for charity towards others, especially Christians separated from us by schism. and my sense that if there is any doubt as to whether a person has been baptised the safest course is conditional baptism.

  139. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    March 9, 2015 - 8:07 pm | Permalink

    I think Irene is like an ancient Jason- she is supposed to be stomped by wild horses-shut in with vipers- beheaded- and she keeps coming back- I can’t see myself preaching “Become a Christian and no harm will come to you- excitement yes- insanity- but you will be more powerful than Jesus- or at least AS powerful as Jesus” can’t buy it

  140. Penny Gordon's Gravatar Penny Gordon
    March 9, 2015 - 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Irene, for my aunt Irene, and because Irene the Great’s given name was Penelope. Totally subjective, yes, and utterly irrelevant to her life as a Christian, and even though I love the prayer penned by Dionysus.

  141. March 9, 2015 - 8:19 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Irene because Dionysius baptized people twice. A theological NO-NO!

  142. Judy Hoover's Gravatar Judy Hoover
    March 9, 2015 - 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Woman’s work is never done. She had to get up and keep on after suffering beheading. Good grief! I just have to vote for anyone who worked for peace.

  143. Joan A. Reyes's Gravatar Joan A. Reyes
    March 9, 2015 - 8:31 pm | Permalink

    After thinking it over and reading a few comments, I decided to go with Dionysius because reconciliation should really be a thing in today’s world. Especially if you post your political opinions on Facebook, because some people are not nice and we should really, really, really pray for them. Even when all you want to do is smack ’em.

  144. Linda Maloney's Gravatar Linda Maloney
    March 9, 2015 - 8:40 pm | Permalink

    I know what it’s like to have all sorts of obstacles raised to a woman’s preaching! Irene for me.

  145. Carol Virginia's Gravatar Carol Virginia
    March 9, 2015 - 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Irene had a laudable value system and despite unthinkable coercion, she remained faithful to her righteous beliefs and converted multitudes to Christianity. I would love to visit Ephesus. St. Irene is my paternal grandmother’s namesake, and I have the honor of sitting in her pew in our beloved Trinity Church. Dionysius is compelling, too, but my vote is a loyal one. I feel blessed by Irene.

  146. Barbara Gay's Gravatar Barbara Gay
    March 9, 2015 - 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Have to vote for Irene, as I work with an Irene, who is more than great, plus my mom was a policewoman and had a horse who sometimes got a little wild.

  147. Robert Coates's Gravatar Robert Coates
    March 10, 2015 - 12:01 am | Permalink

    This was a hard one. They both leave me a little cold, but Dionysius was named after my favorite pagan god, and Irene was disrespectful to her father. The whole pit of vipers thing lacks credibility, and a four day death and resurrection — really? No points for originality there.

  148. Brad and Taylor's Gravatar Brad and Taylor
    March 10, 2015 - 12:34 am | Permalink

    Horses, vipers, beheaded, raised from the dead, an empty tomb and conversion of thousands.That says it all……… A choice from God

  149. Marguerite's Gravatar Marguerite
    March 10, 2015 - 12:59 am | Permalink

    Rebaptism a “Theological No-no “??
    When my mother converted to the Roman Catholic Church she sis to be the stronger had to be rebaptised “in case her original Baptism was not done properly” Same procedure for a friend of mine who converted. I’m mystified!
    In any case , I believe Dionysus to be the stronger candidate especially for his prayer which I shall treasure.

    • John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
      March 10, 2015 - 3:22 am | Permalink

      Notice the words “in case”! That’s the essence of conditional baptism. It is not a rebaptism, merely a precaution.

  150. Marguerite's Gravatar Marguerite
    March 10, 2015 - 1:04 am | Permalink

    Rebaptism a “Theological No-no “??
    How is it that the Roman Catholic Church often insists on Rebaptising converts who are already Baptised Christians?

    • Karen's Gravatar Karen
      March 10, 2015 - 11:20 am | Permalink

      When I went through the Roman Catholic RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation as Adults) process, I had already been baptized & confirmed in the Methodist church.
      When discussing Baptism, the biggest hurdle was verification of baptism – you needed a certificate of baptism or had to arrange for a letter from the church in which you were baptized confirming that you had, indeed, been baptized. How many of us still have the certificate and, if not, what are the chances of knowing where and approximately when we were baptized?
      The second hurdle was verifying that we had been baptized in the Trinity. For mainstream denominations, that wasn’t a concern. We did, however, have several people who were baptized by various storefront churches around town, that was more of a problem. Here, at least, a lot of those churches use scripture passages related to the baptism of Christ in the Jordan, which was a baptism of repentance rather than baptism in the Trinity.

  151. Christianne McKee's Gravatar Christianne McKee
    March 10, 2015 - 1:13 am | Permalink

    It was the prayer cited above that made me vote for Dionysius over Irene. May God heal our dissensions indeed. And I am NOT talking about any smack talk on Lent Madness.

  152. March 10, 2015 - 9:26 am | Permalink

    I forgot to vote yesterday (gasp!) but I would have voted for Dionysius. The question of what to do with lapsed Christians after the persecutions was crucial, and I really liked that his prayer for reconciliation was centered in the attributes of God.

    I felt sorry for Irene, honestly. I think she was manipulated by her tutor, who told her that these various signs delivered by birds meant that she was destined for virginity and suffering?? Maybe I would have felt differently if we knew what the signs were, but I don’t think so. What teenager, raised in dramatic isolation, receiving a secret education, wouldn’t believe whatever she was told about having a dramatic destiny?

  153. shawn's Gravatar shawn
    March 10, 2015 - 10:04 am | Permalink

    I kind of like the saints who appear to be real people. I also love the swashbuckling stories and benefit from the symbolism and layers of meaning. But will vote for Dennis today!

Comments are closed.