Francis of Assisi vs. Molly Brant

And then there were four. We started Lent Madness 2015 with 32 saints and now you can count the remaining saints on one hand (and still have a thumb left over). Who will win the coveted Golden Halo? Only a few short days and your voting participation will give us the answer. But it’s come down to this: Francis of Assisi, Molly Brant, Brigid of Kildare, and Egeria.

Today we begin the first of two Faithful Four match-ups as Francis of Assisi takes on Molly Brant. Tomorrow, Egeria will face Brigid of Kildare. Then on Spy Wednesday you, Lent Madness voter, will decide who wins the 2015 Golden Halo. (What exactly is "Spy Wednesday?" Thanks for asking. Click here to read all about it).

In this round we ask our Celebrity Bloggers to briefly answer one question: “Why should Saint XX win the Golden Halo?” Today, Laurie Brock (Francis) and Maria Kane (Molly) continue to shepherd these two saintly souls through the 2015 bracket.

Speaking of which, how about a round of applause for our fabulous team of Celebrity Bloggers who toil away in the trenches of Lent Madness without nearly enough recognition? They are truly the backbone of this operation and are worthy of our gratitude. Please do hound them for autographs when you spot them wearing sunglasses and baseball caps just trying to lead normal lives.

To make it to the Faithful Four, Francis defeated John Wycliffe, Cecilia, and Thecla while Molly beat Swithun, Cuthbert, and Bernard Mizeki. (Click on the names of defeated opponents to relive the previous saintly battles and refresh your memory about these two saints).

Francis of Assisi

St. Francis with the animalsOur church garden is well-used holy space by all of God’s creation. One afternoon in October, members of our church gather with our companion animals and ask God’s blessing on these precious beings of God who share their lives with us.

Over the years, more and more neighbors of many faiths join us, and what began as a small gathering has grown into a lively and sacred time filled with the chorus of barks and meows. Our St. Francis statue, nestled in a corner of the church garden, stands in witness to this holy gathering, reminding us of the man who saw God fully visible in every aspect of holy Creation.

Francis, for his many gifts to the Christian faith, is likely most well-known as the namesake of the Blessing of Animals. I suspect Francis, who spent his life responding to the great generosity of God in all he encountered, would probably offer he was just stating the obvious: that God is present in all that surrounds and sustains us and of course we should offer thanks and prayers.

Francis’ most well-known prayer which he actually wrote, Canticle of Brother Sun, is a song to God who has so deeply entered creation that everything is connected in mystical union. Francis saw everything in creation related to one another and deserving of honor and love. The words remind us that no part of creation is too small or too great, too insignificant or too vast, to stand separate from each other. Brother Sun and Sister Moon are honored. Sister Water, Brother Fire, and Sister Mother Earth are all part of the unity of God. Even Sister Death, “from whom no living man can escape” is praised as part of God’s creative experience.

One of the lesser known aspects of Francis is his devotion to the Holy Spirit. Francis was inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit in St. Francis mystic
prayer, devotion, service, humility, and peace (granted, Francis’ humility would probably cause him to take the Golden Halo, if he wins, and offer it to Brother Sun or Sister Moon to add to their light). For Francis, love is the medium of Holy Spirit, and expressing love is a reflection of the Holy Spirit alive in our lives. He writes in one of his prayers, “inflamed by the Holy Spirit, may we be able to follow in the footprints of Your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.”

As we begin Holy Week, we pray that we, too, will walk in the way of the cross, in the footprints of Jesus, and find it the way of life. At the end of Holy Week, we will gather again in our church garden to begin the Great Vigil of Easter. Our song of the Exsultet will celebrate Brother Fire that is the New Fire we pray will burn within our souls; we will praise Sister Death who has been transformed by God and Christ; we will sing with Mother Earth that darkness has been vanquished by our Eternal King.

Our St. Francis statue, nestled in the corner of the church garden, will stand witness to this holy gathering. And in the great chorus of the angels and saints, I pray that we will hear Francis himself join us in our songs and prayers exalting God who has entered creation and filled it with new life.  

-- Laurie Brock

 Molly Brant

mbrant-bio-portraitbThe first time I read Molly Brant’s history, I was immediately struck by her ability to navigate between two vastly different cultures and political systems. As one historian said, she was a “bridge between two worlds.” In the midst of our currently fractured political system, Brant’s life illustrates that there is another way — perhaps not a perfect way — but a means nonetheless of how people of differing cultural and political systems can strive to co-exist in times of uncertainty. Molly’s faithfulness to her Christian faith and her Mohawk family shaped her commitment to harmonious relations even amidst a war that sought to attain the allegiances of Native American tribes no matter the cost to tribal culture and way of life.

Naturally, many debates have circled around Molly’s Loyalist leanings. However, one must remember that history is often on the side of the winner. Were we to step into Molly’s shoes, our view and esteem of her might be a bit different.

Indeed, Molly’s life causes us to examine our own interpretations, leanings, and motivations and how they impact others.

Ultimately, Molly’s goal was to preserve the cultural vitality and independence of Native American tribes. While her displacement illumination-molly-brantto Canada could have been a cause for her to remain bitter, she instead chose to channel her energy into establishing southern Ontario’s first church.

Upon her death, both her Mohawk community and her British neighbors collectively mourned her death and recognized her outstanding leadership. As one contemporary of Brant recalled, “She was quiet in demeanour, on occcasion, [sic] and possessed of a calm dignity that bespoke a native pride and consciousness of power. She seldom imposed herself into the picture, but no one was in her presence without being aware of her.”

Such is often the case of men and women whose faith shapes not what they say, but how they seek to live their lives in the midst of an imperfect world.

-- Maria Kane


Francis of Assisi vs. Molly Brant

  • Francis of Assisi (71%, 4,273 Votes)
  • Molly Brant (29%, 1,754 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,027

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168 comments on “Francis of Assisi vs. Molly Brant”

  1. […] Hail, all holy virtues, which, by the grace and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, are poured into the hearts of the faithful so that, faithless no longer, they may be made faithful servants of God. Amen.

    [attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi]

  2. I voted for st. Francis because he is the only boy left and his pictures are beautiful.

    1. I think your boy will go right down to the final vote, Oliver! It's been an exciting Lent Madness, hasn't it? And fun too.

    2. Oliver, I think your first point is well-taken. (And yes, the art is beautiful!) It is really quite amazing that we have three girls and one boy left. I don't think many would have predicted this. I also tend to agree with the person who wrote that St. Francis should probably be retired from Lent Madness. He is such a "crowd favorite"!

    3. Oliver, it has been a delight reading your posts. I look forward to your posts for Lent Madness 2016!!!!

    4. Your mom emailed me and told me you were voting and commenting each day and I am so proud of you! Many of us at St. John's have been enjoying your comments without realizing it was OUR Oliver all this time! When I see you this weekend, I want to give you one of the Lent Madness "Saintly Scorecards" to remember all your favorite saints.

        Wishing you a happy birthday, happy Easter, and wonderful year!

    5. Happy, happy birthday, Oliver! You are indeed a most favored member of the Lent Madness posters, and I do hope you'll be back again next year. As soon as I found out it was your birthday, I resolved to vote for whomever Oliver votes for today, so St. Francis it is! May you have a most fabulously awesome birthday!

    1. St. Francis is a sentimental favorite and needs to be permanently retired. It is unfair to all the other worthies to compete against him.

      1. I voted for him, and yet I totally agree with you, Paul. Maybe he could be Golden Halo wearer in chief!

      2. Now that even Popes can should be OK to hang up the Golden Halo and retire from competing. St. Francis does need a special title or designation, however. Any ideas? Aging pastors become "emeritus". Even Angels have 9 different teams. Form follows function even in heavenly choirs. Francis' number* needs to be retired and his jersey raised in the highest rafters of the Lent Madness Superdome. *(XIV: feast day on 10/4) How many Saints are put in gardens along with the BVM, gnomes, and all manner of animals? I think gardeners and the makers of garden pottery have already voted.

        1. This, for me, highlights the unfairness of putting Francis in here at all. We're not even at the final contest and it's assumed he will win. No fun there.

          1. Just because something is assumed doesn't mean that it's going to happen. I fail to understand all this fuss over Francis. He didn't win the last time. It looks like he might this time. So where's all the retirement talk coming from. Will we hear that the next time Emma is in the running? Or Thecla? Doubtful.

  3. Wonderful write-ups. I have voted for St Francis in many ways since my days as a teenager long ago. Today I voted for Molly. Thank you for bringing her to life for me.

  4. Voted for Molly Brant this morning. I am absolutely in awe of the work of St. Francis but have deep gratitude for people who built bridges between cultures to extend the Christian faith. Alas, such are the decisions one must make in the faithful four.

  5. Ah, having just read a fine article about how women's contributions to groups are ignored while men's are attended to, I have to cancel out Oliver's vote for Francis just on the basis of his comment that "he's the only boy left." Besides, as noted he'd probably just give away the flashy headgear anyway.

    1. sigh.......he's seven years old, and he has voted on similar lines for women, simply based on that in the past.

      1. And where's the sigh in that? Many others of more years have reported voting for similar reasons.

        1. The sigh is based on the fact, that it is perfectly fine for him to vote as he did, because in other rounds he has voted for others simply on the basis of gender, and he's seven years old, and can vote with any rationale he wants......sigh

          1. Still — why a sigh? He is eight now, formerly seven, and has much company in the past rounds, judging from comments, of folks who voted apparently only on gender.

          2. I am 62, and I too can vote as I please based on any rationale I'm led to assert. The way I see it, more impressive than reasoning is faithfulness and for that I give a very deep sigh of reverence for the faithfulness of a child. Jesus said that to enter the Kingdom of Heaven we must become like children, and how blessed we have been to have a child in our midst to set an example! Blessings and sighs too deep for words!

  6. Francis is already well known and much loved. Molly Brant deserves to be better known, so I am voting for her.

    1. Molly would win it all if not up against St Francis, also worthy. If one wants to reference another overlooked feminine of the season (ncaa WOMEN March Madness bracket), Molly is the Notre Dame against the Francis of Connecticut. So of course she gets my symbolic vote. Very happy to have learned of her, this Lent.

  7. Did my formation for spiritual direction at the Franciscan Spirituality Center in LaCrosse and met Jesus again for the first time. Need I say more?

  8. Molly -- a Native American and a woman, who attempted to bridge two cultures. We need more of that today.

  9. With love for one and deep deep regret for the other I voted after a long weekend of back-and-forth. Two great candidates, two great write-ups.

  10. St. Francis - for our dog, our three indoor and two outdoor cats and for all God's creatures who bring light, beauty and love into our lives. And for the camel who leads the procession at The Cathedral St. John the Divine on St. Francis Day.

  11. Laurie Brock's summing-up for Saint Francis is moving and powerful. I would have voted for him in any case; her writing makes me even more glad to have done so.

  12. Thank you to all the CBs but especially to Laurie and Maria for today's offerings. Both heartfully written.

  13. I was very glad to meet and learn about Molly, who is much to be admired for bridging cultures, but in the end this time I voted for Francis. The RC Pope did choose a meaningful name which tells us a great deal about his beliefs. I am struck today by Francis's picture of God throughout His universe. We are reminded to respect all of God's creation, and that is a powerful message to me today.

  14. Two great choices. I'm a bit concerned that an emphasis on Francis' signature contributions can let us forget what a revolutionary he was -- how many of his thoughts and practices stood against the rich and complacent church of his day. Just as Molly's "calm dignity ... and consciousness of power" challenged the systems of her day.

  15. Beautiful essay on Francis, Laurie Brock. Since visiting Assisi in 1967, Francis has always been, and will ever be my favorite saint. My dogs agree, but alas, they can't vote.

    1. In the old days of the Internet, back in the early- to mid-90s. there was a saying: "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog." Maybe your dogs should sign up for gmail!


  16. While my love of blessing the animals and the experience of visiting his church in Italy, I have been drawn to Molly since first reading and pray she may get the Golden Halo. And though voting for Francis "as the only boy left" may make sense for some, I very much hope others will see beyond the familiar and consider anew Molly. Vote Molly!

  17. Thanks to Donna. For including some of God's other creatures in the procession at St. John's. It might do to include all the dogs who come with their persons that day and, when the organ starts up, sing along with congregation. Truly a joyful noise.

  18. I love St Francis but in this I had to vote for Molly Brant. She exemplifies how God works in mysterious ways. She brought Christ's word to her people and she did form a bridge between the two cultures. Her witness shows that there is another way to a peace between cultures.

  19. While we have a tough choice here, I got to go with St. Francis the patron saint of San Francisco. From his love of nature and animals to his unique path and tolerance of others his spirit embodies the spiritual and personal side of our great City by the bay.

  20. As the inspiration for our vacation bible school program this year which features a community garden, I have to vote Francis.

  21. Thanks you, Laurie Brock and my cousin-in-law, Kathy Hartley, for your eloquent words about St. Francis. I always wanted to bring my iguana in for the annual Blessing of the Animals, but wasn't sure if I should. Now she's gone and I missed all those opportunities which I truly regret. Anyway, St. Francis, may this Holy Week be also the celebration of you winning The Golden Halo.

  22. Both are wonderful saints and the write-ups so informative. I wish I could vote twice, once for each saint. However after deep thought, inflamed by the Holy Spirit--------I vote.

    1. I voted for St. Francis, but I do have a huge soft spot for First Nations saints. It was hard.

  23. I greatly admire Molly's ability to walk between different cultures and find common ground, a sorely needed attribute in today's world. That said, when one looks not only at what Francis accomplished in his lifetime, but how his approach to ministry has impacted millions since (not even counting all the animals!), the vote had to go to Francis.