Frederick Douglass vs. Egeria

In the last battle of the last full week of the last ever (just kidding!) Lent Madness, the last spot in the 2015 Faithful Four is up for grabs. Who will join Francis of Assisi, Brigid of Kildare, and Molly Brant (who defeated Bernard Mizeki 59% to 41%)? Will it be Frederick Douglass or Egeria? Well, that's up to you.

To make it this far, Frederick Douglass defeated Dorcas and Juan Diego while Egeria got past Hildegard of Bingen and Thomas Ken.

Lent Madness will continue on the Monday of Holy Week with Francis of Assisi vs. Molly Brant. On Tuesday Brigid will take on today's winner. Then it all comes down to Spy Wednesday as the two remaining saints will compete for the right to wear the 2015 Golden Halo. Stay with us, folks, The End is Near!

Frederick Douglass

Cedar HillEvery tourist to Washington, D.C., visits the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and Capitol Building. Such sights are classic but they’re so…pedestrian. If you want a bird’s eye view of the city and an opportunity to imagine a day in the life of one of North America’s greatest embodiments of faithfulness, wisdom, and activism, head south to Cedar Hill, Frederick Douglass’ historic and beautifully restored property in Washington’s Anacostia neighborhood. There you’ll have a chance to walk his expertly manicured lawn, which Douglass tended and on which he lifted weights each morning.

Yes, my friends, Douglass was a fitness buff and a naturalist who tended to his body and garden with great affection and detail. FRDO3136_3135_dumbBellsIndeed, he was a well-rounded man long before “well-rounded” became a buzzword on college applications.

Inside his home you’ll find the East Parlor room, where Douglass entertained guests with checkers, Roman mythology, and musical selections on his violin or from his family. In the same space, you will also find original copies of his 3 autobiographies — three, y’all. Most folks can’t even write one.

s99.2p1 copyAlthough, there are always at least one or two overachievers in every family, everyone in Douglass’ family was an overachiever. After supper — at which all the children were expected to attend no matter their age — the family would retire to the West Parlor room where they regularly regaled one another with stories, musical shows, and readings. They were also expected to engage in conversations on current events, literature, and history. Kids today don’t know how easy they have it, do they? Of course, with Frederick as their father, the Douglass kids stood little chance. Well into his 60s and 70s, Douglass continued to spend up to 5 hours a day in his study, reading, teaching himself foreign languages, and writing letters. So much for early retirement.

Now, lest one think Douglass is an ancient figure only fit for historic sites, museums, and Afro_Sheen_Douglasstextbooks, Mr. Douglass has also had his share of television fame. In a 1970's commercial for Afro Sheen, the ghost of Frederick Douglass instructed a young co-ed on properly styling his Afro and shared his thoughts on American progress.

So next time you visit Washington, D.C., don’t go where all the regular people go. Be an overachiever like Frederick Douglass and head across the river to Cedar Hill. There you will hear the triumphant story of a man who educated himself, escaped to freedom, published a newspaper, advocated for the disenfranchised, dedicated time to his children and grandchildren, and toned his way to some of the best biceps in town. The only thing he’s missing is the Golden Halo.

-- Maria Kane


Egeria stampEgeria, kindly recollect, was a Spanish nun who travelled to Palestine, Turkey, and Greece from 381-384 CE, and wrote letters home describing her adventures. As befits one of the first Pioneers of PenPals, Spain issued a stamp for her in 1984.

Somewhat confusingly, there is also a tropical aquarium plant named for her. Because egeria plantevery trip around the bowl is a pilgrimage for a goldfish who can only remember 30 seconds worth of stuff!

p-437-iwalkedblack_2Once she returned home, however, I feel confident in asserting that Egeria had a garment similar to this to notify people of her travels.

Egeria is invoked as an authority by the custodian Franciscans who live in and care fore the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and they invite you to pull a virtual-Egeria, and go on a pilgrimage through the shrine at their site. (It’s not bad—it’s just missing the pushing crowds, and the arguing priests, and the conflicting liturgies, and riot of humanity which sort of both ruins and makes the whole thing worth it).

For this reason, I think this means that any kitsch associated with the Holy Sepulcher (more properly titled Church of the Resurrection by the locals, as it marks the sites where Our Lord was crucified, died, was buried and rose again) can be attributed to Egeria. AND GOOD LORD, IS THERE A LOT.

egeria perfumeDo you want to smell like Jerusalem? (You don’t, actually. You really, really don’t.) But in case you’d like to smell like what these folks THINK Jerusalem smells like, there is perfume for that.

And get your own Holy oil from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It comes with a how-to pamphlet, and egeria holy oila certificate of authenticity from the Greek Orthodox Church. It is also buy 3, get 1 free, so act now!

There is also a pleasing/overwhelming assortments of rosaries, holy cards, olive wood carvings, relics, holy water, incense, candles, icons, and whatever else you can imagine available. Since Egeria’s time, pilgrimage has become a high-value industry.

However, her influence isn’t all commercial; there’s also the Egeria Project — a cooperative project between 12 state and religious organizations throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East, to promote pilgrimage and peace throughout the lands in which Egeria travelled.  The groups involved in the project look to Egeria as someone who embodies the values of coexistence, learning from others, and creative cooperation — truly a saint sorely needed!

-- Megan Castellan


Frederick Douglass vs. Egeria

  • Egeria (51%, 2,747 Votes)
  • Frederick Douglass (49%, 2,674 Votes)

Total Voters: 5,421

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174 comments on “Frederick Douglass vs. Egeria”

  1. Please don't tell my sister, but I voted for Egeria again in this round. I loved learning about her, and she has given us so much!

      1. She doesn't dislike Egeria, but she is really Gung Ho for Frederick Douglass to get the Halo!

  2. I am seriously considering abstaining, but perhaps I'll join Meridith in belting out several verses of "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God" as an aid to discernment.

  3. I had to vote for Egeria again after seeing the kitsch... I have two of the products, the T-Shirt and the perfume. The Jerusalem scent is my favorite perfume. I bought my first bottle in Jericho in 2011 and have been buying it online ever since. It truly reminds me of Jerusalem!

  4. I have to disagree that writing three autobiographies showed a lack of humility or anything else negative about Douglass's character. He lived at a time when many people, North as well as South, believed in an evil mythology about people of color: that they were childlike, less intelligent than whites, untrustworthy, incapable of governing themselves or making good use of an education, even (in the eyes of too many) less than fully human. Autobiographies such as those Douglass wrote were forms of witness to the contrary, powerful counter-narratives to the ideology of racial inferiority. Even today among some groups in the U.S. and elsewhere, such witness is still sorely needed.

  5. Had to vote for Frederic Douglass--such a key figure in US history--tho the amazing Egeria kitsch entry almost swayed me. And I am surprisingly glad, after I vote, to see that she's a little ahead. A nail-biter!!

  6. Had to vote for Mr. Douglass. I visit DC for business all the time, and now know where to go.

  7. I was all set to vote for Douglass, since my sister and I passed through his Anacostia neighborhood on our way to a quadruple committal service for our aunt and uncle and our cousins' parents, and because he was such an exemplary father, but then there was Project Egeria, a wonderful example of direct action to heal the Holy Land and its neighbors: O pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee. And here's Good Friday breathing down our necks like the dragon Archibald that Uncle Chub invented to delight our cousins' childhood.

  8. I once again cast my vote with Oliver. After all, aren't we to come to the Kingdom of Heaven as a child? Amd Jesus said "let the children come to me." It is refreshing to look at our saints through a child's eye. And the winner of the Golden Halo should receive it like a child.
    I love the innocence and simplicity of Oliver's comments.

    1. Oliver at 7 and still at 8 years old is a joyful addition to this very joy filled Lenten discipline. Than you SEC and Oliver's parents.

  9. I'm voting for Oliver (the 8 years old) to be a guest blogger next year. Today's vote? Egeria. FD had a less than saintly love life. ' nuf said

  10. Egeria for the finals! (I'm going to vote for Francis at that point, I'm almost certain, but I'd love to see these two in the last round....)

  11. Egeria all the way!! She gave so much to future generations and we can thank Her for all the
    beauty and ritual we will celebrate this week. And to have a Project today which: " embodies
    the values of coexistence, learning from others, and creative cooperation" what a legacy!!
    —" truly a saint sorely needed!"

    Egeria, You go girl, GO!!!

    1. My sentiments exactly!!!!! What an incredible woman!!!! What she did would be amazing today let alone back then. What a gift she gave us in the history she preserved!!! GO GIRL GO GIRL ALL THE WAY!!!!!

      1. I agree. Egeria for Holy Week and the Project. Also for those of us who like to take notes on everything and who travel. Egeria, You go girl!!

  12. Oh the agony and the ectasy of these impossible choices! Oliver, you wise soul, you've helped yet again. While asking the forgiveness of Frederick Douglass, I stand with Egeria.

  13. An impossible choice between Frederick and Egencia? How about having to choose between Maria and Megan? Bravo to them and ALL of this year's celebrity bloggers, for demonstrating day after Lenten day that thoughtful composition still has value in this age of texts, tweets and emoticons. Thank you, CBs, comment community and, of course, the SEC, for sharing the written gifts of your wit, warmth and spirituality.

  14. Sorry, Mr. Douglass. The Egeria Project nailed it for me. Anything that works for peace in the Middle East.

  15. Egeria preserves the early traditions of the church that make many of the Holy Week services special. But, Douglass faced and overcame many mental and physical abuses, and cultural biases in order to make the world in which he lived aware of the misuse of scripture to oppress others. It seems that his 3 autobiographies may have been in response to those that thought he was not worthy to be considered more than 3/5 of a person.

  16. I wish that FD's time in Rochester, NY, where I live, was mentioned too. The church where he and his pal Susan B. worshiped has been turned into a lovely performance hall for a music school.

  17. Egaria was a wonderful pilgrim and I cheered her on in the last round, but how can I not vote for a great American hero who was one of the most persuasive voices against the horrible injustice of slavery? Not only that, he also stood proudly against the opinions of the times for women'a suffrage. Frederick Douglas has my vote and I hope he will have yours as well. Saintly kitsch is fun but not to take this great man to the final four would be an injustice.

  18. Frederick Douglass does not need kitsch. He was a great man of faith and courage who lived his faith and positively affected humanity, not liturgy or travel literature. Unfortunately, his write-up does him an injustice, not only by omitting kitsch (for those who value it). He is more than a tourist destination. He was a very real and powerful force for proper behavior toward others, irrespective of faith. Having visited his home in DC, however, I agree that it should be on everyone's schedule when in DC.

  19. Just a chant to get into the Lenten Madness spirit and cheer on our Egeria!

    Hey there Episcopalians,
    Have you heard?
    Our Egeria the greatest,
    Yeah, that's the word.

    Hey there Episcopalians,
    What do you say?
    If you love your liturgy let's
    Cheer Egeria on today!

    Hey there Episcopalians,
    What do you know?
    If you've got Easter spirit,
    Then let it show!

    Say, "Hey! Ho!
    C'mon Egeria, let's go!"
    "Hey! Ho!
    C'mon Egeria, LET'S GO!

    1. OH THANK YOU FOR YOUR CREATIVITY! She's my girl! Thanks for providing me with a huge smile this morning!

  20. I know we're not supposed to make snippy comments. But I was astounded yesterday when Molly Brant beat Bernard Mizeki. And as I write Egeria is ahead of Frederick Douglass. Africans and people of African descent seem to be less appealing to the majority of Lent Madness voters, which is making me very sad. Of course, Bernard and Frederick both made it to the Elate Eight, a notable achievement. But I'm still disturbed and sad today.

    1. totally agree, no reason either of these men should have lost, apparently they aren't popular enough, apparently, some things still need to change.

    2. I voted for Mizeki yesterday, not because he was African, but because of his inspiring life and incredible sacrifice. My vote today goes to Egeria, not because she is a woman or because Fredrick Douglass is a man of color, but because she represents more of what I call a saint, while he will forever be an American hero. With all the difficulties in deciding between such equally admirable candidates, color of skin is not even a consideration except in his favor.

    3. It wd be interesting to know. I don't believe Mzeki lost b/c he is African. Rather, I think there was an inexplicable surge for Molly who, in my mind, is cold-eyed, self-serving, and not really Final Four material for the Golden Halo. I, too, was vy disappointed in the result, but I am not thinking Mzeki's Africa origin was the cause, simply one set of supporters more efficient at turn-out-the-vote than the other set!

      1. I think all this "Kitsch" stuff was the driving force, not race or color or ethnic origins. I didn't like it yesterday and I don't like it today!

      2. Did you ever think that maybe Frederick Douglass wrote 3 autobiographies because he had a lot to say that is of infinite value?

        1. Thinking back to my years in EfM and my years in certification trainings and my years as a mentor, I've written far more than 3 autobiographies. Times change people. Events change outlooks and perceptions. With all that Douglas did and saw he probably could have legitimately written several more autobiographies. Doesn't make him arrogant or anything of the sort. Might just be proo thathe was more perceptive and sensitive to his changing self.

      3. You should have written Frederick's kitsch article. There wasn't a single image of him shown and I know there has to be stuff out there. Thanks for sharing the ones you did!

    4. Oh my goodness, please don't make us out to be rascists. Frederick Douglass has made it to the Elate Eight and is in a tie, last time I checked, with Egeria's. I hardly think that shows a prejudice against people of color. Although I am also puzzled about Molly Brandt's victory, I think don't think race was a factor.

  21. Douglass wins for me without waffling. Thanks also to Susan Wall for addressing the three autobiographies issue. In a time when it was in many states illegal to educate people of color, Douglass' story, as experienced by him, is an important record.
    I'm also grateful for Egeria and for the Lent Madness reminders that lives of faith can take many paths.

  22. The comments from my fellow Christians and Episcopalians has perhaps been the most wonderful part of this year's Lent Madness. Thank you to ALL of you! We ARE a worldwide community.

  23. From this post you would be led to believe that there is a dearth of Frederick Douglass kitsch. But do a search on ebay and you'll know the opposite is true. This should have been an easy win for him...and a much more interesting post.

  24. Frederick Douglass embodies the characteristics of a great human being, but Megan's choices of including references and connections to not only the Church of the Holy Sepulchre but to the Nicene Creed
    were akin to genious in promoting Egeria. The write-ups for the final round are sure to impress and unsettle... our kettle of .... kitsch. 😉