Clare vs. Denis

Let's just state right off the bat that there is no room for nepotism in Lent Madness. Saints related to members of the Supreme Executive Committee are ineligible to compete for the Golden Halo.

Therefore, just because Francis of Assisi won the coveted Golden Halo last year, there was no funny business going on that led to Clare of Assisi's inclusion this year. The SEC was not coerced by the Assisi mafia. In fact, Clare only made it into the bracket by winning a play-in round against  Chad of Lichfield held during the Episcopal Church's General Convention last summer.

Anyway, today Clare faces off against Denis. Please don't lose your head over this battle.

Yesterday, in a VERY tight contest, Columba eked out a victory over Kateri Tekakwitha 51% to 49% in the closest battle to date in Lent Madness 2016. Columba will face Meister Eckhart in the Saintly Sixteen. Sadly, we also saw our first case of voter fraud. At 11:02 pm EST, two addresses, in Vermillion, SD and Medford, OR were blocked. 125 votes for Kateri Tekakwitha were recorded from these two locations, and we do not know of groups participating in Lent Madness in those cities. Not enough votes were cast to affect the outcome, but we have blocked the addresses to prevent further votes. Remember, vote only once per person or be cast into the outer darkness of Lent Madness! Also, Jesus does not approve of cheating.

And finally, if you missed yesterday's edition of Monday Madness, Tim and Scott share suggestions on how to be a Lent Madness evangelist in your congregation. Using a Lent Madness mug in place of a chalice may or may not be one of their tips.

800px-Simone_Martini_047Often overshadowed by her friend Francis, Clare was one of the most dedicated followers of Saint Francis, the Poor Man of Assisi (and 2015 Golden Halo winner). Clare has been called a clear mirror of a life lived in deep spirituality, dedicated wholly to Christ, embracing the charisms of poverty, cloistered contemplation, and devotion.

Like Francis, Clare was born into a wealthy family in the late twelfth century. She led a life of prayer and devotion from early childhood. Sometime before 1212, Clare heard Francis preach. Soon after, her uncle arranged a marriage for her, and Clare fled to Francis, asking his advice. He implored her to live a life dedicated to Christ. On Palm Sunday in 1212, Clare began her contemplative life in a Benedictine house.

Her father came to the convent to retrieve her and (legend says) she clung to the altar so fiercely that the heavy altar cloths were torn. Clare, however gentle she is portrayed in prayer and devotion, was defiant in her dedication to the contemplative life. She eventually settled in the church of San Damiano, where she and other women became known as the Poor Ladies of Assisi. Clare served as their abbess, the head of the abbey.

Francis’s male followers were itinerant preachers; Clare and the sisters lived a cloistered life of prayer and poverty. For Clare, poverty was foundational to the order’s rule and preserved the purity of the Franciscan heritage. Clare saw poverty as a charism, a gift of the Holy Spirit, which offered the narrow way to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Clare, dedicated to ensuring the rule of total poverty, lobbied throughout her life for papal approval to ensure the Poor Clare’s Rule of Life. In 1253, Clare received news that the pope sanctioned the Rule. Two days later, she died.

Collect for Clare
O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servant Clare, may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

— Laurie Brock


Saint-Denis-Woodcut-1826We know very little about Denis, a third-century missionary, martyr, and bishop of Paris. The most famous of his feats is also the most improbable: After being decapitated on Paris’ highest hill (today known as Montmartre), he reportedly picked up his own head and carried it six miles, preaching repentance the entire way. This makes Denis one of about fifty cephalophores— saints who are traditionally depicted carrying their heads in their own hands.

Denis’s story is shot through with myth and mystery. Because his name may have originally been Dionysius, he is sometimes confused with Dionysius the Areopagite, a judge converted by the apostle Paul (Acts 17:34). However, Denis is believed to have been a missionary sent by Pope Fabian to evangelize the Romans living in Lutetia (today’s Paris) along with his two inseparable companions, Rusticus and Eleutherius. The three of them may have settled on the island in the river Seine where Notre Dame was later erected.

In the year 250, the emperor Decius issued an edict ordering everyone in the empire to burn incense to the Roman gods and the emperor. Some Christians complied; others went into hiding, and some openly refused to perform the sacrifice. Denis, along with Rusticus and Eleutherius, may have been among those who refused and were executed. Or maybe they were executed because of their success at converting people to Christianity. Allegedly, Montmartre, the traditional place of their martyrdom, comes from the Latin expression Mons Martyrum (Martyr’s Hill); some reject this etymology as fanciful.

According to tradition, Denis collapsed after hiking (while carrying his head in his hands) some six miles north of downtown Paris. In the fifth or sixth century, his final resting place became a shrine, and a chapel was built. During the twelfth century, the impressive Saint Denis Basilica was erected on the spot.

Denis is the patron of Paris, and his basilica is often the burial place for France’s royalty. In the Roman Catholic tradition, he is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers—saints whose intercession is believed to be particularly effective against specific diseases. Denis’s special charism is to help people suffering from headaches.

Collect for Denis
Almighty God, we remember before you the life and ministry of your servant Denis, who even in the most extreme of circumstances, continued to preach the good news of your redemption and love. Grant us faithful companions on our journey to you, that we may encourage each other in our earthly pilgrimage with your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

— Hugo Olaiz

Clare vs. Denis

  • Clare (74%, 5,407 Votes)
  • Denis (26%, 1,908 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,315

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Clare: By Simone Martini - The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. 


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258 comments on “Clare vs. Denis”

    1. I voted for Clare.❤️

      Any woman who CHOOSES poverty is WAY more of a Martyr than a man carrying his cut-off head!

      Try being a woman that's cut off her hair (as have I).

    2. Is. This the Clare who is the patron saint of television and was reported to have seen St Francis' sermons on her cell wall?

      1. Yes. Her seeing the visions of Midnight Mass while it was happening is why she is th patron saint of TV.

  1. Clare gets my vote because she fought hard to live as God called her despite the opinions of powerful men. Go, Clare, and pray for us this day.

  2. Sorry, Oliver! Good reasons, but I'm voting for Denis--he had his HEAD cut off. And he's the patron of Paris!

    1. Amen. Haven't we all had our head cut off and had to keep on going? St. Denis did that and deserves credit. Plus wouldn't a week in Paris be more edifying in many ways that hanging out with the Poor Clares? Denis needs our votes.

  3. Although I did learn a new word - cephalophore - which I will attempt to weave into my conversations today - I had to go with Clare for her persistence against papal sluggishness.

      1. One of my favorite comics! The comic is even funnier knowing the new word today. Thank you for making me laugh.

    1. I voted for Denis as well, knowing he would be the decided underdog today, and for his faithful companions as well. Rusticus goes to the top of the list of names for my next dog.

      1. I was thinking the same for Rusticus, as our most recent rescue pup was a red-headed Dachsie - and I have a grand-niece with stunningly lovely red locks! However, in light of Claire's patient persistence in the protection of the life of poverty (sorry!), I cast my vote for her!

      1. They do, exactly! Perhaps a shepherd and a melancholy musician in the Forest of Arden.

        1. A Scottish Poem:
          Pisky Pisky confessing sin
          Down on their knees
          And up again.
          Presby Presby will not bend
          But sitteth down
          On the other end.

      2. "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" is a great movie! However, it is inaccurate in one respect: The bishop of Assisi (for dramatic purposes, I suppose) is presented as being hostile to Francis. I think Zefferelli (the director) wanted the bishop to symbolize the corrupt church of the time. In reality, Assisi's bishop was a warm supporter of Francis and his movement.

      3. I looked up Eleutherius (Rusticus is way too obvious) and found that it's the Latinized form of the Greek word meaning "free". Perhaps a melancholy musician who has been freed from his service to an unpleasant king/prince/duke?

  4. I voted for Clare. I thought it was a stretch with Denis, carrying his decapitated head?
    I concur with the saying, keep your head while all about you are losing theirs--which seems to be something people are conveniently forgetting in the current political climate. Nuff said.

  5. I almost lost my head and voted for Denis (yes, pun intended) because a decapitated saint preaching repentance is a pretty cool story. However, I've always been a huge fan of Clare's. In addition to being a great saint, she was an incredible feminist and had to battle quite hard against the male establishment to hold fast to the principles of her rule for the Poor Clares.

  6. Went with Denis today for no other reason that imagining the opportunities for his Saintly Kitsch if he makes it to the Elate Eight. But not holding my breath (or my head).

  7. I voted for Clare because we have a black hearted but affectionate black Lab whom we named after Clare.

    1. P.S. - I voted for Julian of Norwich several days ago because we named our Norwich Terrier after her -- Julian of Norwich (as distinguished from Julian THE Norwich).

  8. I'm voting for Clare, because anyone who carries his head around after being decapitated is a little weird for my liking. Also I was inspired by Clare's dedication to a life of devotion.

  9. My aunt supported the Poor Clares spiritually and financially. But you have to admire Denis who carried on under extreme conditions. Still need to go with Clare.

  10. Like Denis I've been mistaken for Dionysius, happily walked many miles through Paris, and lost my head on Monmartre; he's got my vote!

  11. I love Clare, I really, really do. But I voted for St. Denis. I had a mild headache before reading this morning's post. I just now asked Denis, in a comradely, thoroughly Episcopalian sort of way, to pray for my headache to go away... and guess what???? Denis gets my vote this morning.

    And if Denis goes all the way to snatch the Holy Halo... how cool would the cut-out be?

  12. I'd say this is a no-brainer, except that seems disrespectful to Denis. After all, if you can keep your head when those about you are losing theirs...

    1. NJ's comment was posted while I was typing mine. And seriously, I'm touched by Clare's dedication and the ministries that grew from her devotion.

  13. The patron saint of those suffering headaches....a man who was beheaded and then walked six miles carrying said object tucked, no doubt, underneath his arm...for comic relief alone I vote Denis.

  14. I had a migraine today as I voted, and oh! How I wanted to vote for Denis to gain his intercession! But I believe too strongly in the value of voluntary poverty -- I had to vote for Claire.

  15. Despite the fact Denis had a head start I voted for Clare who I much admire for her persistence in heading off the sexists of her time in order to follow her call and that of her sisters to a life of poverty.

  16. It doesn't seem that Denis will make it any farther, for which I'm sorry because the opportunity for comments would be wonderful. But Clare got my vote. I belong to the St. Clare chapter of the Daughters of the King.

    1. I am the current President of our Chapter of St. Clare of Assissi, Daughters of the King. I proposed St. Clare to be in this year's LM. I believe she will follow in the footsteps of our beloved St. Francis and win the Golden Halo.

  17. Clare is very admirable defying her father and tearing altar cloths. However anyone that can convert others and carry his head for six miles is also admirable. Denis gets my vote today.

  18. As a Parisienne at heart, if not currently in reality, I voted for our patron saint because he brought the light of Christ other the City of Light.