Helena vs. Monnica

The moment we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived: Lent Madness 2016 kicks off RIGHT NOW! For those who thought “Ash Thursday” would, like a desert oasis, never arrive, your penitential dreams have come true.

In any case, we’re delighted to welcome you to this year’s Saintly Smackdown with a First Round battle between Helena and Monnica. Or as we like to call it, the Matronly Meltdown®, as we open with two famous mothers doing battle (of course motherhood isn’t either one’s full claim to fame, so read on).

If you’re new to Lent Madness, welcome! You may want to check out our recent Voting 101 post which includes a step-by-step how to vote video. You can also read through the Lent Madness Glossary which highlights all sorts of phrases and terms you’ll encounter along this unique Lenten journey.

Be sure to sign up for e-mail updates on our home page so you never miss a vote, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and encourage your friends to jump into the fray. While you are on our Facebook page today, please “Check In” to Lent Madness so all your friends will know you have gone to Lent Madness.

We can assure you this will be a wild, joyful, educational, ocassionally gut-wrenching ride. Let the Madness begin!



During her long life, Helena gathered the most-sought-after relics in Christian history, including splinters of what is known as the True Cross.

Helena was born around 246 CE, somewhere in Asia Minor—most likely the city of Drepanum. She grew up as a stable maid, but her fortunes changed radically when she met the emperor, fell in love with him, was whisked away to Rome, and gave birth to Constantine in 272 CE.

Some describe Helena as the royal wife, some as the royal concubine, some as the royal consort. What is clear is that after Constantine was born, the emperor sent Helena away. Helena and Constantine were exiled from court in 289 CE.

This was not the end of Helena. Constantine became the Roman emperor by winning the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 313 CE, after being told in a vision that if he and his troops marked their shields with the Greek letters Chi and Rho—the first two letters of Christ, the battle would belong to them. Depending on the source, Constantine and his mother converted promptly after this victory was secured.

Upon being recognized as the emperor of Rome, Constantine sent Helena on an official mission: travel to Palestine to bring back relics of Jesus and the Apostles and to do whatever good she felt necessary in the name of Christ. To accomplish this, he put the entire imperial treasury at her disposal.

Helena (who was at the very least every day of seventy-five-years-old) set out with gusto and built the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem as well as the Church of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives. She tore down the Roman temple that had been constructed on the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and gave orders for the construction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. She unearthed fragments of wood that she believed to be the True Cross as well as the nails that were used on Jesus’ hands and feet and carried them with her back to Rome.

In all, she built over eighty churches in the Holy Land, including Saint Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai. Helena also preserved for generations the history of the Holy Land and the early faith of the Church. And she did it all in the second act of her life.

Collect for Helena
Almighty God, you caused Helena of Constantinople to seek the cross of Christ with energy and devotion; Grant that through her example we may be inspired to seek your face and bear your cross for the sake of your love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

                                                                                             — Megan Castellan



Monnica, a model of the praying mother and wife, was the mother of Augustine—the father of Western Christian thought. Married to a pagan bureaucrat named Patricius, who would later convert to Christianity under her influence, Monnica was mother to several children; Augustine was the eldest. After her husband’s death, Monnica made fierce and tireless efforts to secure Augustine’s conversion, even going so far as to push the local bishop to track Augustine down and argue with him.

By the time he was twenty-nine, Augustine decided to journey to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monnica, while opposed to the plan, persisted in going with him. By fits and tricks, Augustine managed to embark for Rome, leaving his bereft mother behind. Yet Monnica could not be deterred, and she sailed for Rome, only to find him in Milan. In 386, she witnessed the event for which she longed: Augustine’s full acceptance of catholic Christianity, followed a year later by his baptism. Monnica had persisted, prayed, and worked nearly two decades to see Augustine’s conversion.

Monnica died in the port of Ostia, and when asked if she wished for her remains to be carried home, she replied, “Nothing is far from God; neither am I afraid God will not find me.” Her conviction that nothing is far from God has earned her devotion to this day. Monnica is the patron saint of married women and mothers and those battling alcohol addiction.

Collect for Monnica
O Lord, through spiritual discipline you strengthened your servant Monnica to persevere in offering her love and prayers and tears for the conversion of her husband and of Augustine their son: Deepen our devotion, we pray, and use us in accordance with your will to bring others, even our own kindred, to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

 — David Sibley

Helena vs. Monnica

  • Helena (62%, 5,540 Votes)
  • Monnica (38%, 3,413 Votes)

Total Voters: 8,953

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Helena: Fresco of Helena of Constantinople; Piero della Francesca [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Monnica: By Ramon FVelasquez (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


303 Comments to "Helena vs. Monnica"

  1. Oliver--eightyears old's Gravatar Oliver--eightyears old
    February 11, 2016 - 8:02 am | Permalink

    I voted for Helena because her son stopped the gladiators from fighting.

    • Cathy's Gravatar Cathy
      February 11, 2016 - 8:09 am | Permalink

      I agree. She probably ended feeding Christians to the lions too.

    • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
      February 11, 2016 - 8:12 am | Permalink

      Having been to the Holy Lands a couple months ago I had to vote for Helena for so much of what we saw was due to everything that she did! Thank you Lord for your servant Helena!

      • Joan Dragolic's Gravatar Joan Dragolic
        February 11, 2016 - 8:27 am | Permalink

        I agree. The magnificent churches built under her influence are reasons enough. But, this was a tough first decision.

      • Carie's Gravatar Carie
        February 11, 2016 - 8:29 am | Permalink

        I have been in the Hcoly land too; & agree I voted for Helena for what she did & being 75 plus at the time.

        • Stephan's Gravatar Stephan
          February 11, 2016 - 1:04 pm | Permalink

          I have to say Helena is a hard act to follow. I am amazed by her accomplishments!

      • Alan's Gravatar Alan
        February 11, 2016 - 3:06 pm | Permalink

        I was in Jerusalem last November and was amazed to see all she had built. A no-brainer this round for me.

    • Shawn's Gravatar Shawn
      February 11, 2016 - 8:14 am | Permalink

      So glad you’re back Oliver! I look forward to your reasons for voting and comments again this year.

    • Beth's Gravatar Beth
      February 11, 2016 - 10:01 am | Permalink

      Good to see you, Oliver. Aren’t you 9 now? I still voted for Monnica

    • mary ann's Gravatar mary ann
      February 11, 2016 - 10:55 am | Permalink

      Welcome back Oliver
      Nice to hear from you again. I thought you were nine now?

    • Christian's Gravatar Christian
      February 11, 2016 - 11:26 am | Permalink

      Helena will be victorious!!

      • February 11, 2016 - 1:46 pm | Permalink

        There’s a special place for those people who don’t vote for Helena!

    • Sally Duernberger's Gravatar Sally Duernberger
      February 11, 2016 - 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Good for you, Oliver. I also voted for Helena.

    • Gloria's Gravatar Gloria
      February 11, 2016 - 2:05 pm | Permalink

      It is good to see you here again this year Oliver. I am looking forward to your comments.

    • kesmarn's Gravatar kesmarn
      February 11, 2016 - 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Good to see you back, Oliver. Helena for me too.

    • Lynn's Gravatar Lynn
      February 11, 2016 - 7:09 pm | Permalink

      Welcome back, Oliver!

  2. peggy's Gravatar peggy
    February 11, 2016 - 8:03 am | Permalink

    first person: This is madness!
    second person: THIS IS LEEEEEENT!

    • Jim Oppenheimer's Gravatar Jim Oppenheimer
      February 11, 2016 - 12:25 pm | Permalink

      L E N T ????

      To whom? And for how long?

      I was intrigued by the matching of two so similar people. Both did their deeds at an age that inspires me not to slow down. I have a feeling that whoever wins, the other is saying, “How wonderful! I’m happy for you, dear.”
      Monnica is the lesser known, so I thought she deserves the nod.

      • Mary Jo's Gravatar Mary Jo
        February 11, 2016 - 5:52 pm | Permalink

        I think Monnica exemplifies what Lent is about Recovery. She is certainly a great Saint to pray to during these times .
        Helena did great things and definitely had the monetary backing of her son to accomplish her deeds.
        I think Monnica definitely deserves the Golden Halo.

        • Iona's Gravatar Iona
          February 12, 2016 - 6:57 am | Permalink

          I too am waving the Monnica flag. I love her perseverance and never give up attitude.

  3. Ziad Maddah's Gravatar Ziad Maddah
    February 11, 2016 - 8:06 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I’m voter no 25th. Go Saint Helena!

  4. Amy's Gravatar Amy
    February 11, 2016 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    Let the Lent Madness begin!

  5. Jules's Gravatar Jules
    February 11, 2016 - 8:09 am | Permalink

    This was a tough, tough, tough choice. I basically had to flip a coin.

    • Donna's Gravatar Donna
      February 11, 2016 - 9:48 am | Permalink

      I v9oted for Helena because she was so active in her “mature” years! Monnica was too much of a helicopter parent.

      • James Whittington's Gravatar James Whittington
        February 11, 2016 - 10:20 am | Permalink

        Doing anything to secure your children’s salvation is not helicopter parenting–its parenting. Read St Augustine’s Confessions, or The City of God to get a glimpse of the brilliance of this man. None of this would exist without his conversion.

        • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
          February 11, 2016 - 10:54 am | Permalink

          Monnica’s prayers for her son were admirable. However when I read about how she chased after Augustine to Rome and Milan, when he was 29 years old, I thought perhaps she should have been named the patron saint of helicopter parents. Good call, Donna!

          • Kinsey's Gravatar Kinsey
            February 11, 2016 - 12:27 pm | Permalink

            That was EXACTLY why I didn’t vote for her – granted she’s probably wholly responsible for Augustine’s conversion, and all Christians everywhere owe her gratitude for that, but that poor woman had no boundaries whatsoever. Plus she didn’t build a bunch of great churches.

          • A Jennifer's Gravatar A Jennifer
            February 11, 2016 - 8:31 pm | Permalink

            Still, I love Monnica as a metaphor for the God as Heavenly Parent “that will not let us go” in a more positive sense. And the beautiful relationship Monnica and Augustine come to eventually in his Confessions could bring tears to your eyes.

        • Margie's Gravatar Margie
          February 11, 2016 - 11:30 am | Permalink

          I blame Monnica for many of our Christian issues today. She was so much of a helicopter parent that she insisted Augustine send his beloved “concubine” of ten years and son away so he would make a rich marriage that would secure him a socially advantageous position. Augustine loved his mother, but it was a “fraught” relationship. I vote for Helena.

          • Cori Olson's Gravatar Cori Olson
            February 11, 2016 - 12:30 pm | Permalink

            My thoughts exactly!

          • Anthony Guillén's Gravatar Anthony Guillén
            February 11, 2016 - 4:18 pm | Permalink

            I agree Margie. Thanks

          • Sue's Gravatar Sue
            February 11, 2016 - 5:48 pm | Permalink

            Totally agree!!

        • February 11, 2016 - 3:47 pm | Permalink

          Yep, doing youth work I see what the helicopter parents do and it’s not helpful for their children’s maturation. Plus Helena had the energy to build churches as a senior citizen. Go Helena

          • Margaret Kingsley's Gravatar Margaret Kingsley
            February 11, 2016 - 8:30 pm | Permalink

            What is a helicopter parent?

          • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
            February 12, 2016 - 1:00 am | Permalink

            As I understand it, a helicopter parent is one who tries to run his child’s life well beyond the age when it is appropriate, and to shield his child from the logical consequences of his actions. Over time, this delays or prevents the child from developing maturity, organizational skills and good judgment. We generally learn from our mistakes. Helicopter parents prevent that learning, and in the process send the message that they don’t believe their children are capable of becoming responsible, mature adults. The net effect is that the children remain immature, dependent and lack self-confidence.

          • Ellen's Gravatar Ellen
            February 12, 2016 - 6:36 am | Permalink

            Oh dear!

      • Judith's Gravatar Judith
        February 11, 2016 - 3:25 pm | Permalink

        I agree.
        I actually felt sorry for Augustine. She had no life but his.
        I admired him for going to Milan and not Rome, trying to get a little space from MaMa.

        • Seven of Nine's Gravatar Seven of Nine
          February 12, 2016 - 4:56 pm | Permalink

          What woman in those times had a life beyond the man they married (or consorted with) and the sons they bore and nurtured? (Not so different in my long lifetime, either.) Most of these comments are from the perspective of 20th/21st century hindsight and don’t take account what may have been motivating either mother or son. Helicopter parent, indeed! As for me, I joined this free-for-all a day late … but I wouldn’t’ve voted for either one. Don’t care much for their famous sons, either!

  6. Nancy Evans's Gravatar Nancy Evans
    February 11, 2016 - 8:09 am | Permalink

    Although I appreciate Helena I had to vote for Monnica. She mirrors my personal struggle to see my prodigal come to Christ. I have even asked my Bishop to pray for us and find all the prayer warriors he can to do so as well! The prayer of my heart is that all my sons become men of faith in Christ. Prodigals just really rip at your heart though.

    • Carol Hemphill's Gravatar Carol Hemphill
      February 11, 2016 - 8:45 am | Permalink

      I agree 100% . Tough choice, but I also have five prodigals in my family, so I identify with you, Nancy!

      • Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
        February 11, 2016 - 5:28 pm | Permalink

        Good Heavens!! I have a hard time with just one. I will certainly pray fro you Carol

    • Anne Burton's Gravatar Anne Burton
      February 11, 2016 - 9:04 am | Permalink

      I also voted for Monica for similar reasons. She loved Patricia and Augustine, and she didn’t give up. Such faith!

      • Eugenia Kinney's Gravatar Eugenia Kinney
        February 11, 2016 - 8:23 pm | Permalink

        I voted for Monnica because she is patron saint of alcoholics which I did not know. Many alcoholics and addicts have been converted and live better lives because of someone who cares

    • Lucy's Gravatar Lucy
      February 11, 2016 - 9:24 am | Permalink

      She exemplifies the persistent tenacity we mothers have to see that our families come to know the love of Christ fully–and the confidence that God will answer prayers for our family members.

    • Patrice's Gravatar Patrice
      February 11, 2016 - 9:36 am | Permalink

      Having been a prodigal whose family never stopped praying for her, and now a “meddling” mother myself, my vote goes to Monnica.

    • Rhonda's Gravatar Rhonda
      February 11, 2016 - 1:43 pm | Permalink

      I agree with Nancy. I voted for Monnica. I thought I would vote for Helena because her struggles seemed long.
      But I voted for Monnica because, to me, her struggles seems harder

    • February 11, 2016 - 1:49 pm | Permalink

      I also pray for my son to come to Christ. I voted for her too

  7. Ellen's Gravatar Ellen
    February 11, 2016 - 8:15 am | Permalink

    Aarrggh…. Right out of the gate, a really hard decision! Oh Supreme Council, you are going to make this a heartbreak season.

    I too went to Helena, because the course of Christianity might have been radically different without her.

  8. Kim Rossi's Gravatar Kim Rossi
    February 11, 2016 - 8:15 am | Permalink

    Go Helena!

  9. St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
    February 11, 2016 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    Hello everybody. Welcome to Lent! I wore purple all day yesterday. I am looking forward to “journeying to Canterbury” once more with you this year. I would like to suggest, before the action gets heated (this vote being pretty much a snooze for me), that this year we have a “safe word” for when people’s passions get aroused (someone doesn’t vote for the Irish saint, say). The safe word I propose is inspired by Thekla’s goldfish last year, who did an entire pilgrimage every time it circled its bowl. I recommend “Dude (or dudess), don’t spill the goldfish.” That would provide a gentle reminder to all that we are on our way (together) to heaven and not brawling our way down to the other place. This is for our souls’ enlargement. May we all have a peaceful and enlightening journey together. Have a safe and rewarding Lent.

    • Marisa Wight's Gravatar Marisa Wight
      February 11, 2016 - 9:09 am | Permalink

      Your message is important. Let Lenten Madness be a fun way to learn about past saints and just a little silly at times; not letting ourselves get too serious in battle! Peace Be With Us All.

    • MaryW's Gravatar MaryW
      February 11, 2016 - 11:30 am | Permalink

      Amen, sister!

    • Relling Westfall's Gravatar Relling Westfall
      February 11, 2016 - 11:44 am | Permalink

      I think this is an unnecessary admonition. This site is one of the most polite forums on the web. I trust we still enjoy free speech.

      • Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
        February 11, 2016 - 11:55 am | Permalink

        Free speech, certainly. Rude speech (such as what I happen to be hearing about the recent voting on my beloved NPR), no; please, no.

  10. LyndaA's Gravatar LyndaA
    February 11, 2016 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    Tough choices today. Let the game begin

  11. Carolyn D. Mack's Gravatar Carolyn D. Mack
    February 11, 2016 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    Constantine issued the Edict of Milan to stop the persecution of Christians. Augustine said that if it feels good, it’s a sin. Both mom’s seem like good women, but I voted for Constantine’s — go Helena!

  12. kathi fortenberry's Gravatar kathi fortenberry
    February 11, 2016 - 8:19 am | Permalink

    My vote for Monica is inspired by my desire for the conversion of my husband.

    • Beth's Gravatar Beth
      February 11, 2016 - 10:03 am | Permalink

      thank you, kathi. As a wife and mother I can also identify with Monnica.

  13. Emily Correll's Gravatar Emily Correll
    February 11, 2016 - 8:19 am | Permalink

    Monnica all the way! She prayed for her family and realized that God can find you everywhere. Helena helped spawn the worship of relics.

  14. Jean's Gravatar Jean
    February 11, 2016 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    I voted for Monnica because I consider her the patron saint of nagging mothers, and as nagging mother myself, my vote was an act of solidarity with women everywhere who drive their children nuts with this whole Christianity thing.

    • peggy's Gravatar peggy
      February 11, 2016 - 8:23 am | Permalink

      Thank you for putting that into words. That was what I was thinking, but in a much more muddled way.

  15. Mary Lysbeth Andrews's Gravatar Mary Lysbeth Andrews
    February 11, 2016 - 8:23 am | Permalink

    So EXCITED about LENT I still it fish X 2 a week. And keep my forehead with ashes last night at the grocery store the only person who did not tell me I had dirt on my forehead was a Jewish friend !

  16. February 11, 2016 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    Helena has that certain later-in-life appeal to me: a lovely illustration of coming into your own at an advanced age–maybe hope for me yet…also I just adore that hat she is wearing. It reminds me of the shaped metal on cathedral turrets and such…I want one just like that. I bet it even has some verdigris on it. I have trouble with the tenor of the attachment between mother and son in Monnica and Augustine. A little creepy–or a lot holy?

    • SarahRae's Gravatar SarahRae
      February 11, 2016 - 9:56 am | Permalink

      I agree with the late-in-life appeal. Helena’s life reminds us that it is never too late. In a youth-obsessed culture, it is good to remember that God’s plan for us does not end when we get wrinkles.

  17. Kim's Gravatar Kim
    February 11, 2016 - 8:26 am | Permalink

    Way to go, SEC (and celebrity bloggers) for giving us a great matchup from the start! Loved both these women, and as a mother, related to both – although not so dramatically. I ultimately voted for Helena as I, too, am in the second act, hoping to make the most of it. If this start reflects the rest of the season, I am all in!

  18. NoraB's Gravatar NoraB
    February 11, 2016 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    Very tough vote to start the Madness! I admire both women immensely but I voted for Helena because she was an old lady ( i.e. “the second act of her life”) when she started her work in the Holy Land. Good stuff!!!

  19. Susan S's Gravatar Susan S
    February 11, 2016 - 8:29 am | Permalink

    Lent Madness!! Vote for Helena because she preserved the artifacts and sites she could, even if some are questionable. This way we have some grounding for what we read in scripture. Admire Monica, but sheesh! The writer makes her seem like the worst “helicopter parent” ever!

  20. pris's Gravatar pris
    February 11, 2016 - 8:29 am | Permalink

    Tough decision! Do I vote for the senior citizen who had gusto or the mom who wouldn’t give up? The mom won.

  21. Ryan Whitley's Gravatar Ryan Whitley
    February 11, 2016 - 8:30 am | Permalink

    Monnica all the way for me. Both of these women changed Christianity forever, and while I can do without people touting about splinters of the ‘true cross,’ I’m not so sure I could as easily give up on Monnica’s son’s contributions, nor the model of conversion through persistence, particularly when it comes to one’s children, that she exemplifies.

    • Pleasants's Gravatar Pleasants
      February 12, 2016 - 12:52 pm | Permalink

      I, too voted for Monica, being a medium meddling mama with prodigal children and a lot of alcoholism in my family. I also do not care much for relics and worshiping objects, however holy.

  22. February 11, 2016 - 8:30 am | Permalink

    It’s a tough call, but as an Associate of Holy Cross, I had to go for St. Helena. I think she was the more transformative figure for Christianity given the influence on her son at a time that allowed Christianity to come out from the shadows as well cementing more fully the public awareness of the historical foundations and tactile reality of our faith and its key moments. I also like how her journey to the Holy Land foreshadows Egeria’s, which gives us our Holy Week liturgies.

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      February 11, 2016 - 9:18 am | Permalink

      But weren’t her hands extremely calloused what with all tht church building she did?

    • andrea's Gravatar andrea
      February 11, 2016 - 10:12 pm | Permalink

      “how her journey to the Holy Land foreshadows Egeria’s, …” Good point. I like that about St. Helena too.

  23. TJ's Gravatar TJ
    February 11, 2016 - 8:30 am | Permalink

    St. Monnica, for her unflagging belief in the power of God… and a mother’s nagging.

  24. Ellen's Gravatar Ellen
    February 11, 2016 - 8:31 am | Permalink

    For everyone in the “second half” of their lives, Helena is an inspiration. We never know what God has planned for us.

  25. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    February 11, 2016 - 8:31 am | Permalink

    My vote goes to Helena, not least because the book Helena by Evelyn Waugh inspired a wonderful meditation by Rowan Williams about the limits of subtlety and intrigue. ‘Space has been made in this world, the real world of politics and struggle, for God to make himself at home, and to welcome all of us and use whatever we bring him.’ http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/rowan-williams-on-the-meanings-of-christmas-when-subtle-strategists-miss-the-obvious-then-the-137208.html

    • Elizabeth's Gravatar Elizabeth
      February 11, 2016 - 9:44 am | Permalink

      Thank you for the references to the book and the meditation. The meditation may be about Christmas, but it speaks volumes for Lent. I am also looking forward to reading the book.

    • awwmuffin's Gravatar awwmuffin
      February 11, 2016 - 10:33 am | Permalink

      Wow! Evelyn Waugh! Haven’t heard that name since grad school!! Thanks for the reminder!

    • Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
      February 13, 2016 - 11:45 am | Permalink

      What I have to bring to God and humanity now is a somewhat frail, though younger-looking, 78-year-old body. Currently recovering from foot surgery with complications, I couldn’t get to the computer until today (Saturday, Feb. 13) but am now enjoying all your comments as usual in Lent Madness. I would have voted for Helena.

  26. Scott Elliott's Gravatar Scott Elliott
    February 11, 2016 - 8:31 am | Permalink

    Monnica. I’ve actually preached about her, and, having once been a wayward son myself, feel a connection to her.

  27. Tracey's Gravatar Tracey
    February 11, 2016 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    If Helena accomplished all that starting at age 75, she’s my hero!

  28. Carol Kangas's Gravatar Carol Kangas
    February 11, 2016 - 8:34 am | Permalink

    Not really wild about either of these women, so I will respectfully abstain today and wait for more intriguing matchups.

  29. David Mitchell's Gravatar David Mitchell
    February 11, 2016 - 8:36 am | Permalink

    With a shadow of my ashes still faintly present I am here to cast my vote for Helena. Helena’s accomplishments are far greater than Monica’s obsession with her oldest son. What of Monica’s other children? Instead of leaving all else behind to follow her son, Helena followed her son’s desires.

    • Rev. Aileen's Gravatar Rev. Aileen
      February 11, 2016 - 3:16 pm | Permalink

      What a good question. I’d like to assume that she felt secure that other children were good Christians. But her focus on her oldest son does raise questions of her parenting style.

  30. February 11, 2016 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    We Augustinian Religious owe much to Monnica – she certainly has my vote!

  31. Dava's Gravatar Dava
    February 11, 2016 - 8:39 am | Permalink

    I voted for Helena because in my book she should be the patron saint of running errands.

  32. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    February 11, 2016 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    It’s tough, but I have to choose the mother who persists in helping her son see the way to God over a woman who fulfills everyone’s dream of widespread travel in their older years, spreading works and reaping accolades. The relics that Helena brought back are like the loaves and fishes that multiplied to feed the spiritual world. To me an an Episcopalian, they are interesting but not the vital link to God that I seek. Does anyone know why Monnica is the patron saint of those battling alcohol addiction?

    • February 11, 2016 - 9:07 am | Permalink

      Here’s an answer from one source: “Augustine gives only one incident from her youth, obviously relayed to him by Monica herself, of how she was in danger of becoming a wine bibber, but was corrected when her secret sips in the wine cellar were discovered and a maid, in a moment of anger, called her a “drunkard.” This stinging rebuke prompted her to change her behavior and develop perseverence. Perhaps this is why recovering alcoholics are among the many groups who intercede to Saint Monica.” (https://catholicalcoholic.com/2013/05/31/saint-monica-another-patron-saint-for-alcoholics/)

      • SusanLee Hauser's Gravatar SusanLee Hauser
        February 11, 2016 - 9:37 am | Permalink

        Thank you, Susan!

      • Carol's Gravatar Carol
        February 11, 2016 - 10:31 am | Permalink

        Exactly why I voted for her!

        • Judy's Gravatar Judy
          February 11, 2016 - 1:49 pm | Permalink

          Me too Carol! That and her conviction that nothing is far from God.

      • Susan's Gravatar Susan
        February 12, 2016 - 8:56 am | Permalink

        Thank you, Susan Wall!

    • Flo's Gravatar Flo
      February 11, 2016 - 3:21 pm | Permalink

      She is said to have been a child alcoholic because her maid/nanny used brandy (I think) to quiet her. Read that in a book long ago when I was a member of a St. Monica’s Guild.

  33. February 11, 2016 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    Helena because she set such a great example for how to handle the second act of your life. Although, dealing with my kids (“You’re getting another dog? Why don’t you just get a cat?” ) made me relate to Monnica.

  34. Sr. Miriam Elizabeth's Gravatar Sr. Miriam Elizabeth
    February 11, 2016 - 8:47 am | Permalink

    The Order of St Helena, an Episcopal monastic order for lay and ordained women, is looking for a St Helena win today!

    • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
      February 11, 2016 - 8:51 pm | Permalink

      And looks like you got it…. 😉

  35. Wramps's Gravatar Wramps
    February 11, 2016 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    Tough call, but I voted for Monnica. Compare their resources. Helena started late in life but had abundant help, a whole empire. Monnica had to do it on her own–specifically without her son’s assistance.

  36. Derek's Gravatar Derek
    February 11, 2016 - 8:54 am | Permalink

    Monnica, hands down. Did not have the advantage of position or prestige. Kept faith with one of the most basic struggles of Christians everywhere — to see our children come to faith. What an encouraging witness!

  37. Marie's Gravatar Marie
    February 11, 2016 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    Love the “Dude, don’t drop the goldfish” idea. A reminder of levity is often needed as the choices narrow. Last year I stopped voting in the end rounds because some voices were getting so shrill. May the goldfish reign!

  38. Amy Jane's Gravatar Amy Jane
    February 11, 2016 - 8:59 am | Permalink

    Helena, for the impact of her life, whether it was positive or negative. What would Jerusalem be for us if there was Venus’s temple on the site of the crucifixion, if we had no Church of the Nativity, or ? I wonder what the current political situation in Jerusalem and the West Bank would be if we Christians were not so heavily invested in certain pieces of real estate that Helena established for us. She did what she thought was correct, no 2nd guessing, but just imagine, “what if?”

    • SusanLee Hauser's Gravatar SusanLee Hauser
      February 11, 2016 - 9:41 am | Permalink

      Those are good questions you ask, Amy Jane!

  39. Tyler's Gravatar Tyler
    February 11, 2016 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    Had to go with Helena on this one. The conversion of the Roman Empire was absolutely critical to the spread of Christianity. Also, a fine of example of a life well lived in your later years. A great example to all of us to not fear aging as the end of our careers and adventures.

  40. Betsy Heilman's Gravatar Betsy Heilman
    February 11, 2016 - 9:01 am | Permalink

    Boy, we started Lent with a tough choice! Both are equally worthy but I chose Helena for a frivolous yet worthy reason: it would be awesome to see her get to the kitsch round–little wood splinters maybe?
    Both ladies show that great men get their greatness genes from their mothers :).

  41. Andrea's Gravatar Andrea
    February 11, 2016 - 9:01 am | Permalink

    As a mother of two sons who have not called on their Christian upbringing in adulthood, I find Monnica’s example compelling. She reminds me that I need to be persistent in encouraging their faith journey.

    • SusanLee Hauser's Gravatar SusanLee Hauser
      February 11, 2016 - 9:42 am | Permalink

      How many of us can relate to Monnica for this reason…..

  42. K's Gravatar K
    February 11, 2016 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    This one was tricky; I’m not fond of either. In the end, I went with Helena, because Monnica’s total disrespect for her loved ones’ religious views, and constant attempts to convert them, angers me more. If any of my non-Christian friends showed such a total disregard for my religious views–and thus, such a total disrespect for me as a person–then I would cut them out of my life wherever possible. I’ve also had various ‘Christians’ of different denominations from myself try to convert me to their own denomination, occasionally with indications that I will be Damned if I don’t.

    There can be no Love without Respect, and trying to force one’s religious beliefs down another’s throat is disrespectful–and thus, unloving.

    I am blessed to have a social circle which encompasses a variety of non/religious view points, & by all approaching each other’s beliefs with mutual respect for each other, I have learned a great deal about God, and had my theology tested, & my Faith strengthened, as a result. I can learn from them; they can learn from me. With none of us is trying to convert anybody, we are all free to grow as people.

    • Sophia's Gravatar Sophia
      February 11, 2016 - 10:18 am | Permalink

      I’m having this problem too. Helena, who uses the backing of a powerful empire to gentrify the effects of another powerful empire vs. Monnica, badger extraordinaire.

      I think I may abstain today.

    • Chris's Gravatar Chris
      February 11, 2016 - 10:42 am | Permalink

      I agree with you, K, but in the end I abstained on this round.

  43. Ann E's Gravatar Ann E
    February 11, 2016 - 9:04 am | Permalink

    A very hard choice. I’m going with Helena because of the close relationship she obviously had with her son – he trusted her with the treasury of the Empire, for goodness’ sake! She didn’t nag or chase him, but her example of holiness had to have been powerful and meaningful to him. And she accomplished her best work after the age of 75. A hero to me, getting nearer that milestone.

  44. Joy's Gravatar Joy
    February 11, 2016 - 9:05 am | Permalink

    Helena! What a second career!. And I’ve been to Israel and saw how many sites she was responsible for enshrining.

  45. Peter's Gravatar Peter
    February 11, 2016 - 9:07 am | Permalink

    I am embarrassed to admit that I knew so little (or remembered so little) about Helena. Her story was compelling and though I love Monica for many reasons, I had to go with Helena today. I love that the Lent Madness has begun!

  46. February 11, 2016 - 9:11 am | Permalink

    Glad to see that Helena is ahead not just because of her immense achievements but because Monnica’s are heartbreakingly undermined by her victim blaming betrayal of battered women, which Augustine approvingly recounts in Confessions.

  47. Eileen C. Fisher's Gravatar Eileen C. Fisher
    February 11, 2016 - 9:12 am | Permalink

    This was an easy choice for me. Although I have not brought my son to Christianity I have persevered in taking care of him for 29 years because he has autism. I felt a bond with Monnica who spent decades with such an important mission in life: What is the best thing that I can do for my son? I have this thought every day of my life because my son will need my guidance and protection for as long as I am alive. I need a patron saint for mothers in my life and now I have one. I leave it to God and St. Monnica to continue my mission after I am gone.

    • SusanLee Hauser's Gravatar SusanLee Hauser
      February 11, 2016 - 9:43 am | Permalink


    • Kate G.'s Gravatar Kate G.
      February 11, 2016 - 9:45 am | Permalink

      Beautifully put, Eileen.

  48. Becky's Gravatar Becky
    February 11, 2016 - 9:12 am | Permalink

    When my Catholic husband and I had young children, we found no time in our lives for church. My Presbyterian mother kept up a gentle pressure, and on one of her visits she tried out churches for us. She found one she liked. We didn’t go for a few years, but finally we did and have been members of that Episcopal church ever since. Without my Monnica-like mom, I would never have found Lent Madness. Need I say more?

    • Mary Jo's Gravatar Mary Jo
      February 11, 2016 - 12:44 pm | Permalink

      I voted for St. Monica as well. This was a very tough decision because both woman did amazing things .
      I felt a stronger affiliation with St. Monica relating to her wishes for her husband and son. She exemplifies perseverance of prayer and a
      strong faith in Jesus Christ .
      Faith, Hope and Love!

    • Pam Payne's Gravatar Pam Payne
      February 11, 2016 - 12:59 pm | Permalink

      Becky, I like your mom! Gentle pressure and suggestions work best. I decided to vote for Helena, though, because I like the thought of a productive “second act in life”.

      • Randall's Gravatar Randall
        February 11, 2016 - 4:30 pm | Permalink

        Hi Pam, hope Convention went well(not sure you made it to wonderful, wonderful Camp McDowell). I join you in your vote for Helena. What a trooper to head out at age 74 to places unknown, and then start the very churches we still know today.

  49. Jen E. Ochsner's Gravatar Jen E. Ochsner
    February 11, 2016 - 9:13 am | Permalink

    St. Helena! At 78 I’m hoping that Helena’s energy and faith will rub off on me…….even a little bit. Also, one of my college roomies entered the Sisters of St. Helena after graduation. Here’s to both women!

  50. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    February 11, 2016 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    I voted for Monnica because she spoke to my heart. Her fervent efforts for her son and husband mirror my own. Her dedication and strength are inspirational to all wives and mothers who are working to bring their families to Christ.

  51. Louise's Gravatar Louise
    February 11, 2016 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    Go Helena!!! She built churches and collected relics. Good for her.

  52. Anne Margo's Gravatar Anne Margo
    February 11, 2016 - 9:17 am | Permalink

    I like them both, but voted for Monnica because right now a mother who never ever gives up on her children is the example I need right now. Somebody mentioned Monnica’ s seeming lack of concern for her other kids; I chalk that up to the fact that Augustine’s the one supplying the information about his mother. Of course he’s going to make it all about him.

  53. Mike's Gravatar Mike
    February 11, 2016 - 9:19 am | Permalink

    Wonderful way to learn about saints of the church

  54. February 11, 2016 - 9:19 am | Permalink

    Ahhh, Lent Madness is back and all’s right with the world. Helena all the way here…I am curious how it is that Monnica got to be the patron saint of “those battling alcohol addiction”. But then, I am never quite sure how the Saint’s get their assignments…I just am glad of it. Have a Holy Lent.

    • February 11, 2016 - 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Because her husband Patricius seems to have been an addict himself and eventually was transformed through her prayers along with Augustine. Patricius was verbally abusive though not physically so, which fueled her worst feature–victim blaming battered wives–and the worst passage of Confessions, in which Augustine praises her for betraying her sisters in this way. Hence my vote for Helena!

  55. Jennifer Rich's Gravatar Jennifer Rich
    February 11, 2016 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    This is truly a tough one! Finally voted for Monnica though – I loved her perseverance! I also have children who are nonbelievers and anguish over them. It’s a tough road.

  56. Kathy in Nicaragua's Gravatar Kathy in Nicaragua
    February 11, 2016 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    I feel very bad about choosing between mothers on the basis of their sons, but . . . I think when Constantine made Christianity the official religion of Rome, that was probably the WORST thing that ever happened for the church. Our first and ultimate allegiance should be to God, not to any emperor or president. We should draw our power from the Holy Spirit, not from political establishment. I’m glad not to have to live with persecution myself; but when joining the church meant facing that possibility, the choice was significant. On the other hand — Augustine. What tremendous blessing her brought to the church, including doing so after being a “prodigal” for so many years. My vote went for Monnica.

    • Kathy in Nicaragua's Gravatar Kathy in Nicaragua
      February 11, 2016 - 9:23 am | Permalink

      That should be: blessing HE brought to the church. Oops.

    • Myrrh's Gravatar Myrrh
      February 11, 2016 - 3:20 pm | Permalink

      I’m with you Kathy on the “official religion” designation which created a hierarchical, bureaucratic church rather than building the Kingdom of God. Maybe we wouldn’t be a divided and distributed church if we didn’t end up fighting about hierarchy. Sure there are lots of nice churches in the Holy Land built with the Empire’s funds and slaves. If those were not there would we have a world without conflict in the Middle East?

      I’m voting for Monica as the lesser of two conflicts. Augustine’s writings and teaching have also presented some distorted theology, like original sin rather than original blessing.

  57. Harry Alford's Gravatar Harry Alford
    February 11, 2016 - 9:23 am | Permalink

    Helena. Nice hat.

  58. Ann Case's Gravatar Ann Case
    February 11, 2016 - 9:23 am | Permalink

    I voted for Helena because I was a lay associate of the Order of St. Helena for many years. Plus St. Augustine annoys me, with the concept of original sin. Monica probably wasn’t responsible for that, but still …

    • February 11, 2016 - 9:33 am | Permalink

      I – generally find ‘nudges’ annoying, but Monnica rocks!

    • Richard Gatjens's Gravatar Richard Gatjens
      February 11, 2016 - 9:50 am | Permalink

      Hey, Ann! I am currently a lay associate of the Order of St. Helena! Go team!

  59. Charlene's Gravatar Charlene
    February 11, 2016 - 9:26 am | Permalink

    Ah, the importance and blessing of a good mother!

  60. aleathia (dolores) nicholson's Gravatar aleathia (dolores) nicholson
    February 11, 2016 - 9:28 am | Permalink

    No contest! Monnica was the personification of the devoted mother determined that her husband and son would convert. She probably died with calluses on her knees from praying so hard and with fierce determination. My mother’s alma mater, St. Augustine’s in Raleigh NC, is her sons’s namesake and she, sorta like Monnica, had a few calluses on her knees as she always prayed for me…Yeah, I needed all those prayers and am eternally thankful. Excellent bloggers today !

  61. Matthew's Gravatar Matthew
    February 11, 2016 - 9:29 am | Permalink

    As a collector, I had to vote for Helena. She’s like a Byzantine-era Indiana Jones.

  62. Kelley the Presbyterian's Gravatar Kelley the Presbyterian
    February 11, 2016 - 9:30 am | Permalink

    My vote goes to Monnica – perhaps the original Helicopter Mom (although since there were no helicopters at that time, maybe a hummingbird mother). Let’s hear it for the moms who don’t give up on their children!

  63. Beatrix's Gravatar Beatrix
    February 11, 2016 - 9:31 am | Permalink

    Sometimes in this time and place of violence and uncertainty, I think about how I might meet my end far away from home or loved ones or in a cold unfamiliar place. How wonderful that Monnica can say with purity of conviction while stranded in Ostia “Nothing is far from God, neither am I afraid God will not find me.” Also to know that my earthly parents (and my heavenly one) be they incarnate or not, persist unceasingly in their concern for my soul’s salvation. Monnica!

  64. Elizabeth siler's Gravatar Elizabeth siler
    February 11, 2016 - 9:31 am | Permalink

    Monnica was my choice. Like her,I pray for my husband and children. I admire her persistence.

  65. February 11, 2016 - 9:31 am | Permalink

    Our Altar Guild is named for St Monica, as a co-director, how could I not vote for our patroness.

  66. Michelle Crull's Gravatar Michelle Crull
    February 11, 2016 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    Welcome back, Oliver! I always look forward to your comments.
    I love the “Dude, don’t drop the goldfish!” suggestion.

    This was a tough choice right out of the gate. I love that Helena did so much for the early church and spreading Christianity especially in the second act of her life. I love that Monnica never gave up on Augustine and worked so tirelessly to bring him to Christ. In the end, I have to go with Monnica for her example of perseverance and love.

  67. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    February 11, 2016 - 9:37 am | Permalink

    O Crafty are the Ways of the SEC. I found this choice impossible: “try, try again” vs. “take the ball and run with it.” The fairest resolution would have been by coin toss; but I chose the craven path of voting my demographic, out of fear that there might be a special place in hell for septuagenarians who don’t help each other.

    • Bonnee's Gravatar Bonnee
      February 11, 2016 - 9:50 am | Permalink

      LOL on your reference, Davis.

    • SusanLee Hauser's Gravatar SusanLee Hauser
      February 11, 2016 - 10:03 am | Permalink

      I like the way you think!

  68. Father Steve's Gravatar Father Steve
    February 11, 2016 - 9:39 am | Permalink

    Voting for Saint Monnica is like a member of AA voting for a member of AlAnon.

    • Linda Burnett's Gravatar Linda Burnett
      February 11, 2016 - 11:18 pm | Permalink

      Kinda…but thank God for all those Al-Anon-ers out there…somebody needs to keep an eye on us AA-ers! Ha!

  69. Diane Lynch's Gravatar Diane Lynch
    February 11, 2016 - 9:43 am | Permalink

    Monnica is the consummate mother figure- steadfast, long-suffering and a genuine model for motherhood. She deserves some kudos for stepping up to the tasks placed before her. God knows, it ain’t an easy job.

  70. Cindy Jayne's Gravatar Cindy Jayne
    February 11, 2016 - 9:43 am | Permalink

    As a mother, and grandmother, I commend Monnica on her dedication to her faith and to her son. However, I voted for Helena because I feel as though she went above and beyond the call of duty, especially being and Elder! Monnica did good things, but nothing that 99% of mother’s wouldn’t do…. Sorry Monnica, Helena wins this round, in my thoughts….

  71. Bill Geiger's Gravatar Bill Geiger
    February 11, 2016 - 9:45 am | Permalink

    Another Holy Land pilgrim here, I, too had to vote for Helena; though I wonder if her trip to the Holy Land was as much about the new emperor finding his mother something to do far away so he could govern without her looking over his shoulder…

  72. Christine H.'s Gravatar Christine H.
    February 11, 2016 - 9:45 am | Permalink

    I could only vote for Helena because I am 75 and wonder at her ability to accomplish so much at that age and in that age.

  73. Richard Gatjens's Gravatar Richard Gatjens
    February 11, 2016 - 9:48 am | Permalink

    I’m an associate of the Order of St. Helena, so no doubt here who I was to vote for. I also appreciate Helena’s establishment of churches. She seemed dedicated to the faith; Monnica seemed to be mostly dedicated to her son. Not bad, but not my definition of Saintly.

  74. February 11, 2016 - 9:49 am | Permalink

    I wanted to vote for Monnica, but was outvoted by two of my children with whom I am reading & praying the Lent Madness journey each day, so Helena it is!

  75. Julie G.'s Gravatar Julie G.
    February 11, 2016 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    I have to confess that I’ve never really liked Monica–way too pushy for my taste, although God clearly used her devotion for God’s purposes. Helena, it is!

  76. Alethea Eason's Gravatar Alethea Eason
    February 11, 2016 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    The prayer of Monnica’s cited at the end swayed me to her side, but not a fan of either son. Augustine’s writing can be beautiful but his imprinting the disgust of sensuality on Christianity is tragic, and the alligment of Christianity that occurred with Constantine the state still is having repercussions to this day.

  77. Laurie's Gravatar Laurie
    February 11, 2016 - 9:51 am | Permalink

    appreciative of Helena and all her hard work, but grateful to Monnica for this:

    “Nothing is far from God; neither am I afraid God will not find me.”

    that’s what I’m going to think about for today’s Lenten meditation.

  78. Anthony Lee's Gravatar Anthony Lee
    February 11, 2016 - 9:59 am | Permalink

    Having no particular inclination either way, I voted for Monnica as underdog. It can’t have been easy having a major theologian for a son.

    • Anthony Lee's Gravatar Anthony Lee
      February 11, 2016 - 1:26 pm | Permalink

      On the other hand, it can’t have been easy for Augustine to have
      Monnica for a mother. All that nagging. . . .

      • Tessa's Gravatar Tessa
        February 11, 2016 - 3:05 pm | Permalink

        He probably had his Bible permanently opened to Proverbs 21:9. :
        Better to live on the roof of the house than inside the house with a nagging woman.

  79. Cheryle Cerezo-Gardiner's Gravatar Cheryle Cerezo-Gardiner
    February 11, 2016 - 10:01 am | Permalink

    Although Helena did wonderful work for the early church, as the mother of a recalcitrant child, I had to cast my vote for Monnica.

  80. Joanne's Gravatar Joanne
    February 11, 2016 - 10:01 am | Permalink

    Helena for me! She’s really rockin’ the hat. Even though their hats were layered and flat, I saw her pointy hat and thought Devo, the rock band from the 80’s. Something to consider for the “kitsch” round… On the serious side, I admire her ability to raise her son as a single mom. Not easy to do, I’m sure, in the fourth century. And then to build churches at seventy years old? You go, girl!

  81. Glenis Elliott's Gravatar Glenis Elliott
    February 11, 2016 - 10:12 am | Permalink

    Tough choice, but Helena it is if only because she did so much in her second act.

  82. Chris's Gravatar Chris
    February 11, 2016 - 10:14 am | Permalink

    I’m not voting for either of them. One brought back artifacts that she self-authenticated, the other broke up her son’s long term relationship with the mother of his child. Neither very admirable, in my estimation.

  83. Leticia's Gravatar Leticia
    February 11, 2016 - 10:14 am | Permalink

    Monnica was a trailblazer! she converted to Christianity so early. It was a very tough decision but Monnica made it easier for Helena.

  84. Joyce's Gravatar Joyce
    February 11, 2016 - 10:16 am | Permalink

    I was struck by Helena’s strength of will to build something in honor of Christ and her desire to collect the precious relics. The fact that she was just about the age I am now is very impressive.

  85. Carol's Gravatar Carol
    February 11, 2016 - 10:16 am | Permalink

    I will use Monnica’s dying sentiment as a Lenten meditation. She was, however, too much of a nag for me. I voted for Helena. Her tireless work at the end of her life is so inspiring to me.

  86. Daniel Nieciecki's Gravatar Daniel Nieciecki
    February 11, 2016 - 10:16 am | Permalink

    Both Helena and Monnica were long-suffering wives and mothers of famous and influential sons. Through them, both Constantine and Augustine have had major positive and negative impacts on the history and development of the Church and the history of the world, and I think in the long run Augustine’s negative impact has been more harmful than Constantine’s. However, it’s not really fair to judge a parent by her child. Monnica was a good and pious woman, but so was Helena and I’m impressed with her energy and can-do attitude to lead a major archaeological expedition. My first vote goes to Helena

  87. Emily's Gravatar Emily
    February 11, 2016 - 10:19 am | Permalink

    Two more present day Helenas for me, my dear departed grandmother and my force-of-nature daughter, and a deep connection to the Sisters in New York, are resounding echoes of women doing what needed to be done in the name faith and love, and not necessarily driven by others in their lives. Helena for me.

  88. Andy Fischer's Gravatar Andy Fischer
    February 11, 2016 - 10:23 am | Permalink

    I, too, can relate to Monnica, but I still voted for Helena.

  89. Sandie's Gravatar Sandie
    February 11, 2016 - 10:28 am | Permalink

    I’m grateful to have the first match up be an all-female round. Well done Supreme Executive Committee!

  90. Elaine Culver's Gravatar Elaine Culver
    February 11, 2016 - 10:28 am | Permalink

    I’m enthusiastically looking forward to a trip to the Holy Land sometime next year, and St. Helena appears to be largely responsible for many of the places I plan to visit. My thank and my vote go to her.

    • Elaine Culver's Gravatar Elaine Culver
      February 11, 2016 - 10:29 am | Permalink

      Correction: “thanks”

  91. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    February 11, 2016 - 10:33 am | Permalink

    As I read through the comments by mothers relating to their trials I have to say -what is it with sons ?

  92. Jeanne's Gravatar Jeanne
    February 11, 2016 - 10:34 am | Permalink

    I voted for Monica because I like her assertion that “Nothing is far from God; neither am I afraid God will not find me” Helena is admirable on many grounds, of course, but searching for relics, tearing down temples and building in the Holy Land doesn’t have the message of universality that appeals to me.

  93. Erlinda's Gravatar Erlinda
    February 11, 2016 - 10:39 am | Permalink

    I cast my vote for Monnica. My birthday is on her feast day. I believe she is the patron saint of Mothers. I always wanted to be a Mom.

  94. Adam Naff's Gravatar Adam Naff
    February 11, 2016 - 10:39 am | Permalink

    Since my grandmother was Helen, I was set to vote for Helena, but changed my mind after reading the bios. Monnica was much more a hands on Christian, converting people with her personal involvement whereas Helena was more distanced from people. Both were worthy and this was a tough decision.

  95. Greg K's Gravatar Greg K
    February 11, 2016 - 10:42 am | Permalink

    I voted for Monnica because of her role in converting her son Augustine to Christianity. Augustine’s total acceptance of the faith turned his considerable intellect to the service of “the City of God.” Augustine’s writings about his mother are great testament to her spirituality. Throught the grace of God she did the Church a great service.

    Helen certainly accomplished a lot, but she had the full power and riches of the Roman empire at her disposal. I might note that her son Constantine was pretty squishy on some aspects of Christianity and was only baptized on his death bed.

  96. February 11, 2016 - 10:43 am | Permalink

    Such a tough choice. These are both incredible mothers. God bless ’em both.

  97. TeamMonnica's Gravatar TeamMonnica
    February 11, 2016 - 10:49 am | Permalink

    I’m Team Monnica! I voted for her because she showed there is Hope in prayer.

  98. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    February 11, 2016 - 10:49 am | Permalink

    Good morning and welcome back, dear Lent Madness Friends. It’s wonderful to be together again. Go St. Helena!

  99. Adelaide Kent's Gravatar Adelaide Kent
    February 11, 2016 - 10:56 am | Permalink

    Imagine Christianity without Augustine, o ye admirers of Middle Eastern architecture! I am for Monnica. Possibly because I have two family members named Monica…

  100. Mary Ann G's Gravatar Mary Ann G
    February 11, 2016 - 11:00 am | Permalink

    First welcome back to 8 year old Oliver. always nice hearing from you.
    I went with Helena today, not because she was more important than Monnica but because of resources at her disposal was able to spread the word of our Lord further. Both of these mothers were very important and it was a tough choicem

  101. Kappa Waugh's Gravatar Kappa Waugh
    February 11, 2016 - 11:02 am | Permalink

    Like Helena’s action in old age. But hard to know which son did more harm to the church: Constantine for tying the church to the power base rather than the oppressed, or Augustine’s concept of original sin. Whew! Glad the knotty choices of Lent Madness are back!

  102. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    February 11, 2016 - 11:12 am | Permalink

    Another Associate of the Order of St. Helena here. Following in the footsteps of one of the first church planters, I celebrate with the Sisters the recent opening of their new convent in North Augusta, SC. Check it out here: http://osh.org/

    • Sr. Miriam Elizabeth, OSH's Gravatar Sr. Miriam Elizabeth, OSH
      February 11, 2016 - 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the shout out Nancy! We’re rooting for Helena today!

  103. February 11, 2016 - 11:14 am | Permalink

    I couldn’t possibly in good conscience vote for anyone connected with the existence of Augustine, though Monnica almost won my sympathy vote as the person who had to suffer him.

  104. james lodwick's Gravatar james lodwick
    February 11, 2016 - 11:14 am | Permalink

    As many have already noted, this was a tough choice. I chose Helena for two main reasons: 1. As an elder myself, I admire Helena’s enormous energy, faith and guts, all the more considering the travel conditions of her day, even for an empress; 2. I once celebrated the feast of St. Helena (and “St. Constantine”) in a neighboring Greek Orthodox church, at the invitation of the priest, who accorded this Anglican priest the signal honor for a non-Orthodox man of standing within the iconostasis near the altar for the entire liturgy. Part of the ceremony involved kissing the large icons of Helena and Constantine displayed on the bema. So now I offer St. Helena another kiss.

  105. JustMeJo's Gravatar JustMeJo
    February 11, 2016 - 11:16 am | Permalink

    As someone who just recently retired at the ripe old age of (AHEM!), I know what I would say to anyone who even suggested that I should now go out and play Indiana Jones meets Jimmy Carter, I had to go with helena for this round!

  106. Liz's Gravatar Liz
    February 11, 2016 - 11:19 am | Permalink

    I never thought I could vote against one of my favorite saints. I’ve always loved St. Monnica, but Helena is a real inspiration. I’m 72 years old, and all she did after the age of 75 leaves me breathless. What a gal! Gotta vote for her. May the Lord grant me the strength to be 1/10 as zealous for His glory as Helena was. Thanks for this opportunity to learn about a truly amazing woman of God.

  107. Deborah B.'s Gravatar Deborah B.
    February 11, 2016 - 11:22 am | Permalink

    Monnica. I relate to her as we have 3 children and husband doesn’t like church and son #2 is an agnostic. Monnica gives me a real life lesson on the power of prayer. even when I don’t see with my eyes the changes, she encourages me to persevere.

  108. Martha Frances's Gravatar Martha Frances
    February 11, 2016 - 11:27 am | Permalink

    Such a tough first choice. I’m an associate with the Order of St. Helena (since 1983), so Helena was certainly a natural choice for me, & she DID make a lot of what’s available in the Holy Land possible, but my heart had to go to St. Monnica since she was so concerned with the soul of her son & also who seemed to have a drinking problem–as well as a codependency one!

  109. Chris Jillard's Gravatar Chris Jillard
    February 11, 2016 - 11:27 am | Permalink

    As an Associate of the Order of St Helena, I’ll back her as far as she goes … for the halo!

  110. John M. Carter's Gravatar John M. Carter
    February 11, 2016 - 11:29 am | Permalink

    Monnica shows the true meaning of being Christian. Helena promoted idol worship though not on purpose however. Persistance = Monnica.

    My vote is for Monnica.

  111. Annette's Gravatar Annette
    February 11, 2016 - 11:35 am | Permalink

    When am I supposed to write in my bracket who won?? Later on tonight after everyone has responded??

    • February 11, 2016 - 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Annette —
      You may have clicked the box at the bottom of this reply screen that says “Notify me of comments by e-mail” or “notify me of posts by e-mail.”
      Just unclick it and you should be good — maybe today, maybe not until tomorrow.

  112. Jean's Gravatar Jean
    February 11, 2016 - 11:37 am | Permalink

    I voted for Helena because I am 76, and she accomplished so much after 75. Time for me to get cracking!

  113. David Crosson's Gravatar David Crosson
    February 11, 2016 - 11:38 am | Permalink

    I voted for Helena because she taught Indie and Lara how to collect relics. She should be the patron saint of tomb raiders.

  114. February 11, 2016 - 11:40 am | Permalink

    Gotta vote for a woman who loved to shop and knew how to throw here weight around to get a church (or two built). Go Helena!

  115. February 11, 2016 - 11:44 am | Permalink

    I love Monica’s words, “Nothing is far from God…” although, perhaps, she could have demonstrated a little more faith that Augustine wasn’t far from God, either, and spent less time chasing him all over the globe.
    Nonetheless, I voted for Helena. It is good to have someone who was an exile at one point in her life, but who kept on keeping on into her old age, building things with enthusiasm and passion.

  116. Lauren's Gravatar Lauren
    February 11, 2016 - 11:47 am | Permalink

    I can’t believe Helena is still considered a saint. Not meant to offend anyone, but she did some pretty awful stuff to the people of Judea/Palestine just to get her relics. Monnica all the way!!

  117. Karen J's Gravatar Karen J
    February 11, 2016 - 11:49 am | Permalink

    Helena for the Halo!

  118. Jen M's Gravatar Jen M
    February 11, 2016 - 11:51 am | Permalink

    “Behind every great man there is a great woman”
    I voted for Monnica…because sometimes the best gift a person can give is their offspring. Augustine was a great pillar of the Christian faith and is a doctor of the church. What would the church be like if this great woman had not kept the faith and persisted to have her son be the best he could be?

  119. February 11, 2016 - 11:52 am | Permalink

    Helena – obviously! You can’t have the chicken without the egg and Constantine legitimized what would be the greatest “thing” of human history: lentmadne…Christianity! Fierce bish for sure!

  120. Barbara from St. Barnabas in NY's Gravatar Barbara from St. Barnabas in NY
    February 11, 2016 - 11:58 am | Permalink

    Helena has my vote for building all those churches!

  121. Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
    February 11, 2016 - 11:58 am | Permalink

    Both women made great contributions to Christianity, but when someone voted for Monnica for being the patron saint of nagging mothers, I had to vote for Monnica.
    Difficult choice, indeed!

    • Annette's Gravatar Annette
      February 11, 2016 - 1:05 pm | Permalink

      Can someone please tell me how I can stop so many emails? I am new to this and didn’t realize that so many people would be making comments! I liked Monnika. She seemed more motherly.

  122. February 11, 2016 - 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Helena! She’s our patron. Mary Lois OSH

  123. Gayle's Gravatar Gayle
    February 11, 2016 - 12:16 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Helena because Monnica was a helicopter mother–albeit ahead of her time.

  124. Kelli Mok's Gravatar Kelli Mok
    February 11, 2016 - 12:17 pm | Permalink

    V difficult choice. Both women emulated the great mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

  125. Robert Bruce's Gravatar Robert Bruce
    February 11, 2016 - 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Great matchup. Remember to vote only once.

  126. Ronnie Warren's Gravatar Ronnie Warren
    February 11, 2016 - 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Monica–she badgered her son. I can relate. But I have never seen the name spelled with a double “n.” Anyone else?

  127. February 11, 2016 - 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Helena, because she’s an exampled for we “seasoned” women that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself!

  128. Audra's Gravatar Audra
    February 11, 2016 - 12:25 pm | Permalink

    I was all set to vote for Monnica but Helena’s bio has won it for me. Had no idea (or forgotten) she was responsible for building all those churches.

  129. Faith's Gravatar Faith
    February 11, 2016 - 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Monnica assured me that God will find me anywhere.

  130. Wynne Osborne's Gravatar Wynne Osborne
    February 11, 2016 - 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Monica got my vote. Helena seems to be a gullible tourist. I am not a big believer in holy relics.

  131. tonip1's Gravatar tonip1
    February 11, 2016 - 12:30 pm | Permalink

    This was a really tough choice. Being a person coming into my “mature” years I was so totally impressed by Helena. She’s who I want to be when I grow up. What a go-getter she was. In the end though I had to vote for Monnica. She had to be a saint to be Augustine’s mother and continuing to pray for him through all of his trials and craziness was a sure sign that she was touched (or maybe “touched”?) by G_d. Been there, doing that.

  132. Sonia's Gravatar Sonia
    February 11, 2016 - 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry to see people abstaining because they don’t like the choices. Carry that forward to national politics and elections and what do you get?

  133. Sally Duernberger's Gravatar Sally Duernberger
    February 11, 2016 - 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Monica meant well, but Helena took on tremendous responsibilities in her later years. A good example for us all. It’s never too late to jump in and proclaim the Good News.

  134. Pam Hardaway's Gravatar Pam Hardaway
    February 11, 2016 - 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Hello all from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth!! Yeehaw!! I voted for Helena although as many have said, it was a tough choice. First timer and looking forward to participating.

  135. February 11, 2016 - 12:47 pm | Permalink

    My best friend at camp 65 years ago was named Helena.

  136. Metella's Gravatar Metella
    February 11, 2016 - 12:49 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Monica because she had to put up with St. Augustine. Before and after conversion. And St. Ambrose had an insanely high opinion of her. (I wrote a paper about St. Ambrose and his influence over temporal rulers while I was in grad school.)

  137. Patrica's Gravatar Patrica
    February 11, 2016 - 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Today we vote for in the Matronly Meltdown®, so for the deeds of the mothers, not of the sons.
    “Helena gathered the most-sought-after relics in Christian history” and supported the construction of buildings (and as noted by someone else destroyed others)
    “Monnica …prayed, and worked … to see Augustine’s conversion.”
    As many of us know, parenthood is continual prayer and persistence.
    My vote is for souls and people, over objects and things, so MONNICA

  138. Becky's Gravatar Becky
    February 11, 2016 - 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Helena! My home church is Church of the Ascension in Windermere FL. How could I do anything else but vote for the Saint who established the original Church of the Ascension?!

  139. JM's Gravatar JM
    February 11, 2016 - 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Vote for Monnica, a Saintly Tiger Mom! Talk about a mother’s fierce devotion. 🙂

  140. Ellen's Gravatar Ellen
    February 11, 2016 - 12:58 pm | Permalink

    First vote and its already tough! I went with Helena.

  141. February 11, 2016 - 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Had to give Helena the nod today…..she gave birth to a lot of churches for people to worship…

  142. Gregory sammons's Gravatar Gregory sammons
    February 11, 2016 - 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Helena merely built churches. Monnica’s son Augustine built up the Church as a whole with his seminal works. There is no comparison. It’s Monnica by a mile.

    • Greg K's Gravatar Greg K
      February 11, 2016 - 1:35 pm | Permalink

      I agree!

    • February 11, 2016 - 1:50 pm | Permalink

      Hi Greg Sammons! I love celebrating Monnica in May, as the feast of the nagging mother. But for overall effect, I had to go with Helena. Best to you & Peg!

  143. February 11, 2016 - 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Marty – I vote for Helena! I’ve been to the Holy Land 6 times and am so appreciative of what she was able to accomplish.

  144. Lester's Gravatar Lester
    February 11, 2016 - 1:18 pm | Permalink

    My vote goes to Monica. Not only did she have a brilliant son, born in North Africa, but I get to enjoy one of the best farmers markets today in a city named after her.

  145. Susu's Gravatar Susu
    February 11, 2016 - 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t know anything re either of these wonderful women until this a.m. Loved them both – the septuagenarian (I am one) got my vote : she sounds like a fabulous ol’ broad!

  146. elizabeth pennington's Gravatar elizabeth pennington
    February 11, 2016 - 1:20 pm | Permalink

    My mother, Helen., was also a very energetic and a very difficult woman! In their honor and in honor of so many wonderful places in Palestine….

  147. Sara P.'s Gravatar Sara P.
    February 11, 2016 - 1:23 pm | Permalink

    I voted against the church builder (Helena) and for the woman who knows that God meets us where we are (Monnica). Reading about Helena reminded me, in particular, of the heavy, cave-like, candle-filled churches at many holy sites in Israel that seem to promote darkness instead of light.

  148. Yvonne's Gravatar Yvonne
    February 11, 2016 - 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I love them both, but where would we be without Augustine?
    Monica, whom I had never known of before this post, gets my vote!

  149. Diane's Gravatar Diane
    February 11, 2016 - 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Had to go with Monnica because of the final quote “nothing is far from God; neither am I afraid God will not find me.” Amazing understanding of God just being with us always.

  150. Suzanne's Gravatar Suzanne
    February 11, 2016 - 1:48 pm | Permalink

    It’s not looking good for my bracket! We need Helenas and Monnicas: tireless visionaries with a can-do spirit as well as tired moms focused on bringing one child to God. I voted for Monnica, but I’m glad we have both.

  151. MnWillems's Gravatar MnWillems
    February 11, 2016 - 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Personally, I tend to vote for the one who has the potential for the best showing during the Round of Kitsch. (Don’t judge me – it’s at least as valid as voting for the “Celtic” card.)

  152. February 11, 2016 - 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I am 80 and still going. Helena has it because she had so much get-up-and-go with age no barrier.

  153. February 11, 2016 - 2:08 pm | Permalink

    I am 80 and still going. Helena has it because she had so much get-up-and-go with age no barrier.

  154. Gloria's Gravatar Gloria
    February 11, 2016 - 2:08 pm | Permalink

    While not quite “every day of 75”-close enough to be in awe of Helena’s accomplishments.

  155. Anita Thomas's Gravatar Anita Thomas
    February 11, 2016 - 2:16 pm | Permalink

    This was a tough decision for me as well. My first thought went to Helena because of all the churches she built, and at age 75. However, it was the comments in the Collect that swayed me. “Use us in accordance with your will to bring others to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior” Monnica it is.

  156. Lisa Rose's Gravatar Lisa Rose
    February 11, 2016 - 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Accomplishment-wise, Helena has it hands down. If I could travel back and meet one of these women, I would choose Helena in a heartbeat. But it seems most folks here are focusing on the mothering angle. Monica nagged, manipulated and prayed her son into eventual submission, and a grateful church thanks her for that. But again choose Helena. Her son was no slouch either. And he apparenlty revered her, loved her, respected her and trusted her … with the entire treasury! And look what she accomplished with his support. Whereas, Augustine’s relationship with his mother (at least insofar as we are lead to believe with the info provided) was … shall we say … not quite as ideal … and no doubt contributed to his overall attitude toward women, which attitude is always explained away or excused as belonging in its context in time. Well, either a lot changed in a 100 years, or Constantine just didn’t care (which is another point in his favor).

  157. Laura's Gravatar Laura
    February 11, 2016 - 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Helena is impressive for sure, but Monnica spoke to the mother in me always striving for the best for her children. It’s fun to be voting again! Happy Lent!

  158. Heather's Gravatar Heather
    February 11, 2016 - 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I was conficted about artifacts so I went with the nagging mom who felt close to God wherever she was.

    • Michele's Gravatar Michele
      February 11, 2016 - 3:46 pm | Permalink

      I agree totally

  159. Mary Anne's Gravatar Mary Anne
    February 11, 2016 - 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Helena after much consideration but mainly because I have heard of her.
    Also she saw to it that her son Constantine became the first holy roman emperor.
    Interesting factoid..she had splinters from Jesus’ cross.

  160. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    February 11, 2016 - 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Anybody who supports Addiction Recovery gets my vote. Thanks, Monnica

  161. Susan A's Gravatar Susan A
    February 11, 2016 - 2:53 pm | Permalink

    It’s hard to resist a 75 year old who takes on an oral history/folklore/archeology project! But then, I always root for the do-ers. Not to disparage prayer, but we need so much action.

  162. Linda from St. Ed's's Gravatar Linda from St. Ed's
    February 11, 2016 - 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Tough choice, as St. Helena is a particular favorite of mine. But I’ll have to go with St. Monnica on account of her great faithfulness in praying for her family. “Nothing is far from God; neither am I afraid God will not find me.” I like that.

  163. Kris's Gravatar Kris
    February 11, 2016 - 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Monica justified all of us bagging mothers. If SHE could convince an obstinate son to mend his ways, there is hope for all of us!

  164. Kris's Gravatar Kris
    February 11, 2016 - 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Nagging, not bagging!

  165. Theresa Merritt's Gravatar Theresa Merritt
    February 11, 2016 - 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Two very strong women! What a great start to Lent Madness!

  166. Kathleen from Sask.'s Gravatar Kathleen from Sask.
    February 11, 2016 - 3:45 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Monnica because she didn’t build a bunch of churches nor did she tear down valuable historical sites. Her patronage of people living with addiction tipped the scales, so to speak.

  167. Leamarie's Gravatar Leamarie
    February 11, 2016 - 3:47 pm | Permalink

    So glad to have Lent Madness to look forward to again this year. I had to vote for Monnica because I feel the pain of prodigals in my family, too. I would like to follow Monnica in her persistence and prayer for my children, though maybe not to hover so closely, as that would drive them away from me. Sadly, I have never been to the Holy Land, so that did not persuade me as much. Oliver, glad you are back with us.

  168. helene from Middletown, Ohio's Gravatar helene from Middletown, Ohio
    February 11, 2016 - 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I vote for Helena in this first round of Lent Madness. Being a Helen, myself, loving horses, adoring travelling, a searcher of the True Cross, and a lover of Christ, I must go with Helena all the way. The gorgeous marble statue of St. Helena holding the giant true cross, over on the right, near the high altar in St. Peter’s is incredible. Helena is deserving of the Golden Halo! h+

    • Sally Duernberger's Gravatar Sally Duernberger
      February 12, 2016 - 12:15 am | Permalink

      Hey there, fellow Buckeye. I’m originally from Hamilton, just down the road from you. I, too, voted for Helena

  169. Nancy Strong's Gravatar Nancy Strong
    February 11, 2016 - 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Torn, very torn…but because I lived for 16 years within 10 miles of Vails Gate, NY, and spent many an hour in the Chapel of the Motherhouse of OSH, my first vote goes to Helena…and gives me hope for my own “second act”!

  170. Tammie's Gravatar Tammie
    February 11, 2016 - 4:04 pm | Permalink

    How I admire Monica for persevering in prayer and faith! Helen was given $ and a directive from her son. Monica had a husband who waited until his deathbed to convert and a son who felt the need to experience it all before settling on a belief system. I’ve been to those churches in Jerusalem and seen the statue in St. Peter’s and appreciate it all. However, Monica’s my kind of saint – a genuine people person.

  171. Jeanne King's Gravatar Jeanne King
    February 11, 2016 - 4:07 pm | Permalink

    tough start to Lenten Madness. But I am on the last 3rd of my life and Helena gives me hope the next years (final years) don’t have to be a repeat of the past years. Christ is waiting for me to discover “relics” to bring home.

  172. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    February 11, 2016 - 4:13 pm | Permalink

    My desire to vote for Monnica may be a bit somber but I still do like Helena. It is just that I can relate to Monnica more than I can Helena. Lentmadness is fun and educational. No one should stoop to anything raunchy.

  173. Anthony Guillén's Gravatar Anthony Guillén
    February 11, 2016 - 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Well folks. We’re off to a good start. What did we give up for Lent? – our sanity – with Lent Madness!

  174. Jys's Gravatar Jys
    February 11, 2016 - 4:29 pm | Permalink

    In all honesty, it was hard not to vote against Monnica just on my leftover hatred of Confessions from high school alone. I did end up voting for Helena… but on her own merits, I hope.

  175. Danielle's Gravatar Danielle
    February 11, 2016 - 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Ir’s interesting to me how a modern term and interpretation of parenting is sent back into the past a a pejorative, helicopter-parenting. It seems as a result of that connection many chose not to vote for Monnica. God never leaves us alone, and is constantly poking at us in order to get our attention. I don’t regard God as a helicopter-parent. Augustine was a bad person by his own admission. Maybe like God, Monnica just never gave up.

  176. Steve Barnett's Gravatar Steve Barnett
    February 11, 2016 - 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Please notify me each day of the vote and the two on the ballot.
    Thank You

  177. Diane Amison-Loring's Gravatar Diane Amison-Loring
    February 11, 2016 - 5:03 pm | Permalink

    St. Helena’s sarcophagus has been placed in the Vatican Museum. It is an impressive structure. http://mv.vatican.va/3_EN/pages/x-Schede/MPCs/MPCs_Sala08_01.html

  178. Rose Mahan's Gravatar Rose Mahan
    February 11, 2016 - 5:08 pm | Permalink

    As an energetic senior citizen, I voted for the energetic senior citizen.

  179. February 11, 2016 - 5:33 pm | Permalink

    I really wanted to vote for Helena for her energy age and devotion to cross of Jesus but had to vote for Monnica for her efforts to share her God with those she loved most.

  180. Babette Haggenjos's Gravatar Babette Haggenjos
    February 11, 2016 - 5:42 pm | Permalink

    While I have great admiration for both of these women I voted for Monnica because she never gave up on her son just as God never gives up on us! She loved her son unconditionally and this is what we are all called to do as parents and as people of God.

  181. February 11, 2016 - 5:42 pm | Permalink

    It may be pure madness, but I gave my vote to Monnica. She’s getting trounced, but I don’t care. There’s always tomorrow and then that long weekend of waiting for Monday.

  182. Bob Dunn's Gravatar Bob Dunn
    February 11, 2016 - 6:01 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Monica because I admire the influence she had on her son St. Augustine. Even though St. Helena did many good things for the faith she could not restrain her son from his madness. The cross itself ,which Constantine raised to prominence, has had a terrible effect on Christian-Jewish relations.

  183. Kathy Romain's Gravatar Kathy Romain
    February 11, 2016 - 6:08 pm | Permalink

    As a member of St. Augustine’s parish in Oakland, California and a member of St. Monnica’ s Guild,of course I voted for Monnica, who like me is a mother of sons.

  184. Linda Burnett's Gravatar Linda Burnett
    February 11, 2016 - 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Although I was leaning towards Helena when I read that Monnica was the patron saint of those battling addiction I had to vote for her because being a person in recovery who knows how many times I prayed to her and didn’t even know it. have now been sober over 27 years so she must of heard me so here’s a vote for her. Thank you Monnica!

  185. Marilyn's Gravatar Marilyn
    February 11, 2016 - 6:10 pm | Permalink

    What a dilemma! Choosing between two fierce and devoted mothers is not easy, but I went with Helena who accomplished so much after 75, which in her day must have been equivalent to being 110! Also as someone else noted, Monnica would seem to be the precursor of the “helicopter mom” of today…not exactly commendable.

  186. Veronica's Gravatar Veronica
    February 11, 2016 - 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Voted for Monnica. It was an easy choice. We naggers have to stick together.

  187. Robert Corey's Gravatar Robert Corey
    February 11, 2016 - 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Reluctant vote for Helena. At least she’ll have some great swag. I was confirmed on what would have been Monnica’s feast, had it not been Sunday. I was fascinated by her story, but looked and looked for some kind of icon showing Monnica’s tears. They pretty much all showed her holding an unraveled scroll. I remember having read the significance of that, but also remember not caring so very much. So I’ve forgotten what that’s about. It’s her other son whose story I liked. Again, I forget why. All this forgetting may be why Helena got my vote. She’s much more monumental.

  188. Hope and Skye's Gravatar Hope and Skye
    February 11, 2016 - 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Hard choice between heavenly Helena and marvelous Monnica. After much hand wringing, Skye and Hope voted for Helena because of her energizer bunny church building efforts. To paraphrase twin twelve-year-olds: “80 churches in the Holy Land? Wow! That’s a lot of churches.”

  189. Michelle Breazeale's Gravatar Michelle Breazeale
    February 11, 2016 - 7:17 pm | Permalink

    This is my first time to take part in Lent Madness and I think it will be a lot of fun. I also think that I am going to learn a lot. I voted for Helena in the end but I loved the comment about Monnica travelling to Rome, only to find that her son was, in fact, in Milan! I think that says a lot! 😉

  190. Chuck Watt's Gravatar Chuck Watt
    February 11, 2016 - 7:49 pm | Permalink

    I had real problems voting for Helena. On the one hand, her church building and church heritage efforts are impressive. On the other she aided and abetted the church’s cozying up to the empire, a problem that vexes the church to this day.

    Monicca may have been the original helicopter mom, BUT she seemed genuinely interested in both the following and worshipping of Christ, hence my vote for her.

  191. Kelly's Gravatar Kelly
    February 11, 2016 - 8:08 pm | Permalink

    Monnica, all the way. Not age, primitive traveling conditions or her son’s attempts to ditch her could stop this mom from following her son around the known world until he got his act together.

  192. Les Hughs's Gravatar Les Hughs
    February 11, 2016 - 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Having journeyed to the quarry far below the rock called Golgotha, where Helena is reputed to have found the remnants of the True Cross, in the Church of the Holy Sepluchre, I have to cast my vote for her. As my guide repeatedly said, “If not here, somewhere.” I finally came to be believe, “Yes, here!” Thank you Helena.

  193. Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
    February 11, 2016 - 8:37 pm | Permalink

    Both remarkable women worked a long time in promoting the love of Christ. Monnica persistently reminded her wayward son that God’s way was the better way. Monnica’s faithful prayers led to Augustine’s conversion and, eventually, to his massive (but, not without controversy) impact on the Christian faith.
    I voted for Monnica for her persistent prayer.

  194. Antoinette's Gravatar Antoinette
    February 11, 2016 - 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Any woman who produces a saint like Augustine gets my vote.

  195. Judy Hoover's Gravatar Judy Hoover
    February 11, 2016 - 9:01 pm | Permalink

    I cannot resist the woman who inspired and promoted building those magnificent churches. Now if we could just fill them.

    • Patrica's Gravatar Patrica
      February 11, 2016 - 9:36 pm | Permalink

      Maybe we would be better at filling those churches if we, like Monica, were more persistent in our prayer and encouragement of other to follow Christ.

  196. Robert C's Gravatar Robert C
    February 11, 2016 - 9:24 pm | Permalink

    I used to be an antique dealer. I can relate to Helena. When did Monica sprout an extra n?

  197. andrea's Gravatar andrea
    February 11, 2016 - 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Hooray! Lent Madness is back! Go Helena!

  198. Tim Seitz-Brown's Gravatar Tim Seitz-Brown
    February 11, 2016 - 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Monnica, because as a parent of adult children, I pray that faith might find them

  199. Diane W's Gravatar Diane W
    February 11, 2016 - 10:58 pm | Permalink

    First time participating, cast my first vote. Was so amazed at what Helena accomplished.

  200. Judy Batson's Gravatar Judy Batson
    February 11, 2016 - 11:09 pm | Permalink

    Monnica, whose name is spelled “Monica” in All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time,” by Robert Ellsberg, got my vote. Why? The collect. I love the collect, and but the story here of Monnica (aka Monica) is remarkably like the one presented by Ellsberg, and I’m sure there are plenty of sources of that same story, but attributions, links, sources for further study would be appreciated. Ellsberg included a quote from Augustine in his Confessions, crediting his mother by saying, “in the flesh she brought me to birth in this world; in her heart she brought me to birth in your eternal life” (369). That’s beautiful.

  201. Judy Batson's Gravatar Judy Batson
    February 11, 2016 - 11:18 pm | Permalink

    What? No edit function to go back and fix punctuation and other errors????? Take out the “but” where it currently reads “and but,” and also remove the quotation mark after the word “Time” since I couldn’t use italics when writing. Oops. Probably no biggles as my daughter would say….

  202. Elaine's Gravatar Elaine
    February 11, 2016 - 11:38 pm | Permalink

    Outstanding women! Had to go with St. Monica, her persistent prayer gave us St. Augustine? What an example she is to all parents who long for their children to follow Christ.

  203. Kitty Maxwell's Gravatar Kitty Maxwell
    February 11, 2016 - 11:38 pm | Permalink

    Well, if we didn’t have Monica, we wouldn’t have Augustine. As a Roman Catholic, I read a monthly Jesuit publication called The Magnificat. It has the daily Office, the Mass readings and a commentary. On occasion, the commentary will be from Augustine. I have been shocked and delighted to read Augustine’s opinions. He is so contemporary. Monica gave us a major saint. We owe her a big thanks.

  204. Vicki Hughes's Gravatar Vicki Hughes
    February 11, 2016 - 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Ok, not too fond of either, and not over the top about either of their sons. One ruled an empire, the other threw out his common law wife and son because he ‘got religion’ and then burdened the theological world with double superlapsarian predestination for good measure. Could their mothers have influenced them? But despite her falling for all those pieces of true cross, i went for Helene. Constantine got together the saints and thinkers of his time to talk about this emerging tradition at Nicea, so maybe his mum taught him a little about listening? And Oliver’s right – her son put paid to the gladiators – definitely better parenting there.

  205. February 12, 2016 - 1:37 am | Permalink

    I was predisposed against Monica because of the chasing her son all over the continent bit, but had forgotten or never known that Helena had helped to establish churches at so many sites in the Holy Land. Surely her time there constitutes one of the earliest forms of the via crucis, or what we now more commonly call the Stations of the Cross: a good solid Lenten connection. 🙂

  206. February 12, 2016 - 6:00 am | Permalink

    In earlier years of Lenten Mdness I have sometimes voted first and other times have read the comments before I voted. I have learned so much from al of you. Particularly I have valued the different perspectives presented. I loved t Monnica’s prayer: Nothing is far from God; neither am I afraid God will not find me”. But since I am now “entering my second act” I appreciated the example of St Helena that much can be accomplished by elders and women. You rock, St Helena.

  207. Georgianna Miller's Gravatar Georgianna Miller
    February 12, 2016 - 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Helena because she was so dedicated to spreading the gospel.

  208. AngelaBocage's Gravatar AngelaBocage
    February 12, 2016 - 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Helena because by the life she lived as Constantine’s mother she had earned such a depth of love and trust from her son that he would not only send her on an autonomous mission with the support of all the resources of his office but also follow her into the dangerous ridiculous journey of following Jesus!

  209. Leslie Fravel's Gravatar Leslie Fravel
    February 12, 2016 - 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I vote for Monnica because she’s the underdog. As the patron saint of mothers, married women, and those who are addicted, she deserves that and more. Thank you, Monnica for looking over us.

  210. Sarah Lokensb's Gravatar Sarah Lokensb
    February 12, 2016 - 6:04 pm | Permalink

    I vote for Monica. She is the mother we all should be. Or maybe I should say she is the Parent we all should be.

  211. Sarah Lokensb's Gravatar Sarah Lokensb
    February 12, 2016 - 6:11 pm | Permalink

    I cannot figure out how to vote.
    Is my reply my vote?

  212. shawn's Gravatar shawn
    February 16, 2016 - 10:20 am | Permalink

    I guess it is too late for me to vote but I would have voted for Monica since she is the patron saint for those battling alcohol addiction. I have been in AA for 40 years!

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