Constance vs. Vida Dutton Scudder

And then there were eight. With Dietrich Bonhoeffer securing the eighth and final spot with a victory over Barnabas 68% to 32%, this is the list of the eight saintly souls remaining in Lent Madness: Constance, Vida Dutton Scudder, Albert Schweitzer, Julian of Norwich, Columba, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sojourner Truth, and Absalom Jones. Quite a stellar list for the Elate Eight!

Veterans of Lent Madness know that this round is also known as the Saintly Kitsch round. After basic biographies, quotes and quirks, what else could there be? There are always some folks who take offense to this approach — we call them Kitsch Kranks and have written about this phenomenon in years past. This is not to belittle or demean our saintly heroes but to have some fun and gaze in wide wonder at the breadth of devotional practice. So kindly relax and enjoy the spirit of the Madness as we push ever onward to our goal. The Supreme Executive Committee addressed this very issue in yesterday's epic edition of Monday Madness.

Today in a matchup of two modern-ish saints, Constance meets Vida Dutton Scudder. To get to this point, Constance defeated Dominic and Helena while Vida got past F.D. Maurice and Clare (click the Bracket tab and scroll down to see previous battles and read the earlier write-ups). And we're reminded, as ever, that some saints lend themselves to kitsch more than others...


It is 1878 and yellow fever has hit your home in Memphis, Tennessee. The town has tagged your household with a "Yellow Jack" flag to announce to all visitors that the epidemic has descended upon your home and all who enter, enter at their own risk.





A traveling door-to-door salesman is feeling bold as brass and stops by with a box of Sappington's Anti-Fever pills to protect you from what is sure to be death. You wisely tell that joker to get off your front porch or you will breathe yellow fever all over him.


Next, the quack doctors arrive, with Hungarian leeches. Evidently, Hungarian leeches like yellow fever and will suck that evilness right out of your body.

If leeches gross you out (like me), then you can always have the quack doctor bleed you into your tin coffee cup to balance your humors. I am not sure about you, but bleeding of any sort, does not leave me feeling humorous, and there better not be anything in my coffee cup other than good ole joe.

Constance 4

If you are really, really smart, you will tell those quack doctors to get a life too. What you need is not a doctor; it is Constance and her Companions!  Constance and her companions will bring care, comfort, warm compresses, broth, love, and prayer to your bedside. If you live, they leave a "Team Constance" shirt for you to wear during your recovery.

Constance 7

If you die, you can be buried with Constance and her Companions in Elmwood Cemetery in the shape of a cross. Inquiring readers wanted to know:  What happened to the prostitute that helped Constance? Well this famous madam was known as Annie Cook. She was originally buried in unconsecrated ground due to her profession, but can now be found in Elmwood Cemetery as well. Annie's fans felt that she deserved to be buried on hallowed ground for her helping hands during the epidemic.

Now, imagine googling images of "yellow fever" for two hours. If you are as stressed out as I, you may need to arm yourself with a "Yellow Fever" cocktail before voting:

1 1/2 oz vodka
1/4 oz Galliano® herbal liqueur
1/4 oz lemon juice
2 oz pineapple juice

Now that you have armed yourself with liquid courage, remember as you vote, #ConstanceWouldGo








-- Anna Fitch Courie


Vida Dutton Scudder

Vida Dutton Scudder lives on in her work.

There aren’t many images of Vida in the public arena. There aren’t depictions of her in stained glass windows in churches or college halls. There aren’t mugs or t-shirts emblazoned with her visage or heralding her name.

Vida is a quiet saint. Hers is not a household name or an easily recognizable face. Nonetheless, her drive is felt everywhere, even after more than 60 years following her death. Her legacy is ubiquitous and discreet. Her quiet influence and deep commitment shine through in all that she touched.

Rather, Vida is found in her books. In her writings. In her thoughts. In her dreams that she converted into action and activism. Her unabashed dedication is evident in her lifelong work of social conscience and deep spirituality. Her legacy is apparent in her work that lives on – the books, the movements, the organizations.






Vida was an Episcopalian who lived out her Christian beliefs as a social reformer, writer and editor, professor, lecturer, prominent lesbian author, groundbreaker in addressing social and women’s issues, untiring welfare activist, and peace proponent.

footer-logo-tall@2xHer open-minded heart was non-stop: founder of the College Settlements Association; member of the Society of Christian Socialists; associated with the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross; advocate of the settlement movement and founder of Denison House in Boston, MA; active in organizing the Women’s Trade Union League; founder of the Episcopal Church Socialist League; a 1930s lecturer at the New School for Social Research in New York.

Add to all her social activity is the fact that she wrote more than three dozen books, essays and commentaries; 16 books were penned during her retirement years. The titles of her works speak to her zeal and spirituality: The Witness of Denial; Socialism and Spiritual Progress: A Speculation; Christian Simplicity; Saint Catherine of Siena as Seen in Her Letters; Socialism and Character; The Church and the Hour: Reflections of A Socialist Churchwoman.


Vida 9

Vida 8







So it appears that Vida didn’t have time to pose for photos or portraits or stained glass. Rather, peek into her books and writings and movements, and you see her heart, her face, her image, her likeness as an untiring child of God.

Vida Dutton Scudder lives on in her work.

— Neva Rae Fox

Constance vs. Vida Dutton Scudder

  • Constance (61%, 3,508 Votes)
  • Vida Dutton Scudder (39%, 2,206 Votes)

Total Voters: 5,714

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191 comments on “Constance vs. Vida Dutton Scudder”

    1. I thought of something else fun to do, after reading about the lack representation of Vida in stained glass windows.
      I am going to start picking out the Saints in the windows at different churches.
      LentMadness epiphany!!

      I voted for Constance❤️

      1. You should stop by St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral in Memphis if you are ever in town. There is a hallway behind the alter (I am sure there is an official name for such that I do not know) that has beautiful stain glass depictions of Constance and her companions. Constance and her companions are prayed for every Sunday in many parishes throughout the diocese of West Tennesee.

        1. I agree with both of you. A little puzzled by the Constance fever (will her companions also be on the mug?) except that the write-up was so good!

        2. Very nice quote! I started reading George Elliot because someone I respected called Middlemarch the best novel written in the English language.

    2. I have decided that when I'm really torn and can't make up my mind I might just vote for whomever got Oliver's vote! I like the way you think and am so glad you're adding your voice to Lent Madness this year.

      1. Constance Would Go all the way to the Golden Halo for this Memphis girl. I've visited their graves at Elmwood Cemetery. Memphis is quite blessed with such a beautiful, historic place. Bravo, Anna, on your delightful write-up!

  1. The dedication and sacrifice of Constance won me over once again. More interesting kitsch as well!

    1. Totally agree. Having recently read the building of the Panama Canal and how yellow fever brought slow death to many of the laborers, I had to vote for Constance.

  2. Brilliant write-up for Constance, Anna Fitch Courie! I love the Saintly Kitsch round, and you nailed it!

    1. I second that big woot woot for Anna Fitch Courie! Her quirks and quotes write up was good, but this one clinched my vote!

  3. My Daughters of the King chapter was named in honor of Constance. She also serves as a reminder of monastics in our midst.

    1. True. It's too bad that such a worthy person leaves nothing behind for us to slap on a coffee mug.

    2. Connie got me because healing the sick is one of our primary calls from Jesus himself.

    3. Viva la pura Vida!

      Thanks LM for calling attention to this gloriously worthy saint previously unkown to me. And I'm sure the lack of kitsch (though no doubt many have a bag of Pura Vida coffee in their pantry even now) will send voters back to earlier posts to be reminded of her positive impact and prophetic voice for our present. I can see a COME-FROM-BEHIND on the horizon!

      1. I hadn't noticed that when I proposed my pallid substitute above. Maybe the coffee company would underwrite the mugs.

        1. Or, how about Vidalia Onions?
          Hey, come on California central valley: farmworkers unite! it's only 7:25 your time. Plenty of time to pull together for Vida and a stunning victory! Only 1,300 votes will do it!

  4. There are illnesses like yellow fever and illnesses like greed and selfishness. This is another of the Madness's impossible choices. But for a lifetime of doctoring the sickness of society, I have to come down with Vida.

    1. Well stated, Alan.

      I, too, found this to be an impossible choice, and I voted for Vida for the same reasons you did.

  5. Vita for me. She lived her faith in words and actions especially for the poor working women and children. We need more voices like hers today. We have good healthcare today if you can afford it, but need more people to speak out for access to healthcare and a living wage whic if Vita were alive today she would be speaking and working for. Vote for Vita!

    1. My buddy Betty is a Companion in the Society of the the Companions of the Holy Cross as am I. Constance was wonderful and she indeed has her reward in heaven and probably a gold coffee mug in recognition for her dedicated service, but its Vida Scudder for moi. Generations of working poor women were brought to the faith, fed, clothed, and educated because of Vida and others in the SCHC.

  6. If #ConstanceWouldGo all the way to the finals, do her companions go with her? There is no "I" in "Golden Halo."

    1. Very well put Betty! I agree completely!! GO VIDA GOOOOO VIDA!!!!! Constance certainly was a wonderful woman, but Vida did soooo much more as an incredible role model working for the basic rights of the people and helping to shape the direction of the country in the fair treatment of everyone through her writing and tireless work. I think she had the bigger impact on the world for good then and continues to. That's I'm voting for Vida

  7. Vida can stand on her own merits. She doesn't need Tee Shirts, coffee mugs or key chains. Kitsch is for e-Bay, not the Golden halo!

    1. Amen! So Vida doesn't possess kitch--isn't she the one who said:

      “It is through creating, not possessing, that life is revealed.”

      Let's create a groundswell underdog win!!! Organize!

  8. On competition shows, sometimes eliminated players return in later rounds to help out the finalists. Maybe those saints who are blessed in spirit yet tchotchke-deficient could get an assist from a fallen friend. For example, Joseph could step in and lend Vida a bottle of aspirin or instructions for a tongue depressor nativity set.

    1. But seriously, folks, Lent Madness voters who make it this far really are taking in the whole story, not just tee shirt shopping. One year the Golden Halo winner was Frances Perkins, and in the kitsch department, her cupboards were all but bare. Kitsch is fun. Saints are good. All shall be well. (Oops, I'm tipping my hand.)

  9. Oh man, this is getting harder! "Constance would go" got my vote today because it's a trait that I admire greatly.

  10. Two brave women; one tough choice! But I'm going to agree with Judy Fleener and vote for Constance as a show of solidarity to all monastics who willingly sacrifice their lives and ambitions to care for others.

    1. Amen! Constance and her Companions stayed and served when they could have left and gave their very lives so that others could live.

  11. Wow! Tough choice. As much as I honor and admire Constance, I had to vote for my LGBT sister Vida.

  12. Like Vida, I am a devoted member of SCHC, but am also the great granddaughter of 1 of Constance's Companions (Rev. Charles Carroll Parsons) who chose to remain in Memphis to help the Yellow Fever victims & died of Yellow Jack himself leaving a young wife, a son & my 18 month old grandmother who he'd forced to leave the state when the fever descended on Memphis. Accordingly, I voted for the greatest sacrifice -- Constance & Her Companions.

  13. I had to vote for Constance, and by the way, I love the kitsch. Vida did great work, but moving the madam's remains to hallowed ground shows that even the Church can repent and practice what we preach.

  14. Had to vote for Vida--this made me want to pick up one of her books! If her time is up this round, I'll be very sad to see her go.

    I read her last bio at work, and several of her quotes went right into my notebook (I'm working towards becoming a social worker). Her wisdom has been helpful in the field.

  15. It's Vida for me, remembering the closing line of George Eliot's Middlemarch: "But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs."

    1. Thanks for this wonderful quote Margaret. I too voted for Vida - loved today's description of her as a quiet saint and her open-minded heart, and especially the graphic of with her reaching for a star as the I in Vida - so fitting for this wonderful, inspiring woman!

    2. That is indeed a wonderful thought and Eliot--a genius for ending her magnificent novel with it.

  16. Vida Scudder has long been a personal heroine. Her vision of social justice shaped by a catholic spirituality has had an important influence on my understanding of the mission of the Church.

  17. I felt bad for not voting for Constance in the last round amid the deafening cries of "Constance must go". There was something irresistible about her competition. Honestly, two social workers--it's a toss up and I will be delighted for which ever goes in to the whatever you call it four. My vote for Constance is a vote for her celebrity blogger--so creative to give us the snake oil remedies of the day: now that's kitsch! But I do admire Vida too, she's just not...kitschy!

    1. I agree, Betsy. I think both bloggers did a great job with what they had to work with, but Constance's got an A+ in Creative Writing I. And I want a tee-shirt.