Henry Beard Delany vs. Aelred of Rievaulx

Only in Lent Madness will you find a 19th century pioneering bishop squaring off against a 12th century monk. Which, you guessed it, is precisely what we have today as Henry Beard Delany faces Aelred of Rievaulx in the second matchup of Lent Madness 2017.

In yesterday's "Ash Thursday" kickoff, Stephen soundly defeated Alban, 62% to 38% in heavy voting. Indeed, with over 9,600 total votes cast a new Lent Madness turnout record was set! We also love that over 450 people added comments to the post. With his victory, Stephen became the first saint to advance to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen, where he'll face the winner of Henry Budd vs. Cecilia. Somewhere Bob Dylan is singing, "Everybody must get stoned."

Still wondering how to keep up with all the players saints? You need a Saintly Scorecard 2017! While the paper book has passed into the realm of collectors' items, the ebook is available. Pick one up for your Kindle or iPad today! For only $2.99 you'll have the inside track on all things Lent Madness!

Finally, in case you've ever been kept up at night wondering about the inner workings of the Supreme Executive Committee, you're in luck! Tim and Scott recently appeared on the popular Priest Pulse podcast. In addition to discussing all things Lent Madness, they even touch on the roots of their longstanding feud. Enjoy!

Henry Beard Delany

Born a slave into a Methodist household in Georgia, Henry Beard Delany was freed at the end of the Civil War. As a teenager, Delany moved to Florida with his family, where he learned bricklaying and carpentry. Delany received a scholarship from a local Episcopal parish to attend St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina—a college founded by Episcopal clergy to educate emancipated African-Americans.

Delany studied music and theology, joining the faculty after graduation and teaching building trades. Together, he and his students built the chapel, library, and hospital for the college. He attended an Episcopal church and was ordained a deacon in 1889 and priest in 1892. Upon his ordination, Delany became the vice-principal of the college. His wife Nanny Logan, also an alumna of St. Augustine’s, taught and served as matron at the college. They had ten children, including noted authors Sadie and Bessie Delany. During the later part of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century, the southern dioceses of the Episcopal Church were wrestling with the status of African-Americans within the church. While there were historic African-American congregations—like St. Ambrose where Delany was nurtured and ordained—they were routinely refused full parish status due to fears that a sizeable block of African-American delegates to diocesan conventions might upset the status quo.

Delany was part of the Commission for Work among Colored People, the leading association of African-American clergy and lay leaders in the Episcopal Church. In 1908, he was appointed as Archdeacon for Negro Work in the Diocese of North Carolina. When the church decided to maintain segregated missionary districts for African-Americans, Delany was unanimously elected by the diocesan convention as Suffragan Bishop for Negro Work. On November 21, 1918, he was consecrated bishop in the chapel at St. Augustine College—a house of worship he had designed and helped to build with his own hands. He worked tirelessly throughout the Carolinas, planting and nurturing African-American congregations until his death on April 14, 1928.

Collect for Henry Beard Delany
Almighty God who frees your people with a mighty hand and outstretched arm: Grant strength to all your servants who, inspired by the example and prayers of Henry Beard Delany, hold fast, bearing witness to the truth of your love and justice in the face of oppression; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-Derek Olsen

Aelred of Rievaulx

Aelred of Rievaulx was born in northern England in 1110. Thanks to a biography written shortly after his death, much is known about his life and travels.

After spending several years at the court of King David I of Scotland, Aelred entered the Cistercian abbey of Rievaulx, in Yorkshire, at the age of 24. In 1147, Aelred was elected abbot and led the abbey through a period of growth and expansion, growing the abbey to about 140 monks and 500 laymen.

A prolific writer who authored several volumes on spirituality, Aelred is also remembered as a tireless traveler and political negotiator. In addition to visiting the abbey’s five daughter-houses in England and Scotland, he also traveled annually to the general chapter of the Cistercians at Cîteaux (France). In 1138, he traveled to the Scottish border to help negotiate the transfer of a castle to King David of Scotland. Four years later, he traveled to Rome for an audience with Pope Innocent II as part of a group who opposed the election of William, King Stephen’s nephew, as Archbishop of York.

Aelred’s writings include histories and biographies, spiritual treatises, and sermons. For his talents as both an author and a church manager, Aelred has been called the “St. Bernard of the North” (in reference to Bernard of Clairvaux, a French Cistercian abbot). Although never formally canonized, he has been venerated as a saint since the 1400s. His feast is marked in the calendars of various churches on January 12, the traditional date of his death.

After reading his correspondence and a biography by a fellow monk, author John Boswell and a few other scholars have suggested that Aelred may have been gay. Because of this conjecture, and inspired by Aelred’s writings on friendship, Integrity U.S.A. and some other LGBT organizations have adopted Aelred as their patron saint, as well.

Collect for Aelred of Rievaulx
Almighty God, you endowed the abbot Aelred with the gift of Christian friendship and the wisdom to lead others in the way of holiness: Grant to your people that same spirit of mutual affection, that, in loving one another, we may know the love of Christ and rejoice in the gift of your eternal goodness; through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

-Hugo Olaiz

[poll id="173"]

Henry Beard Delany: Public domain, as listed on www.blackpast.org
Aelred of Rievaulx: Unknown Artist, possibly by Elredo de Rieval, Public domain via Wikimedia Common


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338 comments on “Henry Beard Delany vs. Aelred of Rievaulx”

          1. Is there a prize for whomever has voted for the most number of "losers"?! I would have won last year and like you, seem to gravitate to the underdogs. Sigh.

          2. I also seem to gravitate to the underdog, even if I don't know that he/she is going to be the underdog.

      1. Tough choice, but Aeldred got my vote today. As a gay man I was touched by Integrity's choice.

    1. Great observation Oliver! By the way, when I encourage my friends to check out Lent Madness one of the first things I tell them is that they have to make sure they read your comments!!

    2. Ahoy, Oliver.
      “Always be yourself,
      Unless you can be a pirate-
      Then always be a pirate”

    3. Hello Oliver,
      good to hear from you again this year. I voted for Henry Beard Delany also because he raised two awesome daughters Sadie and Bessie.

      1. I, too, loved 'Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years' so had to vote for Henry Beard Delany.

        1. Good question. I go with who I like. Some go with which Saint shares a name with themselves or a relative or a friend. Some go with who is more ancient or more modern. Today the wonderful Oliver, who is amazingly still 9, said he chose the Bishop because his name sounded like that of a pirate. And I'm sure Saint Stephen the Deacon's cause yesterday was greatly helped by a number of Deacons and Stephen Ministers voting for him. In the past the Brothers Wesley stimulated much interest in Lent Madness from Methodists and this year I expect a large turn out of Lutherans voting for Martin Luther in advance of celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this October.

          Deciding who to vote for and why is part of the Madness of LentMadness.

        2. It is a good thing Our Lord is ineligible for Six Degrees the way his mother is ineligible for LentMadness or all the Saints would be two degrees at most of each other.

        3. I loved "Having Our Say"! He must have been a great dad to have raised such amazing daughters! Glad I voted for him!

      2. I voted for Henry Beard Delany. His daughters' books were featured in our parish's February book club discussion!

    4. Oliver your so amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love pirates argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    5. My great-great-great grand uncle was a pirate, Oliver. His name wasn't particularly piratical, though.

    6. Oliver, that's as good a reason as some of the adults, I believe! I voted for him also, despite my attachment to Aelred because of his work on friendship, because I don't believe we know enough about Delany as we should & this gets his name & short bio out to lots of people. I've read a couple of his daughters' books, & they lived to be over 100 years old, but I knew nothing of him. Now both you & I know more, right?

    7. Nice idea, Oliver, and well in the spirit of Lent Madness. However I voted for Aelred as he was a Brit and so am I.
      Sending you Christian (& piratical) greetings across the ocean.

    8. I did too but because I liked the work he did and the book his daughters wrote
      Oliver how can you still be nine years old?

    9. Great to have you back, Oliver! I always look forward to your comments. I hadn't thought of the pirate sounding name, but I voted for Henry because he was a builder. I think it is awesome that he built the church where he later served.

    10. Welcome back, Oliver!! I like your viewpoint and I think he sounds rather like a rakish pirate as well. Father of ten? Don't you know he gave a great sermon?!

  1. I had to vote for Henry, having read Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years, by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany.

    1. Ann: After reading your comment, "Having Our Say..." might be the next library book I check out. I actually worked with an Ann Garvin, so your name brought back fond memories of the Ann I know and our shared employer. Are you by chance from Michigan?

    2. I read "Having Our Say" by the Delany sisters years ago and did not remember anything about their father. What a wonderful story - and he has my vote!

    3. I voted for Delany because even though it wasn't written in the blog, what he MUST have endured as a man of color at that time had to take great strength and courage would have required a great deal of Faith.
      I too, will be hitting up the library for the Delany sister's book❤

      1. Those were my thoughts about Delany also--we know what life was like for non-whites during his lifetime.

      2. Rhonda, well put! And that faith must have helped him greatly after coming from a life of slavery! Partly why I also voted for Bishop Delany

      3. The book is definitely worth the read. I figure a fellow who raised two such amazing women deserved my vote!

  2. I see that Aeldred is being outvoted 3:1, which is roughly what I expected. So I voted for him, of course,

  3. Tough one today - I had a hard time choosing! Ultimately went with Delaney, but it could have gone either way.

    1. I agree, Kriston. My NC roots won out, but I also went with someone who worked with his hands, his mind, and his heart. It was, however, a thought-stirring choice.

    2. Hey Kriston,
      Me too! And I kept thinking of James Solomon Russell from our diocese, so Delaney has my vote!

  4. Ann, I agree. Loved the book!!. I almost voted for Delany without even reading the competition. Then decided that wasn't fair.

  5. I chose Henry Delany because of his work with the students, teaching them a useful trade, and for his work establishing minority congregations in the Carolinas. His Christian love is shown through his good works.

  6. Had to vote for Henry. Loved the book his daughters wrote! They spoke so lovingly about their father. He must have been quite a man!

  7. Having never heard of Henry Beard Delaney I am impressed by his energy, commitment and courage, not least in the face of continuing oppression. My vote goes to him, with sincere apologies to Aelred who never received official recognition of his considerable talents and worth, and who I suspect is unlikely to progress to a golden halo.

    1. I have to agree with you, totally. His clearsightedness was able to see past oppression. A truly saintly man. Let us not forget that, like our Lord, he was a carpenter.

  8. I had to go Delaney since I'm only an hour drive from St Augustine. He's a local!

    1. I, too, had to vote for Delaney because I am in South Carolina as well. I must wonder if he is related to the Delaney family who played such a significant role in integrating South Carolina schools by helping the families in Summerton sue for a school bus in Briggs v. Elliott, which was folded into Brown v. Board. Heroes who persevered against great odds, and lost much in the process personally, but gave us much more.

  9. I once again base my vote solely on unique names. Aelred! Unique! Henry. Not so much! Go Arlred!

  10. Aelred wrote the most beautiful work on friendship, which I read in grad school and fondly remember. I was all set to vote for him, but the example of Delany's work and career caught my heart. Go Delany.

  11. It truly takes a special kind of devotion (to God and to people) to work your whole adult life within an institution that is ambivalent about your presence. I am full of admiration and sadness as I cast my vote for Henry Beard Delany.

    1. That's exactly why I voted for him. He is, for this reason, much more patient and devoted than I could have ever been.

      1. That's why I voted for him too. I also find it very moving that he was consecrated bishop in the chapel of a house of worship that he had designed and helped to build with his own hands. Plus the pirate thing. Arr! Thanks, Oliver!

    2. I was thinking to myself, can I simultaneously vote yes for Delaney while voting no for the church at this time...and there is still great work to be done!

  12. A tough choice today. I ultimately voted for Henry Beard Delaney because I serve a very racially mixed congregation that has mostly figured out how to be black and white together loving one another.

  13. This was a tough one, but I had to go with Aaelred since one of the main reasons I made it to the Episcopal Church is because I am accepted FULLY.

    1. Lots of reasons to vote for both of these Saints. But Jamie, you convinced me. I have many friends including an influential former Rector, who found the Episcopal Church for much the same reason. Thinking of them this morning.

    2. Jamie- I could have written your comment myself. Delaney's story is incredibly compelling, but I have a soft place in my heart for Aelred because of the Integrity connection.

  14. Tough call today but decided the modern saint needed my vote.
    Even though I have been to Rievaulx Abbey which is a beautiful and peaceful ruin.

    1. Is there such a thing as a fair matchup in Lent Madness? Very rarely do I read both bios and decide immediately that one is far more worthy of advancement than the other. (Even Christina the Astonishing, one of the most unconventional saints ever to grace the LM matchup.)

      I agree with you, Fred, that these two people are completely different. And that's one of the things that makes LM so enjoyable for me.

    2. Sometimes you get Apples and Apples, sometimes Oranges and Oranges and sometimes Apples and Oranges....That's why it's called "MADNESS"

  15. Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire, England is a very special place to me. It's open to the public through English Heritage. Aelred's influence and leadership and spiritual inspiration is still alight today.

  16. It was a tough choice today...but I think that is the genius of it...learning about these giants and then having to choose a favorite! Tough indeed.

  17. I voted for Bishop Delany. As a U.S. history teacher, I love learning about less known Americans who have built the country. He worked tirelessly in an incredibly difficult time for African Americans to bring Christ's solace and inspiration to many African Americans. His perseverance seems likely to have helped the Episcopal Church become the inclusive institution it is today.

    1. Very well said. I too voted for the bishop and look forward to reading his daughters book

  18. I voted for Delaney because he did so much to nurture African-American participation in the church in the face of great challenges.

  19. This was a toss up for me. Sometimes I vote with who I want to win, but sometimes I do a portion of my bracket based on who I think will win. In this case I'm casting for the latter reason. Good servants of God, both!

  20. I voted for Henry Beard Delany because I figure he had to be truly a saint to be "unanimously elected by the diocesan convention as Suffragan Bishop for Negro Work" in North Carolina and to receive the other honors and appointments that he did in spite of the societal prejudice that he had to have encountered.

  21. I worked for 2 yrs at an Episcopal HBC so I know how important such institutions of higher learning have been for African-Americans and the racism that is still present in society and Church. So I voted for Henry Beard Delany....

    1. Good morning, Debbie! As a member of the Anti-Racism Committee of the Diocese of New York, I could not betray my fellow anti-racists by not voting for Henry Beard Delany, but I am happy to learn more about Aelred and look forward to voting for him in future years.

  22. My vote went to Delaney - what an amazing man of many talents! (Plus, I loved his daughters' book).

  23. I voted for Henry Delany for several reasons. He was a bricklayer in Florida. I live in Orlando on a brick street. Maybe he laid some bricks in Orlando. I went to St. Mary's (then a Jr. College) in Raleigh. All in all, he sounds like a good man.