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

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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. I voted for Bishop Delaney. What an example of working tirelessly in the vineyard in spite of your own denominational hiearchy not really wanting to claim you entirely as their own and were, systematically, oppressing blacks in their own location. A tough one, because Aelred was a working for peace, too, but no contest, ultimately. Great stories for the day!

  2. I see-sawed from one of these great Christians to the other and finally went with Delany, who wasn't welcomed by the majority of the denomination but kept working within its structure without expressing resentment. That his children loved him is another plus.

  3. I was surely tempted to vote for Aelred just because of his name that I cannot pronounce and knowing he will not get many votes. This pairing is not really fair to Aelred. I voted for Delany because I could see in my minds eye what he had done and I commend him for his struggles. He must have been a wonderful man.

  4. Talk about building a heavenly city! Henry Delany worked with his students to build a chapel and a hospital among other things for the college. He taught useful trades AND cared
    for the soul. Jesus and Joseph would probably have felt at home with Henry and his students.

  5. Don't like this match up one bit. It feels like we are being asked to pick between the causes their names are identified with, rather than their witness. This is more particularly true of Allred.

  6. Oh, not again. You guys! I was sure it would be Aelred. I've been to Rivaulx--so beautiful!--and been intrigued by him for years. But Bishop Delaney's story is at least as compelling and so proximate, as I have lived in VA and NC for many years.

    Two men who represent to many of us groups who have lived under oppression and championed love's triumph over hatred. Aelred took protest to the seat of power. Delaney literally built an educational engine for helping his people rise.

    I must pray over this one.

    1. Aelred.

      Alea jacta est. I went with my heart and first inclination, as yesterday, but without the same result: I expect to be be quite happy voting for Delany in the next round, and repent of misspelling his name above. Mea culpa.

  7. Slavery has left such deep, festering and still unhealed wounds in America that I was tearing up as I read Derek Olsen's account of his life and wept openly as I read the Collect, this despite the allure of Aelric's busy life, boundless charity, and fervent spirituality. My vote went to Bp. Delany. I look forward to learning more about him in the next round!

  8. So awesome to see Henry Beard Delany today!!!! I have read all about the Delany sisters and even saw a play about them! Love and admire the entire family

  9. Sarah and Sadie Delany are the daughters of Henry Beard Delany. They lived past 100 years of age and wrote a wonderful memoir called "Having Our Say" which was made into a movie in 1999. I vote for Bishop Henry and his daughters!

  10. For Henry Beard Delaney (and his wife, Nanny)
    (to the tune of Amazing Grace, of course)

    Confronting evil, arrogance
    And false self-righteousness;
    The Grace of God called forth a saint
    Who served amidst the mess.

    A former slave of “Christian” folk
    He studied, learned and taught.
    He built and loved and still endured
    The fears racism wrought.

    (It seems a shame his wife is not
    A choice that we can make.
    She raised 10 children, worked and taught,
    She too, is quite a saint.)

    So vote for this strong faithful man
    But don’t forget his wife!
    They’ve earned our honor and respect
    And Golden Halos bright.

    1. Love it, Diana! I thought the same thing about his wife, but less poetically.

    2. Thank you Diana! I had to sing it as well. Between your post and Oliver''s, how could I not vote for Henry.

  11. I believe the SEC missed one here: "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."

    TEN CHILDREN! My money would have been on Delany's wife, Nanny Logan.

  12. I voted for Aelred - went out found some of his writing, found it meaningful with universal message of love.

  13. This librarian had to go with Henry the library-builder. But I would love to see Aelred in whatever year there is Lent Madness: Redemption!

  14. Wow a tough one. If not for Bishop Delany and his work the work I do today would not be possible and Michael Curry a dream. Thank you thank you thank you. Men like Aelred are from a time of great deeds as part of their lives, how ever did they do it?

  15. Like one of the other commenters I almost voted for Henry without reading the competition. What an amazing story and such an inspiration especially today in the face of renewed racial tensions.

  16. At our parish we just finished a Bkack History Month book discussion on "Having Our Say" by the Delany sisters, so voting for him was a breeze. The bio forgot to mention that he was actually the first black man elected bishop in the Episcopal Church.

  17. Bishop Delany got my vote too. His accomplishments considering the day and age in which he lived are nothing short of miraculous. However, I'd probably have liked to grab an ale with Allred.

  18. Henry seems to me to be a saint for our times. And... how many priests actually built the churches in which they serve?