Stephen vs. Alban

Let the games begin! Yes, Lent Madness 2017 begins RIGHT NOW. After months of speculation and the crushing ache of anticipation, “Ash Thursday” has arrived. Over the next (more or less) 40 days and 40 nights, you will have the opportunity to re-immortalize one of our 32 competing saints with the coveted Golden Halo.

Today we see two martyrs squaring off as Stephen faces Alban. Which one will face yet another ignominious exit? That, dear friends, is up to you and your single (we mean that and we have cameras everywhere) vote.

If you’re new to Lent Madness, welcome! If you have any questions about how to participate, just let us know by leaving a comment. The Lent Madness community is both friendly and helpful, often answering questions before the Supreme Executive Committee arrives in their grand purple, if imaginary, chariot.

We urge you to take full part in the Madness. Leave comments here on the website. Read what others have to say. Enjoy the (mostly) friendly rivalry and trash talk on social media. During the day, check in on the website often to see how each day’s contest is going. And above all, delight in seeing how each saint was a powerful witness of Jesus Christ.

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.

We can assure you this will be a wild, joyful, educational, ocassionally gut-wrenching ride. We’re delighted to share this journey with you. Let the Madness begin!


Stephen is the protomartyr of the Church—the first person to give his life as a witness to his faith in the gospel of Jesus.

Along with six other Greek-speaking believers, Stephen was tasked with serving and providing for those in need, serving as one of the first deacons in the early Jesus Movement. In some traditions, Stephen is given the title of Archdeacon.

Tasked with feeding the hungry, Stephen performed wonders and signs for the people. Unfortunately, these actions did not go over well with some in Jerusalem’s religious power structure, and the Sanhedrin tried him for blasphemy.

Stephen delivered a powerful sermon in front of the Sanhedrin, recounting the relationship between God and the people—his sermon accused listeners of murdering the prophets who foretold the coming of Jesus. While his message seemed to be extremely well-received, with the Sanhedrin shouting “Amen!” and “Thanks be to God,” they immediately took Stephen out into the street and stoned him. With his last breath, Stephen prayed for the forgiveness for his killers.

In death, Stephen has become quite the world traveler. His relics were first identified at what is now the monastery Beit Jimal, just outside of Jerusalem. Stephen’s relics moved around Jerusalem to a location near the northern gate of the city—known to the Crusaders as Stephen’s Gate.
A portion of his relics made a post-mortem trip to Rome, where he was interred alongside the deacon Lawrence (a very polite roommate who made
room for the protomartyr in the crypt of the Basilica of San Lorenzo).

Stephen’s feast day is December 26. He is the patron saint of, among other things, headaches—and, perhaps, family members during uncomfortable holiday situations.

Collect for Stephen
We give you thanks, O Lord of glory, for the example of the first martyr Stephen, who looked up to heaven and prayed for his persecutors to your Son Jesus Christ, who stands at your right hand; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

-David Hansen


The early martyr Alban is regarded as the protomartyr of Britain—the very first person to die for his confession of Christ in the British Isles. Also, while none of the records are terribly clear, it appears that Alban was only a Christian for a matter of days prior to his martyrdom! The story of Alban comes to us through three chief sources—a medieval text connected with Germanus of Auxerre, the account of the sixth-century British monk Gildas the Wise, and the Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People. As is common with martyrs in the early medieval period, Alban’s story grows longer and more colorful with each step.

During one of the Roman persecutions of Christians, Alban (who was a kindly man but apparently not a believer) hid a priest in his house rather than allow the priest to be caught and killed by the authorities. The priest remained hidden for several days and instructed Alban in the faith. Once the Roman authorities learned of the priest’s presence, they came to the house demanding the fugitive. Alban dressed himself in the priest’s distinctive clothing and was led away to see the judge. The judge (somehow realizing that Alban was not the priest in question) promised to let Alban go if he renounced Christianity and sacrificed to the gods. Alban refused, asserting his full faith in Christ, and was led away to be executed. However, the bridge linking the court to the execution site was totally blocked by would-be spectators. The waters of the river parted, enabling Alban and his execution party to continue on dry ground to the place of his martyrdom. The executioner was so moved by this divine sign that he refused to kill Alban and was executed alongside him instead.

Bede’s narrative adds that upon killing these two martyrs, the replacement executioner’s eyes promptly popped out of his head as punishment. Furthermore, the head of Alban rolled down the hill, and at the point where it stopped, a spring of pure water sprung up.

Collect for Alban
Almighty God, who inspired your servant Alban to lay down his life for the cause of the Gospel; grant us the grace to follow his example that our own lives may be reflections of your love and witnesses to the truth of your power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-Derek Olsen

Stephen vs. Alban

  • Stephen (62%, 6,008 Votes)
  • Alban (38%, 3,665 Votes)

Total Voters: 9,673

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Stephen: Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/1498–1543), Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Alban: Unknown artist, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

470 Comments to "Stephen vs. Alban"

  1. Jane's Gravatar Jane
    March 2, 2017 - 8:04 am | Permalink

    I find it hard to believe I am the second voter? Where is everyone? Let the madness begin!

    • Mary's Gravatar Mary
      March 2, 2017 - 8:08 am | Permalink

      It’s got to be Alban, after whom my church is named

      • Alison Bentley's Gravatar Alison Bentley
        March 2, 2017 - 9:17 am | Permalink

        That’sounds why I voted for Alban!

        • Hugh Mitchell's Gravatar Hugh Mitchell
          March 2, 2017 - 12:18 pm | Permalink

          Not to mention to town of St. Albans, where there is also an abbey, just outside London. Hi, Alison!

          • Terry's Gravatar Terry
            March 2, 2017 - 1:15 pm | Permalink

            Also, there is St Albans Cathedral in which the left side of the Nave is still or Roman design; A leftover from the Abbey that once stood there whilst the rest is of Norman Architecture.

      • Robert Coates's Gravatar Robert Coates
        March 2, 2017 - 9:29 pm | Permalink

        I grew up in Berkeley, California, which is right next to Albany, so ….

      • Beth North's Gravatar Beth North
        March 2, 2017 - 10:21 pm | Permalink

        Alas, at this late hour, it appears obvious that our choice , St. Alban, will be “one and done”

    • Rhonda's Gravatar Rhonda
      March 2, 2017 - 12:20 pm | Permalink

      I’m HERE,IM HERE!!!! Sorry I fell asleep!
      I have to go with Stephen. We just read his story in ACTS! So I feel like I know him.
      I do like what Alban did though.❤

      • Kathleen's Gravatar Kathleen
        March 2, 2017 - 3:19 pm | Permalink

        Stephen all the way. He has better hymns.

        • K.J.'s Gravatar K.J.
          March 2, 2017 - 5:37 pm | Permalink

          I went with Stephen because of my profound love and respect for our Deacons. They do such amazing work. Hi, Kellie!

    • Richard's Gravatar Richard
      March 2, 2017 - 5:48 pm | Permalink

      I have been getting emails from Lent Madness all along except today. I had to go to the site to cast my vote. I hope the Russians aren’t trying to influence the Madness.

      • Linda Brogan's Gravatar Linda Brogan
        March 2, 2017 - 6:16 pm | Permalink

        I hope so too Richard, they seem to be in everything these days!

      • Joan Crittenden's Gravatar Joan Crittenden
        March 2, 2017 - 8:53 pm | Permalink


      • Joan Crittenden's Gravatar Joan Crittenden
        March 2, 2017 - 8:55 pm | Permalink

        I am all for Stephen, the Deacon!

      • Lisa M's Gravatar Lisa M
        March 2, 2017 - 9:59 pm | Permalink

        Nothing would surprise me at this point…

    • Sue Duffy's Gravatar Sue Duffy
      March 2, 2017 - 6:16 pm | Permalink

      I had to vote for Alban. He was a very new Christian who could have gone back to his previous ways when the chips were down but he didn’t. I love Stephen, of course, and felt this was a hard choice.

    • Jane's Gravatar Jane
      March 3, 2017 - 3:16 am | Permalink

      I have to agree with Don from Main. What a story I read it to my grandson and he laughed and really? I told him that is what is said Ido love Stephen, but had ro vot for Alban

  2. Mary's Gravatar Mary
    March 2, 2017 - 8:07 am | Permalink

    It’s got to be Alban, after whom my church is named

    • Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
      March 2, 2017 - 9:06 am | Permalink

      Total agreement on Alban. I can completely relate to his hiding the priest, and trying to save him. Also love the Venerable Bede’s account.

      • Carol Newsom's Gravatar Carol Newsom
        March 2, 2017 - 10:02 am | Permalink

        Alban is a saint for our times. His action is a model for the protection of the persecuted.

        • Pat Phelps's Gravatar Pat Phelps
          March 2, 2017 - 11:12 am | Permalink

          Agree wholeheartedly that Alban is a Saint to emulate in our challenging times.

    • Don from Maine's Gravatar Don from Maine
      March 2, 2017 - 1:08 pm | Permalink

      The part of the story about Alban’s head rolling down the hill and producing a fresh water spring gets my vote!

      • Susan's Gravatar Susan
        March 2, 2017 - 5:48 pm | Permalink

        Totally my reason also!

      • Daniel Green's Gravatar Daniel Green
        March 2, 2017 - 6:16 pm | Permalink

        The eye-popping always gets me. I thought only lechers in cartoons did that!

  3. Penny Gordon's Gravatar Penny Gordon
    March 2, 2017 - 8:07 am | Permalink

    Alban, if only for the fact that I was baptized at a St. Alban’s (in Arlington TX) and confirmed at another St. Alban’s (Bexley, OH).

    • Hank Langknecht's Gravatar Hank Langknecht
      March 2, 2017 - 9:35 am | Permalink

      And I went for Alban since I taught at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, around the corner from St. Alban’s in Bexley.

      • Marilyn Smith's Gravatar Marilyn Smith
        March 2, 2017 - 1:36 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, Hank, we’ve cancelled each others’ votes! LOL! As a newly minted deacon I had to go with Stephen.

        • K.J.'s Gravatar K.J.
          March 2, 2017 - 5:54 pm | Permalink

          May God bless your ministry, Deacon!

    • Laura Piazza's Gravatar Laura Piazza
      March 2, 2017 - 5:36 pm | Permalink

      I have to go with Alban – I worship at St. Alban’s Bexley!

  4. Emily Olsen's Gravatar Emily Olsen
    March 2, 2017 - 8:07 am | Permalink

    I am such a sucker for saintly gore! As soon as the heads start rolling and springs start flowing, I start voting.

    • jolene's Gravatar jolene
      March 2, 2017 - 8:16 am | Permalink

      and eyeballs popping out of heads!

    • Susie's Gravatar Susie
      March 2, 2017 - 8:16 am | Permalink

      Me, too!

    • Judy Burchfield's Gravatar Judy Burchfield
      March 2, 2017 - 8:20 am | Permalink

      {{{ grin}}}

    • Heather Yue's Gravatar Heather Yue
      March 2, 2017 - 8:50 am | Permalink


    • kesmarn's Gravatar kesmarn
      March 2, 2017 - 9:59 am | Permalink

      Oh yes!

    • Quest Hunter's Gravatar Quest Hunter
      March 2, 2017 - 11:06 am | Permalink

      Alban all the way! From hiding a fugitive, converting a non-believer, to decapitation and signs of death triumphing over political powers. Alban gets my vote!

    • Heather Swearingen's Gravatar Heather Swearingen
      March 3, 2017 - 3:37 am | Permalink

      I had to vote for Stephen, patron saint of headaches! Although the head rolling down the hill creating a spring almost got me.

  5. March 2, 2017 - 8:11 am | Permalink

    No contest for this priest ordained on the Feast of Alban first martyr of Britain!

  6. Nancy Strong's Gravatar Nancy Strong
    March 2, 2017 - 8:13 am | Permalink

    Although my youngest brother is named for Stephen, as well as the parish where I served as curate, I am voting for Alban. Checkout the Diocese of Saint Alban’s for their creative and quite popular celebrations of their patron saint! Quite something…and generally on 12/26, I’m too tired to think about keeping Stephen’s Feast…except for singing “Good King Wenceslas” ( and that’s really about an altogether different Saint and martyr)!

    • jillpne's Gravatar jillpne
      March 2, 2017 - 9:32 am | Permalink

      Live in the St. Albans Diocese and as Nancy says the pilgrimage which anyone can join/follow is a sight to behold! Even the execution has an interesting twist!

      • Martha Clark's Gravatar Martha Clark
        March 2, 2017 - 2:12 pm | Permalink

        I would love to participate!

        • Carole Pozek's Gravatar Carole Pozek
          March 4, 2017 - 8:40 am | Permalink

          Where do I vote

  7. Ann's Gravatar Ann
    March 2, 2017 - 8:14 am | Permalink

    Had to believe that I’m the third to make a comment!! Wake up, Sleepers!!

    • Mike's Gravatar Mike
      March 2, 2017 - 8:41 am | Permalink

      “Waking up” was our theme for Ash Wednesday’s service!

  8. March 2, 2017 - 8:15 am | Permalink

    It has to be Alban, the patron saint of our parish! We even have his icon near the altar.

  9. Susan McCulloch's Gravatar Susan McCulloch
    March 2, 2017 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    Who doesn’t love love a good hagiography? I’m with Alban on this one.

  10. March 2, 2017 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    Well, the Bracket Czar came out swinging on day one. It’s already a tough match up!

    • Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
      March 2, 2017 - 11:41 am | Permalink

      I agree, even though at this point the voting is not exactly ephen Stephen.

      • peggy's Gravatar peggy
        March 2, 2017 - 2:03 pm | Permalink

        The puns are out already! Huzzah!

        • peggy's Gravatar peggy
          March 2, 2017 - 2:04 pm | Permalink

          I meant pun-dits, of course.

          • Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
            March 2, 2017 - 6:00 pm | Permalink

            You had me at Huzzah!

  11. Kate Cabot's Gravatar Kate Cabot
    March 2, 2017 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    Stephen all the way! Without St. Stephen we would not have the Feast of Stephen and without the Feast of Stephen we would not have Good King Wenceslas! There is no Christmas cheer without Good King Wenceslas!

    • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
      March 2, 2017 - 8:29 am | Permalink

      Finally, a vote for Stephen! Thank you, Kate, and Merry Christmas.
      Oops…I forgot what season we’re in!

      • Mary Stepleton - Hitt's Gravatar Mary Stepleton - Hitt
        March 2, 2017 - 9:01 pm | Permalink

        Voted Stephen for my hubby shares his name.

        Mary Margaret

    • elise's Gravatar elise
      March 2, 2017 - 8:33 am | Permalink

      best logic yet!!!

    • Victoria's Gravatar Victoria
      March 2, 2017 - 8:36 am | Permalink

      LOL, love it!

      • Martha Clark's Gravatar Martha Clark
        March 2, 2017 - 2:13 pm | Permalink

        Me, too!

    • Mary Beth's Gravatar Mary Beth
      March 2, 2017 - 8:43 am | Permalink

      That’s right! My father’s name is Stephen, and we would get extra Christmas gifts on the 26th. I suppose they really should have been aspirins and ice packs for headaches! Off to a great start!

    • Sonia Stevenson's Gravatar Sonia Stevenson
      March 2, 2017 - 10:06 am | Permalink

      I have always loved that carol, Good King Wenceslas but he could always have “looked out” on some other feast day, or Boxing Day would have been quite appropriate except that doesn’t sing too well!

      • Sonia Stevenson's Gravatar Sonia Stevenson
        March 2, 2017 - 10:08 am | Permalink

        BTW I voted for Alban!

    • Andrea's Gravatar Andrea
      March 2, 2017 - 10:38 am | Permalink

      Yes! Love this reasoning, and love the carol.

    • Mary Howell's Gravatar Mary Howell
      March 2, 2017 - 11:08 am | Permalink


    • Michael F Gray's Gravatar Michael F Gray
      March 2, 2017 - 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Having been raised at St. Stephen’s, Coconut Grove and serving my last full time ministry at St. Stephen’s, Culpeper (VA), it could be no one else.

    • JustMeJo's Gravatar JustMeJo
      March 3, 2017 - 5:21 am | Permalink

      My reasoning for my vote, exactly! 😉

  12. Rev.Deacon Rebecca Saager's Gravatar Rev.Deacon Rebecca Saager
    March 2, 2017 - 8:17 am | Permalink

    Hurrah for deacons! Stephen was quite a roll model. And the patron Saint for headaches. So does your Deacon give you headaches with all their energy or are you a headache for the Deacon ?

    • Alan Christensen's Gravatar Alan Christensen
      March 2, 2017 - 11:55 am | Permalink

      Considering the bit about Alban’s beheading, I’d say he was quite a “roll model” too.

      As someone discerning a possible diaconal vocation, I voted for Stephen.

      • Diane C.'s Gravatar Diane C.
        March 2, 2017 - 3:39 pm | Permalink

        That was my first thought, too. Alban was really the roll model.

  13. Roberto Marquez's Gravatar Roberto Marquez
    March 2, 2017 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    And let’s not forget that Paul (at the time, Saul) was at St. Stephen’s execution. God uses us in ways that to us will not make sense but t there is a bigger picture. Comforting.

  14. Gail Davis's Gravatar Gail Davis
    March 2, 2017 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    Pro Martyr Stephen! Need I say more? Slow starting due due Ash hangover.

  15. Michelle's Gravatar Michelle
    March 2, 2017 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    Wow? Tough matchup to begin. However, as a frequent sufferer of headaches, I have to vote for Stephen.

    • Candace's Gravatar Candace
      March 2, 2017 - 12:50 pm | Permalink

      Me too!

  16. Carol Miro's Gravatar Carol Miro
    March 2, 2017 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    This was tough, I was baptized in St. Alban’s Church, the same church, my mother, aunt, many cousins, had been baptized. But Jan Grinnell, Archdeacon is an admired friend, so I went with Stephen.

  17. Fr. Peter's Gravatar Fr. Peter
    March 2, 2017 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    My vote went to Stephen and I was ready as of the word “protomartyr!”

    • Rev. Steve's Gravatar Rev. Steve
      March 2, 2017 - 8:31 am | Permalink

      Fr. Peter, thanks for sharing. As I was reading the comments, I began to wonder if I was the only one to vote for Stephen. The first martyr of the church should not suffer further by being the first eliminated saint in this tourey.

  18. March 2, 2017 - 8:23 am | Permalink

    Going with the Anglican martyrs down the line! Also love Albany’s compassionate treatment of people he didn’t even yet agree with! Wonderful witness.

    • Emily's Gravatar Emily
      March 2, 2017 - 9:21 am | Permalink

      Well said Daniel. A good reminder to love others no matter what their beliefs, especially these days.

  19. Edwina's Gravatar Edwina
    March 2, 2017 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    After visiting St. Albans Cathedral in England twice – how could I pass St. Alban by ? My desire would be to to visit again.

  20. J.J. Cape Cod's Gravatar J.J. Cape Cod
    March 2, 2017 - 8:25 am | Permalink

    I’m touched by Alban’s hospitality to a stranger and his passionate conversion. Talk about walking the walk. He’s the man!

  21. Vickie's Gravatar Vickie
    March 2, 2017 - 8:25 am | Permalink

    Day one and heads are already rolling. Don’t let St. Alban lose his twice!

  22. March 2, 2017 - 8:26 am | Permalink

    As a longtime deacon recently ordained priest, I’ve gotta go with Stephen. However, I’m a little nervous to realize once again that it was not his advocacy for the “foreign” (Greek-speaking) widows, but his preaching the Gospel that got Stephen killed. What have I gotten myself into?

    • M. H. Fournier's Gravatar M. H. Fournier
      March 2, 2017 - 9:55 pm | Permalink

      How wonderful to hear of your ordination! Blessings upon you, Rodger. 🙂 And if my memory serves me well (i hope), “Happy Birthday” on Saturday…. The only day of the year that’s a complete sentence.
      Another vote for Stephen here!

    • K8+'s Gravatar K8+
      March 2, 2017 - 10:55 pm | Permalink

      Fear not!

  23. Carol Gardner's Gravatar Carol Gardner
    March 2, 2017 - 8:26 am | Permalink

    As a deacon, have to go with the deacon.

  24. Mollie Douglas Turner+'s Gravatar Mollie Douglas Turner+
    March 2, 2017 - 8:27 am | Permalink

    Not fair, O great SEC, to pit British and biblical protomartyrs against one another right out of the gate! How is a cradle Episcopalian to decide?? Alas. My first inclination was for Stephen, though, and I have been to some pretty good Boxing Day parties. So I’m voting for Stephen, even though I’m fairly sure Alban would have better kitsch.

    And awaaay we go!

  25. Judith Peterson's Gravatar Judith Peterson
    March 2, 2017 - 8:27 am | Permalink

    You may have cameras everywhere to assure one person, one vote, but what about Russian influence?

    • Susan K. Peterson's Gravatar Susan K. Peterson
      March 2, 2017 - 9:51 am | Permalink

      Maybe it is your name that produces the quirky humor since it is exactly the sort that goes on at our house. Loved your comment!

    • Kate's Gravatar Kate
      March 2, 2017 - 11:37 am | Permalink

      Hahaha! Love it!

    • Linda Barnard's Gravatar Linda Barnard
      March 2, 2017 - 1:33 pm | Permalink

      It can all be denied as we have been learning…… Loved you post!

  26. Bettie's Gravatar Bettie
    March 2, 2017 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    With great respect for the Stephen Ministry program, I vote for Stephen.

  27. Robert Limpert's Gravatar Robert Limpert
    March 2, 2017 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    From the blood of the martyr Alban came the birth of the church to which we belong. May he win the day!

  28. Linda Hornyan's Gravatar Linda Hornyan
    March 2, 2017 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    I am a Stephen minister. Needless to say my vote goes to him.

  29. Beth Bartniczak's Gravatar Beth Bartniczak
    March 2, 2017 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    Its’s got to be Stephen. Not only do I know some incredible people named Stephen (some are even priests) but I suffer from migraines so, Stephen it is. Let the games begin.

  30. Keith Hubbard's Gravatar Keith Hubbard
    March 2, 2017 - 8:29 am | Permalink

    Stephen was the first to pay the ultimate sacrifice for his beliefs. He will hard to beat for the Golden Halo.

  31. Mary E. Winston's Gravatar Mary E. Winston
    March 2, 2017 - 8:31 am | Permalink

    I voted for Stephen – my dad’s name and when my dad died it was on December 26 – St. Stephen’s Day!

  32. Edwina's Gravatar Edwina
    March 2, 2017 - 8:31 am | Permalink

    After visiting St. Alban’s Cathedral in England twice, How could I pass St. Alban by? How I would love to visit him again!

  33. Aileen DiBenedetto's Gravatar Aileen DiBenedetto
    March 2, 2017 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    A vote for the first deacon!

  34. Melanie's Gravatar Melanie
    March 2, 2017 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    St. Alban has the better tale, by far. And deserves to be disseminated through the brackets, as Stephen already has the biblical edge. Go, Alban!

  35. March 2, 2017 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    Alban gave his life to protect another. He’s my martyr.

  36. Marie Cantrell's Gravatar Marie Cantrell
    March 2, 2017 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    Voted for Stephen, but what amazing stories Alban inspired! Loved reading them.

  37. Carolyn D. Mack's Gravatar Carolyn D. Mack
    March 2, 2017 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    As a lawyer and teacher, I had to be swayed by the mixed messaged Stephen received from the Sanhedrin. As an Episcopalian, I appreciated his preaching even more than the Sanhedrin apparently did. Go Stephen!

  38. Ann Rapp's Gravatar Ann Rapp
    March 2, 2017 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    If and when you visit Britain, take a trip to the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St. Alban, in the city of St. Albans, Hertfordshire. Since I first visited as a child, it has been one of my most treasured places – it has a most sacred and mysterious spirit of place. Here’s a website you might like: So while it pains me to leave Stephen, I must vote for Alban.

    • Rosemary Beales's Gravatar Rosemary Beales
      March 3, 2017 - 1:48 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the travel tip!

  39. Becky Chapman's Gravatar Becky Chapman
    March 2, 2017 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    Stephen is my guy! I was recently ordained as a deacon in the Episcopal church so I’ve got to stick with Stephen for the win.

  40. Dave Harrison's Gravatar Dave Harrison
    March 2, 2017 - 8:34 am | Permalink

    I see a lot of Alban fans out there. But what about a nod to the good King Wenceslaus who famously “looked out” on the feast of Stephen? Without Stephen, would the good king have called his page hither, one wonders? Still, that head rolling down the hill thing is pretty sick. Hard to resist that.

  41. Claire's Gravatar Claire
    March 2, 2017 - 8:35 am | Permalink

    St Stephen has my vote today. I have always had an affinity for him as the first martyr of the church. Stoned to death by the authorities one of which was Saul, later to be known as Paul–yes THAT Paul! Also without him we would not have the wonderful carol Good King Wenceslas.

  42. Alice's Gravatar Alice
    March 2, 2017 - 8:35 am | Permalink

    The rolling head, the eyeballs, the spring of water. So obvious to me.

  43. Sally from Dallas's Gravatar Sally from Dallas
    March 2, 2017 - 8:37 am | Permalink

    Stephen is forever linked to Saul/Paul, and as the “first” deacon, is a model for us all in his forgiveness of his persecutors. He has my vote!!

  44. Lois Keen's Gravatar Lois Keen
    March 2, 2017 - 8:37 am | Permalink

    Once again, I’m with the underdog. Alban!

  45. Lynda-Marie's Gravatar Lynda-Marie
    March 2, 2017 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    Very tough choice on Ash Thursday, but how and when would Christian England and its long history have unfolded without Alban?

  46. Elizabeth Neeld's Gravatar Elizabeth Neeld
    March 2, 2017 - 8:39 am | Permalink

    Stephen whose example changed Saul’s/Paul’s life forever. And Paul went on to write a lot of letters! Writers, unite. We owe Stephen a lot!

  47. Amy C.'s Gravatar Amy C.
    March 2, 2017 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    Feeding the hungry, forgiving your enemies; seems I have heard this somewhere before. And in 2017 what an example to follow: love the oppressed, even in the presence of the powerful.

    • Catherine Cox's Gravatar Catherine Cox
      March 2, 2017 - 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Amy you have said exactly what I was thinking. Thank you! I voted for Stephen in spite of being an Anglophile.


  48. Sister Mary Winifred's Gravatar Sister Mary Winifred
    March 2, 2017 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    I grew up at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Day School in Houston, TX – my vote goes to Stephen!

    • Kathy's Gravatar Kathy
      March 2, 2017 - 7:16 pm | Permalink

      I’m a parishioner at St Stephens Houston!

  49. Amy C's Gravatar Amy C
    March 2, 2017 - 8:41 am | Permalink

    Saint Alban’s WV. Really. I received 2 random phone calls from Saint Alban’s this morning at 8:07. I decided that if Saint Alban and his supporters in Saint Alban WV are going through all that work to sway my/your vote, I will listen and be swayed. A new level of madness in LentMadness when the saints come marching in. “..reflections of your love and witnesses to the truth..”. Beautifully written. Thank you.

  50. Joan's Gravatar Joan
    March 2, 2017 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    Lent Madness always expands my vocabulary. But, when I googled “protomartyr” it took
    me to a punk rock band! No there is the reason for sacrifice!
    I voted for Stephen because of his simplicity

    • Lynn's Gravatar Lynn
      March 2, 2017 - 11:46 am | Permalink

      The story of Stephen’s stoning left quite an impression on this 5 yr old when told it, 50 years ago ! Half a century later I’m casting a vote for Stephen –

  51. Kelley Brown's Gravatar Kelley Brown
    March 2, 2017 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    In honor of my family members and friends who are Stephen Ministers (and Leaders), I vote today for St. Stephen.

  52. Jan's Gravatar Jan
    March 2, 2017 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    Voter 1000. Let the stories inspire us all.

  53. Veronica Hinkson's Gravatar Veronica Hinkson
    March 2, 2017 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    And it’s only DAY ONE! Off to the races! Quite a choice; saintly gore and all but I’m with Alban.

  54. Karen's Gravatar Karen
    March 2, 2017 - 8:44 am | Permalink

    To be willing to be martyred after only 3 days in the faith; how can I not vote for Alban. [I agree with previous comments “not fair putting up a strong Biblical character against a first martyr so early in the brackets”.] Lent Madness novices do not be intimidated, vote – and come back tomorrow to read and vote again.

  55. Pastor Craig's Gravatar Pastor Craig
    March 2, 2017 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    St. Alban was the first Martyr of Britain . . . and he’ll be the first Martyr of this year’s Competition! #StStephenFTW!!

  56. Harriet's Gravatar Harriet
    March 2, 2017 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    Gotta be Stephen!

  57. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    March 2, 2017 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    My daughter is six and voting with us for the first time this year! MUCH to my surprise, she voted for Stephen and she said “Because he helped ‘feeded’ a lot of people.”

    • Jane L's Gravatar Jane L
      March 2, 2017 - 9:57 am | Permalink

      So cute! Good for her!

  58. Barbara Cockrell's Gravatar Barbara Cockrell
    March 2, 2017 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    With a story like this, how could I not vote for Alban?

  59. Anne Lemay's Gravatar Anne Lemay
    March 2, 2017 - 8:50 am | Permalink

    This deacon is voting for Stephen – who teaches us, among other things, that we should never believe what they say about our sermons.

  60. Elizabeth's Gravatar Elizabeth
    March 2, 2017 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    Alban, for clever disguise, ability to produce water at random, and my favorite of my temporary places of worship, St. Alban’s, Bay City, Michigan! #StopStephen

    • Kim's Gravatar Kim
      March 2, 2017 - 8:55 am | Permalink

      I’m a Stephen voter, but loved your comment! 😀

  61. Claire C Thompson's Gravatar Claire C Thompson
    March 2, 2017 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    I vote for Stephen because his example of feeding the poor and forgiving his stoners is very powerful.

  62. Kim Rossi's Gravatar Kim Rossi
    March 2, 2017 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    Voted for Stephen – Not that Alban’s story isn’t quite astounding, but I too have headaches all the time and for me it’s Stephen.

  63. Kim's Gravatar Kim
    March 2, 2017 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    Although St. Albans was on my traveling path to college, it had to be Stephen for me, as my dear son carries that name – as well as some of St. Stephen’s qualities (but hopefully not martyrdom!)

  64. Anita Martin's Gravatar Anita Martin
    March 2, 2017 - 8:54 am | Permalink

    First time player and already enjoying and learning

    • Kathy in Nicaragua's Gravatar Kathy in Nicaragua
      March 2, 2017 - 9:23 am | Permalink

      Welcome to the madness!

      • Pamela Payne's Gravatar Pamela Payne
        March 2, 2017 - 5:18 pm | Permalink

        Good to see you back Kathy!

  65. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    March 2, 2017 - 8:54 am | Permalink

    St Stephen has my vote. A friend of ours is being ordained as deacon this weekend. Plus I like that he is a patron saint of headaches.

  66. David's Gravatar David
    March 2, 2017 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    I’m all in for unique names filled with religious significance. Alban? Unique name! Stephen? Not so much. Sorry Stephen! Go Alban!

  67. Lauren Zook's Gravatar Lauren Zook
    March 2, 2017 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    I voted for Stephen for several reasons, but what put him over the edge was the hymn “When Stephen full of power and grace” (#243 in the Hymnal 1982). It’s so awesome. Look it up.

  68. Ruth's Gravatar Ruth
    March 2, 2017 - 8:58 am | Permalink

    Alban for me, as I witnessed the best ever children’s pageant at St. Alban’s in Brentwood, California–complete with severed head rolling down the center aisle.

    • Lynne's Gravatar Lynne
      March 2, 2017 - 5:55 pm | Permalink

      Ruth, yours is the same as my reason for voting for Alban. St. Alban’s, adjacent to UCLA, was my parish until we moved away. The head rolling down the aisle is a priceless experience!

  69. Timothy J's Gravatar Timothy J
    March 2, 2017 - 8:58 am | Permalink

    Alban for the win. England needs him now, more than ever.

  70. Shannon Fineout's Gravatar Shannon Fineout
    March 2, 2017 - 8:59 am | Permalink

    My vote is for Stephen, in memory of my husband, an archdeacon. I lost him in June.

    • Diana Walworth's Gravatar Diana Walworth
      March 2, 2017 - 11:35 am | Permalink

      He was a wonderful archdeacon, Shannon! We have two wonderful deacons at our church who knew your husband well. My vote had to be for Stephen!

  71. Rach M's Gravatar Rach M
    March 2, 2017 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    Voting day is here again!
    What can we learn from these two saints? Care for our neighbors in need, protect those in danger of persecution, give your all to the Jesus Movement and your executor’s eyes will pop out. I’m voting for the protomartyr.

  72. Susan Richmond's Gravatar Susan Richmond
    March 2, 2017 - 9:01 am | Permalink

    Must say I am intrigued by Alban’s story but come on, how could I possibly vote against Stephen?

  73. Elinor Cowell's Gravatar Elinor Cowell
    March 2, 2017 - 9:02 am | Permalink

    It seems a lot of Stephen voters aren’t commenting, but Stephen really is ahead, so far. Poor Alban. It seems the SEC could have pitted him against another martyr also not in the Bible. I’m sure there’s a bunch!

  74. Gary Barker's Gravatar Gary Barker
    March 2, 2017 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    My youngest son is Zachary Alban, so the British protomartyr has to get my vote, although both are such wonderful inspirations for me to live life full and love with all that I am. Our National Cathedral, of course, towers over our Nation’s capital from Mount St. Alban.

  75. Martha's Gravatar Martha
    March 2, 2017 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    One of my favorite Monk’s was named for Alban. And the story of giving giving Sanctuary and standing up for the hunted and persecuted is compelling. But because of my favorite Deacon (and dad) I must vote for Stephen!

  76. March 2, 2017 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    As a member of St. Stephen Episcopal Church for over 40 years, I’ve got to go with Stephen. I greatly admire Alban’s sacrifice and steadfastness in the face of death for a recently acquired faith. It seems that both died for defying civil and ecclesiastical authority that was hostile to their faith. It’s still an issue.

    • marie jones's Gravatar marie jones
      March 2, 2017 - 9:40 am | Permalink

      Bless you, Don! I know how much St. Stephen’s meant to you! I, too , vote for Stephen (one of my favorite names) and a fellow who, even in death, at least kept his head and forgave others!

  77. Julia's Gravatar Julia
    March 2, 2017 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    Stephen because my grandson carries his name.. He missed being born on St. Stephens’s birthday by 9 days.

  78. Patricia's Gravatar Patricia
    March 2, 2017 - 9:04 am | Permalink

    Oh, if the camera wasn’t watching, I’d vote twice…once for each. But Alban it is.

  79. Margie's Gravatar Margie
    March 2, 2017 - 9:05 am | Permalink

    Stephen was a bit of a hothead – he gets my vote! My first Children’s Bible had a picture of him being stoned – it was quite a dramatic etching, which, at age 7, I colored…

  80. Kim B's Gravatar Kim B
    March 2, 2017 - 9:07 am | Permalink

    I’m Irish – so St. Stephen it is! I’m also an ordained minister and I LOVE the fact that Stephen embodies that whole “if you preach the truth of the Gospel – you better preach it with your bags packed.” GO Stephen!!!

  81. Anthony Lee's Gravatar Anthony Lee
    March 2, 2017 - 9:10 am | Permalink

    Much as I, an old hippie who used to smoke weed up in the mountains, appreciate the first Christian to get stoned, I’m going with Alban because the boys’ school on the close of Washington Cathedral, with which I had fond associations long ago, was named for Alban.

    • Heather's Gravatar Heather
      March 2, 2017 - 9:16 am | Permalink

      Thanks for making me smile this morning. I’m a bit surprised you didn’t choose St. Stephen for being the subject of a Grateful Dead song.

      • Jane L's Gravatar Jane L
        March 2, 2017 - 9:59 am | Permalink

        In and out of the garden he goes …

  82. Betsy H's Gravatar Betsy H
    March 2, 2017 - 9:11 am | Permalink

    Lent Madness is off to a roaring start–are all the match ups going to be this challenging?? Rolling head eye popping drama aside, I have to vote for Stephen–my husband has debilitating headaches, so now I know who to pray through! (And besides this could make for a fun kitsch round). Stephen is the first Deacon, have a soft spot for Deacons.

  83. Lindsay's Gravatar Lindsay
    March 2, 2017 - 9:12 am | Permalink

    When I was little, I thought our church was called St. Stephen’s because we had so many (3, but again, I was little) Stephens or Steves in the congregation.

  84. Adrian's Gravatar Adrian
    March 2, 2017 - 9:13 am | Permalink

    Thanks for Lent madness once again oh Great and Wise SEC! One of the many good things i found in the USA when i lived there and brought back here to the UK> And being a Brit, had better vote for Alban. I have to say I particularly liked him being protective about people who he didn’t share his faith. There’s a lesson there somewhere

  85. Heather's Gravatar Heather
    March 2, 2017 - 9:15 am | Permalink

    I’m voting for Alban because he is also the patron saint of refugees. I’m surprised the description of his martyrdom didn’t include that tidbit.

  86. Kathy in Nicaragua's Gravatar Kathy in Nicaragua
    March 2, 2017 - 9:15 am | Permalink

    I thought for sure I would vote for Stephen, so I read the biography of Alban first to give him a good chance. I was captivated! I especially like the chain of conversions — the hidden priest bringing Alban to the faith and then God’s acts on Alban’s behalf convincing the executioner. To the SEC: This was a VERY HARD BEGINNING for Lent Madness 2017. Well done!

    • Sean's Gravatar Sean
      March 2, 2017 - 3:10 pm | Permalink

      This was my path also!

  87. Marty Garwood's Gravatar Marty Garwood
    March 2, 2017 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    Stephen’s examples warns us to be wary of being complimented on a “great sermon this morning.”. LOL

  88. Anna's Gravatar Anna
    March 2, 2017 - 9:18 am | Permalink

    I planned to vote for Stephen. This morning I awoke with a terrible headache. Then I read that Stephen was known for curing headaches and that cinched my vote for him.

  89. Linda McMillan's Gravatar Linda McMillan
    March 2, 2017 - 9:18 am | Permalink

    Obviously, nobody wants to vote against a martyr. I feel the Supreme Executive Committee has really put us in a bind on this one, and it’s only Ash Thursday! I went with Alban, though, because of that spring and the parting waters… I mean, Stephen was probably a great guy, but it’s hard to beat miracles like Alban’s. Plus, extra credit for popping eyeballs!

  90. Caroynl M's Gravatar Caroynl M
    March 2, 2017 - 9:18 am | Permalink

    St Stephen is the subject of an excellent Grateful Dead song and was the first saint to get stoned? No contest–and don’t overlook the Grateful Dead connection when researching swag!
    “‘Talk about your plenty, talk about your ills,
    One man gathers what another one spills”

  91. Jeanine's Gravatar Jeanine
    March 2, 2017 - 9:19 am | Permalink

    I woke up with a headache today – St. Stephen sending me a sign? (though one would hope he helps alleviate the pain, not cause it…)
    It’s hard to resist the popping eyeballs, but my vote is for Stephen!

  92. Bill Pyatt's Gravatar Bill Pyatt
    March 2, 2017 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    St. Stephen. Some credit for being First.

  93. Susan Steigerwald's Gravatar Susan Steigerwald
    March 2, 2017 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    Stephen, Stephen, Stephen! There’s nothing like being stoned to death to leave a lasting memory. Obviously, this was part of Saul’s conversion, to leave the Stoners and hit the road, jack, for Damascus!

  94. Martha's Gravatar Martha
    March 2, 2017 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    Anyone who feeds the hungry has my vote.

  95. Melinda B.'s Gravatar Melinda B.
    March 2, 2017 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    I am having my 7th grade Christian Ed. classes at our Episcopal school participate in this. While I would have voted for Stephen, they unanimously voted for Alban!

  96. St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
    March 2, 2017 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    SPOILER ALERT: partisan commentary. It’s 6 am, and Sessions isn’t gone yet, so I’m feeling somewhat martyred myself. I’m going to go with Stephen, because it amuses me that everyone shouted You go, boy! and then immediately killed him. Seems appropriate. Am expecting this Lent to be turbulent and roiling and am settling in for a wild ride. Will accept impeachment, prosecutions, and resignations in lieu of actual executions. Above all am trying to possess my soul in patience and practice a holy Lent. Delighted to be with you all again, beautiful people and fellow souls on our annual pilgrimage to Canterbury. Reminder to self: Don’t spill the goldfish!

    • Donna's Gravatar Donna
      March 2, 2017 - 10:25 am | Permalink

      Go St. Cecilia!

  97. Ralph Mack's Gravatar Ralph Mack
    March 2, 2017 - 9:24 am | Permalink

    If Steven can help out with the headache that is work this morning for me, he’s got my vote!

  98. Ben Tobias's Gravatar Ben Tobias
    March 2, 2017 - 9:24 am | Permalink

    St. Stephen, although Alban offers an eye-popping alternative

    • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
      March 2, 2017 - 10:37 am | Permalink

      “Eye popping alternative”. That was bad!

      • Bonnee's Gravatar Bonnee
        March 2, 2017 - 7:38 pm | Permalink


    • Bonnee's Gravatar Bonnee
      March 2, 2017 - 7:38 pm | Permalink
      • Bonnee's Gravatar Bonnee
        March 2, 2017 - 7:41 pm | Permalink

        Ok so emojis don’t show up I guess.

  99. Liz's Gravatar Liz
    March 2, 2017 - 9:25 am | Permalink

    Great match-up right out of the gate. It was a hard choice which sets the right tone for what Lent is all about- wrestling with our life choices.

  100. Rebecca Dickinson's Gravatar Rebecca Dickinson
    March 2, 2017 - 9:25 am | Permalink

    Alban is a great example to us in these days when we are again called to provide sanctuary.

  101. Sudie B's Gravatar Sudie B
    March 2, 2017 - 9:26 am | Permalink

    I’m a deacon. This one is a no-brainer–Stephen.

  102. Maryann's Gravatar Maryann
    March 2, 2017 - 9:26 am | Permalink

    Alban. He risked…and lost…his life giving sanctuary to someone in peril.

    • Carol's Gravatar Carol
      March 2, 2017 - 4:00 pm | Permalink

      Yes! Have often wondered, would I have had the courage of the ‘righteous Gentiles’ who risked their lives to shelter European Jews from Hitler’s holocaust? I was not there, so I will never know. But today my beloved country is turning with terrifying speed to a wave of hate crime. Shelter those at risk of oppression is the saintly message I need to hear. Alban has m vote.

  103. MARGERY Wilson's Gravatar MARGERY Wilson
    March 2, 2017 - 9:27 am | Permalink

    Oh, SEC! How could you?! Such a choice on the first day of Lent! What were you thinking? I think I must go with the first protomartyr. Just because he was first. The second is just as fine; but I’d like to see Stephen advance through the ranks.

  104. Ellen Beno's Gravatar Ellen Beno
    March 2, 2017 - 9:29 am | Permalink

    I enjoy this sharing of our choice so much, it adds to the information given by the SEC celebrity blogs on each saint. Such a hard choice but Alban got my vote.

  105. Kathleen Sheehy's Gravatar Kathleen Sheehy
    March 2, 2017 - 9:29 am | Permalink

    I’m with St. Celia on this one, including her partisan commentary. I’m also moved by Stephen’s calling for forgiveness of his killers with his dying breath.

  106. Barbara Baraw's Gravatar Barbara Baraw
    March 2, 2017 - 9:29 am | Permalink

    Alban for me , his name Sake town St Albans is one of my favorite lakeside towns in Vermont

  107. Anne Langston's Gravatar Anne Langston
    March 2, 2017 - 9:31 am | Permalink

    I go to St. Alban’s in Albany, CA, so this was pretty much decided before I read the biographies. Didn’t know about the water parting, eye popping or the spring, though.

    • Margaret Doleman's Gravatar Margaret Doleman
      March 2, 2017 - 2:20 pm | Permalink

      You got here first, Anne! Ditto to what you said.

  108. Emily's Gravatar Emily
    March 2, 2017 - 9:34 am | Permalink

    So hard. Thought I would vote for Stephen for sure. Alban being the Patron Saint of refugees seems like a God-incidence. Alban for the Golden Halo!

  109. M C Miller's Gravatar M C Miller
    March 2, 2017 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    What glee! The first two saints in my morning inbox…..What challenges they brought with them….Left me wondering what I’m willing to die for and how often self preservation wins out over faithfulness in my life as well.

  110. Sharon's Gravatar Sharon
    March 2, 2017 - 9:38 am | Permalink

    In considering which to vote for, I don’t look just at the fact of their martyrdoms, but what the effect was. Stephen’s witness laid part of the groundwork for the conversion of St Paul and the spread of Christianity throughout the known Gentile world. If it hadn’t been for that sequence of events, where would most of us be today? A member of a small Jewish sect or following some other form of religion or none at all. Alban’s witness led to a powerful impact on the Church in England and which led one judge to declare an end to persecutions based on one’s belief in Jesus. That was in the late 3rd or early 4th century. Neither one had been a Christian for very long before being hauled before the powers-that-be. Tough choice since the impact of both led to profound impacts far beyond their deaths or their geographical location.

  111. Carol Buckalew's Gravatar Carol Buckalew
    March 2, 2017 - 9:39 am | Permalink

    The saintly angst of Lent Madness is back with a tough decision on the first day. I voted for Stephen in honor of the many deacons who have inspired me over the years . I wish I knew about his headache connection before.
    Welcome to the first-timers!

  112. Gillian Butler's Gravatar Gillian Butler
    March 2, 2017 - 9:39 am | Permalink

    I loved Alban’s story, but Stephen was the first. I also woke with a headache this morning, and hoping for a little help in return for my vote.

  113. Jules's Gravatar Jules
    March 2, 2017 - 9:41 am | Permalink

    I voted for Stephen because there is reasonable uncertainty that Alban actually existed (not that non-existence is any bar to being an exemplum for the faithful – cf. St. “Christopher,” removed from the Roman Kalendar when scholars realized that his name indicated a believer’s aspiration rather than a historical person).

  114. March 2, 2017 - 9:41 am | Permalink

    Alban! Didn’t he play for Watford? Can’t remember if he was a striker or a center back.

  115. Jonas, deacon's Gravatar Jonas, deacon
    March 2, 2017 - 9:41 am | Permalink

    Protomartyr brother Stephen of course!

  116. Kim's Gravatar Kim
    March 2, 2017 - 9:42 am | Permalink

    Such decisions so early! Rolling heads and springs and traveling relics? Pretty close to a coin toss, but Alban won the day. We all need fresh water.

  117. Joyce in Madison's Gravatar Joyce in Madison
    March 2, 2017 - 9:44 am | Permalink

    How can I not vote for the first Deacon. Married to a former Archdeacon, I know how important the role is in the life of the church. Alban is worthy as well, but I go with Steve.

  118. Katherine Grimes's Gravatar Katherine Grimes
    March 2, 2017 - 9:46 am | Permalink

    If I had been a boy, I would have been named for the martyr Stephen.

  119. March 2, 2017 - 9:47 am | Permalink

    Gotta go with Alban. Love those rolling heads!

  120. Anne M..........'s Gravatar Anne M..........
    March 2, 2017 - 9:48 am | Permalink

    Was looking so forward to Lenten Madness this year that I “almost” decided that giving it up would be a good Lenten discipline ! However, I am weak and here I am !

    • Pamela Payne's Gravatar Pamela Payne
      March 2, 2017 - 5:08 pm | Permalink

      And you will be blessed for so doing! Welcome back

  121. Chris's Gravatar Chris
    March 2, 2017 - 9:48 am | Permalink

    As an archdeacon, I must go with St. Stephen. Nothing like telling truth to power, regardless of the consequence. He is a model for us all.

  122. Kathy Horn's Gravatar Kathy Horn
    March 2, 2017 - 9:52 am | Permalink

    Regardless of which church has what name (St. Martin’s?), St. Stephen appears to be a bit more deserving.

  123. Brenda McHenry's Gravatar Brenda McHenry
    March 2, 2017 - 9:53 am | Permalink

    Alban was very unfamiliar (except for St. Alban’s VT) and I still haven’t learned enough, so I’m going with old familiar Stephen.

  124. Kim Crecca's Gravatar Kim Crecca
    March 2, 2017 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    As a deacon, I am naturally biased toward Stephen! His sermon deserves it’s place alongside the Sermon on the Mount.

  125. Jennifer's Gravatar Jennifer
    March 2, 2017 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    In these days of unrest regarding sanctuary and refugees, I had to vote for Alban!

  126. Sarah Rose (16 years old)'s Gravatar Sarah Rose (16 years old)
    March 2, 2017 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    I chose Stephen, because he choose to follow in the word of the lord and he was fearless, even though he was stoned to death, he still prayed for the forgiveness for his killers. It seems like he cared for every one, even if they were bad or good.

  127. March 2, 2017 - 9:56 am | Permalink

    Since both my grandfather and my son are named for St. Stephen, that’s a clear sign for me.

  128. Rog's Gravatar Rog
    March 2, 2017 - 9:56 am | Permalink

    English voters: vote, vote, vote for Alban, our own proto-martyr. Incidentally, he should walk it in a contest with George for Patron Saint too.

  129. Scott Elliott's Gravatar Scott Elliott
    March 2, 2017 - 9:56 am | Permalink

    Not only that all, but Stephen has the distinct advantage of probably having actually existed!

  130. Jennifer Rich's Gravatar Jennifer Rich
    March 2, 2017 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    How could you not vote for Alban with a story like that?! God at work in mysterious ways! Plus the church I use to attend was named St. Alban’s.

  131. March 2, 2017 - 10:01 am | Permalink

    I was ordained deacon on St Alban’s Day –so much vote for him.

  132. Andrea's Gravatar Andrea
    March 2, 2017 - 10:02 am | Permalink

    I love St. Allan’s story too. He is featured in a small stain glass window right over the columbarium where my son is could I not vote for him?

  133. Joe Stroud's Gravatar Joe Stroud
    March 2, 2017 - 10:03 am | Permalink

    I hope my son does not begin to question my Anglophilic tendencies here, but, . . . well, . . . what Kim Crecca said in the second sentence of the post above.

  134. Johanne Hills's Gravatar Johanne Hills
    March 2, 2017 - 10:03 am | Permalink

    Don’t know who will end up winning, but want to begin with Stephen,as a Biblical witness to Christ. Some of Alban’s story might come across as “fake news” and we have too much of that already. Stephen to begin!

  135. Maureen's Gravatar Maureen
    March 2, 2017 - 10:06 am | Permalink

    I am a first time visitor. Our Pastor gave us a to do list for Lent. Learning about a Saint was today’s mission. While both men were Holy speakers of our Lord, my vote goes to Stephen. God Bless you all. I will be visiting more often.

    • Patricia White's Gravatar Patricia White
      March 2, 2017 - 7:24 pm | Permalink

      Maureen, please do continue to participate and enjoy.

  136. Noreen Ramsden's Gravatar Noreen Ramsden
    March 2, 2017 - 10:06 am | Permalink

    St Alban who is patron of refugees and must be terribly busy these days!

  137. March 2, 2017 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    As one who took in a stranger and protected him, Alban seems rather timely. I am now inspired to check out the original St. Alban’s (as recommended above) and our local one on Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Looking forward to the daily inspiration of saintly examples.

  138. March 2, 2017 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    I think today that we need many more reminders to shelter the persecuted, and I’d like to hear more on that. So, in hopes of following further, Alban. Not that Stephen isn’t also important…

  139. Mary Beth burns's Gravatar Mary Beth burns
    March 2, 2017 - 10:08 am | Permalink

    St. Alban, in honor of the courage of the modern day saints who hid Jews and dissidents from the Nazis, with a prayer that I would have such courage if needed, but a further prayer not to be tested.

  140. Carla's Gravatar Carla
    March 2, 2017 - 10:09 am | Permalink

    I may well be on the losing side, but I had to vote for Alban, since it was at St. Alban’s on Staten Island NY that I was first introduced to the Episcopal faith.

  141. March 2, 2017 - 10:13 am | Permalink

    41 years ago my husband married I had been raised as a Preset, he as a Catholic. Before our marriage we agreed we would have to find a common ground in worship. After sever al months of visiting different churches, we arrived at St. Alban’s in Annandale VA, a wonderful, welcoming Episcopal Church (they were using the ‘Green Book’ then) and we found our home. Today we are active members of St. Paul’s Alexandria but Alban will alway be ‘our’ Saint!

  142. Sandra Gustafson's Gravatar Sandra Gustafson
    March 2, 2017 - 10:14 am | Permalink

    STEPHEN! Without him, we might not have had Alban or even be Christians ourselves. “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (vii, 58). Little did all the people present, casting stones upon him, realize that the blood they shed was the first seed of a harvest that was to cover the world.

  143. Beth Owen's Gravatar Beth Owen
    March 2, 2017 - 10:14 am | Permalink

    A Blessed Lent to everyone, it’s great to see you again.
    I am joining my friend John in voting for the underdog… Alban for the win

  144. Meggan's Gravatar Meggan
    March 2, 2017 - 10:16 am | Permalink

    Heads will roll!

  145. March 2, 2017 - 10:21 am | Permalink

    While I’m not convinced that the extant early lives of St. Alban are Gospel (or in this case Acts) truth, the associations with him (including one of my first Episcopalian friends, who graduated from St. Alban’s School in Washington, and my deep admiration for Sir Francis Bacon, who reportedly died a martyr to science) tip the scales in his favor.

  146. Stephen's Gravatar Stephen
    March 2, 2017 - 10:21 am | Permalink

    My name is Stephen and I was baptized on St. Stephen’s Day long ago, so Stephen it is!

  147. Bill Geiger's Gravatar Bill Geiger
    March 2, 2017 - 10:22 am | Permalink

    So when the Roman soldiers came to the door, the homeowner said to the fugitive priest, “Hey, I’ll fake out the soldiers by putting on that white robe of yours. What’s it called?” “An alb.” “Guess I’ll be albin’ it.” And so he was.

  148. Kandice's Gravatar Kandice
    March 2, 2017 - 10:24 am | Permalink

    Since I am a migraine sufferer, my vote goes to Stephen!!!

  149. Tessa Lucero's Gravatar Tessa Lucero
    March 2, 2017 - 10:25 am | Permalink

    British by birth, St. Stephen’s parishioner. Difficult choice.

    However, I am inclined to vote for the saint who opted to serve those who needed to hear the Gospel in their own language and who preached a sermon to the Sanhedrin. Alban is a worthy opponent but I wonder how much of his fervor was that of the brand-new convert. My vote goes to Stephen.

  150. Aleathia Dolores Nicholson's Gravatar Aleathia Dolores Nicholson
    March 2, 2017 - 10:28 am | Permalink

    Deacons ! Unite and be as one ! We keep our heads and our wits about us even while under assault from all sides ! After 28 years as a Vocational Deacon, I still keep Stephen as a role model and hope he wins today and becomes the ULTIMATE-GOLDEN HALO!

  151. AnneMarie Ellis's Gravatar AnneMarie Ellis
    March 2, 2017 - 10:31 am | Permalink

    St. Alban gets my vote. This is my first Lenten Madness.

    • Tessa Lucero's Gravatar Tessa Lucero
      March 2, 2017 - 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Welcome! Enjoy the ride.

  152. March 2, 2017 - 10:32 am | Permalink

    After what stephen did for Bofa I have to vote for him

  153. Connie Edwards's Gravatar Connie Edwards
    March 2, 2017 - 10:34 am | Permalink

    As an utter and confirmed Anglophile, I had to go with St. Alban. 🙂

  154. Patricia White's Gravatar Patricia White
    March 2, 2017 - 10:35 am | Permalink

    I am so familiar with Stephen. My father named a stray dog that was hit by a car after Stephen. The Davidson College chapel was named St. Alban’s, but I never knew about him until reading his bio this morning. Substituting himself for the bishop he was hiding and refusing to refute his newly found faith make Alban my (call me surprised!) choice.

  155. Yol's Gravatar Yol
    March 2, 2017 - 10:37 am | Permalink

    I can only vote for Stephen!! His story in the book of Acts is so awesome and inspiring!! Plus, as a person who has had headaches all my 50 + years of life, I HAVE to vote for the patron saint of headaches!! Go, Stephen!!

  156. Diana's Gravatar Diana
    March 2, 2017 - 10:40 am | Permalink

    Alban! Alban! Saved a priest.
    Vote for him e’re day has ceased!

  157. Diane's Gravatar Diane
    March 2, 2017 - 10:43 am | Permalink

    As an artist, the image of the parting waters and the eyeballs popping offers too much potential to be ignored. I vote for Alban

  158. Ken Albrecht's Gravatar Ken Albrecht
    March 2, 2017 - 10:44 am | Permalink

    Although Alban appears to have been a great man, Stephen did much more during his earthly ministry. Without him as an example, there would be no Stephen Ministry. I voted for Stephen.

  159. Carol T's Gravatar Carol T
    March 2, 2017 - 10:44 am | Permalink

    Well, Lent Madness is starting out the same as it does every year…with me voting for the underdog. I should fill out two brackets – one with my picks and another one with the “winners.”

  160. March 2, 2017 - 10:45 am | Permalink

    Confession time… I’ve always found Stephen’s sermon in Acts to border on the obnoxious… at least in English translation… so I have anhard time voting for him even though Ormond Platter of blessed memory and all my deacon friends probably think I’m beyond the pale for saying so…

    That being said, I’ve always had a tender place in my heart for Alban– courageous, bold… and how many martyrs have such eye-popping, head-rolling denouements?

  161. Meredith Hales's Gravatar Meredith Hales
    March 2, 2017 - 10:46 am | Permalink

    What a difficult choice! First English saint versus the first Christian martyr, but , in the end, I had to cast my vote for Stephen. I named one of my sons for Stephen. He was named for his godfather AND the saint. Plus, as a family, we always spent St. Stephen’s Day, December 26, visiting with his godfather.

  162. Sue O'Connor's Gravatar Sue O'Connor
    March 2, 2017 - 10:47 am | Permalink

    Had to vote for Stephen — my husband, goddaughter, and a friend’s granddaughter were all born on the Feast of Stephen!

  163. Jane Young's Gravatar Jane Young
    March 2, 2017 - 10:51 am | Permalink

    Excellent points about Wenceslas and “Love the homily, kill the homilist”, and excellent points about the value of fresh water. Voting for Alban, although if possible I’d vote for that unknown priest whose teaching was so effective!

  164. Marlene Skonieczny's Gravatar Marlene Skonieczny
    March 2, 2017 - 10:53 am | Permalink

    I voted for Stephen. Our son is named Stephen and my husband and I were married on Dec.26th [Stephen’s feast day], 1966 at Trinity Church in Torrington,CT.

  165. John Williamson's Gravatar John Williamson
    March 2, 2017 - 10:55 am | Permalink

    Why are these two great martyrs paired in the first round? Both should be able to advance to the very final round.

  166. Dutton in Addison, GA's Gravatar Dutton in Addison, GA
    March 2, 2017 - 10:58 am | Permalink

    Oh dear, two of my favorite saints; but as a Deacon, how can I not vote for Blessed Stephen? I especially like that his primary “offense” was being a powerful preacher.

  167. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    March 2, 2017 - 10:59 am | Permalink

    Despite the temptations of rolling heads and popping eyeballs, I am voting for St Stephen in honour of our current parish church. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the lovely ‘Alka Selzter’ Mass on St Stephen’s Day, at which a deacon is invited to preach.

  168. Oliver--Nine Years Old's Gravatar Oliver--Nine Years Old
    March 2, 2017 - 10:59 am | Permalink

    I vote for Stephen because he was the first.

    • Amy Wetzel's Gravatar Amy Wetzel
      March 2, 2017 - 11:34 am | Permalink

      I was hoping to see you again this year, Oliver! I agree, Stephen is the first (and that’s one of the reasons I voted for him).

    • Diana Walworth's Gravatar Diana Walworth
      March 2, 2017 - 11:41 am | Permalink

      Yay! Oliver is back! I always look forward to your comments, Oliver. Glad to see you’re post this morning.

    • Miss Jennifer's Gravatar Miss Jennifer
      March 2, 2017 - 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Hi Oliver! I miss you! I also voted for Stephen for the same reason.

    • Gail's Gravatar Gail
      March 2, 2017 - 1:54 pm | Permalink

      There you are! So glad you are here.

    • San West's Gravatar San West
      March 2, 2017 - 4:56 pm | Permalink

      Oliver, you are back. I’ve been looking for you. I also voted for Stephen.

    • Jane Bucci's Gravatar Jane Bucci
      March 2, 2017 - 6:18 pm | Permalink

      I’m late and it’s day one but I’m going with he who was first – Stephen it is for me. And Oliver! You’re back and I’m thrilled; can’t tell you how happy I am to see you here again. Here we go!

    • Decacon Jack's Gravatar Decacon Jack
      March 2, 2017 - 10:49 pm | Permalink

      Oliver, great to hear from you. glad your back and looking forward to hearing from you this year

      • Decacon Jack's Gravatar Decacon Jack
        March 2, 2017 - 10:50 pm | Permalink

        Oh, I voted for Stephen, have to support the deacons

    • Sonia Stevenson's Gravatar Sonia Stevenson
      March 3, 2017 - 6:57 am | Permalink

      So happy you’re back, Oliver. Looking forward to your wonderful words of wisdom.

    • Martha Camele's Gravatar Martha Camele
      March 3, 2017 - 7:01 am | Permalink

      Yay, Oliver! So glad you are commenting again!

  169. Bill Boehner's Gravatar Bill Boehner
    March 2, 2017 - 11:02 am | Permalink

    Gotta go with Stephen for being first and for asking for them to be forgiven. But Alban gets recognition for special effects

  170. Pam Sten's Gravatar Pam Sten
    March 2, 2017 - 11:08 am | Permalink

    Voting for Stephen. My son was baptized on St. Stephen’s Day…reason enough!

  171. Jim Begley's Gravatar Jim Begley
    March 2, 2017 - 11:12 am | Permalink

    Tough times for Stephen. The Sanhedrin must have been split along party lines with much more devastating results than we would encounter today. I hope!
    Stephen gets my vote.

  172. Kathy Mertes's Gravatar Kathy Mertes
    March 2, 2017 - 11:13 am | Permalink

    “your single (we mean that and we have cameras everywhere) vote.” Oh my, 1984 indeed come true, our smart TV are letting big brother spy.

  173. Diana's Gravatar Diana
    March 2, 2017 - 11:16 am | Permalink

    Alban! Alban! Saved a priest!
    Slain by fierce wild human beasts.
    (Of course so was Stephen, and of course it’s unkind to use the word “beast” about misguided human beings who are God’s children, too, but all’s fair in Lent Madness and beasts rhymes with priest better than being.)

  174. Greg Masztal's Gravatar Greg Masztal
    March 2, 2017 - 11:19 am | Permalink

    Voting for Stephen, as I am in the process. (I hope my end isn’t stoning, however!)

  175. Rebecca Rea's Gravatar Rebecca Rea
    March 2, 2017 - 11:19 am | Permalink

    This morning, based more on the comments than the instigating articles about Stephen and Alban, I am moved to pray for two things happening in my life. First, a Stephen Minister friend who is walking beside a friend who is dying. Second, my church who is considering its role in the Sanctuary movement and my own decision to sign up to be a responder/witness to ICE raids in our area. From rolling heads and popping eyes to tears and prayer. Lent Madness is, bar none, my favorite online community!

  176. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    March 2, 2017 - 11:21 am | Permalink

    Welcome back Lent Madness! Go St. Stephen!

  177. Sara L's Gravatar Sara L
    March 2, 2017 - 11:22 am | Permalink

    While Alban has an impressive martyr story thanks to the Venerable one, and I like these “new” saints and martyrs, it’s Saint Stephen for me!
    Stephen is actually IN the New Testament (Acts 6 & 7) and is the original post-Resurrection martyr for Christ. His example as the prototypical deacon inspires all in the church to true charity.

  178. Jane's Gravatar Jane
    March 2, 2017 - 11:23 am | Permalink

    Everyone knows Stephen. St. Alban needs his moment in the sun, plus the popping eyes and rolling head makes a more colorful story. We can thank the Venerable Bede for telling the story. I read the Venerable Bede when I took a class in Old English, and have seen his tomb in Durham Cathedral. Durham is home to St. Cuthbert, whose decapitated head was carried around for quite some time as well. The Bede must have had a fascination with decapitation.

  179. Hillary's Gravatar Hillary
    March 2, 2017 - 11:24 am | Permalink

    Go Alban! A priest hider – I’d like to think Alban is there for me when it’s time to hide!

  180. Jane W Van Zandt's Gravatar Jane W Van Zandt
    March 2, 2017 - 11:24 am | Permalink

    I tend to champion the underdog.

  181. 69's Gravatar 69
    March 2, 2017 - 11:25 am | Permalink

    Here’s what I’m thinking. Alban paid the refs. It’s rigged.

  182. Teri Jurgens's Gravatar Teri Jurgens
    March 2, 2017 - 11:28 am | Permalink

    I loved St. Alban, but had to go with Stephen, both because he is the patron saint of the church I have belonged to since 1972, and because I was born on St. Stephen’s Day.

  183. Cynthia Selby's Gravatar Cynthia Selby
    March 2, 2017 - 11:29 am | Permalink

    I’m voting for Stephen because I am a Stephen Minister.

  184. David Miklos's Gravatar David Miklos
    March 2, 2017 - 11:31 am | Permalink

    Very hard to choose one over the other. They are both very moving accounts of true faith. I chose Stephen because of his forgiving.

  185. Rita Julian's Gravatar Rita Julian
    March 2, 2017 - 11:32 am | Permalink

    I can’t bear having the first martyr be the very first to go in Lent Madness so St. Stephen for me!

  186. Jude's Gravatar Jude
    March 2, 2017 - 11:33 am | Permalink

    As someone who frequently suffers migraines, I have to vote for the patron saint of headaches!

  187. Jeanette Veith's Gravatar Jeanette Veith
    March 2, 2017 - 11:36 am | Permalink

    In a world where so many have need of shelter, even still from political persecution, the generous example of St. Alban points the way for Christian behavior.

  188. Ray Rosch's Gravatar Ray Rosch
    March 2, 2017 - 11:39 am | Permalink

    I voted for Stephen, even as I thought I need to vote for BOTH, ’cause Stephen is really my hero, speaking up in a crowd that was obviously against him and praying for those who stoned him up to his last breath. I should be so brave!

  189. Dorothy's Gravatar Dorothy
    March 2, 2017 - 11:39 am | Permalink

    For an ‘infant’ Christian, what Alban did in the name of Christianity was beyond heroic. He is a model for all Christians and that’s why he gets my vote.

  190. Maggie's Gravatar Maggie
    March 2, 2017 - 11:40 am | Permalink

    My mother was born on Dec. 26, 1911. I have always known that was St. Stephen’s Feast Day. So, the first saint I knew of becomes my vote!

  191. Dorothy's Gravatar Dorothy
    March 2, 2017 - 11:40 am | Permalink

    Thank you again for presenting , Alban’.

  192. Steve D's Gravatar Steve D
    March 2, 2017 - 11:41 am | Permalink

    Serve the people, and speak truth to power. Stephen all the way.

  193. Margaret's Gravatar Margaret
    March 2, 2017 - 11:42 am | Permalink

    My mother was born on Dec. 26, 1911. I have always known that was St. Stephen’s Feast Day. So, the first saint I knew of becomes my vote!

  194. Lynn Baker's Gravatar Lynn Baker
    March 2, 2017 - 11:43 am | Permalink

    I’m learning things already and it’s only day one! Thanks for this Lenten discipline, and for all the comments. Had to go with Stephen this morning.

  195. March 2, 2017 - 11:43 am | Permalink

    For an ‘infant’ Christian, what Alban did was beyond heroic. He is a model for all Christians. That is why, for me, it was noe contest and Alban got my vote.

  196. March 2, 2017 - 11:45 am | Permalink

    I voted for Stephen because of the big speech he made as he was being stoned to death. I would surely want to do the exact same thing in a similar circumstance.

  197. Lee Wilkins's Gravatar Lee Wilkins
    March 2, 2017 - 11:51 am | Permalink

    I am in discernment for the diaconate, so my vote goes to St. Stephen. Just last night I read an account of his martyrdom in a biography of St. Paul. Go, Stephen!

  198. Mike E.'s Gravatar Mike E.
    March 2, 2017 - 11:52 am | Permalink

    Although I loved to read St. Alban’s story, I had to go with Stephen, since I’m born on his feast day! Singing Good King Wenceslaus in my head as I vote.

  199. Marguerite Judson's Gravatar Marguerite Judson
    March 2, 2017 - 11:57 am | Permalink

    I voted for Alban because he acted first in compassion for another person in need, regardless of anyone’s beliefs, and later discovered the face of Christ in the one he sheltered (Mathew 25:35-26). In the current political climate of America, this saint reminds us that it is imperative that we serve and protect our neighbors…all our neighbors.

  200. Alan Christensen's Gravatar Alan Christensen
    March 2, 2017 - 11:57 am | Permalink

    O Supreme Executive Committee, if I voted twice today please forgive me. I tried to do it from my phone while riding the bus to work but my vote didn’t seem to go through as I was having connectivity problems.

  201. March 2, 2017 - 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I vote for Stephen. Family members in uncomfortable situations need a heavenly helper!

  202. Elinor Boyce's Gravatar Elinor Boyce
    March 2, 2017 - 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Even though I attended and was married in St. alban’s church in D. C, I voted for St. Stephen in honor of the great Stephen Ministry program I have served in for many years.

  203. Martha's Gravatar Martha
    March 2, 2017 - 12:08 pm | Permalink

    For the sake of my sister, daughter, and daughter-in-law, with horrible headaches, it is Stephen!

  204. Melanie's Gravatar Melanie
    March 2, 2017 - 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Hooray for St. Alban! A recent convert to Christ who becomes a martyr in place of his priest gets my vote!

  205. Shirley's Gravatar Shirley
    March 2, 2017 - 12:18 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Stephen – feeding the poor and homeless, first protomartyr, Stephen ministry, and headaches. (Should also be the patron saint of Vestries!)

    And YET, in the current client of refugee and immigrant persecution, Alban modeled and revealed a path for Christiandom. Tough call…

    Bring Alban back in a new challenge!!!! Maybe a consolation bracket?

  206. Judy's Gravatar Judy
    March 2, 2017 - 12:18 pm | Permalink

    St. Alban’s eye-popping narrative wins my vote!

  207. David Lovett's Gravatar David Lovett
    March 2, 2017 - 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe you are doing this to us. We at St. Stephen’s, Oak Ridge, TN, have Stephen as our patron saint AND St. Alban as our chapel saint. Scott Gunn does this have anything to do with the auto accident when you were here?

  208. Diana Collins's Gravatar Diana Collins
    March 2, 2017 - 12:38 pm | Permalink

    As a Deacon and sufferer of migraines, I vote for Stephen.

  209. Judy F. N.'s Gravatar Judy F. N.
    March 2, 2017 - 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Tough decision but I had to go with Stephen since his feast day is celebrated on my birthday! Also there have been so many wonderful deacons I have known over the years who are such inspirations and dear friends.

  210. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    March 2, 2017 - 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone else (I haven’t read all the comments) see a strong resemblance between Alban and the familiar image of Christ Pantocrator?
    I chose Stephen because his story is so beautifully simple, direct, moving and, probably, pretty close to fact. I love pious legends, but for me they don’t compete with history.

  211. Scott C's Gravatar Scott C
    March 2, 2017 - 12:54 pm | Permalink

    This very day my husband Neil and I visited St. Alban’s Cathedral just north of London. A holy place, a holy man and he received my vote!

  212. Mac's Gravatar Mac
    March 2, 2017 - 12:54 pm | Permalink

    2 martyrs of importance to our faith, but Stephen gets my vote!

  213. Ellen Lincourt's Gravatar Ellen Lincourt
    March 2, 2017 - 12:57 pm | Permalink

    For Stephen, for speaking truth to power!

  214. Charleen Crean's Gravatar Charleen Crean
    March 2, 2017 - 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Gotta go with Stephen. Deacons even today are so misunderstood and unrecognized and are often the “outcast” of the church. Their ministry is in the world to the poor. In the church they are neither priest nor Laity and often voiceless. Their Order is underutilized and is a sleeping giant waiting for the church to embrace it fully. It is no surprise that Stephen was the first martyr of the Jesus movement. In our present climate, we need more deacons!

  215. Donald Andrew Lowery's Gravatar Donald Andrew Lowery
    March 2, 2017 - 1:02 pm | Permalink

    I voted for the home town boy, St. Alban as the first martyr of Britannia, but wider and name recognition seems to be carrying the day with St. Stephen. Makes sense, he is the proto-martyr. I would add, St. Stephen is honored with a stained glass window in my church while Alban is not. Must remedy that.

  216. Joyce's Gravatar Joyce
    March 2, 2017 - 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I love Alban’s story, but Stephan speaks to me and my commitment for Lent. So Stephan gets my vote.

  217. Cheri Endean's Gravatar Cheri Endean
    March 2, 2017 - 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Much as I love Alban, the saint of “family members during uncomfortable holiday situations” is a saint for our times. Stephen! Stephen

    • Linda Barnard's Gravatar Linda Barnard
      March 2, 2017 - 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Cheri, what was it that Scott wrote in one of his weekly posts in December? Something to the tune of “viewing the majesty of your family from a distance….” Did we feel the headache coming on?

  218. Nora's Gravatar Nora
    March 2, 2017 - 1:12 pm | Permalink

    It’s got to be Stephen. Patron Saint of headaches.

    • Nora's Gravatar Nora
      March 2, 2017 - 1:13 pm | Permalink

      and his feast day is my best friends birthday

  219. Deacon Sherrill Russell's Gravatar Deacon Sherrill Russell
    March 2, 2017 - 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Have to go with Stephen.

  220. March 2, 2017 - 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I was sorely tempted to vote for Alban, in loving memory of my husband who was also “not a Christian, but a kind man.” However, there is a reason Stephen is so highly revered, and so I have cast my vote for him!

  221. KnikArm1995's Gravatar KnikArm1995
    March 2, 2017 - 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Alban’s story, his hiding of the priest, reminds me of the humanity and bravery of Miep Gies and other Dutch folk that hid the Frank family during the Second World War. Alban put himself out there for the other, that person that is different. I pray that I have the courage to stand up against hate and bigotry, like Alban, for all humankind.

  222. Gail Crouch's Gravatar Gail Crouch
    March 2, 2017 - 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Stephen because we named our son after him.


    • Pamela Payne's Gravatar Pamela Payne
      March 2, 2017 - 4:54 pm | Permalink

      I agree, Gail. Oliver, we need you back again this year!

    • San West's Gravatar San West
      March 2, 2017 - 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Oliver, you are back. I’ve been looking for you. I also voted for Stephen.

    • Richelle's Gravatar Richelle
      March 2, 2017 - 9:28 pm | Permalink

      Oliver is here! Look at 10:59 a.m.

  223. Bea Fosmire's Gravatar Bea Fosmire
    March 2, 2017 - 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Gotta go with Stephen. My grandson’s name. Also, Stephen Ministries is dear to my heart.

  224. Kate Sefton's Gravatar Kate Sefton
    March 2, 2017 - 1:29 pm | Permalink

    As a deacon, I must vote for Stephen!

  225. Deborah Giordano's Gravatar Deborah Giordano
    March 2, 2017 - 1:30 pm | Permalink

    All-in for Stephen. 1st martyr. Speaks truth to power and gets stoned. Forgives his enemies: “While his message seemed to be extremely well-received, with the Sanhedrin shouting “Amen!” and “Thanks be to God,” they immediately took Stephen out into the street and stoned him. With his last breath, Stephen prayed for the forgiveness for his killers.”

  226. Sara P. Howrey's Gravatar Sara P. Howrey
    March 2, 2017 - 1:35 pm | Permalink

    This decision was so difficult: came down to “praying for forgiveness for his killers” vs. willingness to trade life to save another human being . . . both actions we learn from Jesus of Nazareth. Still I believe Alban had the harder task and, thus, he gets my vote.

  227. Linda Barnard's Gravatar Linda Barnard
    March 2, 2017 - 1:36 pm | Permalink

    My first year of voting! Definitely not my last! I have to go with Stephen. Love this!

  228. Sherry Shadle's Gravatar Sherry Shadle
    March 2, 2017 - 1:39 pm | Permalink

    I must choose Stephan…patron saint of Headaches…of all things….my 8 year old grandson suffers from pediatric migranes…can Stephan help? Anyway…impressed with his story, so he gets my vote.

  229. Shirley B's Gravatar Shirley B
    March 2, 2017 - 1:42 pm | Permalink

    “Good King Wenceslas” makes me cry every time.

  230. Anne Burton's Gravatar Anne Burton
    March 2, 2017 - 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Stephen, because he believed Christ was worth living for, and worth dying for.

  231. Denny's Gravatar Denny
    March 2, 2017 - 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Probably throwing my vote away, but Alban it is.

  232. Debra A's Gravatar Debra A
    March 2, 2017 - 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I seem to be the opposite of a sucker for the gore. Eyes popping out and heads rolling makes my eyes roll. I agree with the commenters about needing the example of Alban in the world today (protecting those who are persecuted), but because of fond memories singing all the verses of “Good King Wenceslaus” with my sisters (from memory!), I must vote for Stephen.

  233. Christopher Pratt's Gravatar Christopher Pratt
    March 2, 2017 - 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Caring for a priest seeking Sanctuary meant that Alban got my vote.

  234. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    March 2, 2017 - 1:59 pm | Permalink

    I think Alban is a better saint

  235. Denise Evans's Gravatar Denise Evans
    March 2, 2017 - 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Stephen has my vote, though I enjoyed reading about Alban, obviously an interesting guy what with that head rolling thing.

  236. Cindy Lufkin's Gravatar Cindy Lufkin
    March 2, 2017 - 2:07 pm | Permalink

    I just posted on our church’s Facebook page ( about this difficult decision: we have windows in the nave of both of them.

    Usually, I go with which one is somehow connected with me or the church, but this is unfair to make me make such a tough decision on the first day of voting.

    Couldn’t you have eased us into this season gradually?

  237. March 2, 2017 - 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Both stories are inspiring. I voted for Alban because it was new too me – and eye popping!

  238. Judith in White Hall's Gravatar Judith in White Hall
    March 2, 2017 - 2:10 pm | Permalink

    My favorite teacher was named Alban, so he gets my vote, plus the fact that he hid a priest in his house, and the father of a friend was hidden during WWII, it had to be Alban

  239. Charlotte Desilets's Gravatar Charlotte Desilets
    March 2, 2017 - 2:23 pm | Permalink

    A vote for St. Alban from this parishioner of St. Alban’s, Simsbury, CT, the home state of IRIS.

  240. March 2, 2017 - 2:24 pm | Permalink

    For Lent Madness fans wanting to see giant puppets with eyeballs that fall out and heads that come off, look no further:

    As we pray each day at his shrine:

    Among the roses of the martyrs brightly shines Saint Alban.
    Almighty God,
    We thank you for this place built to your glory
    and in memory of Alban, our first martyr.
    Following his example in the fellowship of the saints,
    may we worship and adore the true and living God,
    and be faithful witnesses to the Christ,
    who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.
    Pray for us Alban, pray for us all Saints of God.
    That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

    • Olivia's Gravatar Olivia
      March 2, 2017 - 6:33 pm | Permalink

      The giant eyeball was amazing. I hope that is an annual event. Thanks for sharing those pics. I was on the fence, but am now definitely voting for Alban!

  241. Elizabeth Brignac's Gravatar Elizabeth Brignac
    March 2, 2017 - 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Alban’s heart was kind to the point of putting himself in danger for another person even before his conversion. I say, kudos to the saints who were decent human beings even before their saintilines kicked in. Also, the head-rolling-uphill-and-turning-into-a-spring story is cool.

  242. Elizabeth Brignac's Gravatar Elizabeth Brignac
    March 2, 2017 - 2:27 pm | Permalink

    (Moderator, can you please add an “s” to “saintliness?” It’s going to really bug me. Thanks! — EB

  243. Anne M Jones's Gravatar Anne M Jones
    March 2, 2017 - 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Where is the biography of Stephen in the “Definitive Guide To Lend Madness 2017”? I cannot find it anywhere. Just a page number will do the trick! Thanks for making Lent a pleasure and an educational experience that is so much fun!

    • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
      March 2, 2017 - 2:52 pm | Permalink

      The bio for Stephen is on page 46.

  244. Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
    March 2, 2017 - 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Alban. Although the river-parting and eye-popping details seem like embroidery, the core of the story is completely plausible and exactly the sort of thing that would get passed down in local lore. Alban hid the priest in the first place through pure compassion for someone in dire trouble, not because he agreed with the priest’s principles that had gotten the priest into that trouble. Do we ever need that attitude in the world today! Then he gave his life to save another’s. I also voted for Alban because I’d never heard of him before, so he exemplifies one of the key purposes of Lent Madness.

  245. Jonna-Dawn Walker's Gravatar Jonna-Dawn Walker
    March 2, 2017 - 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Stephan because Alban was British and I get tired of things getting picked first because the first British to do this or that. Such as the first permanent English Colony, or First Landing on English settlers.

  246. Adam's Gravatar Adam
    March 2, 2017 - 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Even though Steven has a great upside. Alban has the experience. I got Alban.

  247. Martha Frances's Gravatar Martha Frances
    March 2, 2017 - 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I have to go w/ Alban this year since I’m doing a lot with Celtic spirituality, esp through Brigid’s Place–a spirituality center for women located at Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, TX. Next Monday we begin an ongoing monthly group called Anam Cara which will explore spiritual friendship in today’s world. Alban is an example of those who come to Christ late in life yet was “all in,” so to speak.

  248. Bill Bosies's Gravatar Bill Bosies
    March 2, 2017 - 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Your story failed to mention that Stephen’s execution, unlike Jesus’s, was totally illegal under the Roman law of the time. The Sanhedrin took advantage of Pilate’s absence from the city to put “those upstart Christians” in their place. Also, my youngest child is named after Stephen. Not a close call.

  249. Rosemary Beales's Gravatar Rosemary Beales
    March 2, 2017 - 2:53 pm | Permalink

    My fourth graders at St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes school in Alexandria, VA narrowly voted for the school’s patron. By one vote, the protomartyr (whose stones are part of our school logo) bested Alban (with the cool story of his rolling head). Some of them will be voting individually during Lent Madness, if they remember and can get a parent or sibling to help them with some of the arcane language. But each Thursday, we will cast a group vote — my Lenten disciple, because on these days I give up my own personal vote to represent my 72 students. Onward, Stephen!

  250. Susan Bollfrass's Gravatar Susan Bollfrass
    March 2, 2017 - 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Win or lose…..Alban is the best!

    • San West's Gravatar San West
      March 2, 2017 - 5:07 pm | Permalink

      Well Susan, I cancelled your vote!

  251. Charlotte Jordan's Gravatar Charlotte Jordan
    March 2, 2017 - 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Totally agree with Fr. Peter – I was ready with the word “protomartyr” to cast my first vote for Stephen!

  252. Kay Richardson's Gravatar Kay Richardson
    March 2, 2017 - 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Alban got my vote. Stephen was a little too cocky for my taste, talking about those who were uncircumcised in heart and ears and deliberately insulting the Jewish leaders. Alban’s conversion has an innocence and humility that Stephen lacks.

  253. David O'Rourke's Gravatar David O'Rourke
    March 2, 2017 - 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Go Team Deacon!

  254. Stephen Caldwell's Gravatar Stephen Caldwell
    March 2, 2017 - 3:05 pm | Permalink

    We “Stephens” stick together!

  255. Karen Hoyer's Gravatar Karen Hoyer
    March 2, 2017 - 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Stephen — first because the stoning of Stephen in Mendelssohn’s St. Paul Oratorio made such an impression on me when I sang it as a teenager; secondly because he said “You stiff-necked people! uncircumcised in heart and ears” in his final sermon.

  256. Roberta Perry's Gravatar Roberta Perry
    March 2, 2017 - 3:18 pm | Permalink


  257. Conor Warren's Gravatar Conor Warren
    March 2, 2017 - 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Alban, he shows us how to welcome refugees fleeing violence and persecution.

  258. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    March 2, 2017 - 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Got to be Stephen as the first deacon since I am postulant for the diaconate

  259. Deborah Quam's Gravatar Deborah Quam
    March 2, 2017 - 3:29 pm | Permalink

    I’m a Lent madness virgin. Ready to be educated!

  260. Kendra's Gravatar Kendra
    March 2, 2017 - 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Stephen, for being tasked with feeding the hungry, among other things. This is my first time participating in this. I am enjoying learning more while having a bit of fun. 🙂

  261. Marcia inman's Gravatar Marcia inman
    March 2, 2017 - 3:35 pm | Permalink

    I thought about voting for the executioner co-martyr, but there was no place to cast that vote!

  262. Diane C.'s Gravatar Diane C.
    March 2, 2017 - 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Lent Madness starting off right – a tough decision. British martyr who was so brave or one who humbly served the poor and forgave his murders. Stephen it is.

  263. March 2, 2017 - 3:50 pm | Permalink

    I am a vocational deacon. Stephen for the Golden Halo!!! (I would say more but, I’m busy. LOL!!!)

  264. The Rev. Julie Nelson's Gravatar The Rev. Julie Nelson
    March 2, 2017 - 3:58 pm | Permalink

    As a priest who lost a job for a sermon I preached, I and who continually wonders if someday I might get stoned for one, I voted for Stephen.

  265. March 2, 2017 - 4:01 pm | Permalink

    A great first match-up.
    After some consideration, I voted for Alban, because of his action in hiding a persecuted fugitive. Alban is a saint for our times.

    • Robert DeKalb's Gravatar Robert DeKalb
      March 2, 2017 - 5:35 pm | Permalink

      That thought occured to me re: Alban, but I went with Stephen because I think his whole body of work warrants it.


  266. Yvonne's Gravatar Yvonne
    March 2, 2017 - 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Sorry. Gotta go with St. Stephen. Nice hair and gown (shown in on our church’s stained glass windows). Great fashion sense AND he fed the poor.
    Rock on Stevie!

  267. Laurie's Gravatar Laurie
    March 2, 2017 - 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Alban. Definitely Alban.

  268. Laurie D's Gravatar Laurie D
    March 2, 2017 - 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Alban. Definitely Alban.

  269. Marilyn Dyess's Gravatar Marilyn Dyess
    March 2, 2017 - 4:09 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Stephen because I need a saint for headaches!

  270. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    March 2, 2017 - 4:12 pm | Permalink

    What a great way to learn stuff! Love this!

  271. Debbie Kair's Gravatar Debbie Kair
    March 2, 2017 - 4:19 pm | Permalink

    A tough choice it is for this first round. It is even harder after I read the comments. No more of that. I will vote first & then read. I voted for Stephen because of his boldness to speak of his belief in Jesus right at the beginning. I am inspired by Alban’s ingenuity, sacrifice & witness.

  272. Scott's Gravatar Scott
    March 2, 2017 - 4:26 pm | Permalink


  273. Heather's Gravatar Heather
    March 2, 2017 - 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Regarding Alban: two, two, two heads instead of one…eyeballs popping out–great gore factor. Nevertheless, I’m going for Stephen. He is the first after Christ to go the way of the cross–the stone in this case–and sets the example. The association of St. Stephen with the day after Christmas and Beckett’s sermon in “Murder in the Cathedral” means we can ponder Beckett and Eliot, too. Because he was stoned, we can also associate him with Bob Dylan, though I’m not so sure that Stephen would sing along with “Everybody must get stoned.”

    • peggy's Gravatar peggy
      March 2, 2017 - 4:34 pm | Permalink

      That song has been uncomfortably stuck in my mind all day.

    • Yvonne's Gravatar Yvonne
      March 2, 2017 - 5:41 pm | Permalink

      HE just might!

  274. Tom Dynham's Gravatar Tom Dynham
    March 2, 2017 - 4:31 pm | Permalink

    How do I make a comment? New to the game and finding my way around! I already voted!

    • Pamela Payne's Gravatar Pamela Payne
      March 2, 2017 - 4:47 pm | Permalink

      Tom, you appear to have mastered the Lent Madness well! Welcome!

  275. Donna Antrim's Gravatar Donna Antrim
    March 2, 2017 - 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Working in our church food pantry and dealing with weekly migraines Steven was the only choice!

  276. Pamela Payne's Gravatar Pamela Payne
    March 2, 2017 - 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Who couldn’t love a fresh spring of water flowing at the site of St. Alban’s head!

  277. Robert DeKalb's Gravatar Robert DeKalb
    March 2, 2017 - 4:53 pm | Permalink

    I am new to this. How do I vote? If this is how, I vote for Stephen.


    • Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
      March 2, 2017 - 5:36 pm | Permalink

      To cast your vote, go to the bios near the top of the page. Immediately after the second bio you will see the names of the two contestants. Beside each name is a button. Click on the button of the one you choose, and your vote will be registered.
      Welcome to the Madness!

  278. March 2, 2017 - 4:57 pm | Permalink

    We’re in Jesus Movement territory these days and clearly must stick with the home town boy, Stephen. Holy Land all the way.

  279. James N. Lodwick's Gravatar James N. Lodwick
    March 2, 2017 - 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Two great proto-martyrs! I voted for Stephen because of his wonderful and Christ-like prayer for forgiveness for his executioners, even though I once was interim priest of a parish named for St. Alban, whose courage and self-sacrifice on behalf of another I greatly admire.

  280. Rita OConnor's Gravatar Rita OConnor
    March 2, 2017 - 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Boy – this was hard! Initially I was leaning toward Stephen (how traditional of me) but I was then swayed by Alban offering refuge to a priest before he was even a Christian. What an example he set!

  281. Judy Lawes's Gravatar Judy Lawes
    March 2, 2017 - 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Stephen is one of the first martyrs I ever learned about in St. Catherine’s School. I was married in St. Stephens Church in Richmond, Va. which is right across from the school.No one forgets about the stoning of Stephen. He gets my vote.

  282. Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
    March 2, 2017 - 5:20 pm | Permalink

    I suspect that David Hansen had his tongue in his cheek when he wrote of Stephen:
    “…his message seemed to be extremely well received, with the Sanhedrin shouting ‘Amen!’ and ‘Thanks be to God’.”
    Acts 7: 54-58 reads: When they (the Sanhedrin) heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.”

  283. Tim Reifsteck's Gravatar Tim Reifsteck
    March 2, 2017 - 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Let the tourney begin!

  284. Sara Ellen Frey Edwards's Gravatar Sara Ellen Frey Edwards
    March 2, 2017 - 5:23 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Seasoned Saint Stephen for all of the above reasons and: in honor of our Deacon Ed, and of my Uncle Ralph, who was a member and chorister at St. Stephen’s Episcopal in Oak Ridge, TN.

    May St. Steve inspire our courage to speak the truth, and St Alban to walk it.

  285. Linda Burnett's Gravatar Linda Burnett
    March 2, 2017 - 5:30 pm | Permalink

    I pictured the fill-in executioners eyes popping out attached to springs ala an old cartoon image and it made me laugh out loud….so this year I went with Alban.

  286. Louise's Gravatar Louise
    March 2, 2017 - 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Patron Saint of headaches! Fantastic. I just found a doctor who diagnosed my lifetime of headaches as a cicada rhythm malady with easy fix of low dose lithium. Stephen must win the Gilden Halo !!! Clearly he was responsible for my cure.

  287. Don C's Gravatar Don C
    March 2, 2017 - 5:41 pm | Permalink

    I thought I voted early this AM. However, when I went back to check a few minutes ago the VOTE button seems to be live! Or did I just think I voted? Not going to try voting again so as to not provoke the SEC and be banishèd, but I am just a bit confused here. I think I voted for Alban…who knows?

    • March 2, 2017 - 5:49 pm | Permalink

      You have dispensation to try again. It won’t let you vote twice. Unless you were on a different device…

  288. Judith's Gravatar Judith
    March 2, 2017 - 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Deacons don’t rule, deacons don’t even lead–they send, support, care, and are like the presence of God out in the world. Well, ok, so is any Christian. But Stephen, the deacon who was appointed to serve the food and went out to make trouble.

  289. Cathy's Gravatar Cathy
    March 2, 2017 - 5:54 pm | Permalink

    I had to go with Alban. The name of my church~~I was born into the church and remain a member. I’m sticking with St. Alban!

  290. March 2, 2017 - 6:01 pm | Permalink

    I love reading the comments. I read the biographies, then vote and then the comments. But I must say sometimes the comments make such good points that I am tempted to reverse order. Today, my reason was the same as Oliver’s (welcome back!), because he was first.

  291. John's Gravatar John
    March 2, 2017 - 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Gonna have to go with St. Stephen. First protomartyr, stoning, hymns, Grateful Dead song. Admittedly, the St. Alban story is colorful as well, but my nephew is named Steven, so he wins.

  292. Connie Conley's Gravatar Connie Conley
    March 2, 2017 - 6:03 pm | Permalink

    We were married 57 years ago on St. Stephen’s Day (Dec 26) so of course we had to vote for him!

  293. K8+'s Gravatar K8+
    March 2, 2017 - 6:12 pm | Permalink

    As I vocational deacon before my ordination as I priest, I’ve always felt a particular devotion to St. Stephen-
    Couldn’t vote for any other great saint

  294. Paul McLeod's Gravatar Paul McLeod
    March 2, 2017 - 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Alban has the vote; because this is the perfect illustration of the fact that it is never too late to turn your life around and give your life to the Lord!!! Thanks be to God

  295. Mark C Bacher's Gravatar Mark C Bacher
    March 2, 2017 - 6:18 pm | Permalink

    A newbie. I can’t wait to enter the fray

  296. March 2, 2017 - 6:19 pm | Permalink

    Stephen. all the way!

  297. Eileen C. Fisher's Gravatar Eileen C. Fisher
    March 2, 2017 - 6:36 pm | Permalink

    I felt compelled to vote for St. Alban and did so. Lent Madness Payoff: My son who won’t attend any church is avidly reading the Saintly Scorecard. Thank you, SEC, for this wonderful annual event and maybe influencing my son to attend our church. Who knows?

  298. Natalie's Gravatar Natalie
    March 2, 2017 - 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Once the spring sprung I was so tempted… but hard to go past St Stephen. It must have been such a shock. St Alban had more of an idea of what he was getting into. Would have been tempted to vote for that executioner.

  299. Gloria Ishida's Gravatar Gloria Ishida
    March 2, 2017 - 6:59 pm | Permalink

    This was a hard choice. But when I thought of the present in the US, I went for St. Alban, who while not a believer took in the priest who was being pursued and then willingly disguised himself to face the judges. Alban risked his and lost his life in doing so. Who would be willing to do even the least of this today?

  300. Cynthia's Gravatar Cynthia
    March 2, 2017 - 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Just completed a bible study in Acts and am very familiar with Stephen. I’m new to this but so far am intrigued. The events which lead to and follow Alben’s execution surely make an unique read!

  301. Megan O Jones's Gravatar Megan O Jones
    March 2, 2017 - 7:20 pm | Permalink

    I almost never have headaches, but today I have a doozie of a headache. When I read that St. Stephen was the saint to help me, I knew that he would get my vote. Thanks, Steve!

  302. ECarey's Gravatar ECarey
    March 2, 2017 - 7:23 pm | Permalink

    When I was born, my family lived in St. Alban’s Queens NYC. So I had to vote for him!

  303. Izzie's Gravatar Izzie
    March 2, 2017 - 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Yay. It’s back. I voted for Stephen because the passage of Acts where he dies is one of my favorites.

  304. Geoffrey Pratt's Gravatar Geoffrey Pratt
    March 2, 2017 - 7:27 pm | Permalink

    My wife’s great grandfather, Archdeacon Thomas Bedford-Jones founded St Alban’s. Church in Ottawa. Sir John A. McDonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister was a member of his congregation. Thomas presided over the funeral of Sir John. He also named one of his sons, Alban. I grew up close to St. Alban’s Cathedral in England. I urge all to vote for Alban.

  305. Paul Rosbolt's Gravatar Paul Rosbolt
    March 2, 2017 - 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Alban, protecting the priestly refugee.

  306. Christine Parkhurst's Gravatar Christine Parkhurst
    March 2, 2017 - 7:32 pm | Permalink

    I attended St Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Schenectady as a kid. Then I married my beloved husband Stephen who never attends church but donates a lot to charities that feed the hungry.

    So Stephen.

  307. Barbara Baker's Gravatar Barbara Baker
    March 2, 2017 - 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Laban saved the priest and was unwilling to give up his beliefs to take the easy way out. He inspires me to keep doing right whatever the consequences.

  308. andrea's Gravatar andrea
    March 2, 2017 - 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Alban. Eyes popping, head rolling, the spring of water, and his courage in hiding the priest. Patron saint of refugees and converts. I also liked the pictures and prayer in the above post by Richard G. I’m glad Lent Madness is back! Happy Ash Thursday to all!!

  309. Marlene Hogue's Gravatar Marlene Hogue
    March 2, 2017 - 7:41 pm | Permalink

    I am a deacon, hence my choice.

  310. Lurlene's Gravatar Lurlene
    March 2, 2017 - 7:41 pm | Permalink

    What a way to begin
    The March Lent poll
    Stephen and Alban-
    Rock and roll!

  311. Susan Wall's Gravatar Susan Wall
    March 2, 2017 - 7:43 pm | Permalink

    I was tempted to vote for Alban as he looks so jaunty in the icon pictured in the account, but in the end I went for Stephen because he prayed for his persecutors, something I’m sure I’d never be able to do!

  312. Joan's Gravatar Joan
    March 2, 2017 - 7:46 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Alban because of his unquestioning commitment and the miracle of the spring coming from where his head landed. Reminded me of Igmar Bergman’s Virgin Spring.

  313. Bob McKenna's Gravatar Bob McKenna
    March 2, 2017 - 7:55 pm | Permalink

    I cast a vote for Alban.

  314. Ann Mills's Gravatar Ann Mills
    March 2, 2017 - 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Stephen. Hands down (heads up?). From a member of St. Stephen Presbyterian Church in Ft. Worth, Texas.

  315. March 2, 2017 - 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Well, obviously! I’m a deacon! So it has to be Stephen. Also I really like the Good King Wenceslas song about the Feast of Stephen, and now I know when that is!

  316. Frances's Gravatar Frances
    March 2, 2017 - 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Grew up near St. Alban’s in Hertfordshire, has to be Alban!

  317. March 2, 2017 - 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Stephen was a remarkable man and died at the hands of Saul (Paul). Being the saint of headaches covers so many issues…I love Saint Stephen.

  318. Bekka's Gravatar Bekka
    March 2, 2017 - 8:17 pm | Permalink

    So far Stephen is winning. Even though I voted for Stephen I like Alban too! 🙂
    Bekka. a 10 yo.

  319. Diana's Gravatar Diana
    March 2, 2017 - 8:21 pm | Permalink

    It may be too late to save the day, but many voters have proclaimed that they were inspired to vote for Stephen because Good King Wenceslaus who went out on his feast. OK, so St. Alban deserves his own hymn, too. It is forthwith appended herein. Same tune, different saint:

    Good Saint Alban hid a priest
    When the soldiers sought him.
    Learned of Christ, received the Truth
    And would not deny him.
    Death could not turn him away
    From the Lord who loved him.
    Parted waters on the way
    To his execu-oo-tion.

    Many stories now are told
    Of this faithful martyr.
    How his rolling head did cause
    Up to spring fresh water.
    Other tales are just too gross
    For this simple song and
    So I plead that you will vote
    For our good Saint A – al – ban!

    • VT Patty's Gravatar VT Patty
      March 2, 2017 - 10:48 pm | Permalink

      Well done! ♪

  320. Mariclaire Buckley's Gravatar Mariclaire Buckley
    March 2, 2017 - 8:40 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to have to go with the headache guy

  321. Robert Hall's Gravatar Robert Hall
    March 2, 2017 - 8:51 pm | Permalink

    All in for Alban!

  322. Christine CO's Gravatar Christine CO
    March 2, 2017 - 8:52 pm | Permalink

    I went to St. Stephen’s School, an American/Episcopal high school in Rome, Italy, so, of course, I *had* to vote for Stephen.

  323. Steven Brotherton's Gravatar Steven Brotherton
    March 2, 2017 - 8:52 pm | Permalink

    This is a wonderful experience! Send the emails please!

  324. March 2, 2017 - 8:53 pm | Permalink

    This was a tough one. I had to think about it all day.
    Dang you, SEC , for pitching these two worthies in the very first round!

  325. E. English's Gravatar E. English
    March 2, 2017 - 9:05 pm | Permalink

    My vote went for Stephen. We celebrate St Stephen’s day, partly to recover from our over-the-top Christmas exuberance — it’s a worthy moment for quiet reflection on the blessings we receive from the good Lord.

  326. Allison Mayer's Gravatar Allison Mayer
    March 2, 2017 - 9:14 pm | Permalink

    If it weren’t for Stephen, we wouldn’t have Elvis Costello’s song about the St. Stephen’s Day murders on the Chieftains’ Bells of Dublin Christmas album:'s_Day_Murders

  327. Joyce Rush's Gravatar Joyce Rush
    March 2, 2017 - 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Alban for me this time. Reading the bios and the new hymn, above, have made my day.

  328. Gail Adams's Gravatar Gail Adams
    March 2, 2017 - 9:39 pm | Permalink

    I love the name Alban, and am bored by the name Stephen. Nevertheless, I had to vote for Saint Stephen, because he forgave those who were executing him.

  329. Catherine Foote's Gravatar Catherine Foote
    March 2, 2017 - 10:02 pm | Permalink

    Have to go with the Bible guy.

  330. Joyce Wojtczak's Gravatar Joyce Wojtczak
    March 2, 2017 - 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Being the first, in any situation, is to be commended.

  331. Brenda O's Gravatar Brenda O
    March 2, 2017 - 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Stephen for sure. It was his martyrdom,(at which Paul was present and passively participated) combined with Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus that informed Paul’s ministry and the spread of the gospel. Stephen for sure.

  332. Mary's Gravatar Mary
    March 2, 2017 - 10:31 pm | Permalink

    I am new to Lent Madness and look forward to participating in the Madness

    • VT Patty's Gravatar VT Patty
      March 2, 2017 - 10:49 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the Madness!

  333. March 2, 2017 - 11:15 pm | Permalink

    Tough call on the very 1st day! Stephen, because, he was, you know, St. Stephen. I do loves me the Alban, though!

  334. March 2, 2017 - 11:29 pm | Permalink

    Two thoughts – St. Alban’s head literally divined! Also, of course he’s not the patron saint of headaches. I think that would send the wrong message 🙂

  335. A Girl Named Lou's Gravatar A Girl Named Lou
    March 2, 2017 - 11:42 pm | Permalink

    While I am sure the SEC is well aware of this fact, today’s count before midnight is over 1,000 votes more than the number of votes cast for the Golden Halo in 2016! Lent Madness abounds!

  336. Suzanne's Gravatar Suzanne
    March 2, 2017 - 11:48 pm | Permalink

    I am a BIG March Madness fan and when my friend invited me to play, I just had to say yes.

  337. Rosanne Adderley's Gravatar Rosanne Adderley
    March 3, 2017 - 12:28 am | Permalink

    I fall for a good story every time. But Jesus loved stories right? Rolling head, springs of water and the thing with the executioner’s eyes pushed me to Alban. Who could be surprised at Stephen’s strong showing though?! First year at this. Loving it.

  338. Ellayne Hurlbut's Gravatar Ellayne Hurlbut
    March 3, 2017 - 12:33 am | Permalink

    Alban’s story is too far fetched. Stephen has a reliable witness, Paul.

  339. Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
    March 3, 2017 - 12:54 am | Permalink

    I voted for Saint Alban, patron saint of refugees, but suspect that all the Deacons have shown up to vote for Saint Stephen.

    Amazing that the first executioner assigned to Saint Alban chose to die rather than kill Saint Alban.

    I also voted for Saint Alban because of what our Lord said in the Gospel According to Saint John 15:13:
    “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

    Saint Alban showed that greater love.

  340. Cassandra's Gravatar Cassandra
    March 3, 2017 - 1:53 am | Permalink

    I went with St. Alban. I really like what he did – not only did he take the risk of sheltering the priest, but went so far as to impersonate him. He could have denied his new faith when facing the judge, but didn’t. I doubt any of his neighbors would have known.
    He was a wonderful soul. I really hope he wins.

  341. March 3, 2017 - 1:58 am | Permalink

    Right off I’m faced with such a difficult choice! I love both of these saints! I finally decided to vote for St. Alban because of my British heritage and love for all things having to do with the British Isles and Celtic saints.

  342. Sue G.'s Gravatar Sue G.
    March 3, 2017 - 3:02 am | Permalink

    Tough choice for a Brit like me, but I ignored Alban and voted for Stephen. It’s my husband’s name & he’s very nearly a saint, being the Lay Chair [yes, it’s really called that] of our local Deanery Synod. So glad I didn’t miss the start of the Madness; over here in the UK we have to wait for you guys to catch up & it’s easy to forget to check the emails later in the day.
    Have a useful (& Mad) Lent, everyone!

  343. Katrina's Gravatar Katrina
    March 3, 2017 - 3:44 am | Permalink

    I voted for Alban in the name of many who are followers of Christ but who don’t self-identify as such. Alban was a Christian all along; he just didn’t know it.

  344. Marge's Gravatar Marge
    March 3, 2017 - 11:08 am | Permalink


  345. Phillipywest's Gravatar Phillipywest
    March 3, 2017 - 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I vote for Alban. Is this the right place to cast vote? I don’t see a clear place on


  346. Rene's Gravatar Rene
    March 3, 2017 - 12:06 pm | Permalink

    I’m not Christian but for e fourth year now I intend to participate in Lent Madness. Most joyable!

  347. PJ Williams's Gravatar PJ Williams
    March 3, 2017 - 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Yikes! I’m new to this and missed the first match up. I have a bracket and signed up for email. What do I do next so I don’t miss the next vote?

  348. Melissa's Gravatar Melissa
    March 3, 2017 - 12:39 pm | Permalink

    St. Alban’s!

  349. Julie Grissom's Gravatar Julie Grissom
    March 3, 2017 - 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Don’t know how to vote. Count me in on the game!

    • Phillipywest's Gravatar Phillipywest
      March 3, 2017 - 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Click on the candidates for the day. Then scroll down past biographies to click your choice and send

  350. Jane's Gravatar Jane
    March 3, 2017 - 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Alban. Liked his activist activities; hiding a priest to save his life, and being willing to impersonate him so as to die in his place. Also, kind of enjoyed the gory, rolling head part, (a bit ashamed to admit this, but will repent the rest of Lent… (sigh..)

  351. March 3, 2017 - 7:55 pm | Permalink

    My vote is for Stephen

  352. Dr Paul's Gravatar Dr Paul
    March 3, 2017 - 10:13 pm | Permalink

    If ever there was patron saint of speaking truth to power it must be Steven! The Sanhedrin hated him because he was a Samaritan and he kept shoving it in their face till they killed him. Try to find anything about Deuteronomy or the deuteronomists in Acts. A fitting type of Bonhoffer.

  353. Michael Shea's Gravatar Michael Shea
    March 4, 2017 - 11:20 am | Permalink

    It’s Alban all the way — Stephen’s Martyrdom was so ordinary!

  354. Beth Parkhurst's Gravatar Beth Parkhurst
    March 4, 2017 - 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Like my sister Christine, I attended St.Stephen’s and voted for St. Stephen. I did like the bit about the executioner’s eyes popping out of his head after he killed St. Alban, though. On the other hand, one of my friends pointed out that it would have been a better miracle if the executioner’s eyes had popped out before he executed St. Alban.

  355. Emily's Gravatar Emily
    March 5, 2017 - 2:55 pm | Permalink

    I vote for Alban. With the tally showing, I see I’m for the underdog. Come on, people. Vote Alban.

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