Anna Alexander vs. Peter Claver

We’re back for the first full week of saintly thrills and spills! Today we get our first matchup in the Mostly Modern quadrant as Anna Alexander faces Peter Claver. Of course it’s all relative — Anna lived in the 19th century and Peter straddled the 16th and 17th centuries. But what’s a few hundred years among friends?

On Saturday, Quiteria the nonuplet warrior defeated Genesius in a fairly close battle 54% to 46%. She will go on to face the winner of Thomas à Kempis vs. Maria Skobstova in the Saintly Sixteen.

For those of you who filled out brackets in advance, is it already busted? Or maybe a saint you really wanted to win has lost, causing you to lose all faith in humanity — or at least in the Lent Madness voting public. Just a reminder — it’s not really about which saints win or lose (they’ve all received their Golden Halos) — it’s about encountering Jesus through the inspiring lives of those who have come before us in the faith. So buck up! And live to vote another day.

Anna Alexander

Anna AlexanderAnna Alexander was the first African-American Deaconess of the Episcopal Church. Deaconess Alexander was born around 1865 on Saint Simon’s Island in Georgia. Her parents, James and Daphne Alexander, were well-educated and emancipated slaves. Her father, James, believed education was the path to a better life for the people on the plantation, and he continued to teach Anna and her siblings in defiance of Georgia laws that forbade the education of slaves.

James and Daphne Alexander instilled in their daughter a strong belief in shared and communal responsibility and the idea that change occurs in the relationships built within our communities. As a result, Anna is credited with establishing an Episcopal church and school in Pennick, Georgia. The community initially met in an abandoned farmhouse and then in an old store, where they converted the whiskey counter into an altar. Faced with antiquated diocesan and societal laws, Anna’s mission church struggled financially, and Anna took up sewing, teaching, and other jobs to raise money to purchase land for a permanent church and school. Through her community relationships, she drew upon the financial support of her fellow brothers and sisters. Through their combined efforts, they were able to build the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church and school.

At a Convention for Colored Episcopalians in 1907, Bishop C.K. Nelson named Anna a deaconess. During the time of her diaconate, it was virtually unheard of for a woman to be recognized as a leader in the church—especially an African-American woman. Anna’s hard work, devotion, and dedication to the Christian formation of black communities ensured that the voices of African-American Christians were heard throughout the Diocese of Georgia. Deaconess Alexander felt that anger about how society treated women and African-Americans was a wasted emotion and believed she could change her community through education and love. She exhibited this love through a devotion to Christian formation. Deaconess Alexander offers us an example of a life of faith rooted in a boundless love of others.

Deaconess Anna Alexander’s feast day is September 24.

Collect for Anna Alexander
O God, you called Anna Alexander as a deaconess in your Church and sent her as teacher and evangelist to the people of Georgia: Grant us the humility to go wherever you send, and the wisdom to teach the word of Christ to whomever we meet, that all may come to the enlightenment which you intend for your people; through Jesus Christ, our Teacher and Savior. Amen.

-Anna Fitch Courie

Peter Claver

Peter ClaverTimes of great evil are often opportunities for profound witness to the love of God. The deep evil of the transatlantic slave trade was just such a time, and it was into that moment in history that Peter Claver, SJ was born in 1580.

During studies in his home country of Spain, Peter joined the Society of Jesus. The Jesuits sent him out to be a part of their mission to the Americas. Peter encountered the horrors of the slave trade and through the tutelage of another Jesuit was introduced to ministry among the Africans who were being trafficked through the port of Cartagena, Colombia.

After being abducted from their homes in Africa, the victims of the slave trade became a commodity to their captors. They were packed inhumanely into ships, fed minimal amounts of food and water, and sailed across the Atlantic to the Americas. During the horrific journey, about a third of all African slaves died.

Each year, 10,000 slaves would arrive in Cartagena. As soon as a slave ship arrived, Peter descended into the hold—into the midst of the sickness, death, and suffering. He brought medicine, food, water, and words of comfort. As the slaves disembarked, Peter continued to minister among them. After six years of this ministry, Claver made his final profession as a Jesuit. He signed his name, “Peter Claver, slave to the Ethiopians [Africans].”

Peter continued his ministry among the slaves of Cartagena for thirty more years. In addition to his time in the port, he often traveled out to plantations so he could continue to care for the slaves.

During his four decades of ministry, Peter baptized at least 300,000 people. His ability to share the Good News of Christ was closely tied to his compassion and care for the physical needs of the victims of slavery. In considering the connection between preaching and service, he once said, “We must speak to them with our hands, before we try to speak to them with our lips.”

In the face of great evil and suffering, we may feel overwhelmed. Peter Claver reminds us of the profound difference that one person acting compassionately can make.

Collect for Peter Claver
God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servant Peter Claver, who made the good news known in Colombia. Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel, so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love, and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

-David Hansen

Anna Alexander vs. Peter Claver

  • Anna Alexander (59%, 4,803 Votes)
  • Peter Claver (41%, 3,339 Votes)

Total Voters: 8,142

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Anna Alexander: Stained glass window at St. Ignatius Church, Episcopal Diocese of Georgia
Peter Claver: By Неизвестный автор ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

308 Comments to "Anna Alexander vs. Peter Claver"

  1. Oliver--Ten Years Old's Gravatar Oliver--Ten Years Old
    February 19, 2018 - 8:01 am | Permalink

    I voted for Peter because he went into the bottom of the ship and became the slave to the slaves.

    • Sonia's Gravatar Sonia
      February 19, 2018 - 8:13 am | Permalink

      For once you and I agree, Oliver

    • Toni Ponzo's Gravatar Toni Ponzo
      February 19, 2018 - 9:00 am | Permalink

      I voted for Anna but love your reasoning Oliver.

      • Robyn's Gravatar Robyn
        February 19, 2018 - 10:23 am | Permalink


      • Sally lambert's Gravatar Sally lambert
        February 19, 2018 - 4:18 pm | Permalink

        George & I are with you!

    • Nancy Evans's Gravatar Nancy Evans
      February 19, 2018 - 9:05 am | Permalink

      Thank you for your insight.

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      February 19, 2018 - 9:12 am | Permalink

      Right on Oliver!

    • Glenis Elliott's Gravatar Glenis Elliott
      February 19, 2018 - 10:20 am | Permalink

      Good reason Oliver. This was another tough one, but I went with Peter also.

    • Jeanine's Gravatar Jeanine
      February 19, 2018 - 11:12 am | Permalink

      Yes, I voted for him for the same reason.

    • Joyce Rush's Gravatar Joyce Rush
      February 19, 2018 - 11:50 am | Permalink

      You and I are both on the same page, Oliver.

    • Heather Coleman's Gravatar Heather Coleman
      February 19, 2018 - 12:06 pm | Permalink

      I’m with you, Oliver.

    • Jill Liberty's Gravatar Jill Liberty
      February 19, 2018 - 12:22 pm | Permalink

      Me, too, Oliver.

    • Michele's Gravatar Michele
      February 19, 2018 - 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Oliver, that spoke of Christ-like love to me, too.

    • Joe's Gravatar Joe
      February 19, 2018 - 4:40 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Oliver, great insight about Peter becoming a slave to the slaves. Yet he did so from positions (male, priest, member of a religious order with political clout) of considerable power. Anna Alexander went about her ministry from a position that held little power at the time (a black woman, not ordained for most of her ministry). I’m in awe of her dedicated spirit! Joe

      • dot's Gravatar dot
        February 19, 2018 - 7:37 pm | Permalink

        Yes joe, you elegantly stated my reason for voting for Anna…

    • Rilet's Gravatar Rilet
      February 19, 2018 - 6:27 pm | Permalink

      I also like your reasoning. Oliver, where as Anna did so much…

    • Liz von Dohlen's Gravatar Liz von Dohlen
      February 19, 2018 - 7:00 pm | Permalink

      I would have voted with you, Oliver, but I’m an Alexander by heritage, and my first name is Alexandra, AND I adore St. Simons Island. How could I not vote for Anna? This was truly a tough choice.

    • Kathi Tiltman's Gravatar Kathi Tiltman
      February 19, 2018 - 8:49 pm | Permalink

      we need MORE like Peter in this day and age.. sadly wish we could more like him in givt as well thank you Oliver for your insight

    • Victoria Stefani's Gravatar Victoria Stefani
      February 19, 2018 - 9:12 pm | Permalink

      It was a hard decision, Oliver, but I voted for Peter also!

    • Jane's Gravatar Jane
      February 19, 2018 - 9:43 pm | Permalink

      Oliver, I’m with you! Anna was wonderful too, but I’m so disappointed that Peter lost!

  2. Ann's Gravatar Ann
    February 19, 2018 - 8:05 am | Permalink

    I voted for Anna. Peter has a lot to recommend him, as well. #LentMadnessSoWhite

    • Marcia Lauzon's Gravatar Marcia Lauzon
      February 19, 2018 - 2:23 pm | Permalink

      I’m with you, Anna.

      • Ann's Gravatar Ann
        February 19, 2018 - 2:46 pm | Permalink


    • Robert Coates's Gravatar Robert Coates
      February 19, 2018 - 7:48 pm | Permalink

      Anna carved a path where none was before for African American women in the post-Reconstruction south. She created a precedent and a model of faith. I admit a favoritism for Americans and Episcopalians in these contests, when there is a choice. In this case, it was a comfortable choice.

  3. Jen's Gravatar Jen
    February 19, 2018 - 8:06 am | Permalink

    Anna rose from a slave background to do great things for our church. Go Anna!

  4. Anchorage1997's Gravatar Anchorage1997
    February 19, 2018 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    I love that Peter Claver fought against slavery.

    • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
      February 19, 2018 - 11:26 am | Permalink

      Did he fight against slavery or minister to slaves. These are not the same acts.

      • Lorna Scott's Gravatar Lorna Scott
        February 19, 2018 - 4:53 pm | Permalink


        • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
          February 19, 2018 - 5:16 pm | Permalink

          Noted earlier, eloquently by the Reverend, Peter answered his call as did Anna. Not the same but well fulfilled, I think, by both.

      • monikwa25's Gravatar monikwa25
        February 19, 2018 - 4:54 pm | Permalink

        I’m with you on that. It is “nice” that he ministered to slaves, but I didn’t read here that he fought against slavery.

        • Linda Hanson's Gravatar Linda Hanson
          February 19, 2018 - 6:28 pm | Permalink

          Nor did she. Daughter of educated emancipated slaves, education was key to her.

      • Arnold's Gravatar Arnold
        February 19, 2018 - 5:46 pm | Permalink

        I’d say he did both, including doing the former by way of the latter. Speaking truth to power or fighting slavery can look very different in different contexts. He also did more than can be contained in the brief bio above.

      • Robert Coates's Gravatar Robert Coates
        February 19, 2018 - 7:50 pm | Permalink

        The way I read the story, he did not openly oppose the institution, which would have been a losing battle in that time and place. He still deserves honor for respecting the humanity of the slaves and trying to help them.

  5. Pam's Gravatar Pam
    February 19, 2018 - 8:12 am | Permalink

    “change her community through education and love”
    As an educator, this did it for me.

    • Jan's Gravatar Jan
      February 19, 2018 - 10:03 am | Permalink

      Amen to that. Words to live by, these days.

  6. TJ's Gravatar TJ
    February 19, 2018 - 8:13 am | Permalink

    Peter was surely kind and many of my Catholic neighbors belong to the Knights of St. Peter Claver but I’d have been more impressed with someone who espoused liberation rather than merely bearable bondage. Anna is more relevant to me as a model of leadership and self-reliance in the face of oppression.

    • Steve's Gravatar Steve
      February 19, 2018 - 8:58 am | Permalink

      I think this is what cinched it for me as well. Both are strong candidates, but in this time, I feel e need more Annas than Peters.

      • Beth's Gravatar Beth
        February 19, 2018 - 9:52 am | Permalink

        TJ and Steve said it

      • Dena Morris's Gravatar Dena Morris
        February 19, 2018 - 10:23 am | Permalink

        Good point, but I liked Oliver’s reasoning, also.

    • Pat's Gravatar Pat
      February 19, 2018 - 9:51 am | Permalink

      TJ – perfectly said!

    • Jack Zamboni's Gravatar Jack Zamboni
      February 19, 2018 - 10:12 am | Permalink

      My thoughts, too. Peter Claver was unusual for Europeans in his time for seeing Africans as fellow human beings to be loved, not property to be used. And it may be a lot to ask of him in his time to have opposed the systemic evil of slavery rather than merely care for those who were its victims. But in the end, the lack of any indication that he challenged the problem at its root made me vote for Anna who did more of that as she empowered freed slaves through education, worship and building community.

      • Susie's Gravatar Susie
        February 19, 2018 - 10:50 am | Permalink

        Well put, Steve–Peter was a great help to slaves but for now we need more in Anna’s footsteps!

      • Maureen Hagen's Gravatar Maureen Hagen
        February 19, 2018 - 1:29 pm | Permalink

        I agree. As a deacon, she knew she was called to bring the hopes, needs, and concerns to the Church. She also knew the importance of working with the community and to bring about change.

      • Meg Nakano's Gravatar Meg Nakano
        February 22, 2018 - 11:46 pm | Permalink

        Anna felt anger was a wasted emotion, and worked to make changes with love and education. We need more people willing to forego the power of anger these days! I missed voting for Anna in round 1, but will keep an eye out for her in round 2; she has my support there!

    • Jean Middleton's Gravatar Jean Middleton
      February 19, 2018 - 10:27 am | Permalink

      My sentiments exactly!

    • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
      February 19, 2018 - 11:27 am | Permalink

      I agree.

    • Betsy in Reston VA's Gravatar Betsy in Reston VA
      February 19, 2018 - 12:24 pm | Permalink

      I’m with TJ on this one. Hard choice as both of these saints have well earned their halos!
      But Anna spoke truth to power, and was all the more remarkable for being a woman of color in a time even more restrictive than our own.

      • Marian the Lutheran's Gravatar Marian the Lutheran
        February 19, 2018 - 7:54 pm | Permalink

        There are as many ways to speak truth to power as there are ways to serve. Is the Altar Guild member more valuable for washing the chalice, or is the Kitchen committee worker that mops the floor? We are only taught that God calls us each according to their abilities, not what those abilities are (or must be) in order to be considered for service to God. We are judging – as 21st century citizens, and as mere humans – what God has already judged to be good. How, then, are we qualified to judge either candidate as “more good” than the other or say that they should have done more?

        • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
          February 19, 2018 - 9:21 pm | Permalink

          Wonderful words.

        • TJ's Gravatar TJ
          February 19, 2018 - 11:42 pm | Permalink

          All people are products of their time, nonetheless, Lent Madness requires that we come to a singular vote for each pairing. Whether you agree or not, I stated my reasons for my choice. It isn’t a matter of judging either to be “more good” merely more relevant to me. My ancestors were slaves and the fact that someone did the best the could is likely to have been cold comfort to them no matter how true that statement may also happen to be.

    • Susan's Gravatar Susan
      February 19, 2018 - 1:07 pm | Permalink

      Yes, and I also think at this time it’s particularly important for those who (like me) are white and relatively privileged to honor and accept the leadership of those who have been marginalized.

    • Arnold's Gravatar Arnold
      February 19, 2018 - 5:52 pm | Permalink

      Hmmm, I fear these critiques of Peter are anachronistic and miss the larger import of his work. He did speak truth to power, but that can look different that it would now. He didn’t merely espouse “merely bearable bondage” or fail to oppose the systemic evil of slavery. Of course, people misinterpret the work of Jesus, Paul, St. Francis, etc. as not being opposed to the systemic evils and empires of their day. But they were opposed.
      Not that these are reasons not to vote for Anna!

      • Pam Payne's Gravatar Pam Payne
        February 19, 2018 - 6:02 pm | Permalink

        Thank you, Arnold. I am torn between these 2 very fine saints today. What Peter did flew in the face of all of his cultural conventions. I love the quote that you first have to minister with your hands before you can speak with your lips. I also love the dedication of Deaconess Anna, who believed that you answer the hatred of the past (and present) with love and education, and not simply loud voices. What choices these first match-ups have been!

      • TJ's Gravatar TJ
        February 19, 2018 - 11:46 pm | Permalink

        If he did oppose the systemic evil of slavery it is not made clear in the narrative. As I stated, he was certainly kind and did more than most of his day but being descended from enslaved people, his relevance to me is nearly impossible to separate from the fact that in that day and age I would have been the one in chains and I would have been looking for liberation.

  7. February 19, 2018 - 8:15 am | Permalink

    Tough call! Both are worthy advocates for equality, but I lean a little toward Anna as a heaviness. I have long wished to be a deacon!

  8. February 19, 2018 - 8:15 am | Permalink

    Deaconess Anna Alexander changed the lives of children who would have gone by the wayside if not for her ministry. You can find out more about her at

    • February 19, 2018 - 8:27 am | Permalink

      Hear, hear! Deaconess Anna all the way!

    • David Blake's Gravatar David Blake
      February 19, 2018 - 9:36 am | Permalink

      Frank made a cool movie on Anna Alexander, a saint from the Diocese in which he is Canon to the Ordinary. See his movie

      • Jan Van Pelt's Gravatar Jan Van Pelt
        February 19, 2018 - 1:52 pm | Permalink

        Wonderful video. Moving and deeply inspiring.

    • Linda Burnett's Gravatar Linda Burnett
      February 19, 2018 - 11:11 am | Permalink

      what a wonderful video about an amazing woman! Thanks for posting the link.

  9. Edna Thomas's Gravatar Edna Thomas
    February 19, 2018 - 8:15 am | Permalink

    Difficult choice! I was on team Anna until I read “…reminds us of what one person can do…”. In our own time of daily news assaults on loving kindness it is good to be reminded we too can go into the bowels of the slave ship.

    • Sheila Brockmeier's Gravatar Sheila Brockmeier
      February 19, 2018 - 9:10 am | Permalink

      I agree, Edna! I love Anna’s devotion and will not be at all disappointed if she wins. Still, being among the slaves in their pain and despair (and in the bowels of the ship, probably near death), I found very moving. And Peter continued even though it appeared the system of oppression would persist.

    • Venitra DeGraffenreid's Gravatar Venitra DeGraffenreid
      February 19, 2018 - 9:14 am | Permalink

      Me too! This was such a difficult choice!

  10. Diane's Gravatar Diane
    February 19, 2018 - 8:15 am | Permalink

    Anna it is. I lived on St Simons , belonged to Holy Nativity, was even married there- but somehow missed learning about this dedicated soul. Thanks for introducing her to me and flooding me with memories of love and support so generously shared with me by so many (saints too) when I was in that parish.

  11. John the other Verger's Gravatar John the other Verger
    February 19, 2018 - 8:17 am | Permalink

    Well – currently 0 for 3. Voted for Peter Claver today. Will I go 0 for 4?
    Both are great choices. I hope this one is another close contest.

  12. Anne's Gravatar Anne
    February 19, 2018 - 8:17 am | Permalink

    This matchup was uncommonly difficult. I wish I could vote for both of them, but it’s against the rules!

  13. Cassandra's Gravatar Cassandra
    February 19, 2018 - 8:17 am | Permalink

    Who better embodies service “to the least of these” than Peter Claver? I am humbled and awed to read his story.

  14. Sharon's Gravatar Sharon
    February 19, 2018 - 8:17 am | Permalink

    So a Jesuit recognized the wisdom of St Francis who said “Preach the Gospel, and when necessary use words.” (Not sure if that is an exact quote, but the meaning was there.) A powerful reminder that if we are to make disciples of all nations, we must begin by living into Matthew 25. Peter Claver is an excellent example of doing just that.

    I also admired Anna Alexander, who learned her lessons well from her father and was willing to go to extraordinary lengths to minister to God’s precious children.

    Having said that, today the message of Peter Claver spoke to me more forcefully, so he got my vote.

  15. Patricia White's Gravatar Patricia White
    February 19, 2018 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    These choices are mostly impossible. I am glad these saints already have their true golden halos.

  16. Harriet's Gravatar Harriet
    February 19, 2018 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    Both are noble people that I never heard of before. Wanted to vote for both but settled on Anna.

  17. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    February 19, 2018 - 8:19 am | Permalink

    Difficult – “minister with our hands first, worry about preachments later” was very attractive, and he was a child of his time, but if he felt the slaves were human enough to convert, part of me wants Peter to have raised a holy ruckus about slavery. Anna wins for me, today

    • Jeanne Stevens's Gravatar Jeanne Stevens
      February 19, 2018 - 9:01 am | Permalink

      I felt the same way. Why didn’t he try to do more?

  18. Martha Richards's Gravatar Martha Richards
    February 19, 2018 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    To you who put together these brackets, you didn’t make voting easy by any means. Also, this is a good education tool as some of these people haven’t been heard of by many of us. Thanks for the good work

  19. Lee Ann's Gravatar Lee Ann
    February 19, 2018 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    As a Christian Formation Director, it was very difficult for me not to vote for Anna. However, I feel that Peter really made his way into the belly of the beast, offering hope and a sense of Christ’s presence to those in their most desperate moments.

    • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
      February 19, 2018 - 11:33 am | Permalink

      There was no hope for the slaves, no matter what Peter did.

  20. Ellen's Gravatar Ellen
    February 19, 2018 - 8:21 am | Permalink

    Just a note, if Anna was born in 1865, slavery was over and there would have been no legal restrictions on her education (well, not until Jim Crow, but that’s through separate but equal). Still, I voted for Anna, because I was not happy with Peter. Although, he ministered to the slaves, I see nothing that he spoke out against slavery. That is a wrong that we can never allow. To see evil and not speak against it is to endorse it.

    • Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
      February 19, 2018 - 9:21 am | Permalink

      Every time Peter entered a slave ship or visited a plantation, he demonstrated publicly his opposition to slavery. Both Peter and Anna lovingly carried the light of Christ to people who needed it, at times when their actions challenged accepted ideas and practices.

      • Mariana's Gravatar Mariana
        February 19, 2018 - 5:19 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for pointing this out. Of course he was against slavery and going into the slave ships and serving them was a very open acknowledgment of this.

    • Pat S.'s Gravatar Pat S.
      February 19, 2018 - 9:40 am | Permalink

      Well slavery officially was “over” but it continued in many aspects for another decade and everyone knows that. Anna had the double barrier black and woman she seemed to meet them with love and perseverance. I think that is what both of these have in common – neither fought systems they gave of themselves for others which is what Jesus’ example is about. To my mind it is not in the visible rebellion we change the world but in the caring, loving actions.
      Both of these are already winners in my mind because they put their lives where their beliefs were and bore witness to cruelty and hate.

      • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
        February 19, 2018 - 11:37 am | Permalink

        Anna provided tools for the next generation to transcend the boundaries set by their circumstance. She exhibited courage, persistence and sacrifice.

      • Ellen's Gravatar Ellen
        February 19, 2018 - 3:08 pm | Permalink

        The article says it was illegal to educate slaves. Anna was not a slave when she was born. Plus, during the period of Reconstruction, education was encouraged for slaves. Interestingly, when education became available for blacks in the South, whites felt it suddenly became necessary to institute public schools (public schools were not universal at the time) and what amounted to an educational arms race ensued.

        • Frank Logue's Gravatar Frank Logue
          February 19, 2018 - 3:30 pm | Permalink

          As I commented elsewhere, the write up on Deaconess Alexander is a bit confusing on the point you raise. You are right that law precluded her education. “Anna and her siblings” is inaccurate, but her dad did learn to read as a slave and then taught his children and as Anna was the youngest of 11, he did teach some of his children, contrary to the law. The amazing story of her learning to read, is the subject of this brief video:

          There were many schools in reconstruction, but Anna longed for one in deeply rural and poor Pennick, Georgia where her parents settled after emancipation. The black children in that area would have been left out of education without The Deaconess.

      • Lucretia's Gravatar Lucretia
        February 19, 2018 - 3:22 pm | Permalink

        And we are all winners for learning about the love and devotion of both of these Holy People.

    • February 19, 2018 - 11:11 am | Permalink

      Peter’s actions spoke out against slavery. The slave hunters, masters and crews of the slave ships, the auctioneers at the slave auctions, and those who bought slaves convinced themselves that Africans were less than human. But Peter, through his actions, and at great risk to his own life, demonstrated over and over and over again that he believed Africans were God’s children, fully human, and worthy of compassionate care and the sacraments.

      One of the hardest things to do is to submerge one’s self, to devote one’s entire life to serving the outcast, the other. Peter Claver did that. It may be actually be easier (and, more personally satisfying) to voice your opposition from a distance.

      I voted for Peter, but, Anna, too, was a fine choice. These are hard choices!

  21. Christine's Gravatar Christine
    February 19, 2018 - 8:21 am | Permalink

    Speak with our hands before we speak with our lips! Tough choice but that did it.

  22. Ted Clarkson's Gravatar Ted Clarkson
    February 19, 2018 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    I am voting for Anna, not just because of what she accomplished for the Kingdom of God, but she did this as a person who belonged to a oppressed people. Her work was so exemplary, that she garnered the respect not only of African-Americans, but also of the white community, no mean feat in South Georgia at the time.

  23. Emily Correll's Gravatar Emily Correll
    February 19, 2018 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    Tough call. Peter ministering to the enslaved people is holy, but nothing was mentioned about whether he said anything against the slave trade itself. Had to go for Anna, especially since she thought the anger was wasted and that love and education would work for change.

  24. February 19, 2018 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    Today it was Anna for me, although it was a tough call. What got me on Anna’s side was how she worked through education and love, and how as a woman she did all of this despite people who were against her for being black and female. #neverthelessshepersisted

  25. Fr. Marc's Gravatar Fr. Marc
    February 19, 2018 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    Both beautiful testimonies to the transformative power of Christ’s love and grace. I finally went with Peter because I was impressed by the 300,000 baptisms. Anyone who can have that much influence must have been an amazing man.

    • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
      February 19, 2018 - 11:39 am | Permalink

      So many slaves. Did they have a choice about their baptism.

  26. Jessica Hughes's Gravatar Jessica Hughes
    February 19, 2018 - 8:34 am | Permalink

    Now this was a tough choice.

  27. February 19, 2018 - 8:36 am | Permalink

    Deaconess Anna Alexander persisted even with her own Episcopal diocese putting up obstacles. She was like a mighty river which keeps flowing and going around the rocks in its way. And speaking of rivers, she would row her boat 20 miles to serve as a spiritual leader along the Georgia coast. Go Anna!

  28. Cassandra's Gravatar Cassandra
    February 19, 2018 - 8:36 am | Permalink

    Peter Claver did the unthinkable: he saw people as children of God whom his society regarded as animals. No one is so deserving of the Golden Crown.

  29. Mike Bond's Gravatar Mike Bond
    February 19, 2018 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    What a hard choice. But it is Anna for this deacon.

  30. Kim's Gravatar Kim
    February 19, 2018 - 8:41 am | Permalink

    Another great matchup! I decided on Anna eventually, though my reasons were not so saintly. As it was unheard of for a woman, and particularly an African American woman, to be a deaconess at the time, so in my time it was unheard of for an African American to be President of the United States – until it wasn’t. Spirit moving through history.

  31. February 19, 2018 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    This matchup made choosing so difficult that I think I am going to end up with a migraine, for which I blame the owners and operators of Lent Madness. I went with Anna, but I demand a re-run for Peter Claver, I don’t care how you do it. Bump some other candidate out–one that’s further down this year’s line-up, and replace him/her with Peter. It looks like he’s going to lose, and I can’t stand it. I voted for Anna. First, because she set up her church in Pennick, which is the surname of an African-American woman I knew and respected when I was growing up. Seccondly, she set up the altar on the whiskey counter. (Is this the origin of the Methodist slur, “Whiskeypalians?” And finally, her parents’ teaching her that “change occurs in the relationship built within our communities” reminds me why I joined and why I stay in the Episcopal Church. Not that you can’t have this in other communities. It’s just that there’s less hectoring and more gentle encouragement amongst the Episcopalians.

    • Vicky's Gravatar Vicky
      February 19, 2018 - 10:32 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Cynthia. I echo every thought. Some of the choices are easy – here, I want to vote for both, and am disappointed that one will “lose” so early in the race. I will vote with the “change from within relationships”. Education leading to change, with gentle encouragement – a good thought to hold and pray for.

  32. Liz in Sparks's Gravatar Liz in Sparks
    February 19, 2018 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    Peter’s actions spoke for his views on the slave trade, and they were very courageous actions indeed. He won my vote and deep respect for his bravey and humble service in the bleakest of existences. Those enslaved in the bowels of those hideous vessels had no choice. He chose to descend into the bowels of those vessels and brought the only hope and expression of love most of those slaves would ever experience again.

  33. Patrice's Gravatar Patrice
    February 19, 2018 - 8:44 am | Permalink

    Peter was a true servant to Christ as he served “the least of these” with compassion and love; caring for and baptizing those that others considered chattel. Considering the time period and cultural mindset of his contemporaries, I find this particularly inspiring. Having said that, I would be neither surprised nor disappointed to see Anna win a hard-fought prize yet again. Very tough call.

  34. Rev. Deacon Pat Gotautas's Gravatar Rev. Deacon Pat Gotautas
    February 19, 2018 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    I love Lent Madness and hate days like today. I am an Episcopal Deacon so immediately thought I would vote for Anna but then read about Peter. I had to vote for him but wish there was a two vote rule so I could have voted for both of them.

  35. Cath's Gravatar Cath
    February 19, 2018 - 8:47 am | Permalink

    Tough call, but voted for Anna

  36. Julius Ariail's Gravatar Julius Ariail
    February 19, 2018 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    Anna’s ministry lives on in the Diocese of Georgia. More information:

    • Karen Gullett's Gravatar Karen Gullett
      February 19, 2018 - 11:19 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for sharing this. St. Simon is a very special place for my husband and I, and we spent many a Holy Week there when we were first married. I’ve never heard this story before and it’s touched my heart. Really appreciate having these more recent Saints included in the Madness.

  37. WRB+'s Gravatar WRB+
    February 19, 2018 - 8:53 am | Permalink

    Tough call. Both saintly for sure.

  38. Bonnie's Gravatar Bonnie
    February 19, 2018 - 8:54 am | Permalink

    Peter baptized all those folk following Catholic dogma. They didnt speak the same language.Undoubtedly, Peter was feeding the sheep but the legacy of Anna’s educational focus and awareness of the transformative power of community earns my vote.

    • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
      February 19, 2018 - 11:42 am | Permalink

      I agree.

  39. Loretta's Gravatar Loretta
    February 19, 2018 - 8:56 am | Permalink

    Hard one!!! But in the spirit of celebration of strong African women (albeit fictional) characters in Black Panther, I vote for the strong woman, descendant of Africans, and am thankful for Peter, the calling valient ally!

  40. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    February 19, 2018 - 8:56 am | Permalink

    Anna got my vote today!

  41. Sarah's Gravatar Sarah
    February 19, 2018 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    My sister usually votes for the saint I have not chosen. To me, this is not a cancellation, but a way for me feel satisfied when both candidates are so worthy. Today, I say, “Go, Anna”.

  42. Hill - age 9's Gravatar Hill - age 9
    February 19, 2018 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    The last two lines for Peter Claver is just what we need to hear right now – “In the face of great evil and suffering, we may feel overwhelmed. Peter Claver reminds us of the profound difference that one person acting compassionately can make.” Love wins!

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      February 19, 2018 - 9:44 am | Permalink

      I agree with you 200%, Hill! Peter’s story is exactly what we need to hear these days. I look forward to hearing more from you!

    • February 19, 2018 - 9:52 am | Permalink

      Well put!

  43. February 19, 2018 - 8:59 am | Permalink

    Hard choice between two well serving saints but, in the end I must choose Anna as those of differing races are under represented.

  44. Carol's Gravatar Carol
    February 19, 2018 - 9:05 am | Permalink

    Y’all made this a difficult choice but Anna’s feeling that anger is a useless emotion did it for me. She would have known that angry mobs marching around with silly hats on their head do nothing to further a cause. I think she and MLK would have gotten along just fine too. September 24 is now marked on my calender!

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      February 19, 2018 - 9:47 am | Permalink

      Wow, Carol, you don’t think the Women’s March accomplished anything? I respectfully disagree. It was a huge statement for nonviolent action for peace and justice. There was not a single incident of violence nor any arrest that day. I actually think that Martin Luther King, Jr. Would have been right there at the front of the march that day.

      • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
        February 19, 2018 - 11:27 am | Permalink

        Totally agree. Trying to think of “silly hats.” KKK hoods are a sign of terrorism. Red baseball caps made in China with demagogic slogans are a degradation of democracy. The tiki torch Proud Boys sported polo shirts but no common headgear. All I can think of is the marvelous pink pussy hats that women and girls knitted for the largest demonstration in American history, which, as you point out, was entirely peaceful. From discalced nuns and kitten heel pumps to coifs and whimples and knitted cats’ ears for protesting in the public streets. The great cloud of witnesses includes a lot of powerful women. Giving thanks for both Anna and Peter today and for creative acts of resistance against injustice.

        • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
          February 19, 2018 - 11:36 am | Permalink

          Oh yes yes yes! So proud of my son, the lawyer, who donned a “silly hat, several times, and went out and marched.

          • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
            February 19, 2018 - 1:15 pm | Permalink

            Hello again, Donna! Good for your son! My daughter marched as well.
            And St. Celia, KKK hoods and MAGA caps–love it. I’m planning to march myself in another Women’s March this Wednesday–against gun violence and for new legislation to combat America idolatry of weapons.

          • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
            February 19, 2018 - 5:03 pm | Permalink

            Susan, I wish I knew when/where there were ging to be marches — I’d be there!

          • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
            February 19, 2018 - 6:08 pm | Permalink

            March for our Lives marches set for 3/24/18:

          • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
            February 19, 2018 - 7:46 pm | Permalink

            Thank you St. Cecelia!

          • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
            February 19, 2018 - 8:02 pm | Permalink

            And Thank you St. Celia as well. What a day this has been of twisting names and facts around. So sorry.

    • Gail Adams's Gravatar Gail Adams
      February 19, 2018 - 4:29 pm | Permalink

      This was am extremely tough choice for me. I loved them both, but Anna’s refusal to be bitter speaks of a very strong Christian faith. Faith that all can be reached. Also, in honoring Anna we are also honoring the good example of her parents.

  45. John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
    February 19, 2018 - 9:08 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately my email will no longer enable me to post replies, so I’ll continue to vote (once only each day) and follow from a distance.

  46. Bill's Gravatar Bill
    February 19, 2018 - 9:08 am | Permalink

    Peter Claver was ahead of his time and knew that we are all God’s children, even those born into slavery. He did more than speak out against slavery, he descended into the hold of the ships full of sickness to minister to the slaves. One vote for Peter. Down with a “slaver” up with the Claver.

  47. Mark's Gravatar Mark
    February 19, 2018 - 9:12 am | Permalink

    A tough one today. But living in the South I had to go with Anna. Talk about ahead of her time, she and MLK Jr. would have gotten along splendidly I imagine!

  48. Dorrie Johnson's Gravatar Dorrie Johnson
    February 19, 2018 - 9:13 am | Permalink

    A very hard choice but w/o Peter to do the work with the first slaves Anna might not have been able to help her people..

  49. Jody H.'s Gravatar Jody H.
    February 19, 2018 - 9:14 am | Permalink

    Inspired by Anna who thought anger was a wasted emotion and dedicated herself to education and love. A great example for us in our angry and divisive culture. She gets my vote, but its a tough choice.

  50. Heather from ky's Gravatar Heather from ky
    February 19, 2018 - 9:18 am | Permalink

    Anna Alexander’s ministry really resonated with me. Through promoting education, she brought change. While I admire Peter for his care to those individuals he met, the slave trade continued for hundreds of years more.

  51. Lisa Korslund's Gravatar Lisa Korslund
    February 19, 2018 - 9:20 am | Permalink

    I’m from Georgia and St. Simon’s is beautiful and was rugged in those days. I’m with Anna!

  52. Nolan McBride's Gravatar Nolan McBride
    February 19, 2018 - 9:20 am | Permalink

    Once again, an evil choice. I went with Anna, but Peter’s story was exactly what I needed to hear right now as a work through my anger and frustration at the events in Florida Ash Wednesday and the never ending cycle it seems to be a part of.

  53. Epiphany parishioner's Gravatar Epiphany parishioner
    February 19, 2018 - 9:20 am | Permalink

    I’m so grateful to learn of these two saints, and, at the same time, I wonder about the line, “Deaconess Alexander felt that anger about how society treated women and African-Americans was a wasted emotion..” Scripture is full of holy men and women with righteous anger. It seems to me that the emotion is only wasted if it’s misdirected and not channeled into change. We can act with great love and be angry at the same time. Didn’t Jesus?

  54. John Cliffe's Gravatar John Cliffe
    February 19, 2018 - 9:24 am | Permalink

    I would have like more from Peter Claver. His compassion is admirable but did he testify to the degrigations of slavery and the enslavement of these people. Other than converting the enslaved why not convert the “Slavers”. And I wonder if I’m imposing my 21st Century values upon a compassionate priest from the 1500’s.
    I voted for Anna.

    • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
      February 19, 2018 - 11:49 am | Permalink

      Testifying to the degradation of slavery would have been a more compelling story.

  55. Jennifer's Gravatar Jennifer
    February 19, 2018 - 9:28 am | Permalink

    I was Anna all the way until Peter was attributed with the quote, “We must speak to them with our hands, before we try to speak to them with our lips.”

  56. Rita Julian's Gravatar Rita Julian
    February 19, 2018 - 9:28 am | Permalink

    I can’t decide who gets my vote! Both are amazing examples to emulate. I am inclined to vote for Anna but am disturbed when we judge people in the past by modern day standards, especially when we have guaranteed freedom of speech. Peter pretty much descended into hell when he went down in those ships. I think his actions spoke louder than any words.

  57. emily fitzgerald's Gravatar emily fitzgerald
    February 19, 2018 - 9:29 am | Permalink

    I am not able to choose between these two holy people.

  58. February 19, 2018 - 9:30 am | Permalink

    How many of us have baptized 300,000 souls? How many of us, despite our opinion that slavery is terrribly wrong, have descended into the bowels of slave ships offering food, drink, and medicine? That’s exactly what Jesus said to do… feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned. Both are clearly outstanding people, but Peter has my vote all the way.

    • Marcie's Gravatar Marcie
      February 19, 2018 - 9:53 am | Permalink

      You bring up such a great point. Can’t even wrap my brain around baptizing 300,00 people especially in such a sad environment. Our baptisms are filled with such joy, we can only hope that these people experienced the joy of baptism as well.

    • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
      February 19, 2018 - 11:53 am | Permalink

      I’m sure they were more productive slaves as a result of his ministry.

      • emily's Gravatar emily
        February 19, 2018 - 4:16 pm | Permalink

        Well said

  59. Joanne B. Parrott's Gravatar Joanne B. Parrott
    February 19, 2018 - 9:33 am | Permalink

    Another lady & an Episcopalian deaconess at that. It’s even Black History Month,
    so Anna makes it today. Also a shout-out to my like a sister Anna Kelley, deacon, elder
    & Methodist minister (ret)

  60. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    February 19, 2018 - 9:39 am | Permalink

    Peter the slave to the slaves.

  61. Margaret D's Gravatar Margaret D
    February 19, 2018 - 9:39 am | Permalink

    Very difficult choice, but the part about Anna turning to love and education instead of anger did it for me.

  62. Kris A's Gravatar Kris A
    February 19, 2018 - 9:40 am | Permalink

    While I understand why many feel this is a tough choice, I think that Peter would agree with my vote for Anna. If he was really about offering care to the slaves, then sacrificing a bit of his white privilege to allow for Anna to win the halo should be par for the course.

    • Rosanne Adderley's Gravatar Rosanne Adderley
      February 19, 2018 - 7:48 pm | Permalink

      Peter would have voted for Anna. I think you are correct. Well played. Although I am actually a full time historian of black enslavement in the Americas, Anna was my call too. I wish I had thought of this particular explanation.

  63. Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
    February 19, 2018 - 9:41 am | Permalink

    I had fully intended to vote for my fellow Georgian, Anna, but when I read about Peter, I was absolutely overwhelmed. He lived a life that challenges me—would I ever have enough courage to do what he did? I think Peter was amazing, too, for all that he did in the 17th century, at a time when European greed for American resources was glorified and at any cost. He was way ahead of his time. I’m very puzzled by the comments that what he did was great, but, hey, he didn’t personally end slavery, so what good was it really? As for Anna’s comment on anger, I interpreted it not as being a condemnation of anger per se, but of getting stuck in anger instead of letting it motivate you to do something productive for others.

    • Carol Buckalew's Gravatar Carol Buckalew
      February 19, 2018 - 11:15 am | Permalink

      Thank you. These are my thoughts too. I still haven’t decided how to vote.

  64. The Rev. Canon John E. Lawrence's Gravatar The Rev. Canon John E. Lawrence
    February 19, 2018 - 9:41 am | Permalink

    What seems to be overlooked in much of these comments is that NEITHER of these saintly figures was really a prophetic type, attempting to combat the forces of prejudice But I could have voted for Anna as well for her long and steady work as an educator, administrator, and Godly deacon of the Christ.

  65. February 19, 2018 - 9:46 am | Permalink

    Do we not also face times when there is nothing one person can do about evil except to love the victims? How did Peter’s peers view him, when he came out of the belly of the ship full of the stench of sewage and death? Did they say he was crazy, or follow him? I’m sure he didn’t care, but it’s hard to believe his work had no effect at all on ‘The System’. So, agreeing with others that both these worthy souls deserve to win, I’ll vote for Peter.

    • Megan O Jones's Gravatar Megan O Jones
      February 19, 2018 - 11:43 am | Permalink

      Ruth, thank you for putting into words the very thoughts I could not describe adequately. There is no need for me to make my own comment now. It is Peter for me, noting that both of these saints steadfastly served their God and His people.

  66. Jane's Gravatar Jane
    February 19, 2018 - 9:48 am | Permalink

    A tough call. I chose Peter because his compassion may have saved the lives of Anna’s ancestors and given her a chance in her day to further God’s kingdom on earth.

    • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
      February 19, 2018 - 11:58 am | Permalink

      Wow! Many of those Africans would have preferred to die free. They didn’ have a choice.

  67. Melanie Mitchell's Gravatar Melanie Mitchell
    February 19, 2018 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    I was inspired by Anna’s story but depressed by Peter’s. His charitable actions in the hellish holds of the slave ships was certainly laudable, but I ache to hear that he did more on shore. He may have baptized thousands of newly enslaved Africans, but how much of that was simply rote action to satisfy the consciences of the slavers? Did the slaves have any choice in the matter? Did they even understand what was being done?

    Most importantly: What was Peter’s prophetic message to the ship captains, the slave market owners, and the European colonists who gathered in Cartegena to purchase the newly cleaned up, fed, healed, and Christianized chattel? I’m sorry, but as admirable as Peter’s service is, his service was ultimately in support of an evil system. My vote goes to Anna.

    • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
      February 19, 2018 - 12:11 pm | Permalink

      I agree.

      • emily's Gravatar emily
        February 19, 2018 - 4:17 pm | Permalink

        Me too

  68. Kandice's Gravatar Kandice
    February 19, 2018 - 9:52 am | Permalink

    Good morning children of God! Today, in honor of Becca Scholfield and her movement #BeccaToldMeTo I voted for Peter Claver. Becca was diagnosed with brain cancer and past away Saturday evening after a courageous battle. Becca has encouraged people to perform random acts of kindness and generally being kind to one another. At the end of Peter Claver’s biography it said “Peter Claver reminds us of the profound difference that one person acting compassionately can make.” This was what Becca wanted to teach us also. If you are interested, I’m sure you could Google Becca Scholfield or the hashtag #BeccaToldMeTo to learn more about this incredible woman from New Brunswick Canada and the incredible epidemic of kindness she has begun. RIP Becca.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      February 19, 2018 - 1:18 pm | Permalink

      And let light perpetual shine on her.

  69. Laura R.'s Gravatar Laura R.
    February 19, 2018 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    My Lenten journey has been made deeper by the addition of these two companions and Saints of God.

  70. Belle's Gravatar Belle
    February 19, 2018 - 9:56 am | Permalink

    I think it’s great to do a little more digging online if we have a hard time deciding, as I’m sure the excellent Lent Madness bio writers have a limited amount of space in which to represent each candidate. While strongly leaning toward voting for Anna as an African-American woman, I did a little research into Peter Claver. The 1600s were a very different time from the 1800s, and Peter may have felt that he had to minister rather than be imprisoned or even killed for opposing the rulers of Cartagena on slavery.

    I discovered more info:
    — Peter baptized many slaves for their salvation, I’m sure; but also because as baptized Christians, he had more of a chance to appeal to the Christian slaveowners on the Africans’ behalf. “Peter gave short instruction in the Catholic faith and baptized as many as he could. In this way he could prevail on the slave owners to give humane treatment to fellow Christians.” (
    — Peter usually stayed in the slave quarters of plantations he visited, instead of lodging with the slave owners, and did indeed preach in public. Unfortunately, the content of his preaching seems not to have been preserved, as far as I can find in a quick search. “Fr. Claver’s apostolate extended beyond his care for slaves. He became a moral force, indeed, the apostle of Cartagena. He preached in the city square, gave missions to sailors and traders as well as country missions, during which he avoided, when possible, the hospitality of the planters and owners and lodged in the slave quarters instead.”

    Such a tough choice today! Still thinking it over. Although I’m quite caught by the phrase, “Slave of the slaves,” I have a hard time voting against Anna.

    • Belle's Gravatar Belle
      February 19, 2018 - 10:09 am | Permalink

      Addendum: “Deaconess Alexander felt that anger about how society treated women and African-Americans was a wasted emotion and believed she could change her community through education and love.”
      Anna’s attitude about anger would not be in concert with the work of Dr. W.E.B. du Bois, Rosa Parks, or other later civil rights leaders; rather, she seems to have thought more in line with Booker T. Washington, who favored education and hard work to prove to the white majority that African Americans could be “productive members of society.” Du Bois broke away from this thinking, and — rightly, I believe — perceived that African Americans would not be granted their rights without more direct work in non-violently protesting and battling injustice via the courts, and through writing and public speaking. As du Bois noted, during Washington’s lifetime (du Bois lived much longer), there was a decrease, rather than an increase, in civil rights for African Americans, as lynchings and the enforcement of Jim Crow laws intensified. So I’m not sure Anna was right; there is such a thing as righteous anger.

      • Camille's Gravatar Camille
        February 19, 2018 - 10:13 am | Permalink

        Thanks so much. Great tip.

    • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
      February 19, 2018 - 12:13 pm | Permalink

      He was a voluntary slave. They were slaves. Can you be a voluntary slave?

    • Liz in Sparks's Gravatar Liz in Sparks
      February 19, 2018 - 4:51 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for the extra research and information. I have already voted for Peter because I knew he was not just operating in the vacumn of the bowels of a slave ship and you have helped confirm that his “life spoke”.

  71. Camille's Gravatar Camille
    February 19, 2018 - 9:59 am | Permalink

    Wow, this is a tough on. I’m going to have to do some deep meditation on this before I can vote.

  72. Anne Beckett's Gravatar Anne Beckett
    February 19, 2018 - 10:02 am | Permalink

    Having just read a lengthy article in The Christian Science Monitor Weekly about Jesuits selling slaves in 1838 Maryland, I believe that Peter not only acted with compassion, but may have acted with some defiance against his order. He wasn’t perfect, but he did what he was moved to do. He gets my vote.

  73. aleathia nicholson's Gravatar aleathia nicholson
    February 19, 2018 - 10:03 am | Permalink

    Well…Peter Claver is revered by Black Catholics for his selfless devotion to slaves who had little, if any, recourse in the bowels of slave ships other than his ministrations. Well, Jesus also urged freeing them, or at least trying to do so as did many martyrs. Not to belittle Claver’s efforts but Anna forged ahead at a time when women, black, white, or otherwise were second-class citizens also. She used her education to free the shackles of ignorance and was ordained when few if any women achieved this status. She built a church and utilized her skills to finance it and equip it. My vote for Deaconess Anna from a retired Deacon in the Diocese of Tennessee.

    • Cb Loftin's Gravatar Cb Loftin
      February 19, 2018 - 4:55 pm | Permalink

      YAY! You’re back with your great insights and comments! I went with Anna too but I do admire Peter.

  74. Elaine's Gravatar Elaine
    February 19, 2018 - 10:04 am | Permalink

    What a difficult choice! Two saints who gave their lives to the service of others … my life choices appear so shallow in contrast.
    My vote for Anna is a reflection of my longing to visit St. Simon’s Island one day (having been introduced to it by Eugenia Price) . My youngest daughter has just signed her contract to move to the Épiscopal School of Acadiana for the next school year. I shall share Anna’s story with her.

  75. Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
    February 19, 2018 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    I’m so surprised by the comments that say Peter Claver supported the system of slavery or did nothing to end the terribly peculiar institution. He opposed with his life and love and work. He put his life where his mouth could have been. Not mentioned in this writ-up he also went and worked with, lied with, those who had leprosy for years. Did that mean he was helping to continue that disease because he wasn’t out ranting about finding a cure? Both candidates today are formidable and deserve honor and glory. Denigrating Peter does not indicate understanding of the St. Francis philosophy of gospeling without words.

  76. Meredith Hales's Gravatar Meredith Hales
    February 19, 2018 - 10:08 am | Permalink

    I thought I would vote for Peter, but I ended up voting for Anna. Now I wish I had voted for Peter, but then I would have wished I had voted for Anna! This is maddening!

  77. Jenny's Gravatar Jenny
    February 19, 2018 - 10:15 am | Permalink

    Anna all the way. By and large the “conversion” of enslaved humans was just one more way they were stripped of their homes, their lives, their languages, and their gods. Converting 300,000 people is actually more of a human rights violation than a laudable thing to me. He did a lot of good work in feeding them and tending to their needs, but as other have said in today’s world Anna is a really strong image of equality while Peter is more an image of how to keep the white masses believing that slavery isn’t all that bad, since the slaves will have their reward in heaven.

    • Steve's Gravatar Steve
      February 19, 2018 - 12:01 pm | Permalink

      This how I felt. I understand the comments about placing Peter’s actions in scope of the times, but I feel this is what leads to complacency. I would think the slave owners and captains were happy to have someone taking care of their “property” to ensure as many as possible reached their destination—-especially since the help was free and gave them a “get out of guilt” free card. (“See, we are saving the savages. We are making good Christians of them, saving their souls.”). All while continuing to sell our brothers and sisters into a horrible existence. Again, at this time, with the #metoo movement, the constant school shootings with a dithering white male ruling class offering “thoughts and prayers”, but no action, and smack in the middle of black history month, I feel I can only vote for Anna

    • Amy's Gravatar Amy
      February 19, 2018 - 3:39 pm | Permalink

      Yes. Peter may have offered a bridge that many slaves did welcome, but Anna seemed determined to help institutionalize a pathway she identified with as herself a marginalized person–but one who saw a vision of a different future.

  78. Carl Peterson's Gravatar Carl Peterson
    February 19, 2018 - 10:19 am | Permalink

    “We must speak to them with our hands, before we try to speak to them with our lips.”. This was the deciding quote that stayed with me, even resounding to some of the work we are doing at our church. Peter did in a sense lay the ground work for Anna.

  79. February 19, 2018 - 10:19 am | Permalink

    Two remarkable stories of remarkable people. I was struck particularly that “Deaconess Alexander felt that anger about how society treated women and African-Americans was a wasted emotion and believed she could change her community through education and love.”
    We waste so much emotion on anger and retaliation re: discrimination… real or imagined…instead of living into the new way…. where there is “neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free.”
    Blessings on both Anna… and Peter who effectively acted out that love and compassion over against the powers of his day, putting his life on the line and bringing so many to the new way.
    In our divided culture we need to remind ourselves not to fall into the anger trap, or the reverse discrimination traps…. that simply ape the anger and failure of the “old” pre-Christ ways.

  80. Lee W.'s Gravatar Lee W.
    February 19, 2018 - 10:21 am | Permalink

    As a woman currently in formation for the diaconate and as someone who has visited St. Simons and the area around it, I vote heartily for Deaconess Anna!

  81. Beverly's Gravatar Beverly
    February 19, 2018 - 10:22 am | Permalink

    This was a tough one. They both qualify for halos and votes. But in the end I voted for Anna, but I love them both.

  82. Hilda Maria Knowles's Gravatar Hilda Maria Knowles
    February 19, 2018 - 10:25 am | Permalink

    In Black History month, this was a tough one. Whichever one comes out as the victor is OK with me. However, Anna was black and a woman, so she had more going against her than Peter did ministering to the slaves. Both are commendable examples of Christ’s love but my vote went to Anna.

    • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
      February 19, 2018 - 12:14 pm | Permalink

      I agree.

  83. Brenda's Gravatar Brenda
    February 19, 2018 - 10:26 am | Permalink

    Peter for me. He boldly and courageously ministered to those outside of his own comfort zone. Those 300,000 baptized souls would have increased exponentially to spread the Good News. Peter did great things in his own small sphere.

  84. February 19, 2018 - 10:35 am | Permalink

    Anna’s story is inspiring, but I had to go with Peter for the sheer numbers of people he reached. Tough choice, though.

  85. LoisAnne's Gravatar LoisAnne
    February 19, 2018 - 10:37 am | Permalink

    Both are good candidates but I voted for Anna because of her being such an influence for good in Georgia, my current home. She did a lot to further the lives of African Americans at a time when no one cared much about whether they were educated.

  86. Marie Jones (Mama J)'s Gravatar Marie Jones (Mama J)
    February 19, 2018 - 10:37 am | Permalink

    And that’s why it’s called Lent Madness! We’ve been snookered by the SEC into caring deeply about that which we cannot change! Two worthy candidates, plausible arguments for both, spiritual challengers of our sometimes complacent/hopeless attitudes towards ‘enslavement’ (in all its forms) and misogyny in every generation that would hold us captive and enslaved to false interpretation of Jesus’ message. I’ll not reveal my vote. . . (Haven’t flipped the coin, yet!)

  87. Katrina Soto's Gravatar Katrina Soto
    February 19, 2018 - 10:43 am | Permalink

    This was a tough one. I ended up voting for Anna because of her perseverance in establishing a church and school. I can’t imagine how hard it would be for a woman, and a woman of color at that, to buck the system. That takes a lot of faith. I know I don’t have it, so it’s good to see examples of women who do. And I am not a woman of color, nor do I live any kind of marginalized life. It’s too easy to just go with the flow. Bless those who do not. (I guess that’s my Lenten confession!)

  88. St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
    February 19, 2018 - 10:45 am | Permalink

    Oh wow. Tough, tough choice. I was inspired by the first black woman deacon. She taught and built a church and provided a model, well before “Black Panther,” of what it would look like to have black power in a racist society. What I mean by “power” is that she could act despite oppression. Nevertheless, having done a program in Ignatian spirituality, I am drawn to the Jesuits, and Peter is a true saint. I wish I could vote for both. And if I were true to my pole star of voting on the basis of who most offers witness for a response to gun violence, I think I would have to give the nod to Peter. Peter’s tireless willingness to bring the body of Christ to a situation of violence, and to offer succor and instruction, is a good model. However, both brought their bodies to a system of oppression, and both resisted in love and faith. The gun industry, like the tobacco industry, will not be deterred by the pitiable deaths of victims. Both Peter and Anna are inspirational to me today.

  89. Catherine W Huber's Gravatar Catherine W Huber
    February 19, 2018 - 10:46 am | Permalink

    Because: Georgia.

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      February 19, 2018 - 11:28 am | Permalink

      pithy and precise

  90. Karen Sculley's Gravatar Karen Sculley
    February 19, 2018 - 10:48 am | Permalink

    What a difficult decision today! Both are incredibly inspiring, Anna because she recognized that anger is a wasted emotion and it’s better to change your community through education and love, Peter because he “reminds us of the profound difference that one person acting compassionately can make.” I voted for Peter, though am inspired and encouraged by the lives of both.

  91. February 19, 2018 - 10:51 am | Permalink

    This was the toughest choice as both were worthy of our vote, but I had to go with Anna, she “bloomed where she was planted”.

  92. Catherine W Huber's Gravatar Catherine W Huber
    February 19, 2018 - 10:52 am | Permalink

    Because: Georgia. And because she is still being called a Deacon-ESS in 2018!

    • Sister Mary Winifred's Gravatar Sister Mary Winifred
      February 19, 2018 - 12:55 pm | Permalink

      But she was a deaconess . . . not the same thing as a deacon – women couldn’t be deacons, remember??!

  93. Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
    February 19, 2018 - 10:56 am | Permalink

    When I read about Anna Alexander, I am mediately thought, “Oh yes, I’ll definitely vote for her.” But then I read about Peter Claver, and thought I could easily vote for him too. In the end, I voted for Anna because her story spoke to my personal journey. “… change occurs in the relationships built within our communities…” is a powerful statement. One we should all heed. Go Deacon Anna Alexander!

  94. Chaplain Tom Chapman FSJ's Gravatar Chaplain Tom Chapman FSJ
    February 19, 2018 - 11:00 am | Permalink

    Let’s get serious brothers and sisters! We are Episcopalians not Roman Catholics with all respects!!!!!!!

    • beth landrum's Gravatar beth landrum
      February 19, 2018 - 11:12 am | Permalink

      I would like to see a tie for them!
      This is a fascinating interesting race for the halo, hearing of saints I would have never known!

    • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
      February 19, 2018 - 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Actually the Lent Madness community is nondenominational.

      • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
        February 19, 2018 - 4:18 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for that reminder, Davis.

    • Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
      February 19, 2018 - 2:15 pm | Permalink

      Some of us are neither. I’m a retired United Methodist clergy. (offspring of the Church of England via the Wesleys)

  95. Anne adkins's Gravatar Anne adkins
    February 19, 2018 - 11:03 am | Permalink

    Both stellar role models for message of love and compassion. I voted for Anna as namesake, woman, but mostly her push for education, a passion for me.

  96. PatMuller's Gravatar PatMuller
    February 19, 2018 - 11:15 am | Permalink

    It’s only 9:00 in the morning real (mountain) time, and already thousands have voted and well over a hundred people have commented. I was so torn between these candidates I seriously considered not voting rather than choose. I did vote, but I’m not saying for whom. Praise God for these splendid saints!

  97. Ruth Ann's Gravatar Ruth Ann
    February 19, 2018 - 11:16 am | Permalink

    “We must speak to them with our hands, before we try to speak to them with our lips.” This is why I voted for Peter Claver

  98. JOAN OGDEN's Gravatar JOAN OGDEN
    February 19, 2018 - 11:19 am | Permalink

    Baptizing is great, but The Rev. Anna did real works. Bless Anna

  99. Michelle's Gravatar Michelle
    February 19, 2018 - 11:22 am | Permalink

    Really toough decision for me today. “Deaconess Alexander offers us an example of a life of faith rooted in a boundless love of others.” But “We must speak to them with our hands, before we try to speak to them with our lips..” Both sentiments I can really get behind. In the end it was “Deaconess Alexander felt that anger about how society treated women and African-Americans was a wasted emotion and believed she could change her community through education and love. ” We certainly could use less anger and more education and love today.

  100. Mary Lou Creamer's Gravatar Mary Lou Creamer
    February 19, 2018 - 11:23 am | Permalink

    Another tough one. If you really think about they both went out to spread the good news of Jesus, and they both struggled against slavery in their own respecte ways for their generation. While there is much to recognize Peter for, but I chose Anna because I felt closer to her and her struggles to do God’s work.

    Great reasoning, though, Oliver!

  101. Vivian's Gravatar Vivian
    February 19, 2018 - 11:25 am | Permalink

    This was a hard one. St. Anna & St. Peter are both so inspirational. Wanted to vote for both!

  102. Judy Bye's Gravatar Judy Bye
    February 19, 2018 - 11:27 am | Permalink

    Peter did what no one could or would. Slavery is alive and well on this earth. Slaves are cleaning our shrimp, picking our coffee and chocolate beans, mining our diamonds and 50,000 sex slaves are brought in to the US, I can’t remember if that’s daily or annually, but it doesn’t matter and there’s more, much more. Many are paying attention and buying free trade products. Why aren’t we doing more to change the system? Why aren’t free trade signs all over our favorite grocery stores? And department stores. Are we wearing clothing made in the USA? Are our churches using only free trade coffee? At least. Are child slaves making our clothes? Are we doing enough to prevent slavery? Peter gave them a God and actually saved their lives. Then he went and checked on them. And that’s not enough? I voted for Peter. I’m not doing enough to fight slavery, either, but the shrimp I had the other night never saw a slave or forced laborer–as far as I know. The cleaning service I use, pays well and has excellent health insurance and are considering a pension plan–according to the cleaners. Anna did wondrous things and used her gifts and good fortune to the fullest and made life better for many. She was a powerful example and must have been amazing to have impressed the male leadership of the church at that time to the point they ordained her a deacon. If she processed down the aisle, I’d bow to her. I really would.

    • Belle's Gravatar Belle
      February 19, 2018 - 11:57 am | Permalink

      Great points, thanks!

      • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
        February 19, 2018 - 1:28 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Belle and Judy Bye, both, for your comments today!

    • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
      February 19, 2018 - 3:54 pm | Permalink

      “Peter gave them a God.” Is that how it’s done? Someone gives you a a God!

  103. Rev. Ruth Anne Hill's Gravatar Rev. Ruth Anne Hill
    February 19, 2018 - 11:30 am | Permalink

    While both saints are deserving of our gratitude and praise, I voted for Anna Alexander. In a time a time of the horrendous slaughtering of our children, I need Anna’s wisdom and courage to ‘be the change’ that provide safety to our children and unite our nation once again. Ms. Alexander reminds me that love, respect and compassion will drive the change…not anger.

  104. Nelson Smith's Gravatar Nelson Smith
    February 19, 2018 - 11:32 am | Permalink

    Since my church in Diocese of Texas was started in a beer hall have to go with the lady who used a whisky bar as an alter.

    • Anna Courie's Gravatar Anna Courie
      February 19, 2018 - 9:16 pm | Permalink

      Wins the Internet! #TeamAnna!

  105. Jeanne V's Gravatar Jeanne V
    February 19, 2018 - 11:36 am | Permalink

    I voted for Anna because she bucked the system deeply ingrained long after Peter. Hurray for bucking the systems.

  106. Verdery D. Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery D. Kassebaum
    February 19, 2018 - 11:37 am | Permalink

    Another difficult choice. I have two reasons for voting for Peter: for one, he was behind (go for the underdog when in doubt); for the other, he was–as someone else noted–a product of his time. Peter lived about 300 years before Anna, when slavery was so common (and had been common for centuries) people probably didn’t even think about it as oppression.

    What he did was to work within the system, bringing as much comfort and assistance to the captives as he could under the circumstances. He first demonstrated the love of God before telling of it.
    “We must speak to them [the slaves] with our hands, before we try to speak to them with our lips.”

    Would that our own lives would speak so loudly.

  107. Joyce Rush's Gravatar Joyce Rush
    February 19, 2018 - 11:47 am | Permalink

    Now this was a tough one. Both served well.

  108. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    February 19, 2018 - 11:57 am | Permalink

    Anna and Peter are both winners, whoever wins our little popularity poll. I voted for Peter because he descended into Hell and toiled there for half his life. Not just the physical hell of the slaveholds, but the mental and emotional hell of confronting the horror of slavery, and the humanity of the enslaved, every single day. Who among us could have borne that?

    Peter’s response to the time and place in which he found himself was radical, sacrificial actionwithin the framework of what he could and could not change. To blame him for not speaking out against the institution of slavery, much less for not working to end it, is quite unfair. Apart from whether he personally would have been fitted for such a task, or was in any position to undertake it, doing so not only would have been fruitless but likely would have barred him from the abundantly fruitful vocation that he did choose and in which he persisted.

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      February 19, 2018 - 12:00 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for that compassionate and reasoned response.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      February 19, 2018 - 1:30 pm | Permalink

      Yes sir!

  109. Patricia Nakamura's Gravatar Patricia Nakamura
    February 19, 2018 - 11:57 am | Permalink

    I love Saint Simons Island and its lovely Christ Church!
    I need to visit again soon!

  110. Christina Thom's Gravatar Christina Thom
    February 19, 2018 - 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Peter may have become an unwitting cog in the slave trade. The traders come into port and Peter would supply the slaves with valuable food and medicine. The traders then get a better price for the slaves.

    • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
      February 19, 2018 - 12:16 pm | Permalink

      Where does that lead as moral guidance? To letting them starve for its macroeconomic effect?

      I’m sure you didn’t mean that, of course. You’ve given us a fine example of the sad fact that often, by entering a situation, we find ourselves forced to participate in it willy-nilly.

      • Claire's Gravatar Claire
        February 19, 2018 - 12:44 pm | Permalink

        Amen, Davis. The man who was made to help Jesus carry his cross was also a cog, and I’m sure Jesus was grateful for his help nonetheless.

    • Gail Adams's Gravatar Gail Adams
      February 19, 2018 - 8:35 pm | Permalink

      Good point, Christina.

  111. Nancy Larkin's Gravatar Nancy Larkin
    February 19, 2018 - 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Another hard choice today, but I voted for Anna. I could as easily have voted for Peter… which only goes to show what a richness we have in our choices each day! Thank you, SEC!

  112. Kathy M's Gravatar Kathy M
    February 19, 2018 - 12:10 pm | Permalink

    What a difficult choice. Thankful I only have to vote for one, and am not making a life and death choice. In the end I chose Anna because in my opinion she faced the greater obstacle- being a black woman in the south. And yet, she persisted!!

  113. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    February 19, 2018 - 12:11 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Anna especially since I am a candidate for ordination to the diaconate

  114. Linda N's Gravatar Linda N
    February 19, 2018 - 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Tough choice today! Tougher than many I’ve seen in the past. I think that, in my mind, Anna beats Peter because of the fact that, as a black woman, she had a rougher road than Peter, as a white Jesuit, had.

    • Claire's Gravatar Claire
      February 19, 2018 - 1:11 pm | Permalink

      Disappointing to hear that this would be about race. A hard job is a hard job. Race will cease to be a hot point when we stop using it as a justification. Anna is worthy of winning this round because of her persistent initiative and creativity to fund her own ministry. She doesn’t need any extra help to win this round!

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      February 19, 2018 - 1:33 pm | Permalink

      I am wondering if in the 17th century Peter would have been considered “white” in our contemporary sense. Peter was serving slaves in the early 17th century, at a time when racial ideology was just beginning to be formed. It seems that the ideology of race and racism was being actively constructed from the late 17th through 19th centuries. And of course Jim Crow extended well into the 20th century. We are still struggling with the legacy of racism today, and US immigration policy is a flashpoint of racist ideology, with raw, recent commentary about who is or is not from a “shithole” country.

      There’s an interesting article on the construction of “whiteness” at

      The author states: “By the 1660s, in the interest of supporting the agricultural economy of the South, slave codes were enacted in Virginia and Maryland. For Blacks, the slave codes extended the status of chattel slave from indentured status to slave for life. It was by the institutionalization of slavery that the power of the masters was secured by the adoption of ‘race’ as an overriding principle of organization throughout [American] society. . . [B]y 1863 [the Emancipation Proclamation], the ‘race’ die had been cast.”

      The French Code Noir was decreed in 1685 applying to African slaves in the Caribbean. Then it was applied within north America in Louisiana in 1724 until Louisiana joined the US in 1803. The French code aligned slave children’s status with that of their mother: if the mother was a slave, so were the children; if the mother had been freed, the children were free.

      Constructions of racial ideology are ongoing including what it means to be “black” or “white.” To me that encompasses what it means as well to be ” indigenous,” “native,” or “immigrant.” I would like to think that both Anna and Peter offer us models as our “ancestors” (to use a word applied to Audre Lorde, a poet who died not long ago) for trying to break at least some of the cruel chains of economic systems that link unequal social and cultural institutions in order to destroy human possibility.

    • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
      February 19, 2018 - 3:21 pm | Permalink

      I agree

  115. Brenda McHenry's Gravatar Brenda McHenry
    February 19, 2018 - 12:14 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Peter, and although Anna expressed the futility of anger, and Peter that “we must speak with our hands”, both of them showed their faith by their actions. I guess my vote reflected that Peter touched more people in a very basic way.

  116. Elizabeth's Gravatar Elizabeth
    February 19, 2018 - 12:16 pm | Permalink

    This match-up is truly unfair. Two individuals who did inestimable good among people of African descent, in different times and places. I think I’m going to flip a coin.

  117. February 19, 2018 - 12:16 pm | Permalink

    They’re both fine choices, and I’ll be happy with either, but I voted for Anna because that choice resonated with me more. I love that she founded a school!

  118. Elizabeth's Gravatar Elizabeth
    February 19, 2018 - 12:18 pm | Permalink

    A later match-up between Simon Peter and Peter Claver would be fun, though. …

  119. The Rev. Nancy Streufert's Gravatar The Rev. Nancy Streufert
    February 19, 2018 - 12:38 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Anna because of this: “Deaconess Alexander felt that anger about how society treated women and African-Americans was a wasted emotion and believed she could change her community through education and love.” Truly inspiring!!

  120. Claire's Gravatar Claire
    February 19, 2018 - 12:40 pm | Permalink

    This wasn’t an easy one…and so early in the race! I almost voted for Anna after I read her bio, and thought I should at least read about Peter. Peter was an easy choice because it can be so hard to minister to so many who are in a hopeless situation, with no end in sight. Thank God he persevered.

    • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
      February 19, 2018 - 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Let’s remember that Anna was not herself far removed from slavery. What she would have endured in her life time cannot be compared to Peter.

  121. JoAnn Bach's Gravatar JoAnn Bach
    February 19, 2018 - 12:42 pm | Permalink

    This combination was tough decision for me. They both had such passion for their ministries but, I finally decided on Deaconess Anna Alexander. A true pioneer!

  122. Naomi's Gravatar Naomi
    February 19, 2018 - 12:42 pm | Permalink

    AGH!! Tough choice again!!

  123. Bob Andrews-Bryant's Gravatar Bob Andrews-Bryant
    February 19, 2018 - 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Apologies to my friends, deacons Mary Ellen and Debbie, but I had to vote for Peter. His ministry of caring in a dark place and time. As has been frequently stated, we have Sophie’s choice today.
    And woe to us when Isaac Watts faces off against Catherine Winkworth!

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      February 19, 2018 - 1:32 pm | Permalink

      I’m dreading that one, too, Bob!

  124. The Rev. Julie Nelson's Gravatar The Rev. Julie Nelson
    February 19, 2018 - 12:58 pm | Permalink

    What a tough matchup. Anna – an advocate vs. Peter – a pastor. Not every pastor is an advocate and not every advocate is a pastor, though some can be both. I love the work that Anna did, and am truly inspired by her ability to rise above the constant oppression she faced. But, Peter, holy cow. How does one continually pastor every day to a group of people whose life seemed so hopeless? How does one step into the middle of such great pain and sorrow every day and still preach a gospel of hope? Yet he did, for 30 years. That is the gift of pastoral care if I’ve ever seen it!

    We are all called with different gifts to different tasks. Peter knew that his gift wasn’t advocacy, but rather pastoral care. We say in the church that people should work within their gift set, but yet so many folks here are passing over Peter for a vote because he didn’t step out of his gift and do something more than the amazing work that he was called to do.

    My vote could have gone either way today, both are certainly inspirational folks that were filled with the Holy Spirit. But, my vote goes to Peter today since he seems to be the underdog for no reason other than that he didn’t do more than he was called to do.

    • Michelle's Gravatar Michelle
      February 19, 2018 - 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Well said, Rev. Julie Nelson. I voted for Anna but not because I believe that Peter should have done more. What he did was more than I could ever do (pastoral care is NOT my gift) and I am in awe that anyone could have faced that despair for 30 years and worked to alleviate what he could. Anna just resonated more with me because of her dedication to teaching and working within her community to better peoples’ lives through that education and love. Truly a tough decision today. Both are awesome saints who have a lot to teach us.

    • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
      February 19, 2018 - 3:30 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure that Anna’s personal journey was painful beyond imagination. We have to at least honor the direct experience of slaves and former slaves. The inner strength it took to survive must be acknowledged and honored.

  125. Adelaide Kent's Gravatar Adelaide Kent
    February 19, 2018 - 12:59 pm | Permalink

    I am with you, Oliver. Peter Claver’s ministry reminds me of Mother Theresa’s. I think the world needs both social justice and ministry like theirs to bring about the Kingdom of God.

  126. Adelaide Kent's Gravatar Adelaide Kent
    February 19, 2018 - 12:59 pm | Permalink

    I too want a re-run of Peter Claver!

  127. Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
    February 19, 2018 - 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I was planning to vote for the Deaconess but then came the Jesuit’s quote: “We must speak to them with our hands, before we try to speak to them with our lips.” And my vote was swayed.

  128. Gretchen Pritchard's Gravatar Gretchen Pritchard
    February 19, 2018 - 1:09 pm | Permalink

    A very tough one. I decided to go with Anna because I know more about the circumstances in which she ministered — our own Episcopal Church — and because of my own vocation in the Christian formation of children, by women, with or without ordination to the priesthood.

    The biography of Anna states that her father “continued to teach Anna and her siblings in defiance of Georgia laws that forbade the education of slaves.” But if Anna was born in 1865, she was born legally free. Did the laws forbid the education of freedmen [to use the historic term] also? Or is this account a bit overdramatized, or does it actually refer to Anna’s father’s courageous activities with children born before emancipation? Pedantic readers want to know.

    • February 19, 2018 - 1:23 pm | Permalink

      I have done a lot of research on Deaconess Alexander, including interviewing former students and studying records. Anna’s parents, James and Daphne Alexander were born into slavery on Butler Plantation. James took a great risk when Pierce’s wife, Fanny, made a visit to the St. Simons home (not on the main plantation just outside of Darien) where he was enslaved. He was a 16 year old house servant at the time and he asked her to teach him to read. In reading her journal, I found she describes this request from an “Aleck.” That is what Pierce always called James Alexander.

      Pierce was adamantly opposed to educating slaves, but she secretly taught him the alphabet, but records that she left before she could teach him to read. He then used his understanding of the alphabet to teach himself to read using the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer and he taught his children to read. Anna, however, was born in the year of emancipation. No law precluded her education. “Anna and her siblings” is inaccurate, but teaching his children was true and as Anna was the youngest of 11, he did teach some of his children, contrary to the law. The story of his learning to read, is the subject of this brief video:

      Fanny Kemble Butler had been a renowned stage actress in her native England and her published journal that mentions Aleck was read widely in the lead up to the Civil War. I found Anna’s father an amazing man who raised a family that made a real difference in their community. While I find Peter Claver’s story inspiring, Anna, was a black woman who started a church and school and depopulated her community as she arranged scholarships for her students to go to college and technical schools and lives they would never have aspired to without The Deaconess.

      • Michelle's Gravatar Michelle
        February 19, 2018 - 2:06 pm | Permalink

        Thank you. I had the same question.

  129. Dianne's Gravatar Dianne
    February 19, 2018 - 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Both candidates were totally worthy today, each serving and using their God-given gifts to the max. Wonderful to meet them both.

  130. Claire's Gravatar Claire
    February 19, 2018 - 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Disappointing to hear that this would be about race. A hard job is a hard job. Race will cease to be a hot point when we stop using it as a justification. Anna is worthy of winning this round because of her persistent initiative and creativity to fund her own ministry. She doesn’t need any extra help to win this round!

    • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
      February 19, 2018 - 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Yes it is about race. Slavery was about race. And until we honor the lives of those who suffered and overcame, we’re not done with this.

  131. Mason's Gravatar Mason
    February 19, 2018 - 1:14 pm | Permalink

    peter pretty much gave his life up to teach the blacks slaves. He could of caught any thing. Even though he brought medicine.

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      February 19, 2018 - 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Welcome back. Hope you will encourage your fellow fifth graders to post.

  132. Lisa Keppeler's Gravatar Lisa Keppeler
    February 19, 2018 - 1:25 pm | Permalink

    A very tough matchup! It strikes me that both Peter and Anna were true deacons at heart, though neither of them were technically “real” deacons — Peter due to his priestly ordination; Anna because deaconesses were “set apart” rather than ordained, since the Episcopal Church only began ordaining women to the diaconate in 1970. Both ministered with action, not words — Anna in setting aside her anger and choosing instead to “be of use,” as a deacon friend of mine once put it, by teaching and loving, building up a school and a congregation; and Peter by descending into the depths of pure hell to minister to the needs of the captive slaves in ships’ holds, dead and dying, thirsty and starving, sick with illness and fear. Both were witnesses, by their actions, that those to whom they ministered were sisters and brothers made in God’s image, and worthy of respect, common decency, betterment, and the knowledge of God’s love made known in Christ. I am not ready to vote yet. But one thing I will not do — in this or other dauntingly difficult matchups — is let my final decision be weighted by the gender or ethnicity of any candidate for the Golden Halo. To me, that seems not in keeping with the marvelous discipline and purpose of Lent Madness, to learn about and fully appreciate each one of the saintly folks being considered.

    • Kate's Gravatar Kate
      February 19, 2018 - 3:33 pm | Permalink

      well said, Lisa!

    • Liz in Sparks's Gravatar Liz in Sparks
      February 19, 2018 - 4:56 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you Lisa about how to assess the decision to vote.

  133. Tom S's Gravatar Tom S
    February 19, 2018 - 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I was inspired by the thought of changing my life so radically in the service of God and others. Peter gets my vote.

  134. William W's Gravatar William W
    February 19, 2018 - 1:39 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Anna, because she “believed she could change her community through education and love.”

    That’s the harder route to take, and in many ways seems like a precursor to the modern way of nonviolence for change!

    Too many of the Spanish missionaries, even if sympathetic, were incredibly racist. They may be products of their times, but it still is ok to be uncomfortable with that aspect!

  135. Timothy J. Mannion's Gravatar Timothy J. Mannion
    February 19, 2018 - 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Peter Claver’s reach was far surpassing that of the Deaconess. That’s why I voted for him. Even in his brief encounters with the enslaved, he tried to heal a broken world.

  136. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    February 19, 2018 - 2:09 pm | Permalink

    After reading the various comments, new thoughts were thrust upon me; but I don’t regret my vote for Peter. Anna’s story is very commendable. She achieved much at a time it would have been considered impossible and deserves her lauds. However, considering Peter’s time, 300 years before Anna, he went over and above, ministering to “chattel” and the “unseen” for 40 years. The idea of exponential increase from the 300,000 is mind-boggling. Also, Jesus came to minister hope, love and mercy where the people were at, not to end poverty, slavery and imprisonment, etc. Give us the grace to get through it, as we pray for the Parkland folks, in a situation not immediately changeable.

  137. #TEAMANNA's Gravatar #TEAMANNA
    February 19, 2018 - 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Peter gets no snaps for assisting in the coerced conversion of enslaved peoples and further perpetuation of their bondage. It is offensive that hes even a saint and in any way being equivocated as similar to Anna. Dollars to donuts every single African-American in history would much rather have had someone fighting for their liberation and the ending of enslavement and the slave trade than someone who was helping to strip them of their humanity by converting them and nursing them back to health so that the salve masters could make money off of selling them into a lifetime of bondage.

    Peter is an embarrassment to the gospel.

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      February 19, 2018 - 5:20 pm | Permalink

      Someone needs to address this “embarrassment” but it’s not going to be me. I’m remembering Anna’s words on anger.

  138. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
    February 19, 2018 - 2:44 pm | Permalink

    This is a tough choice for me: I spent my years of ordained ministry concentrating on pastoral care, preaching both with presence and aid and with words. But I revere some of my ancestors, who were Quakers in pre-Civil War North Carolina, for employing only free black people on their farm, and probably risking their lives to teach them (in a school on the property) all that most people learned in elementary school at the time. They also built a church on their land where the people could worship as they chose. Deaconess Anna made a conscious choice to avoid acting out of anger and pour her energy into loving, helpful action in education and religious life. This can be a very difficult discipline indeed. I vote for her.

  139. Marcia's Gravatar Marcia
    February 19, 2018 - 2:47 pm | Permalink

    This week as I watch youngsters,who cannot exert franchise or legislative power to effect a change, march and speak and lie-in, I’m especially touched by Peter Claver. He did what he could to mitigate the suffering he saw despite his political powerlessness. Thanks be to God for Peter Claver, and God speed to our own youngsters in their mission.

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      February 19, 2018 - 3:17 pm | Permalink


      • Isabel Stanley's Gravatar Isabel Stanley
        February 19, 2018 - 4:42 pm | Permalink

        Amen again. How sad but brave to see a Children’s Crusade against violence in Florida and Washington, DC. Adults like Peter Clavier and Anna Alexander need to step up and protect these kids.

      • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
        February 19, 2018 - 5:13 pm | Permalink

        An another AMEN!

  140. Joan Westmorelalnd's Gravatar Joan Westmorelalnd
    February 19, 2018 - 3:08 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Peter, because though both Anna and Peter were exemplary Christians, Anna did her work from a more stable position where people went to her. Peter, on the other hand, seemed to be a wandering minister who sought out his struggling flock. That would be a more difficult lifestyle.

    • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
      February 19, 2018 - 3:42 pm | Permalink

      Anna did not do her work in a stable condition. She struggled and sacrificed. By the way, so did the people who worked with her, and those she served.

  141. Mary W.'s Gravatar Mary W.
    February 19, 2018 - 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Yay! Two people that I knew nothing about, and now know something. Both worthy of the knowing. I went with Anna because I could really stand to pay attention to the idea that anger about injustice is a wasted emotion.

  142. deacon georgia's Gravatar deacon georgia
    February 19, 2018 - 3:14 pm | Permalink

    I have to vote for the deaconess. As a deacon myself, it seems what I have accomplished is very pale in comparison to what many deaconesses had done. I also relate to her choosing not to act out of anger, an exceedingly difficult thing to do these days.

  143. Ridenour Lamb's Gravatar Ridenour Lamb
    February 19, 2018 - 3:29 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Deaconess Anna Alexander 1) because I, too, am a deacon but more importantly because 2) she was an educator an helped children find their gifts as Children of God. In a time when women were not recognized as being called to Ordination and certainly not a woman born to former slaves, she never let anyone let her feel that she was less for her sexy or the color of her skin.

  144. Judith Crossett's Gravatar Judith Crossett
    February 19, 2018 - 3:39 pm | Permalink

    “we must speak to them with our hands” almost got me, but as a deacon, I am with the deaconess.

  145. Felipe's Gravatar Felipe
    February 19, 2018 - 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Being from Georgia I almost didn’t read about Peter Claver… but upon doing so was swayed. It is harder to leave a life of comfort and take on that ministry to the slaves then to work to improve the world which you are born into [rich man / eye of a needle and all that(!)]. I voted for Peter Claver.

    • Ntathu's Gravatar Ntathu
      February 19, 2018 - 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Peter’s life could not have been as hard as the slaves he ministered to or their descendants.

  146. Isobel's Gravatar Isobel
    February 19, 2018 - 3:51 pm | Permalink

    This was a tough decision for both did such good work. I agree with Peter’s idea that it was needful to see the slaves physical needs before speaking to them about Jesus. In the end, however, I went for Anna and her belief that change comes about through education and love – still so very important today – and she faced the added challenge of being a woman in a man’s world.

  147. Elaine Hood Culver's Gravatar Elaine Hood Culver
    February 19, 2018 - 4:07 pm | Permalink

    All honor to both saints today. This was another tough choice. I voted for Peter Claver because he went down into the holds of the ships, hell on earth by anyone’s definition. Like St. Damian of Molokai, he died of a disease he caught in the process of ministering to extremely sick people. May they all rest in peace and rise in glory. They’ve earned it.

  148. February 19, 2018 - 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Could have voted either for Deaconess Anna or for Peter SJ. Both exercised profound ministries of compassion.
    Both opted to care for the victims of injustice, rather than to challenge the systems of injustice that created the victims. (Both ministries, however, are essential. Neither should be despised.)
    In the end, I voted for the one whom I perceived to be the “underdog” in this match-up: Peter Claver.
    As the previous person posting said, “May they all rest in peace and rise in glory.”

  149. PaulaB's Gravatar PaulaB
    February 19, 2018 - 4:27 pm | Permalink

    A tough choice, but Anna got my vote. She had to emancipate herself from mental slavery. She knew that none but ourselves can free our minds.

  150. February 19, 2018 - 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Love some Deaconess Anna!

    Peter ministered and cried with the slaves. (I will read more on Peter. I do not think he fought for freedom.) Peter had lovely compassion. But my vote is for Anna.

  151. Catherine's Gravatar Catherine
    February 19, 2018 - 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I voted for the deacon

  152. Tim Rake's Gravatar Tim Rake
    February 19, 2018 - 4:53 pm | Permalink

    This was a ver tough choice for me. Two people doing wonderful things in support of those essentially impacted by the slave trade.

  153. Carolyn D. Mack's Gravatar Carolyn D. Mack
    February 19, 2018 - 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Two amazing saints. They both worked in kindness and hope in extremely difficult situations. I voted for Peter Claver but will happily vote for Anna Alexander in the next round. Thanks for introducing me to these two historical figures whom I had not met in over 20 years of studying and teaching World, European, and US history.

  154. Dutton in Madison, GA's Gravatar Dutton in Madison, GA
    February 19, 2018 - 5:00 pm | Permalink

    As a Deacon; in Georgia this was an easy choice for me; however, I have long been inspired by Anna’s story. She is a classic example of what it means to be a Deacon.

    • Judy Fleener's Gravatar Judy Fleener
      February 19, 2018 - 5:24 pm | Permalink

      See my post following yours. We agree Dutton in GA

  155. Judy Fleener's Gravatar Judy Fleener
    February 19, 2018 - 5:23 pm | Permalink

    This was not a difficult choice for me. A Jesuit, or an African American Episcopal Deacon. I am compelled to vote for Anna because of the struggle she must have endured to take a leadership position in her church.

    February 19, 2018 - 5:40 pm | Permalink

    As an African-American woman, I thought both candidates were worthy, but I decided on Peter. The very act of seeing humanity in those who were considered mere pieces of property would still have been a radical act for his time. Never forget that certain Bible passages were cherry-picked in support of slavery – Matthew 24:46 as one example. I’ll take a shot across the bow for those times – wherever I can find it.

  157. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    February 19, 2018 - 5:57 pm | Permalink

    I am honoured to make the acquaintance of these two wonderful saints today. It was a hard choice, but I voted for Anna, for her parents bravery and courage, and commitment to education, and for Anna, whose ministry was recognised against all the odds.

  158. Nancy Long's Gravatar Nancy Long
    February 19, 2018 - 6:24 pm | Permalink

    I voted for the Deacon Anna because she helped to educate others and bring change under challenging circumstances in a male dominanted leadership in the church.

  159. Lisa Keppeler's Gravatar Lisa Keppeler
    February 19, 2018 - 6:47 pm | Permalink

    I did a bit more reading. Peter Claver’s ministry has echoes in the life’s work of Teresa of Calcutta and Damian of Moloka’i — he cast his lot and fate in with the untouchables of his day, recognizing their humanity and setting an example by doing so. In seasons when the slave ships were not arriving, he went throughout the the region, ministering to and teaching slaves at plantations. He chose to stay in the slave quarters rather than being hosted by the slaveholders and overseers. No doubt it was during these sojourns that he baptized over 300,000 over 40 years, in part ensuring that the “Christian” slaveholders would be constrained to treat their slaves more humanely. No, he didn’t singlehandedly dismantle the entrenched sin of slavery, which sadly is still practiced in numerous ways and places. But he did bring us closer to the dawn which will finally come when all people will look into each other’s eyes and see only brothers and sisters. In Colombia the national Human Rights Day is dated in his honor, and the US-based Knights of Peter Claver is the largest African-American Roman Catholic fraternal organization. I am thankful to learn about him and cast my vote for him. And since as usual I seem to be supporting the underdog, I will be happy to have the opportunity to back Anna Alexander in a future round!

  160. Tiffany and sons's Gravatar Tiffany and sons
    February 19, 2018 - 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Peter got our vote because his hands were truly acting as the hands of Jesus in caring for the slaves.

  161. Rebecca Duke Barton's Gravatar Rebecca Duke Barton
    February 19, 2018 - 7:32 pm | Permalink

    We are voting for Anna because Epworth by the Sea on St Simons is our favorite place in the world, and we love her commitment to children and education. But it’s hard to turn down the amazing Peter who exhibited a servant’s heart. I hope he comes up again so we can vote for him next time!

  162. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    February 19, 2018 - 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Earlier today a contributor rightly questioned whether it were possible to be a slave voluntarily. Peter, writing in Latin, signed himself “servus servorum,” using the same word for himself and those to whom he ministered. Latin in fact has only the one word that translates as both “slave” and “servant,” any person taking orders from a master. I understand the same is true of New Testament Greek which, since our service to God is voluntary, is why the tendency in newer New Testament translations to use “slave” instead of the traditional “servant” creates about as many problems as it solves.

    I’m quite out of my depth by now, but it seems to me that freedom as we think of it is a rather recent idea. In ancient times, and I imagine also in sixteenth-century Spain, few people were free to work at whatever and for whomever they pleased. The fact that a servant was legally free to quit and a slave wasn’t seems not to have made enough practical difference to require two words to reflect the distinction. We may see that as a defect, but it permitted Peter to express identity with those he served in a way that we cannot.

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      February 19, 2018 - 8:17 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Davis. I believe the word Mary uses in the Magnificat is “doula”: Behold the handmaid of the lord. Doula translates as “slave.” Mary is not the “handmaid” but the slave of the lord. Powerful model for us today as we struggle with issues of being a post-slavery culture that yet is deeply bound by slavery in all aspects of our lives. I totally agree that “freedom” is a concept we need to grapple with very consciously and very seriously, together, if we are to survive as a democracy. All of us.

      • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
        February 19, 2018 - 9:52 pm | Permalink

        I’d say that “doula” translated as both “slave and “handmaiden.” “Slave” more accurately reflects the totality of Mary’s submission; but it obscures its voluntary nature, of at least equal importance to the story. At least for those of us that don’t accept the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, Mary could have dismissed Gabriel at that moment, and the salvation of the world hung on her decision.

        At least for me “slave” has such connotations of coercion, not to say violence, that it jars when it’s applied to people like Mary and Paul, which is why I’m ambivalent about it. Enslavement is the opposite of what God is about, as I know you agree.

  163. Rosanne Adderley's Gravatar Rosanne Adderley
    February 19, 2018 - 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Not sure if I am allowed to post a link here. But there is a marvelous and tragic new about out about the people who claimed to own Anna’s family, and countless other people and how they sold them. This is the author’s link.

  164. james lodwick's Gravatar james lodwick
    February 19, 2018 - 9:20 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always loved Peter Claver’s deep compassion, empathy and humble service to others, especially to those who were despised and oppressed. He is a shining example of Christ-like love for the least of the brothers and sisters, an example to emulate especially for those of us who have led privileged or relatively privileged lives. Yet I had to vote for Anna Alexander, whose story was new to me, but so compelling. By the grace and love of God Anna herself overcame the worst sort of oppression and injustice to accomplish great things for her community while radiating the love of Jesus.

  165. Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
    February 19, 2018 - 9:24 pm | Permalink

    I’d never heard of either of these wondrous people. That’s why I love Lent Madness! Thank you for making the matchups much more balanced this year. No more modern saints vs. quasi-legends in the first round – yes!!!

  166. Wendy's Gravatar Wendy
    February 19, 2018 - 10:30 pm | Permalink

    This was a difficult decision. Both patron saints were saintly (pardon the pun) in their work.

  167. Margaret Morrison's Gravatar Margaret Morrison
    February 19, 2018 - 11:05 pm | Permalink

    Definitely Peter…his influence in the slavery trade is commendable and should always be reconized.

  168. Constance Santana's Gravatar Constance Santana
    February 20, 2018 - 12:15 am | Permalink

    I cannot believe Peter Claver is so far behind. If for no other reason folks, he baptized 300,000 souls! Think of it, 300,000 souls. I’m dumbfounded.

  169. Ann Willis Scott's Gravatar Ann Willis Scott
    February 20, 2018 - 12:29 am | Permalink

    A hard choice. But…my family had deep connections with the deaconesses, so Anna it was. I wanted to put pictures in this comment but I couldn’t figure out how to upload them, so I put them on my own fb. They are a picture of the head deaconess at the Episcopal girls school in Wuhan, China, circa 1915, and her diaconate pin. My aunt taught with her.

  170. Emily's Gravatar Emily
    February 20, 2018 - 1:47 am | Permalink

    This was tough. Both are such great examples of fortitude and courage!
    Anna squeaked past to get my vote!

  171. February 20, 2018 - 7:43 am | Permalink

    I voted for Anna. I think mainly because she seemed to have the better write-up. Perhaps it was just because I read hers first.

  172. February 20, 2018 - 8:05 am | Permalink

    Peter fought slavery by subversive means by instilling a sense of their human dignityand preciousness in the eyes of God in direct opposition to the men of commerce. Not only that, but he also preached to the “masters” for, as quoted “he did not regard even the most brutal of slave-owners as despicable barbarians beyond the mercy of God…” I call that opposition.

  173. Marina Prucha's Gravatar Marina Prucha
    February 20, 2018 - 8:48 am | Permalink

    I love San Pedro Claver for his work in Cartagena. I have visited his remains in the church there. I continue in his mission by serving this March to descendants of slaves in the village of Ararca. May he pray for us who are going.

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