Genesius vs. Quiteria

Today is the one and only weekend vote of Lent Madness 2018. Every other matchup will take place on the weekdays of Lent. And it's an intriguing pairing! We get Genesius, a saintly cut-up (he was a comedian and, more literally, had his head chopped off) facing off against Quiteria, a nonuplet Christian warrior and martyr. Which saint will be "re-martyred?" Well, that's up to you.

Yesterday, in a rout of Biblical (see what we did there?) proportions, Margaret of Scotland destroyed Charles I 89% to 11% and will face the winner of Mary of Egypt vs. Richard Hooker. Speaking of future rounds, if you're interested in seeing when your favorite saint will be doing battle, check out our Matchup Calendar. Better yet, print it out and tape it to your bathroom mirror.

Lent Madness will continue first thing Monday morning as we dip into the Mostly Modern quadrant of the bracket for the first time with Anna Alexander taking on Peter Claver.


GenesiusA comedian, Genesius led a theatrical troupe in Rome in the third century. Desperate to advance his career, he decided to write and star in a play for the Emperor Diocletian.

As he contemplated the subject matter, Genesius decided to mock the mysteries of the Christian faith and expose the ridiculousness of the sacraments. Of course, he needed some inside knowledge on the subject matter, so Genesius studied for the role by lying to members of a Christian community, telling them that he wanted to prepare for baptism.

The community welcomed Genesius into the catechumenate. While he learned the teaching, more details for the play came to him. He would act like a man on his deathbed, calling out for baptism.

He wrote the play and began the performance before the emperor. In the middle of a scene, Genesius depicted a dying man calling out for his faux sacrament. An actor arrived in clerical garb and baptized Genesius. Somehow, the ridicule ended there. Genesius was overcome with the grace of God, and what began as a farce became a real act of faith. Genesius was transformed, and while he was still on the stage, he urged the emperor to convert to Christianity.

Diocletian did not have the same change of heart. Instead, he became enraged and demanded that Genesius be tortured until he recanted. Genesius suffered greatly, but he never denied his faith. So Diocletian had him beheaded.

Genesius is the patron saint to the comic, the actor, and the tortured.

Collect for Genesius 
God of laughter and suffering, we pray that through all of our art, we might reflect the goodness of your grace. May our lives be transformed through creative work, as we serve in the likeness and the image of our Creator; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-Carol Howard Merritt



QuitériaQuite often, little is known about the saints beyond their existence and stories that have arisen among Christians to honor them over centuries. At first glance, many overlook Quiteria, in part perhaps because little is known beyond her naming in the Roman Martyrology as a saint and martyr.

But in southern France and northern Spain, churches remember Quiteria as a virgin and martyr. The most compelling legend of Quiteria, however, is Portuguese. Quiteria was a nonuplet—one of nine sisters born at the same time. Her mother, wife of the Roman governor, contemptuously likened her daughters to a litter and worried that she might be compared to a common animal for giving birth to so many children at once. In her vanity, she ordered her children drowned in a river by their nurse. Unwilling to kill the children, the nurse took the nonuplets to her own village and raised them away from their mother and father. It was in this village that Quiteria and her sisters were raised as devout Christians.

As they matured, the sisters’ faith compelled them to form a sort of gang–-one that went around freeing Christians from prisons in the area. Ultimately, Quiteria and her sisters were caught and commanded to worship a Roman god. Refusing, they were hauled before the Roman governor— their father—who immediately recognized the women as his daughters. He begged them to marry Roman pagans. The sisters refused and were thrown in prison.

As a rule, nonuplet warrior gangs don’t take imprisonment lightly. Resourcefully, they broke out of jail, freeing fellow prisoners with them. Upon gaining their freedom, rather than retreating into the woods, Quiteria and her sisters engaged in guerrilla warfare against the Roman Empire. Their campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, and Quiteria was captured, beheaded, and thrown into the ocean, while her sisters escaped. Legend holds that when guards were sent to capture her sisters, Quiteria emerged from the ocean, holding her own head and warding off the Roman guards from their pursuit. Two of her sisters, Marina and Liberata, were also martyred and ultimately canonized.

Collect for Quiteria
Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Quiteria triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death: Grant us, who now remember her in thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world, that we may receive with her the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

-David Sibley

Genesius vs. Quiteria

  • Quiteria (54%, 4,002 Votes)
  • Genesius (46%, 3,461 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,463

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Genesius: By Cristoforo Moretti (First half of XV Century - 1485) – Painter (Italian) Born in Cremona. Dead in Cremona. Details of artist on Google Art Project [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Quiteria: Santa Quitéria, Portuguese school of the XVIII century. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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280 comments on “Genesius vs. Quiteria”

    1. In this day and age it’s the comedians who are speaking truth to power. They need a patron saint. My vote is for Genesis.

      1. I agree. Genesius it is for me, especially as my son was in theatre in high school and my nephew was in theatre tech. Besides, it's Saturday, and we need a comedian for "Saturday Night Dead."

        1. Drama mama! 2 girls 6 years of performances ! My late brother-in-law was a stand-up comedian. Felt really good to think of him being ‘received’ by an OG.

      2. Here, here!!! Would anyone have understood the healthcare debate so clearly without Jimmy Kimmel? Go Genesius!

      3. As an artist, how could I not cast my vote for Genesius, given his Collect:
        “May our lives be transformed through creative work, as we serve in the likeness and the image of our Creator; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

    2. #teamgenesius I carry a St. Genesius medal in my theatre kit. It reminds me that my talents are all gifts from God and that my performance may bring a joy, comfort, healing, laughter, etc. to someone in need.

  1. Very interesting stories. I went with Quiteria, I am not sure I can tell you why - I must have been moved. Oliver, where are you?

    1. Both interesting stories - i's hard to choose, but I guess I believe the commedian's story more - good job, both celebrity bloggers.

  2. Like the concept of being overcome by the grace of God. It just swallowed him up and he had to act on his blessing. Amazing. It is also really fabulous that Quintera went about freeing the captives. Would that we could all do the same.

  3. As a theater tech person, I frequently invoke St. Genesius- especially when actors 'go up' on their lines!

  4. Another really hard choice for the beginning of Lent Madness. Although I was really impressed with the girls, I myself did some acting in my youth and so I went with Genesius.

  5. With her sisters she persisted, but his dramatic conversation won this voter (who lettered in Theatre in High School) over.

    Break a leg Saint Genesiius

    1. Quiteria had many different stories, but the Portuguese one didn’t make any sense. Genesius’s story was more believable, so I chose him. Sorry Quiteria.

      1. K. Jeanne Person - that's all kind of awesome! Just taught Plautus a few weeks ago - Brothers Menaechmus. Roman comedy - the forerunner of American sitcom. Perhaps I should have voted for Quiteria afterall - ha ha.

  6. Genesius! I believe firmly that we can “act our way into right thinking.” I can get my butt in the pew, say the words, pray even when I don’t feel it. Same goes for acting as if I am enjoying a party, interested in what someone is saying, or care about someone is really truly a child of God just like me. When I am willing to act “as if,” God changes my heart and I am so often transformed.

      1. How can you not vote for someone who set out to mock Christianity and God smiled on him anyway and caused his immediate conversion.

    1. Well put. My recently deceased husband was an excellent actor and used those skills as a priest, practicing the presence of Jesus each time he presided at the Eucharist. In both places he too was transformed. So I have to vote fro Genesius!

    1. Me too! I've often said that if God does not have a sense of humor I am in deep trouble. I can just picture Genesius entertaining angels and archangels and all the company of heaven crying out for his Golden Halo, Note that Genesius wasn't all fun and games. He had to have been incredibly gutsy to take on Diocletian.

  7. Good stories, both of them... But I went with Genesius, who seems recognizable as model for the unlikely and wonderful musical Philemon by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, which I've loved ever since viewing it on PBS in 1976.

    1. I'm a theatre professional and so I had to go with Genesius, whose miraculous medal dangles from my rearview mirror. Maybe I'd be better off with St. Christopher riding shotgun, but there you have it. I worked on a production of Philemon back in the 90s. While Genesius may have been an inspiration to Jones and Schmidt, there was also an actor/clown named Philemon who had a conversion experience while acting and was executed in 305. His feast day is March 8.

  8. As the mother of a high school thespian - who, coincidentally, is touring Rome as we speak with his Latin class - I had to cast my lot with Genesius. Theatre is indeed a transformative experience, for actors and audience alike!

  9. Genesius is my pick. Whether it's Genesius who set out to mock Chrisitianity, or Paul who persecuted Christians, or modern day author Lee Strobel who set out to disprove Christianity, touching the divine in Jesus Christ changes people.

  10. Today, my vote goes to Genesius. VOTE Genesius! Why? because our ARTS need to return to Christ. Much of the arts today are wicked and have a malicious nature. Maybe this will help:
    God of laughter and suffering, we pray that through all of our art, we might reflect the goodness of your grace. May our lives be transformed through creative work, as we serve in the likeness and the image of our Creator; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

  11. Had to go w/a comedian/action. Remembering my Saint of the Day, from _Good Morning Vietnam_ and _Dead Poets Society_, Robin Willaims. No contest, slam dunk.

    1. Yes -Genesius in memory of Robin Williams. They could be a tandem comedic team up in heaven now, making God laugh

  12. Gotta go with the feisty girls-especially given their time. They persisted in their Christian witness over a longer period of time than Genesius who had just the one big act of witness (although it was a gusty one).

  13. It was going to be Quiteria all the way but as I reread Genesius I was reminded of Lent as a preparation for Holy Baptism and so he got my vote.

    1. Welcome to Lent Madness, Pailet! You join Oliver (now 10 years old), another kid who has been an important part of our LM family since he was 7 or 8. Never let anyone tell you that you're "only a kid." Your thoughts are great and I look forward to seeing your parts this year and many more to come.

  14. Quiteria for me! By the way, is it possible to get identifiers for the various saints at the bottom of the big bracket poster? Thanks.

    1. The saints pictured are a few of the "dancing saints," a mural/icon that surrounds the altar at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. I picked up their identification booklet one Sunday when I visited, so out of curiosity--I'll call it Lenten preparation--I identified them. These particular saints don't seem to have anything to do with this year's bracket, but here they are, left to right: Bartolome de las Casas, Sojourner Truth, Esther John (Qamar Zia), Charles Darwin, Mary Magdalene [Golden Halo Winner], /Dorothy Lincoln, Black Elk, Anne Hutchinson, Samuel Isaac Joseph Shereshewski [Bishop of Shanghai--one of my faves], Agnes Sanford, Fyodor Dostoievski, Marguesite de Porete, Paul, Moses the Black, Eleanor Roosevelt, Florence Li Tim Oi, Baccus. (BTW, the two on the ends got cut off on my printout of the bracket.)

          1. On Facebook, one can easily indicate approval of something someone has written by "Like"ing their comments. It means I like Lisa's story. I was moved by it.

          2. Beats me, but I think it’s something people do on social media. At a guess, in this context, it’s short for “Lisa, I like your comment.”

      1. Quiteria for me too, Pailet. I believe Genesius had a true conversion since he didn't recant when faced with torture and death. But whether or not you believe the story of the nine warrior women (I choose to believe it), even the less dramatic stories agree that Quiteria was beheaded by her father's soldiers because she refused to renounce Christianity. Go girl p;ower!

      1. (that's the complete list of saints from the icon at St Gregory of Nyssa, not necessarily the ones on the Saintly Scorecard)

  15. What a tough choice today! As standup comedy is one of my roads-not-taken (yet!), I was all ready to vote for Genesius.
    But then I read about Quiteria, and the phrases "nonuplet warrior gangs don’t take imprisonment lightly," "freeing fellow prisoners," and "Quiteria and her sisters engaged in guerrilla warfare against the Roman Empire" got to me. Had to vote for the warrior princess. Go, Quiteria!

    1. Definitely! Especially considering that this was long before formula, bottles, and disposable diapers. I would imagine she probably had help nursing the nine newborns.

      1. No one finds this unbelievable? Nine babies before neo natal intensive care? How did this nurse transport nine newborns? How could they have been fed? How many willing wet nurses could be found? This is very far fetched!

  16. Wow. I love that there's a patron saint of using humor to shed the light on truth. But at the end of the day the warrior woman is kind of awesome.

  17. Genesius most certainly! While the idea of the nonuplets conducting guerrilla warfare from the woods has its appeal, and while her rising out of the ocean carrying her head was quite impressive, I am so drawn to the irony everywhere in Genesius' story. I have had a real soft spot for the theatre since I portrayed Scarlett Scragg in the local college production of "Li'l Abner" when I was 12. ("But Ma, Ma--who WUZ Jubilation T. Cornpone?") Just think-- a converted Roman comedian in the third century, tripped up by his own ridicule-ous performance! What's not to love?

  18. As a former actor and a lover of comedy, I had to go with Genesius, although I have to admit that gang of girls story was pretty compelling. Theological question: Was Genesius really baptized, since the whole thing was meant as a farce? I hope a Christian priest sneaked into prison and finished the job.

    1. Genesius's faith was awakened when he received the stage baptism, so that made the baptism real.

  19. I always have to go with the thespian as I did theater in High School and I some how passed on the gene to my son who asked me to help his HS theater group with sets and customs! It gave us great bonding in those teen years.

  20. Genisuis is getting the votes from a houseful of stagehands! We could always use the help of the patron of actors!

  21. Is it bad that Genesius reminded me of Comicus in Mel Brooks' History of the World? "When you die at the palace you really die at the palace." Plus, I'm currently grading papers on Roman comedy so I had to go with him.

    1. I once played a bawdy virgin love interest in the Roman comedy Curculio by Plautus! Here's to Genesius!

    1. Genesius Youngman: My wife said to me, "For our anniversary I want to go somewhere I've never been before." I said, "Try the kitchen!"
      How 'bout that audience? What an audience! They slay me.