Thomas à Kempis vs. Maria Skobtsova

Today in Lent Madness it’s Thomas à Kempis versus Maria Skobstova, a matchup with plenty of subplots. German vs. Russian. Monk vs. Nun. Middle Ages vs. 20th century. Plenty of inspiration to be plucked from their respective writings and lives.

In yesterday’s action Richard Hooker took it to Mary of Egypt 73% to 27%, setting up an intriguing Saintly Sixteen battle between Hooker and Margaret of Scotland.

Oh, and because we try to helpful in all things Lent related, here’s a pro-tip: It’s time to take the Christmas tree off the front door.

Thomas à Kempis

Thomas a KempisHe was born Thomas Hemerkin (or “Little Hammer”), but the town of his birth gave him the name for which he is most widely known. Thomas à Kempis was born in 1380 to a blacksmith and a teacher in Kempen, Germany. Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Thomas joined an order of Augustinians known as the Congregation of Windesheim—a part of the Brethren of Common Life movement located in the Netherlands.

Thomas excelled as a copyist and writer. Over the years, he produced four complete copies of the Bible and numerous other works. From time to time, Thomas was appointed to positions of responsibility in the order. However, he seemed to prefer time in prayer and study—and especially time with his books. His personal motto was: “Everywhere I have sought rest and found it nowhere, save in little nooks with little books.”

When Thomas was appointed subprior, he became responsible for training new members of the community. While doing this work, Thomas produced four booklets as a guide for their spiritual lives. Later, these booklets were collected together under the title The Imitation of Christ.

This guide called the novices to a deep contemplation of the life of Jesus. As they sought to model their lives on Jesus, The Imitation of Christ especially called them to humility, self-denial, and trust in God alone.

The Imitation of Christ became one of the most widely distributed books in Europe. While hard to prove, the claim is that it has been translated into more languages than any book except the Bible. Whether true or not, this points to the wide popularity of Thomas’s writing.

The influence of The Imitation of Christ is wide, from John Wesley (who said it was the best summary of the Christian life he had ever read) to Ignatius of Loyola (who read a chapter of the book every day).

Thomas, who hand-copied the Bible as well as many other books, died in 1471, the same year that The Imitation of Christ became one of the first books published on a printing press. His words continue to live on and inspire, proving the truth of his observation, “A book has but one voice, but it does not instruct everyone alike.”

Collect for Thomas à Kempis
Holy Father, you have nourished and strengthened your Church by the inspired writings of your servant Thomas à Kempis: Grant that we may learn from him to know what is necessary to be known, to love what is to be loved, to praise what highly pleases you, and always to seek to know and follow your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

-David Hansen

Maria Skobtsova

Maria SkobstovaElizabeth Maria Skobtsova was a Russian Orthodox nun who served in Paris during the Nazi occupation. Born in 1891 in Latvia, then part of the Russian Empire, she was christened Elizaveta Pilenko. Her family was devoutly Orthodox, but when she was fourteen, her father died. She experienced a crisis of faith and embraced atheism. This coincided with her family’s move to St. Petersburg in 1906, where she befriended a group of radical intellectuals. She married in 1910 and had a daughter—but the marriage didn’t last long.

Her love affair with intellectualism fared better. In the prelude to the Russian Revolution, Skobtsova became a popular writer and poet. Slowly, she found herself drawn back into the study of theology—specifically to the idea of Christ as human and one who had suffered as she had. She became the first woman to be admitted to study theology at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery.

After the Revolution, Elizaveta fled Russia and ultimately landed in Paris in 1923. During this period, she remarried and had two more children. Elizaveta also studied theology and worked with the poor. She believed that theology was truest when it directly impacted the poor and suffering. “The liturgy must be translated into life,” she would say.

In 1926, her youngest daughter died, and her marriage broke down. In the aftermath, Elizaveta threw herself into her work with a new vigor, opening a house for Russian refugees in the heart of Paris. In 1932, she took her nun’s vows and changed her name to Maria Skobtsova. Her one condition in taking her vows was that her bishop would never remove her from the world. The house she rented in the center of Paris became a haven for the lost, the homeless, and refugees. She worked tirelessly and convinced a young priest, Fr. Dimitri Klepinin, to be her chaplain.

When the Nazis invaded Paris, Maria’s house also became a haven for Jews in need of faked baptismal certificates, which Maria and Fr. Dimitri provided. They also hid Jews in the house and smuggled several out of Paris altogether. Eventually, the Nazis raided the house and sent Maria, her son, Yuri, and Fr. Dimitri to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. The three were killed in a gas chamber on Holy Saturday, 1945.

Collect for Maria Skobtsova
Loving God, soften our hearts and fill our minds with the desire to do your will. Kindle in us the longing to comfort those most in need of mercy, that like your servant Maria, we might open wide the doors of our hearts and homes to those in need of refuge and relief, not counting the cost to ourselves, but only the increase of your kingdom, through Jesus your Son, our Redeemer and Advocate. Amen.

-Megan Castellan

Thomas à Kempis vs. Maria Skobtsova

  • Maria Skobtsova (74%, 5,692 Votes)
  • Thomas à Kempis (26%, 2,039 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,731

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Thomas à Kempis: By zeitgenössischer Maler (Gedenkseite Thomas von Kempen [1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Maria Skobtsova: [Public domain], via OrthodoxWiki

209 Comments to "Thomas à Kempis vs. Maria Skobtsova"

  1. Dan Armstrong's Gravatar Dan Armstrong
    February 22, 2018 - 8:02 am | Permalink

    Good morning from Northern Michigan! Happy Lentmadness!

    • Joyce Fletcher Menard's Gravatar Joyce Fletcher Menard
      February 22, 2018 - 8:58 am | Permalink

      Great to hear from the Yooperpalian… Yooperpalians are those from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, above Wisconsin and north of the Mackinac Bridge… It is the Diocese of Northern Michigan with their Bishop Rayford Ray from Rapid River MI. Been there. Lived there. Now home in Dio of SE FL

      • Doug Kuhlmann's Gravatar Doug Kuhlmann
        February 22, 2018 - 11:12 am | Permalink

        Love the UP. Keep a fair amount of cross country skiing at Porcupine Mountain State Park.

      • Ann Willis Scott's Gravatar Ann Willis Scott
        February 23, 2018 - 3:45 am | Permalink

        I spent a lot of summers on Beaver Island. My father, a priest in New York, helped found St.Jame’s Episcopal Mission there He also was a traveling deacon, then priest, in the Ontonogan, Sidnaw and ? churches during the Depression. I think he told me once he was paid $600 a year!

    • Peggy's Gravatar Peggy
      February 22, 2018 - 11:58 am | Permalink

      Hey Dan – so glad to see you’re still doing this.

    • Pat R's Gravatar Pat R
      February 22, 2018 - 12:35 pm | Permalink

      Glad to see a Yooper here. We have a couple of DNM exiles in our congregation (D East Mich) and love them. Oh yes, the vote. Had to go with Maria because her story is more relevant today, with people still alive who remember the horrors of WWII.

    • Christina Thom's Gravatar Christina Thom
      February 22, 2018 - 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Hell still freezes over? My family is from Mich..

    • Mary Lou Creamer's Gravatar Mary Lou Creamer
      February 22, 2018 - 4:12 pm | Permalink

      Afternoon Dan from Michigan’s troll land in the Diocese of Eastern Michigan! Always glad to see another Michigander in the game!

    • Kathi Tiltman's Gravatar Kathi Tiltman
      February 22, 2018 - 4:14 pm | Permalink

      family is in the UP .. I am living in the sunshine of Australia .. hard vote for me today. respect for both and all they did for their love of God and Christianity .. Maria won out in the end for me , she gave her life for love of Christ and all that was good

    • Amy's Gravatar Amy
      February 22, 2018 - 7:52 pm | Permalink

      How odd to see a comment on the UP here! I call myself a Yooper in Diaspora, living now in western Illinois. Lent Madness has penetrated the northern forests, then!

    • Amy Carr's Gravatar Amy Carr
      February 22, 2018 - 8:29 pm | Permalink

      How odd to see a comment on the UP here! I call myself a Yooper in Diaspora, living now in western Illinois. Lent Madness has penetrated the northern forests, then!

  2. Shan's Gravatar Shan
    February 22, 2018 - 8:06 am | Permalink

    Ah, Thomas, you had me at books in nooks.

    • Claire from Quincy's Gravatar Claire from Quincy
      February 22, 2018 - 9:05 am | Permalink

      Ditto. En route to my happy place The Boston Athenaeum. Nothing but Books and Nooks. Hallelujah

      • Sally Clark's Gravatar Sally Clark
        February 22, 2018 - 9:49 am | Permalink

        Oh, Claire, you evoke such happy memories; the Boston Athenaeum is simply the best. I miss it very much.

      • Gretchen Pritchard's Gravatar Gretchen Pritchard
        February 22, 2018 - 10:40 pm | Permalink

        SHHHHHHHHHH!! No H*llel****s in Lent!

    • Gloria's Gravatar Gloria
      February 22, 2018 - 9:37 am | Permalink

      …Maria had me when she said one had to take one’s faith into the world to relieve suffering.

      • Dianne Anthony's Gravatar Dianne Anthony
        February 22, 2018 - 11:35 am | Permalink

        Yes! Me too. I was not aware of Maria until I read this.

    • M Kahn's Gravatar M Kahn
      February 22, 2018 - 8:14 pm | Permalink

      Me too, can not pass over that!

  3. February 22, 2018 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    I love a good book nook, so casting my vote for Thomas.
    If I must, the Christmas tree comes down today – sigh.

    • Sue Goodman's Gravatar Sue Goodman
      February 22, 2018 - 12:16 pm | Permalink

      Agree about books, but I voted for Maria.
      Christmas tree – yes you must!! (Ever heard of Twelfth Night? Or Candlemas?)

    • Susan's Gravatar Susan
      February 22, 2018 - 4:21 pm | Permalink

      The tree is down, but I’ve decided that I leave the lights up outside. I like the way it looks on my house! So they are just outdoor lights now, not Christmas lights!

    • TM's Gravatar TM
      February 23, 2018 - 12:34 am | Permalink

      This was a tough one for me. I really feel that Maria’s particular courage is what’s needed in the world (and especially the US) right now; I’m grateful to be reminded of her. But I also really think that without Thomas’ works, so many other saints would have been without the guidance they needed to become who they were… and still are.

  4. evelyn dean casey's Gravatar evelyn dean casey
    February 22, 2018 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    “The liturgy must be translated into life,” I voted for Maria.

    • Gillian's Gravatar Gillian
      February 22, 2018 - 8:57 am | Permalink

      That’s the line that turned me to Maria too.

    • L. S. Graves's Gravatar L. S. Graves
      February 22, 2018 - 9:24 am | Permalink

      My thoughts exactly.

    • Liz's Gravatar Liz
      February 22, 2018 - 9:45 am | Permalink

      Same! I love a good book nook, but that line was the clincher for me.

    • Karen R's Gravatar Karen R
      February 22, 2018 - 10:27 am | Permalink

      Reading always has been my solace, so I thought my vote was set, until I read that line. Both would be worthy victor, but putting our faith into action and daily life: boom!

    • Pamela Rieger's Gravatar Pamela Rieger
      February 22, 2018 - 11:40 am | Permalink

      I agree – this speaks to my deacon-heart.

    • Diana's Gravatar Diana
      February 22, 2018 - 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Yes. This won me over.

  5. Ann's Gravatar Ann
    February 22, 2018 - 8:09 am | Permalink

    Maria for her witness, and for “putting her life on the line.”

    • Ray's Gravatar Ray
      February 22, 2018 - 11:02 am | Permalink

      Yes, those are my sentiments too.

  6. Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
    February 22, 2018 - 8:17 am | Permalink


  7. Emily Correll's Gravatar Emily Correll
    February 22, 2018 - 8:17 am | Permalink

    This was tough. I love The Imitation of Christ and had never heard of Maria, but her demand that she be allowed to stay uncloistered to serve the poor and then to risk and give her life for good did it for me.

    • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
      February 22, 2018 - 8:27 am | Permalink

      And for me.

  8. Mary Hickman's Gravatar Mary Hickman
    February 22, 2018 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    “Little books in little nooks “got me as well.

  9. February 22, 2018 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    Hi to Lent Madness from Nova Scotia, Canada! As an ardent bibliophile, my heart was with Thomas. But who could vote against the living witness of Maria!? She gets my vote today with admiration and thankfulness to God!

    • Sarah's Gravatar Sarah
      February 22, 2018 - 9:49 am | Permalink

      My thoughts as well. Maria for me. And thankful that our outdoor Christmas lights are down.

    • Kathleen Sheehy's Gravatar Kathleen Sheehy
      February 22, 2018 - 10:01 am | Permalink

      Greetings from Kitchener, Ontario! Thomas’s mischievous smile, his “books in nooks” and observation about a book instructing each differently almost swayed me. But he’s already quite well known and the more hidden saints like Maria need some attention. I admire her sacrifice.

      And I still have a garland around my balcony doors with lights on, although I did remove the ornaments. Gotta have some color and brightness in these winter days!

      • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
        February 22, 2018 - 11:04 am | Permalink

        My wreath’s still up, but without the red bow.

        • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
          February 22, 2018 - 12:27 pm | Permalink

          But have you taken your “tree off the door”–whatever that means?

          • Wayne Johnson's Gravatar Wayne Johnson
            February 22, 2018 - 7:43 pm | Permalink

            Well, I don’t have a tree on the door, but I still have 5 wreaths on the outside of the house, with one on the front door. Easter’s a coming.

        • Lucretia's Gravatar Lucretia
          February 22, 2018 - 3:15 pm | Permalink

          I remembered to remove my wreath on the eve of Ash Wednesday! A new tradition perhaps?!
          Maria won the day for me despite the “Books in Nooks.” Although in my house there are no nooks only rooms filled with books! Occupied Paris was a frightening place and her faith informed courage and death shortly before liberation, right near the time Bonhoeffer was executed convinced me!

      • Jeanine's Gravatar Jeanine
        February 22, 2018 - 8:06 pm | Permalink

        Hello From Lincoln, Nebraska. As my husband and I walk around the neighborhood, we invoke the “decoration police” to scold those who still have decorations up. However, our winter has been so persistent this year that we have been more lax than usual in our rounds.

        Went with Thomas, though Maria was previously unknown by me and I will definitely read more about her. I love the educational (and humorous) value of Lent Madness.

    • Faye Kennedy's Gravatar Faye Kennedy
      February 22, 2018 - 11:16 am | Permalink

      I agree with you Lori. But, it was a hard decdision

  10. Harriet's Gravatar Harriet
    February 22, 2018 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    Never heard of Maria before…voted for her. Impressed with her works.

  11. Carolyn D. Mack's Gravatar Carolyn D. Mack
    February 22, 2018 - 8:21 am | Permalink

    Thomas’s mom was a teacher and so am I. Guess I can support him like all the nurses supported Florence last year.

  12. Mary's Gravatar Mary
    February 22, 2018 - 8:25 am | Permalink

    Maria-for helping the Jews

  13. Mary-Theresa Anderson's Gravatar Mary-Theresa Anderson
    February 22, 2018 - 8:27 am | Permalink

    Maria was a brave warrior!!

  14. Joanne B. Parrott's Gravatar Joanne B. Parrott
    February 22, 2018 - 8:27 am | Permalink

    There are books in all the nooks of my house, but “liturgy in action”
    gives me a reason to participate in life. Maria gets my vote today.

    • Robyn's Gravatar Robyn
      February 22, 2018 - 8:37 am | Permalink

      I agree! Wonder what Oliver is thinking today?

  15. martha's Gravatar martha
    February 22, 2018 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    This one was tough. I went with Thomas because his works continue to impact nations.

  16. February 22, 2018 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    So grateful to learn of Maria Skobtsova that I voted for her!

  17. Beth's Gravatar Beth
    February 22, 2018 - 8:34 am | Permalink

    Wow. So grateful for what I learn, or relearn, through Lent Madness. This round is a deeply rewarding experience for me.

  18. Donna's Gravatar Donna
    February 22, 2018 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    Tough choice!

  19. Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
    February 22, 2018 - 8:39 am | Permalink

    I see this as a matchup between introvert and extrovert, and, while I wanted to vote for my fellow female seminarian, and while her work during the Holocaust was truly wonderful and saintly, I am compelled to continue to speak for my fellow introverts. Thomas’ life of introspection and holy study and thought is equally valuable and saintly. Think how many people have been inspired to imitate Christ because of it!

    I reject the idea that only “boots on the ground” are valued by our Maker. Thomas it is.

    • Jack Zamboni's Gravatar Jack Zamboni
      February 22, 2018 - 10:22 am | Permalink

      Introvert, also, who deeply values quiet and prayer. but I voted for Maria because her witness of sacrificial service in the world is the challenging balance I need to my default way of being.

      • Rene Thompson's Gravatar Rene Thompson
        February 22, 2018 - 11:18 am | Permalink

        I agree. While I love Thomas for his “little books in little nooks” and holy introspection, I truly appreciate Maria’s willingness to put her self and her beliefs on the line for others.

    • Meg Nakano's Gravatar Meg Nakano
      February 22, 2018 - 11:37 pm | Permalink

      I checked the way the voting was going…. Maria is winning by a wide margin, so I don’t feel my vote will deny her any acclaim.. and voted my heart for Thomas. His book has not stopped at just his introspection, but has prompted many to look more deeply into their faith, and i dare say has stopped no one from going out into the world when they’re called to do so.

  20. Jenny's Gravatar Jenny
    February 22, 2018 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    Thomas for sure. One of the arguably 5 most important people to the entire development of Christianity vs a woman who did good works, but only after abandoning her children to care for the world instead? No question for me.

    • Sister Mary Winifred's Gravatar Sister Mary Winifred
      February 22, 2018 - 9:10 am | Permalink

      I wouldn’t say she “abandoned” her children: her elder daughter was an adult. her son lived with his father, and the younger daughter had died.

      • Linda N's Gravatar Linda N
        February 22, 2018 - 11:18 am | Permalink

        Right on, Sister Mary!

      • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
        February 22, 2018 - 11:45 pm | Permalink

        Actually, it says her son died with her at Ravensbruck.

        Eventually, the Nazis raided the house and sent Maria, her son, Yuri, and Fr. Dimitri to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. The three were killed in a gas chamber on Holy Saturday, 1945.

    • Melanie Mitchell's Gravatar Melanie Mitchell
      February 22, 2018 - 2:15 pm | Permalink

      Also, her son Yuri was captured in the house with Maria and her chaplain, and died with them at Ravensbruck. Perhaps she did not abandon him, or he did not abandon her?

  21. Beverley Cox's Gravatar Beverley Cox
    February 22, 2018 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    Maria all the way! She helped the poor,hid and protected Jews from the Nazis; risking her own life but eventually losing it in the same manner as many of them did!

  22. Gloria Bauer Ishida's Gravatar Gloria Bauer Ishida
    February 22, 2018 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    Although I have been impressed with “Imitation of Christ”, I must vote for Maria, a person who went through several crises and losses and died a martyr for her faith.

    she is truly insporational.

  23. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
    February 22, 2018 - 8:48 am | Permalink

    Thomas a Kempis is an old friend and inspiration, and I am committing myself to revisit “The Imitation of Christ.” However, I’m voting for Maria, whose life was taken just before the end of WWII. May her example lead us to give ourselves generously to help those who need us most.

    • Wayne Johnson's Gravatar Wayne Johnson
      February 22, 2018 - 8:09 pm | Permalink

      Thomas has been a long time beacon in my life, one who I could counsel with as did his neighbors and friends in his community, a strong witness for us. He has my vote.

  24. February 22, 2018 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    I hadn’t known the story of Maria Skobstova. This is what I love about Lent Madness, learning about witnesses to faith previously unknown to me. She gets my vote!

  25. Mike Bond's Gravatar Mike Bond
    February 22, 2018 - 8:50 am | Permalink

    Maria’s story is so compelling! I had never heard of her before. “The Liturgy must be translated into life” is so true.
    Great match up. Thomas, I love you too. But this time it’s Maria for me.

  26. Lorna's Gravatar Lorna
    February 22, 2018 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    “Maria, Maria! I just may a girl name Maria…” and voted for her.

  27. Deborah Kaufman's Gravatar Deborah Kaufman
    February 22, 2018 - 8:55 am | Permalink

    Maria, with love and courage, bears witness to the very end: “Maria was active and struggled to the very last. She was,a great comfort to those who were imprisoned with her in the hell of Ravensbrück. Even in a place where human dignity had utterly stripped away from everyone, even in a place where – to borrow Forest’s description – obscenity, contempt and hatred were as commonplace as hunger, illness and death, Mother Maria provided the inmates with a family and a refuge. She organized discussion circles and kept evening prayers, brought French and Soviet prisoners alike together, and shared even what little food she got with those who had still less.” #NeverForget

    • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
      February 22, 2018 - 11:49 pm | Permalink

      Do you have a citation you can share for that quote?

  28. Doug Kuhlmann's Gravatar Doug Kuhlmann
    February 22, 2018 - 8:56 am | Permalink

    I thought for sure I would vote for Thomas, especially after reading little nooks with little books. But Maria’s life story was so compelling. Had to vote for her.

    • Linda N's Gravatar Linda N
      February 22, 2018 - 11:21 am | Permalink

      I felt the same way, as I voted for Richard Hooker over Mary of Egypt. But Mary went into the desert and lived out her life in solitude. Maria gave the ultimate sacrifice, saving and protecting others as she did so. I love books, and Thomas is highly important to our faith, but Maria is a vital example of living one’s faith.

    • Helen Delano's Gravatar Helen Delano
      February 22, 2018 - 3:03 pm | Permalink

      I agree Doug. I love books but in today’s world Maria’s story was more compelling.

  29. Susan C's Gravatar Susan C
    February 22, 2018 - 8:59 am | Permalink

    Imitation of Christ was on my grandmother’s book shelf, and indeed inspired people over the centuries. I downloaded it to my Kindle, and, alas, it did not inspire me, and I returned to my Richard Rohr. Liturgy in action does provide much needed inspiration for our world today. Maria is my choice.

  30. Kathy Hartley's Gravatar Kathy Hartley
    February 22, 2018 - 8:59 am | Permalink

    I was fully prepared to vote for Thomas. Who hasn’t been inspired and deeply moved by The Imitation of Christ? I didn’t know anything about Maria. But when I read about her, I agreed that she turned her faith into action. It is a tough choice. Both lives were ones of service in different ways. Wish I could vote for both, but it is going to be Maria for me.

  31. Michelle's Gravatar Michelle
    February 22, 2018 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    This was tough. As book nerd I definitely relate to “little books in little nooks” and there is not doubt that “The Imitation of Christ” has touched innumerable lives. However, I just couldn’t resist someone who demanded to remain uncloistered to serve the poor and who saved who knows how many lives during WWII. So it was Maria for me today.

  32. February 22, 2018 - 9:01 am | Permalink

    Thomas. A foundation stone of the Church.

  33. Kathleen Richards's Gravatar Kathleen Richards
    February 22, 2018 - 9:02 am | Permalink

    I’ve noticed a trend this Lent Madness: emotional appeal often wins over the saint who actually influenced the most people, i.e., Paul lost to Peter; Claver lost to Anna; and it looks as if this will continue today with Maria bounding ahead of Thomas a Kempis. Not sure if this is a good thing, but it influenced how I voted this time — tired of losing!

    • Claire from Quincy's Gravatar Claire from Quincy
      February 22, 2018 - 9:09 am | Permalink

      It is still early in the day. Keep the faith!

    • February 22, 2018 - 9:21 am | Permalink

      Perhaps it is a good thing: perhaps, because we vote for the lesser-known, we stand to learn more about them. I had heard of Thomas but knew nothing of him, so I have a new book to go find. I had never heard of Maria and am now weeping for her. I am also wondering, what does the name she chose mean: Skotstova? And I don’t know how to vote…

    • Elaine's Gravatar Elaine
      February 22, 2018 - 9:43 am | Permalink

      I don’t see Maria’s life story as “an emotional appeal.” But maybe folks are voting more for “underdogs” – the people who aren’t as well-known or influential, but perhaps deserve to be. It would be a wonderful thing if Maria Skobtsova influenced more people!

    • Robin Nicholls's Gravatar Robin Nicholls
      February 23, 2018 - 2:44 am | Permalink

      Remember this is just a game! Voting criteria is up to the diverse masses of Lent Madness fans!

  34. Oliver--Ten Years Old's Gravatar Oliver--Ten Years Old
    February 22, 2018 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    I voted for Maria because she stayed in the world to help.

    • Denise Bell's Gravatar Denise Bell
      February 22, 2018 - 10:32 am | Permalink

      My thoughts exactly, Oliver – thank you!

    • Miss Jennifer's Gravatar Miss Jennifer
      February 22, 2018 - 11:10 am | Permalink

      Thank you Oliver! I was struggling to decide since like Thomas I like “little nooks with little books” but Maria was so inspiring with the work she did to help people.

    • Verdery D. Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery D. Kassebaum
      February 22, 2018 - 11:56 am | Permalink

      OK, Oliver, you helped me decide. Maria it is. Now I’ll go find a copy of “The Imitation…” and see what I missed.

  35. February 22, 2018 - 9:05 am | Permalink

    I switched my vote to the brave and stalwart Maria at the last minute. While I loved that “nooks and books” saying attributed to Thomas, I remember with chagrin that I never read my copy of “The Imitation of Christ” and gave it away.

  36. Tim Trussell-Smith's Gravatar Tim Trussell-Smith
    February 22, 2018 - 9:13 am | Permalink

    “The Imitation of Christ” is an amazing book. So, when I saw Thomas á Kempis in this matchup, I actually said, “Well, I know who I’m voting for today!” But reading about Sr. Maria changed my mind.

  37. February 22, 2018 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    To me this was an easy choice, Maria was devout, wrote about theology, and actually put her faith to work in helping refugees and bringing people together. She’s also a woman. I cast my vote for Maria!

  38. Patrice's Gravatar Patrice
    February 22, 2018 - 9:18 am | Permalink

    It is a great and important contribution to write, “The Imitation of Christ,” but another thing altogether to live a life that reflects that. Of the two, I think it is Maria’s example of liturgy in action that we need most today. No matter how many great and important books we read, how will the world change if we, ourselves, don’t open our hearts and homes to others?

  39. Betsy in Reston VA's Gravatar Betsy in Reston VA
    February 22, 2018 - 9:20 am | Permalink

    “The liturgy must be translated into life” says it all. And she risked and eventually gave her life saving the Jews. Thomas may have impacted more people through his book, but Maria saved lives.

  40. Deborah DeManno's Gravatar Deborah DeManno
    February 22, 2018 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    As a book lover, it’s a thing I didn’t vote after reading about books in nooks. Has Barnes and Noble done a tie in with this? Seems like a good marketing hook. But, I digress. Maria had my vote at “The liturgy must be translated into life.”

    • February 22, 2018 - 10:28 am | Permalink

      Here is a book that seems to connect these saintly folk : Praying for Justice: A Lectionary of Christian Concern(Barclay Press, available on Amazon).
      Written by young Quakers and started the day after after the 2016 election
      R Anderson Campbell, Steve Sherwood, and Paula Hampton, have provided brief scripture verses for the next three
      years, up through Inauguration Day, 2021. It provides inspiration to serve all those folk who are “on the margins” . I recommend it to Christians of all denominations.

  41. Sally in Dallas's Gravatar Sally in Dallas
    February 22, 2018 - 9:26 am | Permalink

    After insisting to my husband how I important Thomas a Kempis was/is to Christianity and to the theology of the church (and I couldn’t imagine how I could vote for anyone but Thomas!), I read about Maria. Today’s matchup is why I love Lent Madness so much and every year recommend it to my friends. At this time in our American cultural life, I’m amazed at Maria’s statement that “liturgy must be translated into life”! I want that framed on my walls, as a bumper sticker, framed in my heart. One person, who happened to be female, lived her faith. Oh that we all could.

  42. Sandi's Gravatar Sandi
    February 22, 2018 - 9:27 am | Permalink

    Maria. Maria. Maria.
    Met her today for the first time.

  43. February 22, 2018 - 9:27 am | Permalink

    Throwing my support to Maria today. She gave her life (quite literally) to rescuing others. A lesson for our times as well.

  44. Lee's Gravatar Lee
    February 22, 2018 - 9:28 am | Permalink

    I call foul, SEC! This was so difficult, but I voted for my old friend Thomas. But Maria – a martyr whose line about liturgy translating into life? An almost impossible choice. I bow in thanks to both for their powerful witness.

    • Victoria Rebeck's Gravatar Victoria Rebeck
      February 22, 2018 - 1:24 pm | Permalink

      Yes, this one is too hard! And I am smarting over the narrow loss of Pheobe the Deacon. 🙁

  45. Carol Gardner's Gravatar Carol Gardner
    February 22, 2018 - 9:33 am | Permalink

    Well said.

  46. Melissa's Gravatar Melissa
    February 22, 2018 - 9:35 am | Permalink

    I voted for Thomas. I, too, find my greatest rest in books.

  47. Michelle Hellner's Gravatar Michelle Hellner
    February 22, 2018 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    “The liturgy must be translated into life.” Words to live by. Maria is a saint for for the current ages. (Great collect too!)

  48. Mary O'Donnell's Gravatar Mary O'Donnell
    February 22, 2018 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    Thomas quote” A book has but one voice, but it does not instruct everyone alike.” So so true. And I would like to read some of his writings which hopfully are available. To compare him to Maria is not a fair matchup. How many souls he saves through his writing compared to how many lives she saved on earth is tough. In the end I went with Maria.

    • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
      February 23, 2018 - 12:07 am | Permalink

      I found 11,779 entries on for books when I searched for “Thomas a Kempis” from the main page search bar. If you can’t find a copy in a library near you via WorldCat, you can always ask your local library to Inter Library Loan you a copy.

      Link to search results:

      If you’d rather have a copy of The Imitation of Christ to keep in your own nook of books, I’m sure you could find one at or your nearest Anglican/Roman Catholic bookstore.

      • Wayne Johnson's Gravatar Wayne Johnson
        February 23, 2018 - 2:51 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for your introduction to WorldCat and Powells for more methods of researching and obtaining information on Thomas a’Kempis. I still feel, against the voters opinion of a vast majority of Lent Madness voters, that Maria must have been influenced by Thomas which is why he has my vote.

  49. Gloria's Gravatar Gloria
    February 22, 2018 - 9:41 am | Permalink

    One look around my home and you’ll know I look nook and books…but alas reading Thomas’ book surely must lead one out of the nook and into the world to “imitate Christ”.

  50. February 22, 2018 - 9:42 am | Permalink

    I read on the air for the blind and visually disabled through a program at Kansas University and the little books and little nooks quote is prominently displayed there. I think this program is one of many things that translate liturgy into life–and because of that quote I voted for Maria.

  51. Mary W.'s Gravatar Mary W.
    February 22, 2018 - 9:45 am | Permalink

    This was tough. Maria seemed to be ‘out in the world’ more and seemed to help more people. However, how many were aided in their spiritual journey by Thomas’ book? A different type of help. Much as I love books and their influence though, I still went with Maria.

  52. February 22, 2018 - 9:47 am | Permalink

    Began determined to support Thomas, but Maria’s story changed my mind. We need to become more familiar with her witness.

  53. February 22, 2018 - 9:48 am | Permalink

    One of my toughest choices.

  54. Tammie Taylor's Gravatar Tammie Taylor
    February 22, 2018 - 9:59 am | Permalink

    This is yet another potential bracket busting match-up – love it! I picked Maria but worried the enduring and deserved popularity of Thomas’ writings would help him prevail. So glad my inclination to honor Maria’s selflessness with my vote appears to be guiding the majority today! My bracket is still intact – how’s yours?

  55. Sheila Brockmeier's Gravatar Sheila Brockmeier
    February 22, 2018 - 10:00 am | Permalink

    This was a challenging match up for me. Maria’s life story is very inspiring and a model for the courage and commitment we are all called to bring to this world. However, the fact that what one man wrote before printing presses even existed has inspired so many people (including Buddhists and others not of the Christian tradition) over the centuries is mind-boggling a testament to his openness to the Holy Spirit! It looks like he will not win the voting, but I am happy he was included!

  56. Diane MC's Gravatar Diane MC
    February 22, 2018 - 10:05 am | Permalink

    As a Librarian, I love the “books in nooks,” but Maria’s dedication to serving those in need and her willingness to put her life on the line secured my vote.

    • Beth's Gravatar Beth
      February 22, 2018 - 10:16 am | Permalink

      me too, Diane

  57. Judy Bye's Gravatar Judy Bye
    February 22, 2018 - 10:10 am | Permalink

    Wow. “Imitation of Christ” is still SO relevant today–maybe more than ever. I’ve never heard of Maria with the last name I can’t even begin to pronounce, but I will not forget her. I will learn more about her. She’s my kind of Christian–by her actions… I have this “thing” that we should be taking people in–if not in our homes, then in our churches. The church needs both Thomas and Maria. I voted for Maria and will spread her story. Thanks, Madness.

  58. Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
    February 22, 2018 - 10:13 am | Permalink

    Contemplatives just can’t catch a break with this group.

  59. Kim, Canada's Gravatar Kim, Canada
    February 22, 2018 - 10:14 am | Permalink

    Again, both worthy choices. Thomas’s love for books and spreading the word through his writing resonated with me. Then Marai, living out the gospel in the world, so passionately! I voted for Maria, what an inspiration!

    • Kim, Canada's Gravatar Kim, Canada
      February 22, 2018 - 10:16 am | Permalink

      *Maria- clearly I need Thomas’ editing in my post……

  60. Beth's Gravatar Beth
    February 22, 2018 - 10:15 am | Permalink

    loved the books in nooks, but Maria was out there…

  61. Catherine W Huber's Gravatar Catherine W Huber
    February 22, 2018 - 10:19 am | Permalink

    Because: Faked Baptismal Certificates.

    • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
      February 23, 2018 - 12:17 am | Permalink

      With those fake papers Jews could hide their religious / ethnic identity easier from the Nazis that were out to exterminate them. Swedish and Japanese (yes you read that right) passports were also issued by sympathetic diplomats (in the case of Japan definitely without official approval from Tokyo). I’m sure Maria and Dimitri+ were not the only Church officials drafting fake baptismal certificates for people who were facing genocide.

      WWJD? Hand out fake baptismal certificates or let people be caught and die simply because they, like Jesus, were Jewish?

  62. Hannell Thompson's Gravatar Hannell Thompson
    February 22, 2018 - 10:24 am | Permalink

    This is where my husband and I would differ. I chose Maria for opening her home and heart. My husband was a lover and collector of books. I could compromise and share my home filled with many books.

  63. Phillip William Brock's Gravatar Phillip William Brock
    February 22, 2018 - 10:31 am | Permalink

    Love Thomas, voted Maria. I was thinking this just yesterday, that Christendom was tested mightily during the rise of fascism in Europe, and failed utterly. Had every Christian lived up to the title they professed (that is, had they practiced the Great Commandment), as did this holy woman, Hitler could never have gained a toehold.

  64. Sister Mary Winifred's Gravatar Sister Mary Winifred
    February 22, 2018 - 10:34 am | Permalink

    Love Maria, but as an Augustinian have to vote for Thomas.

  65. Elaine Hood Culver's Gravatar Elaine Hood Culver
    February 22, 2018 - 10:34 am | Permalink

    My vote goes to Maria because of her efforts on behalf of refugees and Jewish people fleeing Hitler’s regime. She really did “apply liturgy to life,” paying the ultimate price for her service to humanity.

    • Elaine Hood Culver's Gravatar Elaine Hood Culver
      February 22, 2018 - 10:37 am | Permalink

      Correction: “translate liturgy into life.”

  66. February 22, 2018 - 10:36 am | Permalink

    I recommend a book that connects both of these saintly folk: Praying for Justice: A Liturgy of Christian Concern.
    It was written by several Quakers in response to the 2016 election and it contains daily passages for contemplation..and action. This liturgy lasts for three more years, right up through Inauguration Day, 2020. It can be purchased through Amazon. The publisher is Barclay Press.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      February 22, 2018 - 11:02 am | Permalink

      That sounds terrific. Thanks for the tip–I will add it to my nooks of books!

  67. Camille's Gravatar Camille
    February 22, 2018 - 10:37 am | Permalink

    My Christmas tree is in the back waiting for the lights to be removed. Self-denial is overrated. Did you ever see the depiction of the Laughing Christ? Maria, of course.

  68. Betsy Rogers's Gravatar Betsy Rogers
    February 22, 2018 - 10:42 am | Permalink

    Wish I could vote for both! This is a tough one.

  69. Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
    February 22, 2018 - 10:45 am | Permalink

    This choice was really hard. Both stories are so relevant to current events, I wanted to bot for both of them! I finally went with Maria Skobtsova. Her unselfish work in a dangerous, chaotic world is truly humbling and inspirational. I was particularly drawn to the fact that she was devoutly Christian, but ministered to everyone and anyone who needed help.

  70. JustMeJo's Gravatar JustMeJo
    February 22, 2018 - 10:50 am | Permalink

    If we are to be “the Episcopal branch of ‘the Jesus Movement'”, how better than to live the Gospel in the world, following the example of Maria and others like her? (And I really did think that I was going to vote for Thomas!)

  71. Mary Jane Ingalls's Gravatar Mary Jane Ingalls
    February 22, 2018 - 11:00 am | Permalink

    Speaking of books and Ravensbruck: I recommend Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. A fictionalized retelling about Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. Chilling and heroic.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      February 22, 2018 - 11:03 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Mary Jane!

  72. Kathleen Connell's Gravatar Kathleen Connell
    February 22, 2018 - 11:02 am | Permalink

    Having spent years to remove some of Thomas’ brand of theology from my gut, I voted for Maria. “The liturgy must be translated into life,” is much healthier spirituality for me.

  73. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    February 22, 2018 - 11:02 am | Permalink

    Thomas. Little nooks with little books.

  74. Randy Marks's Gravatar Randy Marks
    February 22, 2018 - 11:08 am | Permalink

    In Takoma Park, the tradition is to leave the Christmas lights up all year round. And some neighbors regularly turn them on no matter the date. 🙂

  75. Margaret Sammons's Gravatar Margaret Sammons
    February 22, 2018 - 11:12 am | Permalink

    I thought for sure that I’d vote for Thomas. But then I read Maria’s story, and couldn’t resist. In honor of my nephew Yuri, who was born in Russia; and in loving memory of my brother-in-law’s parents, who died during the Holocaust, I went with Maria.

  76. Meredith Hales's Gravatar Meredith Hales
    February 22, 2018 - 11:27 am | Permalink

    Books in nooks……but Maria inspires me!

  77. Eileen Fisher's Gravatar Eileen Fisher
    February 22, 2018 - 11:30 am | Permalink

    The life of Maria Skobstova brought to mind the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer for me. I was so impressed by his life that I have two coffee mugs with his image on them! One from the Lentorium and one from another source. I was reading Maria’s life and when I came to the end of the passage about her ending up in a gas chamber, I felt like someone had knocked the breath out of me. I wasn’t prepared for this tragic ending. The Nazis called Zyklon B “Gift Gas” or “poison” gas which was printed on the canisters.
    I, like so many others, found her words of “The liturgy must be translated into life” truly inspiring.

    • Marian the Lutheran's Gravatar Marian the Lutheran
      February 22, 2018 - 12:20 pm | Permalink

      I, too, thought of Bonhoeffer. I also see the natural progression from Thomas to Maria, from writing How to immitate Christ to actually Living it. It is possible that she even read his book and that it informed her path of praise and love. Good match up.

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      February 22, 2018 - 12:55 pm | Permalink

      “Das Gift” is “poison” in German. Unfortunate dark pun in English.

  78. Elizabeth Pennington's Gravatar Elizabeth Pennington
    February 22, 2018 - 11:33 am | Permalink

    Both great today but me for the nook with books.

  79. February 22, 2018 - 11:34 am | Permalink

    I went into this assuming I’d vote for Thomas, who reached so many through his writing, but Maria’s story won me over. Her principle of translating liturgy into life, work with refugees, desire to not be removed from the world, efforts to save Jews and subsequent martyrdom…I couldn’t -not- vote for Maria.

  80. Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
    February 22, 2018 - 11:34 am | Permalink

    I love little nooks with little books, but Maria lived what Thomas wrote, and for that I vote for her.

    Read Thomas. Live like Maria lived like Jesus.

  81. Margaret L's Gravatar Margaret L
    February 22, 2018 - 11:37 am | Permalink

    Lettering as contemplation-YES! Thomas-YES! Yet, I voted for Maria.

  82. Linda DelaCruz's Gravatar Linda DelaCruz
    February 22, 2018 - 11:44 am | Permalink

    My dead brown wreath finally went yesterday!

  83. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    February 22, 2018 - 12:02 pm | Permalink

    There aren’t enough little books with little books in my life so I voted for Thomas, and for his work supporting the young men entering the monastic life. Maria is inspiring, and I expect to vote for her in subsequent rounds.

  84. Brenda McHenry's Gravatar Brenda McHenry
    February 22, 2018 - 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I suspect Maria as a student of theology got some inspiration from Thomas, so I went with the original source.

  85. Carol Buckalew's Gravatar Carol Buckalew
    February 22, 2018 - 12:13 pm | Permalink

    This was a tough choice. I love nooks with books, and it’s Book Club today. You can bet I will share the quote ” A book has but one voice, but it does not instruct everyone alike.” I also have a copy of Imitation of Christ on my bookshelf, not read in many years. But I voted for Maria. Translating liturgy into life can include books as well as action. This world needs thinkers and doers. And doers who think!

  86. St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
    February 22, 2018 - 12:17 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Thomas à Kempis. I definitely consider sister Mary worthy. But I gave my all for Dietrich Bonhoeffer a couple of years ago, and this year I am drawn to the writing that has inspired great spiritual masters since. I want to go read the Imitation of Christ. I favor the Brethren of the Common Life along with the earlier Beguines and Beghards and consider them models for Christian living: living in community, in simplicity, with actions on behalf of the sick and the poor. The béguinages and the Brethren were lay communities, or at least semi-lay, with no final vows. They seem a remarkable experiment in Christian communal living and I want to honor such movements with my vote today.

  87. Rev. Doug McLemore's Gravatar Rev. Doug McLemore
    February 22, 2018 - 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Thomas should have been matched with Hooker and Mary of Egypt matched Mara.
    These matchups are maddening and if the SEC is just trying to mess with us they are being successful. Maybe it should be called Lent Messup.

  88. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    February 22, 2018 - 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Can’t we get “Vote for Both” buttons?

    ALMOST voted for Maria, whose story is so compelling and inspiring. In the end, though, I just can’t desert my old friend Thomas.

  89. Nancy Ciaffone's Gravatar Nancy Ciaffone
    February 22, 2018 - 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Maria, of course. And she was Russian only as my Lithuanian grandparents were considered Russian because the Partition of Poland gave Latvia and Lithuania to tzarist Russia.

  90. Kathleen Stafford's Gravatar Kathleen Stafford
    February 22, 2018 - 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I can not even begin to imagine the depth of courage and faith one must have to defy the Nazi regime on a daily basis! I would only hope, God forbid, if in a similar position, my Lord could depend on me to find equal strength to do His work in such treacherous times. Although I am a hopeless lover of books and my home is filled with them -I think they multiply in the night, with a loving nod to Thomas, my vote must go to Maria.

  91. Ellen's Gravatar Ellen
    February 22, 2018 - 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Iloved Thomas’s comment about little nooks and little books, and I will definitely seek out his “The Imitation of Christ,” but my vote had to go for Maria. I too believe the liturgy is best expressed by action.

  92. Story's Gravatar Story
    February 22, 2018 - 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I hate that these two were against each other. I could have seen either one of them going far but how could I not vote for Maria?

  93. Rose's Gravatar Rose
    February 22, 2018 - 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for Maria; i didnt know about her and now im glad
    Do not remove her from the people!

  94. Christina Thom's Gravatar Christina Thom
    February 22, 2018 - 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Maria wrote more about the Gospel in her life than any theologian can write.

  95. Marie Jones (Mama J)'s Gravatar Marie Jones (Mama J)
    February 22, 2018 - 1:00 pm | Permalink

    The pendulum of faith and life sometimes swings so wide but always returns to true center. Seems that Thomas never really left that ‘center’ while enjoying his ‘little books in little nooks’ while Maria swung widely and insisted on liturgy being ‘translated into life.’ He wrote of imitating Christ and she lived it.
    There! I think I’ve just made a decision! God’s love to you, Thomas, but Maria, step forward for your crown!

  96. Heather W.'s Gravatar Heather W.
    February 22, 2018 - 1:11 pm | Permalink

    This was much harder than I anticipated. So grateful to learn of Maria, yet Thomas a Kempis has been so influential.

  97. john w miller's Gravatar john w miller
    February 22, 2018 - 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Thomas’s long term impact from his writings clinches it for me. He lives on in his masterpiece.

  98. Wynne Osborne's Gravatar Wynne Osborne
    February 22, 2018 - 1:38 pm | Permalink

    A difficult choice today, but I went for the more current saint, Maria. But Thomas was great too!

  99. aleathia nicholson's Gravatar aleathia nicholson
    February 22, 2018 - 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Maria was a servant-scholar. Her studies in theology were lived out as she served where needed in spite of personal unhappiness and tragedies. She was ordained as a nun at the age of forty-one and evidently impressed her bishop who allowed her to serve the poor and needy on her terms. This was a “big deal” as bishops weren’t (and still aren’t !) noted for letting women set their own priorities. Her service to Jewish families proved to be her undoing as this was a final service to those whose lives were in peril. She was sent to a concentration camp and killed in a Nazi gas chamber.

  100. Anchorage1997's Gravatar Anchorage1997
    February 22, 2018 - 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Alleluia for a person like Maria Skobtsova. She’s a model of one who takes up the Cross.

  101. Melanie Mitchell's Gravatar Melanie Mitchell
    February 22, 2018 - 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Maria. Hero.

    She was murdered at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp exactly one month before it was liberated. By the Soviets. What irony.

  102. February 22, 2018 - 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I had to vote for the contemplative Thomas. I too relate to little nooks with little books.

  103. John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
    February 22, 2018 - 2:21 pm | Permalink

    If I had been more constant in my reading of Thomas a Kempis, I might have voted for him, but instead I was deeply moved by the story of Maria, a truly heroic saint, and one whose aid I will invoke in keeping a Holy Lent this year.

  104. Cynthia McChesney's Gravatar Cynthia McChesney
    February 22, 2018 - 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Just wanted to add the fact that I love reading these comments, and I especially love that they are nothing like the comments one usually reads on any other kind of social media post! Thank you for doing this. PS Both were inspirational; I voted for Maria.

    • Ed Totten's Gravatar Ed Totten
      February 22, 2018 - 8:11 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I’m glad there are no comments telling me how I can make lots of money by working at home.

  105. Mark's Gravatar Mark
    February 22, 2018 - 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Voted for Thomas but have little hope for his success today. Nobody ever fares well in LM when they go up against anti-Nazis.

  106. Levator's Gravatar Levator
    February 22, 2018 - 2:55 pm | Permalink

    As someone of part-Jewish heritage there’s no contest for me. Maria it is.

  107. Sandia Tuttle's Gravatar Sandia Tuttle
    February 22, 2018 - 3:23 pm | Permalink

    A friend of mine has, within the past 10 years, published a new translation of “An Imitation of Christ,” and I appreciate the work of both men. I find today’s choice very difficult as Sra. Maria very “real,” as she came to her beliefs by a rigorous and thoughtful process. She put into practice her beliefs in her reading of the scriptures. Both are quite worthy of my vote.

  108. Jim Coleman's Gravatar Jim Coleman
    February 22, 2018 - 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I think the whole theology in action supports a vote for Maria. Thomas had basically withdrawn from the world. He was a “theoretical” Christian, but it doesn’t appear he shared Christ’s love.

  109. Jill Liberty's Gravatar Jill Liberty
    February 22, 2018 - 3:37 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Maria because of her courage and perseverance in the face of mortal danger. I’m glad for her that she returned to her faith. I hope it strengthened her “in mortis examine.” Thomas was a worthy opponent, and I loved “in little nooks with little books.” A question:
    Are Christmas trees customarily put on front doors? I usually put them in the house. Is this another example of the SEC’s quirky sense of humor, or did Tim and Scott really mean “wreaths”?

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      February 22, 2018 - 3:42 pm | Permalink

      I had a moment of confusion over that one, too!

    • Kathy in Nicaragua's Gravatar Kathy in Nicaragua
      February 22, 2018 - 7:20 pm | Permalink

      My family has a cloth Christmas tree that we put on the door to welcome folks during the Christmas season. It’s been down for a few weeks (although we did leave it up past Twelfth Night).

  110. February 22, 2018 - 3:38 pm | Permalink

    One theme that has clearly emerged: lots of us who had never met Mother Maria before came in planning to vote for Thomas! Gratitude to Sandi for the wonderful link to the longer life story. Even as a near-lifelong book nerd and calligrapher, I voted for loving, action taking Mother Maria, who painted church sanctuaries, and gave her life to love Christ in the miserable.

  111. Sr Perlarosa's Gravatar Sr Perlarosa
    February 22, 2018 - 3:53 pm | Permalink

    This was a very difficult choice. I had to chosen Sr. Maria for her sacrifice

  112. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    February 22, 2018 - 4:24 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Thomas — a losing effort, I guess — not just because of “books in nooks”, but because in many ways Thomas provides the road map which Maria followed. The Imitation of Christ is available to anyone, and has inspired many to follow Christ.

  113. Peggy Hans's Gravatar Peggy Hans
    February 22, 2018 - 4:24 pm | Permalink

    As a real Elizabeth (even though everyone from birth forward has called me Peggy), I immediately loved Maria’s birth name, Elizaveta. Maybe not a valid reason to cast my vote, but this woman lived her life and gave her life in service to others. She may have come to the Gospel reluctantly, but she surely embodied it in her actions, something we are all called to do.

    One more thought unrelated to today’s round of voting: Scott and Tim, I am taking your comments to heart: my lovely little white tabletop Christmas tree with the colored lights will be taken down tomorrow. It has cheered me through a difficult December and January, but it’s time. Thank God for Lent.

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      February 22, 2018 - 4:35 pm | Permalink

      I’m planning in sending the last of my Christmas gifts soon.

  114. Amy V's Gravatar Amy V
    February 22, 2018 - 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I work for a printer company, so I had to vote for the author of one of the first printed books.

  115. Katharine's Gravatar Katharine
    February 22, 2018 - 4:40 pm | Permalink

    AAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!! How can I chose?!?! May be time (already!) to bring out my Lent Madness coin to toss…

  116. February 22, 2018 - 4:42 pm | Permalink

    There were many common themes in today’s saints. Both had vital spiritualities and lively intellects. Both put their minds into the service of their faith.

    The choice was difficult, and made harder by the fact that Thomas was a major influence both on John Wesley and Ignatius Loyola.

    I voted for Sr. Maria, on the grounds of her determination to put the faith into practice in the wider world, rather than being merely cloistered away from the wider world; and on the grounds of her martyrdom at the hands of the Nazis.

  117. Adelaide Kent's Gravatar Adelaide Kent
    February 22, 2018 - 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Right on, Oliver! I need more of Mary in my life.

  118. Lisa Keppeler's Gravatar Lisa Keppeler
    February 22, 2018 - 4:59 pm | Permalink

    I keep seeing news about the brave and eloquent Florida students, — who are speaking out in the midst of their grief to put an end to the horrifying level of gun violence in our nation — being slandered and attacked and threatened for raising their voices. How sorely we need people to exhibit moral courage and the willingness to stand up for truth and good against evil, in our day as much as in Maria Skobtsova’s WWII Paris! In honor and solidarity with these teenagers who are an example and a beacon to us all, my vote goes to Maria today.

  119. TJ's Gravatar TJ
    February 22, 2018 - 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Thomas is compelling as he sounds like a fellow introvert, but Maria’s bravery in doing the right thing even unto death is probably the lesson I need more.

  120. Karen Sculley's Gravatar Karen Sculley
    February 22, 2018 - 5:24 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Maria because she made her home “a haven for the lost, the homeless, and refugees” and gave her life in the process (along with her son and the priest whom she convinced to be her chaplain). Beautiful sacrificial living. I wonder what happened to her oldest daughter?

  121. Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
    February 22, 2018 - 5:38 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Maria because she had such a bumpy journey to find her faith. And then, what she did was amazing.

  122. Barbara Cohn's Gravatar Barbara Cohn
    February 22, 2018 - 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Jesus’ message was and is today that the Kindgdom is here on earth. I think Maria showed this in her work.

  123. Margaret brenneman's Gravatar Margaret brenneman
    February 22, 2018 - 5:46 pm | Permalink

    My vote went to Thomas, admittedly in pity for the man. The intellectuals never stand a chance against action.
    A propos of the Christmas tree on the door (odd placement for any kind of tree at any time), my spring wreath full of fake daffodils went up a month ago in the spirit of wishful thinking.

  124. Isobel's Gravatar Isobel
    February 22, 2018 - 6:07 pm | Permalink

    This was a difficult choice but I voted for Thomas – his work copying out the Bible and then his own book brought the knowledge of Jesus to so many people, and still continues to do so. The written word is powerful.

  125. Timothy J. Mannion's Gravatar Timothy J. Mannion
    February 22, 2018 - 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Maria truly inspired herself and others to live out the gospel. May we all learn to do the same. Maria for the win!

  126. Alyssa's Gravatar Alyssa
    February 22, 2018 - 8:06 pm | Permalink

    I filled out my bracket for the church competition before reading all of the bios so I just randomly chose some of them. Tomas is a great and important guy I’d heard of.
    But then, when I read the bios today, I just had to vote against myself, because Maria! I’ll gladly take a loss to honor her.

  127. Toni Ponzo's Gravatar Toni Ponzo
    February 22, 2018 - 8:39 pm | Permalink

    I love Imitation of Christ and go back to it often for inspiration but Maria’s active faith and martyrdom won my vote.

  128. Lindsey age 11's Gravatar Lindsey age 11
    February 22, 2018 - 8:49 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Maria because I think it was amazing that she was Orthodox, then atheist, and then Christian. I also think it was very noble of her to open a house for Russian refugees and especially to open it up to Jews in need of fake baptismal certificates. It was really sad she died in a gas chamber in a concentration camp.

  129. M.'s Gravatar M.
    February 22, 2018 - 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Very hard to decide today. Thomas’ work is widely influential – over centuries and continents. But Maria’s life is also inspiring – and I think the monastery where she studied is the one in which I stayed on my J2A pilgrimage 20 years ago!

  130. Judy from Cape Cod's Gravatar Judy from Cape Cod
    February 22, 2018 - 9:42 pm | Permalink

    As one of the nun’s who taught in my grade school used to declare, “Action speaks louder than words!” Maria exemplified a life of continual learning, growth and love in action.

  131. Constance Santana's Gravatar Constance Santana
    February 22, 2018 - 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Although I was suitably impressed by Maria’s story there is absolutely no way I could cast my vote for her over Thomas a Kempis. From my youth and the first time I heard his name as author of The Imitation of Christ I have been a devotee. I am stunned how far behind he is in today’s match. Oh well, it’s Lent Madness. I would have been more inclined toward Maria if her son had not been killed with her. We don’t hear whether he was an adult who made his decision to die or he just followed his Mom because she was his mother. So sad.

    • Melanie Mitchell's Gravatar Melanie Mitchell
      February 22, 2018 - 10:06 pm | Permalink

      According to the bio, Maria’s second marriage ended in 1926; she and her son were executed in 1945. It would seem that he was at least 19 at the time of his death, possibly older.

      • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
        February 23, 2018 - 12:23 am | Permalink

        And it wasn’t his decision to die, he was murdered by the Nazis.

  132. Tom S's Gravatar Tom S
    February 22, 2018 - 11:07 pm | Permalink

    I’m feeling contemplative today… Thomas gets the nod. Maria is a hard worker, no doubt, but today I need quiet.

  133. Beth's Gravatar Beth
    February 22, 2018 - 11:55 pm | Permalink

    This one was so hard!

    • Elizabeth's Gravatar Elizabeth
      February 23, 2018 - 2:13 am | Permalink

      Yes, very hard comparing a martyr with someone who died a non-violent death.

      I still have a few wilting Poinsettias around the house…

      Glad to have the opportunity of learning about Maria and other saints new to me.

  134. February 23, 2018 - 11:09 am | Permalink

    I would like to take a moment to reflect on what I found similar in these saints. While they seem dichotomous, both saints were very aware of their calling to service and what would threaten it. Thomas’ call was to the written word, and his threat and obligation was to his order and to teach. Maria’s call was to service, and felt obligation to her order may threaten it. Neither was “called ” to greatness. Their greatness was in the breadth of their service. That both of them managed both obligation and service is why they are truly saints, and our source of inspiration.

  135. Kathy in Nicaragua's Gravatar Kathy in Nicaragua
    February 23, 2018 - 12:55 pm | Permalink

    This is a bad year for Celebrity Bloggers named David! Both David Creech and David Hansen have brought us two saints, and all four have lost. Sorry, guys. I actually voted for two of your saints (one each)!

  136. Dale's Gravatar Dale
    February 23, 2018 - 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Maria was brave and listen to the heart of the world against evil.

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