Martin de Porres vs. Dymphna

Today in the Saintly Smackdown©, Martin de Porres faces Dymphna, as we move between 17th century Peru and 7th century Belgium. To get to the Saintly Sixteen, Martin eased past John of Beverley while Dympha defeated Gertrude of Nivelles.

Yesterday, Phocas the Gardener took down Katharina von Bora 60% to 40% to advance to the Elate Eight against Richard Hooker. This marks the second year in a row that a member of the Luther Family will not win the Golden Halo. Last year, Katharina’s husband, some guy named Martin, made it to the Faithful Four before running into the Florence Nightingale juggernaut.

It’s hard to believe but the last battle of the Saintly Sixteen will take place on Monday as Eglantyne Jebb faces Catherine Winkworth. Then it’s on to the Elate Eight! Enjoy today’s vote and we’ll see you first thing Monday morning.

Martin de Porres

Martin de PorresSt. Martin de Porres treated all with respect, even when he wasn’t respected in return. He was tireless in his ministry, even when his efforts were questioned and thwarted. He touched many souls, resulting in a long list of patronages in his name.

Born in 1579 and died in 1639, Martin lived entirely in Peru. He was a lay brother of the Dominican Order. It took 198 years for beatification in 1837 and another 125 years for canonization in 1962.

Illegitimate and the son of a freed slave, Martin refused to let obstacles stop him from his social work. He ministered to the sick, whether nobles or slaves, young or old, rich or destitute, educated or illiterate. After being chastised for caring for an old, dirty, ulcerated beggar, Martin remarked, “Compassion, my dear Brother, is preferable to cleanliness.”

Another reprimand from the prior happened for ministering to a poor, bleeding Indian. Martin’s retort: “Forgive my error, and please instruct me, for I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity.”

A miracle often attributed to Martin occurred during an epidemic. He evidently passed through locked doors to care for the sick in all areas of the facility, with friars suddenly seeing Martin appear next to them. He was also known to offer instant cures to the sick, and to be surrounded by bright light when he prayed.

Martin established orphanages and a hospital for poor children of the slums. He cared for non-humans, too – founding a shelter for stray and sick cats and dogs.

He is known by many names: Martín de Porres Velázquez; St. Martin of Charity; St. Martin the Charitable; the first Black Saint from the Americas; and Saint of the Broom (because no chore, no task, was beneath him).

He hung around with some cool friends who gained fame and notoriety on their own: St. Juan Macías and St. Rose of Lima.

At his viewing, so many sought a relic that his habit was clipped in small pieces, causing three habits to be taken from his body. Reportedly, 25 years after his death, his body was exhumed and was still intact, smelling splendidly.

In artwork, he is often depicted wearing the Dominican lay brother habit with a broom, sometimes with a dog, a cat and a mouse peacefully gathered around the same food dish.

Many people in many places are devoted to St. Martin de Porres. He is the patron saint of African-Americans; barbers; the Roman Catholic Diocese of Biloxi, MS; black people; hair stylists and hairdressers; hotels and innkeepers; lottery winners; Mexico; Mississippi; mixed-race people; Peru; Peruvian Naval Aviators; poor people; public health; public schools; race relations; social justice; state schools; television; Vietnam; all those seeking interracial harmony; and for protection against rats.

-Neva Rae Fox


DymphnaSaint Dymphna has been patroness and brought comfort to those who suffer with mental illness for more than a millennium. She remains actively venerated to this day and is perhaps especially appreciated by those who have felt stigmatized by their diseases. From bipolar disorder to anxiety to the trauma of incest, people pray to her and wear her medal in hopes of intercession. As a renowned beauty, she is a favorite subject of artists.

Princess and daughter to a petty Irish king, Dymphna was baptized along with her mother and dedicated herself as a bride of Christ at the age of fourteen. When her mother died shortly after, her father Damon suffered a mental decline. He sent his servants to find someone as beautiful to replace his wife, but no one could be found.

Accounts are unclear about what caused King Damon to set his sights on marrying his daughter. Some traditions suggest he was advised by evil counselors, others that he confused Dymphna with her mother, and still others that he was unable to resist strange thoughts that entered his head.

Dymphna fled his incestuous plans with her priest, two servants, and the fool from her father’s court. The party took refuge in Geel, Belgium. Several religious hermits lived in the village at that time. Using her father’s money, Dymphna founded a hospital for those who, like him, suffered from mental illness. This action illuminates her compassion both for her distraught father and for those who, like her, had experienced the trauma or grief of a loved one’s mental decline.

Tragically, it was through the expenditure of his money that King Damon was able to trace his daughter to Geel. When she refused to marry him, he murdered her priest, then decapitated her. After she was martyred, her remains were buried in a cave near Geel. Later they were moved to a silver reliquary, however the Church of St. Dymphna still stands on her original burial site. Her relics are associated with the healing of both epilepsy and mental illness. Some of her remains can also be found at the Shrine to Saint Dymphna in the United States (Ohio).

However, Dymphna’s greatest legacy remains the tradition in Geel of compassion to those who suffer from mental illness. Born of her own suffering, her seventh century act of mercy created this culture of care. As pilgrims seeking healing flocked to the town in the middle ages, the Church of St. Dymphna overflowed. So following her example, the townspeople welcomed the afflicted into their own homes, treating them not as patients but family. To this day, the citizens of Geel still do so, opening their homes for weeks or months at a time. Some visitors take refuge in Geel as Dymphna once did and stay their entire lives, finding acceptance and peace thanks to her holy witness.

-Amber Belldene

Martin de Porres vs. Dymphna

  • Martin de Porres (62%, 3,964 Votes)
  • Dymphna (38%, 2,386 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,350

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Martin de Porres: St. Martin de Porres stained-glass window at St. Pancras Church in Ipswich, England./Public Domain
Martin de Porres: St Dominic’s priory church in London
Dymphna: Derry St. Eugene’s Cathedral Chancel East Window Lower Panels 2013 09 17, via Wikipedia

125 Comments to "Martin de Porres vs. Dymphna"

  1. Carolyn D. Mack's Gravatar Carolyn D. Mack
    March 16, 2018 - 8:03 am | Permalink

    Martin for me. He did what he could and what God gave him the power to do.

    • Margaret's Gravatar Margaret
      March 16, 2018 - 10:47 am | Permalink

      Tough choice today. I voted for Dymphna though, because those who suffer from mental illness are so misunderstood and vilified today. They need a patron, and we need to raise awareness.

      • Kate's Gravatar Kate
        March 16, 2018 - 3:33 pm | Permalink

        I so agree!!!

  2. Michael Wachter's Gravatar Michael Wachter
    March 16, 2018 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    I voted for Dymphna in support of all victims of incest and other forms of sexual assault.


    • Ed's Gravatar Ed
      March 16, 2018 - 7:55 pm | Permalink

      Some say we currently have a president (king?) who wants to date his own daughter.

  3. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    March 16, 2018 - 8:11 am | Permalink

    I found this one difficult (actually I’m finding this whole year difficult – can it be something somebody thought up to do with the matchups to keep us hooked. um, interested? Oh, surely not).
    Anyway, somewhere on Martin’s lengthy patronage list is the key to my vote today.

    • Mary E. Winston's Gravatar Mary E. Winston
      March 16, 2018 - 8:24 am | Permalink

      This was difficult for me too. As a child, we always had a statue of St. Martin in our home. I always talk to him during this difficult time in our country. St. Dymphna was always around in our home as well but we need a Martin!!!

  4. Debbie Northern's Gravatar Debbie Northern
    March 16, 2018 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    Even though Dymphna’s memory has helped people with mental illness, the life of Martin won him my vote. Although facing discrimination, he followed God’s call to minister to the poor. His witness is important today as we struggle with responses to combat hatred, discrimination, and poverty. Plus I like protection against rats and maybe next power ball he can help me be a lottery winner!

    • March 16, 2018 - 9:01 am | Permalink

      Nicely said, Debbie. I, too, cast my vote for Martin for his humility and his strength. I especially appreciate his sharing his food with a cat, mouse, and dog!

      • Elaine's Gravatar Elaine
        March 16, 2018 - 9:39 am | Permalink

        The cat, mouse, and dog sharing food from the same bowl (sometimes there’s a bird instead of one of the others) represent his bringing together people of different racial groups – a miracle then as it can be now!

        But he was also said to have told a mouse they found in the monastery that if he would tell all his fellow mice to stay out of the monastery, Martin would bring them food in the garden. It’s said that that worked – Martin took food out to the mice, and they stayed out of the monastery!

    • Lisa from TExas's Gravatar Lisa from TExas
      March 16, 2018 - 10:37 am | Permalink

      I think it is worth remarking that you chose Martin over Dymphna on the basis of his record of coming against discrimination, poverty, and hatred which are three things that make living with mental illness such a struggle. If you are able to work with a mental illness, it’s often not at a well paid job, and if you can’t work disability payments keep you well covered in poverty. Hatred and discrimination accompany mental illness through a lack of understanding.
      This is another match in which a difficult choice must be made between two worthy saints.

      • Lisa Anne's Gravatar Lisa Anne
        March 16, 2018 - 11:52 pm | Permalink

        Lisa from TExas, hello, I am also Lisa from Texas.
        I agree, this was a hard choice. Either one is worthy of our vote!
        I ultimately chose Dynphna, as you did…but I love St. Martin’s compassion and ability to put his feelings into words.
        Note: I’m a mental health counselor–and my cat is named Martin–he’s no saint, though.

  5. March 16, 2018 - 8:19 am | Permalink

    This was a hard decision – two worthy saints! While I love Martin’s compassion and pithy comebacks (“Forgive my error, and please instruct me, for I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity.”) my vote went to Dymphna.

    I am a bi-vocational priest, serving as an assistant and also working at a nonprofit (Compeer) that matches volunteers in friendship connections with our friends in the community who experience chronic mental illness. There is still too much stigma around understanding and caring for the least of these that many want to ignore in our communities. Go Dymphna!

  6. Sylvia Temmer's Gravatar Sylvia Temmer
    March 16, 2018 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    Sometimes choices seemed easy…but this one is difficult. I went with Martin de Porres but now I want to go to Geel as a kind of tribute to the citizens who followed Dymphna’s example!

  7. March 16, 2018 - 8:25 am | Permalink

    No particular comments. They are both well qualified.

  8. Gloria Ishida's Gravatar Gloria Ishida
    March 16, 2018 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    Another difficult choice. I wish these wonderous people could stand alon. Finally went with Martin.

  9. TJ's Gravatar TJ
    March 16, 2018 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    Martin, for his undercover snark and allergy to hypocrisy.

  10. Michael Moore's Gravatar Michael Moore
    March 16, 2018 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    Very difficult choice today. Martin by a very small margin for extra courage in speaking truth to power and for the ability to walk through locked doors.

  11. March 16, 2018 - 8:39 am | Permalink

    Really a tough choice! Wish I could have voted for both of them. I voted for Martin for his lengthy resume and his, as TJ said, undercover snark.

    • Myrline Winkler's Gravatar Myrline Winkler
      March 16, 2018 - 10:20 am | Permalink

      Me too, Nancy. What a difficult choice. March Madness is much easier!

  12. Belle's Gravatar Belle
    March 16, 2018 - 8:41 am | Permalink

    I’m sure Martin will win this one, and that’s fine; both of these saints are worthy of the Golden Halo, imho. And we need people of color to be represented. But I had to vote for Dymphna, as an abuse survivor and advocate for the mentally ill. I even have a medal of her, picked up in a Catholic gift shop. The folks in Geel were so far ahead of their time, it’s astounding.

    Honor to both of these wonderful figures.

  13. Izzie's Gravatar Izzie
    March 16, 2018 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    Dymphna because of the effect she had on the town to welcome the mentally ill into their homes.

    • Jackie's Gravatar Jackie
      March 16, 2018 - 9:19 am | Permalink

      And that her legacy for caring lives on!

      • Lynn's Gravatar Lynn
        March 16, 2018 - 10:23 am | Permalink

        And also for suffering with such love the same kinds of abuse women have always suffered. Her compassion while maintaining her innocence is beyond admiration!

        • Alicia's Gravatar Alicia
          March 16, 2018 - 6:23 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I voted for her for the same reasons. Both are certainly worthy!

  14. Bryan's Gravatar Bryan
    March 16, 2018 - 8:47 am | Permalink

    Martin definitely wins because of how caring and nurturing towards every race. He stood up for the minorities

  15. Shan's Gravatar Shan
    March 16, 2018 - 8:48 am | Permalink

    I’m from Mississippi so feel compelled to vote for St. Martin, the patron saint I never knew we had.

    • Ann's Gravatar Ann
      March 16, 2018 - 9:16 am | Permalink

      Yes, Martin for me, too, and I hope he gets the Golden Halo this year!

  16. Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
    March 16, 2018 - 8:58 am | Permalink

    I had to go back to the Round 1 tape for these two and still it was no easy choice. I hope whoever gets left behind today has a comeback chance in a future Lent Madness. Dymphna inspired the opening of many doors, but I to go with Martin, who passed through all obstacles to stay on his chosen path with humility, compassion, courage, and quiet humor. Anybody who could pill a cat, cut hair, and fly has to be Golden Halo material!

  17. Joanne B. Parrott's Gravatar Joanne B. Parrott
    March 16, 2018 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    Neither got my vote the first time around, but I’m going w/Dymphoma
    for her mental illness connections in honor of my mother’s psychologist
    who was recently murdered.

    • andrea's Gravatar andrea
      March 16, 2018 - 4:26 pm | Permalink

      So sorry for your loss. I was thinking about voting for Martin, and then I read this and voted for Dymphna. Also in support of those who have suffered any kind of sexual assault/abuse.

  18. March 16, 2018 - 9:01 am | Permalink

    Martin is an inspiration. And you guys have posed us another iconographic challenge here in the Index of Medieval Art, where we will be hard at work trying to find out why his attributes include the animals eating from the same dish. Almost as tough as Gertrude’s cats…!

    • Elaine's Gravatar Elaine
      March 16, 2018 - 9:46 am | Permalink

      The animals represent different racial groups in Lima. Not a one-to-one connection, but the fact that he’s brought together supposed “natural enemies.” As a person of mixed race, Martin himself would’ve been called a “dog.”

  19. Geri's Gravatar Geri
    March 16, 2018 - 9:02 am | Permalink

    My vote goes to Martin, patron saint of lottery winners and for protection against rats — what a combination.

  20. Maria Jackson's Gravatar Maria Jackson
    March 16, 2018 - 9:09 am | Permalink

    God’s servant Martin gets my vote for the content of his character

  21. Mary Hickman's Gravatar Mary Hickman
    March 16, 2018 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    Shan, I live in Mississippi and never knew we had a saint also. I had to vote for St. Martin. I want to design a mandala of him with a broom and a cat and mouse eating from the same dish. I am inspired to learn more about him. One never knows what one will learn from Lent Madness !!!

  22. Mary-Theresa Anderson's Gravatar Mary-Theresa Anderson
    March 16, 2018 - 9:32 am | Permalink

    Martín was his brothers keeper.

  23. Carol's Gravatar Carol
    March 16, 2018 - 9:32 am | Permalink

    Thank you for adding the links to the previous write-ups–very helpful, since I like to reread them to have a fuller picture in mind as I make these difficult choices. I had to go with Martin this time, since I was impressed at how feisty he was in his determination to put his compassion into action.

  24. Alan Christensen's Gravatar Alan Christensen
    March 16, 2018 - 9:32 am | Permalink

    Dymphna would be a fitting patron for #Metoo. I also love the fact that her entourage included a fool. This is a tough choice today; I’m voting for Martin based on his example of humble service, but Dymphna is worthy.

  25. Bee's Gravatar Bee
    March 16, 2018 - 9:34 am | Permalink

    What a decision! At the moment I am leaning towards Martin for his determination to speak truth to power and for his broom but I am finding it impossible to click the button and leave Dymphna behind. It is astounding that her determination to welcome the mentally ill and to care for them has made such a lasting impression on the town that she lived in. I am going to go for a reflective lie down and perhaps return to my vote later

  26. Leamarie's Gravatar Leamarie
    March 16, 2018 - 9:35 am | Permalink

    I had to go with Dymphna. Mental illness and sexual assault carry such stigma, how brave of her to care for these folk when most would shun them. Martin is certainly a worthy person, so I don’t mind if he wins, but my vote went to Dymphna today.

  27. Jenny's Gravatar Jenny
    March 16, 2018 - 9:39 am | Permalink

    This vote is so hard. There is such a need for ministry and right understanding and compassion towards the many in our society today who struggle with mental illness, but as one trained by Dominicans I have a deep love for Martin de Porres!

  28. March 16, 2018 - 9:45 am | Permalink

    As a psychiatrist and a woman, I must vote for Dymphna, who is my matron saint. In my early years of training little was understood about the effects of cruelty toward children in creating the symptoms that we found in our patients. Dymphna was a source of help to us as we looked deeper into her story and the stories of those suffering “mental illness”. She taught us that adolescents who run away are often fleeing the intolerable abuse within their family. Her decapitation by her father can be understood as the lingering symptoms of dissociation, the defense the mind is forced to take in times of inescapable torture. Now with the #metoo social movement, Dymphna can stand as the example the reality of sexual abuse of those who are in a vulnerable position and need help both for escape and to express the truth of their of situation.

  29. aleathia nicholson's Gravatar aleathia nicholson
    March 16, 2018 - 9:49 am | Permalink

    This was a “Baddy” as far as making a choice. Martin is so widely known, especially among Blacks of many nationalities. The legends, if not realities, of his relics and body after a long time after burial, and many miracles are legendary,,,,BUT…Dymphna’s life is legendary and her efforts to heal the mentally ill and women sexually abused strike a chord today. Martin will probably continue the lead he has but I will always vote my heart and conscience, win or lose.

  30. Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
    March 16, 2018 - 9:52 am | Permalink

    Go snarky St. Martin de Purrs!

  31. March 16, 2018 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    A tough one.. So much to live about both these saints! I went with St. Martin because he’s the patron saint of public schools, and because one of my best bosses ever was from Peru!

  32. Sarah's Gravatar Sarah
    March 16, 2018 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    I was leaning toward St. Martin, and then realized that Dymphna also spoke truth to power, by standing up t someone who was incredibly ill, and I voted for her. My question is often why do the mentally ill have so much power over us—in family, politics, society. Ministering to them is not the question, we need to love and serve them as brothers and sisters. But then comes the enabling, and I sigh as I pray. God help us all.

    • Sarah's Gravatar Sarah
      March 16, 2018 - 9:56 am | Permalink

      “Standing up to someone”

  33. Anthony Lee's Gravatar Anthony Lee
    March 16, 2018 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    Much as I admire Dymphna’s work with the mentally ill, I’m going with the guy who used sarcasm against his superior.

  34. Diane Roehl's Gravatar Diane Roehl
    March 16, 2018 - 10:02 am | Permalink

    The choice was so difficult today that I had to read the biographies twice. As an abuse survivor, my heart was touched by Dympha’s compassion for her father. Now I’m off to the internet to find a Dympha medal.

  35. March 16, 2018 - 10:05 am | Permalink

    This ranks right up there on the difficulty meter in making a choice. I loved Martin’s snark, but I voted for Dymphna because of her work with the mentally ill. I’ll be satisfied with either of them advancing on to the next round.

  36. March 16, 2018 - 10:08 am | Permalink

    Both saints are Halo-worthy but Dymphna has been my comfort for 20 years now, as I am the survivor of a multigenerational pattern of trauma. She is a good patron saint for #MeToo. Whoever wins, I’m glad that her story is being more widely shared.

  37. Kathryn's Gravatar Kathryn
    March 16, 2018 - 10:14 am | Permalink

    Very difficult choice but I chose Dymphna because her influence in Geel continues still as they open their doors to the mentally ill, a group that many of us find off-putting at least if not frightening.

  38. St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
    March 16, 2018 - 10:15 am | Permalink

    Martin seems to have had a quick wit, which appeals to me. The story of Dymphna remains fantastical to me.

  39. Nadine's Gravatar Nadine
    March 16, 2018 - 10:15 am | Permalink

    Despite a long public health career, I didn’t know ’til today that we have a patron saint. It’s Martin for me!

  40. Judy from Cape Cod's Gravatar Judy from Cape Cod
    March 16, 2018 - 10:27 am | Permalink

    Most difficult decision yet!! As I read the biographies I free associate and Martin’s story had me thinking of another disobedient Martin; Martin Luther King Jr. He too chose (civil) disobedience in the name of justice and love for all. We need more creative and loving nonviolence in this dark age in which we are living. Let’s bring Dympna back next year.

  41. March 16, 2018 - 10:39 am | Permalink

    I have blogged about Dymphna. Her legacy lives today in a revolutionary treatment for mental illness, a whole community that offers loving care in their own homes instead of jails, with hospitals used as short term backup.

  42. Story's Gravatar Story
    March 16, 2018 - 10:40 am | Permalink

    Ugh, do I vote for the protector of mixed-race people because of my kids or do I vote for the protector of those with mental illness for my own sake?

  43. March 16, 2018 - 10:47 am | Permalink

    Casting my vote for Martin. “Forgive my error, and please instruct me, for I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity.” Gotta love that.

    I appreciated learning more about why exactly Dymphna is associated with care for the mentally ill.

  44. Carol Ingells's Gravatar Carol Ingells
    March 16, 2018 - 10:50 am | Permalink

    I voted for Martin, though it was a difficult choice. We so need his example and steadfastness in our chaotic world today.

  45. Katrina Soto's Gravatar Katrina Soto
    March 16, 2018 - 10:53 am | Permalink

    Martin had me at Public Schools.

  46. Betsy in Reston VA's Gravatar Betsy in Reston VA
    March 16, 2018 - 10:56 am | Permalink

    What a tough choice!! Both are worthy, but since this is the quirks and quotes round Martín de Porres won on both fronts: “I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over precept of charity” and that twenty five year old splendid smelling corpse! And who can resist the Saint protector against rats??? (Maybe that’s why it smelled so splendid, the rats left it alone. And he was after all into cleanliness).
    Just waiting for the broom in the Kitsch Round.

  47. Richard Adams's Gravatar Richard Adams
    March 16, 2018 - 11:02 am | Permalink

    This one is a toss-up. Among the saints we have been following, both are top seeds who ideally should have met in the final four. I can only vote for one and it is St Martin by a hair, as barbers often do. Why? He stood up to ecclesiastical hypocrisy. But in some ways Dymphna has more to show. She has a 14 century legacy of fighting for the stigmatized. She should not lose at this stage.

  48. Dr. Robyn's Gravatar Dr. Robyn
    March 16, 2018 - 11:04 am | Permalink

    I have not commented so far. I’m really struggling with this one! I think I want reassurance that whichever saint gets voted off the island will appear again next year!

    • Lane's Gravatar Lane
      March 16, 2018 - 11:50 am | Permalink

      I think those who do not move to the next bracket must wait out a couple of years. I wait in hope for the next time my man JW rejoins the bracket.

  49. Clement Alfa's Gravatar Clement Alfa
    March 16, 2018 - 11:05 am | Permalink

    As many have suggested, this is the most difficult choice I’ve encountered in the bracket thus far. Alas, there can be only one winner, one Golden Halo. As either saint might have done, I went with supporting the perceived underdog in this contest.

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      March 16, 2018 - 11:10 am | Permalink

      Can you please explain to me why people vote for “the underdog”? Why is that a desirable action? And what does it accomplish?

      • Kathy in Nicaragua's Gravatar Kathy in Nicaragua
        March 16, 2018 - 1:50 pm | Permalink

        For me, when I find both saints admirable and I am pretty well convinced that one will win, I may vote for the “underdog” just to make the statement: this person is also worthy of a vote. I know my vote won’t prevent the front runner from winning, so it doesn’t “hurt” anything. But sometimes it just feels good to support the one who’s going to lose. Does that make sense?

        • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
          March 16, 2018 - 3:00 pm | Permalink

          Thank you. It does make sense. But “voting for the underdog” makes no good sense, to me. I like/need reasons.

      • Clement Alfa's Gravatar Clement Alfa
        March 19, 2018 - 12:13 pm | Permalink

        Kathy in Nicaragua pretty much hit the points as they apply here, and to me! I suppose it’s worth highlighting the parallel to sports fandom — where “rooting for the underdog” can have a lot going for it. Let’s take basketball (the “patron bracket” of the madness we currently enjoy) — a team may have one dominant, superhuman scorer that makes it difficult for the opposing team to actually win the game, even if they have great players, team chemistry, play well, all that fun stuff. But I may prefer to root for those qualities over the one dominant player, maybe in part because I feel like their virtues are overshadowed.

        Also, if your “dark horse” (i.e. the underdog) DOES triumph, then celebrating the win is that much more satisfying. Bigger risk -> bigger reward. That parallel doesn’t carry over to Lent Madness quite as well, but it’s part of the dynamics of underdog support.

        • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
          March 19, 2018 - 5:48 pm | Permalink

          I guess I’ll have to take your word for it. Voting for some one or thing just because they are behind does not compute as the saying goes. There must be a better reason.

          • Ed's Gravatar Ed
            March 19, 2018 - 6:30 pm | Permalink

            Maybe voting for the underdog means that the runner-up wasn’t all that bad, and one doesn’t want to hurt his/her feelings.

  50. Michelle's Gravatar Michelle
    March 16, 2018 - 11:11 am | Permalink

    Martin for me because of his tireless work with the poor and the ill and his founding of “orphanages and a hospital for poor children of the slums. He cared for non-humans, too – founding a shelter for stray and sick cats and dogs.”

  51. Camille's Gravatar Camille
    March 16, 2018 - 11:25 am | Permalink

    So many great saints in this year’s LM. I said it before & I’ll say it again, Martin all the way to the GH.

  52. Ann of NH's Gravatar Ann of NH
    March 16, 2018 - 11:28 am | Permalink

    I must echo all the others who have opined about this difficult choice. St. Martin was wonderful in so many ways, but St. Dymphna had such a profound effect on the people of Geel that they still provide care for the mentally ill over a thousand years later ! The mentally ill deserve extra help because most are unable to advocate for themselves. St. Dymphna has my vote.

  53. Yet another margaret's Gravatar Yet another margaret
    March 16, 2018 - 11:31 am | Permalink

    Martin, for creating a shelter for cats and dogs.

  54. March 16, 2018 - 11:38 am | Permalink

    I have to remind myself that these forced choices don’t mean one saint is more important than the other; it’s simply a device so that I can learn more about them and think about the qualities that make them the most meaningful for me at this time. However, all too often, both have wonderful characteristics and demonstrations of God’s work through their willing hands and hearts. I am glad I found out more about both these saints. These has been my Lenten discipline!

    • Susan's Gravatar Susan
      March 16, 2018 - 1:25 pm | Permalink

      What a wise and thoughtful post. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the fun and competition of Lent Madness when, in fact, it’s true purpose is to deepen our Lenten discipline and spiritual practices. Thank you for the thoughtful reminder!

  55. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    March 16, 2018 - 11:40 am | Permalink

    Dymphna for the Halo!

  56. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    March 16, 2018 - 11:47 am | Permalink

    Another very difficult decision. So tempted to vote for Martin, who in addition to his many admirable qualities adds sarcasm and a sanctuary for dogs and cats into the mix; but following a conversation this morning about the way in which people with mental illness are marginalised and judged, I vote for Dymphna, and give great thanks for the continuing witness of the people of Geel.

  57. James Oppenheimer's Gravatar James Oppenheimer
    March 16, 2018 - 11:54 am | Permalink

    I worked for over thirty years in psychiatric hospitals, and saw a lot of the sufferings of those with mental illness. I recall that when I first began working, there was a film shown to us to give a sense of the thrust of rehabilitation of the mentally ill. It was the story of Gheel (Geel) and began with the legend of Dymphna. According to the film, Her father was overcome with mental illness, which was why he wanted to marry her. According to that version of the legend, after he had done his dreadful deed, he was miraculously completely healed of his mental illness (although it would be quite a burden to carry the realization of what he had done through the rest of his life). I’ll always have a special place in my heart for this saint, but in comparing the two, I felt that Saint Martin De Porres was the more remarkable. It is fascinating that he came from such a modest beginning, but his story would be no less amazing had he come from a life of entitlement and riches. He strived to help the unfortunates among the poor, and it surely must have been a horribly overwhelming and thankless job, much like putting your fingers in holes in the dike. When one thinks how difficult it can be today trying to give help to never ending need, what we experience is just a tiny molecule of a drop in the bucket compared to what Martin dealt with — every single day. Nevertheless, he persisted. He pressed on.
    Much as I love the legend of Dymphna, I had to go with Saint Martin de Porres. I wonder if this could be the one who wins the GH of 2018…

  58. Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
    March 16, 2018 - 11:56 am | Permalink

    Why isn’t Dymphna the matron saint of Lent Madness?

    • Susan's Gravatar Susan
      March 16, 2018 - 1:18 pm | Permalink

      LOL. That’s brilliant!

  59. LoisAnne's Gravatar LoisAnne
    March 16, 2018 - 12:10 pm | Permalink

    This is difficult. However, Martin got my vote because of the way he tended to all, rich or poor and especially that he opened a sanctuary for stray animals. I am sure that was rare in his day.

  60. Margaret L's Gravatar Margaret L
    March 16, 2018 - 12:13 pm | Permalink

    What a tough choice. However, I was amazed by Dymphna’s forgiveness of her father and inspired by her compassion for those with mental illness. Both Martin and Dymphna acted with courage and love in a climate of fear. I chose to vote for Dymphna.

  61. Judy Hoover's Gravatar Judy Hoover
    March 16, 2018 - 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Having a daughter with epilepsy, I must vote for Dymphna.

  62. Heather Swearingen's Gravatar Heather Swearingen
    March 16, 2018 - 12:17 pm | Permalink

    What an impossible choice. As a hairstylist with an ethnically diverse family, including those with mental illness and I’m a me too survivor. Both these saints touch me to the core. What to do?

    • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
      March 16, 2018 - 12:50 pm | Permalink

      Flip a coin? Draw lots? Ask yourself WWJD? Or you could do what I did and vote for the one with the least votes because you’ll likely have a chance to vote for the other in the Elate Eight round next week.

      • Susan's Gravatar Susan
        March 16, 2018 - 1:16 pm | Permalink

        An interesting approach!

      • Heather Swearingen's Gravatar Heather Swearingen
        March 16, 2018 - 10:05 pm | Permalink

        I like it! Problem solved. Thank you.

  63. Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
    March 16, 2018 - 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Dymphna—for Geel, for #metoo, for just me

  64. Christina Thom's Gravatar Christina Thom
    March 16, 2018 - 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Hard one, Martin stole my heart with being real to others. I myself got my wrist slap for doing good once. Now it is part of the story of our parish.

  65. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    March 16, 2018 - 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Wow, another really tough one.
    While I am very, very impressed with Martin (and his witty retorts!), Dymphna cared for people who were even more mistreated and despised than the poor. The poor were ignored; epileptics were believed to be possessed by the evil spirits (and treated accordingly). Also, she not only gave up a lifestyle of wealth and position, she gave up her actual life, as well.
    What really convinced me to vote for her, though, is that her legacy is still alive and well in Geel where her influence and example continue to thrive through the behavior of the local populace many centuries later. That is truly impressive and inspiring.
    I am so impressed with Dymphna that I’m hoping she makes it to the Golden Halo!
    Go, Dymphna!

  66. March 16, 2018 - 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Sigh. One of the toughest choices I’ve faced this Lent. After due consideration, I went with Martin because his connection to the Americas was so multiform and so strong. That said, I will probably work to see that our treatment of the mentally ill will include foundations like those of St. Dymphna in Geel. And I will treasure and use my holy cards for both in my prayer life.

  67. Mary Lou Creamer's Gravatar Mary Lou Creamer
    March 16, 2018 - 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Anothe extremely difficult choice to make today. As I watched students at one of our local high schools this morning deal with two suicides of fellow students this week, I couldn’t help but think of the importance the work of Dymphna was in helping the mentally ill, and wondering if we haven’t fallen down somewhere in our modern society. But Martin stole my heart many years ago with his kindness and charity to all of God’s living creatures. In reflection, it also makes me realize how far we have come and how far we have to go. When I look at this country today, I also think we’re backsliding in what Martin aimed to do for all people. In the end, when I had to choose, I couldn’t vote against the patron saint of public school, which seem to be under fire from so many different segments of society, including occupant of The White House and his minions.

  68. Saada haddad's Gravatar Saada haddad
    March 16, 2018 - 1:54 pm | Permalink

    The reminder to treat all with respect and compassion came at a personally relevant time. I pray for the faith and goodness of St. Martin De Porres to keep me focused on our lessons from Christ.

  69. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
    March 16, 2018 - 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Martin of Torres reminds me somewhat of my “favorite” saint of all time, Francis of Assissi. Each had his own calling, his own way of fulfilling it, but both were so filled with love of God that it spilled over to all of God’s creatures. I just have to vote for Martin today.

  70. john w miller's Gravatar john w miller
    March 16, 2018 - 2:07 pm | Permalink

    With the continued neglect and stigma attached to mental illnesses, at least in this country, Dymphna stands as an example and hopefully a beacon of hope for many.

  71. The Rev Jane W Van Zandt's Gravatar The Rev Jane W Van Zandt
    March 16, 2018 - 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Martin got me for ministering to sick cats and dogs. That, and his selflessness in general.

  72. Tom Coleman's Gravatar Tom Coleman
    March 16, 2018 - 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Margie always thinking of you. Wish you could have known about St. Dymphna,
    maybe you do now. R.I.P. Bug. I love You.

  73. Everett H. Klein's Gravatar Everett H. Klein
    March 16, 2018 - 4:00 pm | Permalink

    I voted for St Dymphna because she had compassion on people not very well understood or cared for in society. We can learn much from her and the inclusiveness of her efforts. God’s love is all encompassing. It is not just for those who are well.

  74. Lee Greenawalt's Gravatar Lee Greenawalt
    March 16, 2018 - 4:03 pm | Permalink

    The Mission to mental illness needs to be lifted up. The poor and the animals have many saintly prayers.

  75. Heather W.'s Gravatar Heather W.
    March 16, 2018 - 4:14 pm | Permalink

    As many have written, today’s choice was a tough one, one of the most difficult in a while. Although the vote looks quite uneven, based on the comments it is a closer race. Perhaps consider reviving Dymphna in a future Lent Madness?

  76. Timothy J. Mannion's Gravatar Timothy J. Mannion
    March 16, 2018 - 4:18 pm | Permalink

    I voted for both of these wonderful people previously, but this line won me over today:

    “Forgive my error, and please instruct me, for I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity.”

    Martin for the win!

  77. Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
    March 16, 2018 - 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Martin; I’ve admired him since I was a kid. It’s great to learn he had such a snarky wit! But the vote was tough. I’d love to see Dymphna back in a future edition. Thank you, Amber Belldene, for the additional details. Somebody seriously needs to write a historically informed novel about this young woman.

  78. Maryw47's Gravatar Maryw47
    March 16, 2018 - 6:41 pm | Permalink

    An impossible choice! I went with Dymphna only because I have a family member who deals with depression and anxiety. Both saints are truly inspiring, and St. Martin’s representation of Black, mixed-race and Mexican people is so important now when forces are at work in our society trying to take race relations back in time and strengthen white supremacy. We are all God’s children, period.

  79. Carie's Gravatar Carie
    March 16, 2018 - 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Dymphna for me, my mother suffered from mental illness and my daughter had battled it. We need more understanding for mental illness it is a disease like any other.

  80. Nora's Gravatar Nora
    March 16, 2018 - 7:49 pm | Permalink

    Tough one today. Hard to vote against an Irish lass on the eve of St. Patrick’s day but St. Martin’s charity that extended to animals one me over.

  81. Dianne's Gravatar Dianne
    March 16, 2018 - 8:39 pm | Permalink

    We should vote for anyone who helped people with mental illness. Her efforts still are making an impact in a tangible way today. How many saints can you say that about?

  82. Peggy Hans's Gravatar Peggy Hans
    March 16, 2018 - 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Two very worthy saints. I voted for St Martin, but hope we again see Dymphna and her ministry to those with mental illness. A ministry we all should share.

  83. Patrice Rohde's Gravatar Patrice Rohde
    March 16, 2018 - 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Such a hard choice today. While I find both stories incredibly inspiring, their current relevance also saddens me, because we still have so many issues with race, gender, class, and species-based prejudices; not to mention, mental illness and sexual assault. If we could somehow combine Martin and Dymphna, they would be unstoppable, and each would probably be more than happy to share their halo with the other.

  84. JoAnne Powers's Gravatar JoAnne Powers
    March 16, 2018 - 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Martin de Pores for me: he could be called the patron saint of snark.

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      March 16, 2018 - 11:32 pm | Permalink

      Yeay SNARK!

  85. Judy Bye's Gravatar Judy Bye
    March 16, 2018 - 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Considering what’s going on in our country right now, our next mission trips should be to Geel. Those people have overcome their fears and know how to welcome strangers. Even, and especially, the crazy ones. Sometimes I think we are a pathetic lot. I voted for Dymphna.

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      March 16, 2018 - 11:30 pm | Permalink

      Always I KNOW we are a pathetic lot.

  86. Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
    March 16, 2018 - 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Hum, I thought I voted this morning but that was pre-coffee and the option to vote is still here, and I did check the results this morning while reading the comments so maybe that’s why after reading the comments at the time so may have thought I voted. Anyhoo, it was pre-coffee. So I’m going to vote.

  87. Smokey's Gravatar Smokey
    March 16, 2018 - 11:33 pm | Permalink

    As the mother of a daughter with mental illness, I was drawn to vote for Dymphna. Tough one today

  88. Beth Parkhurst's Gravatar Beth Parkhurst
    March 16, 2018 - 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Part of the reason I voted for St. Dymphna in the last round was that she’s the patron saint of people with neurological disorders. When I read in today’s write-up that St. Martin de Porres is the patron saint of MS, I got all excited and figured I’d found my champion. Then I looked into it a little more and learned that Martin is the patron saint of Mississippi. Oh well. But I’m still voting for him.

  89. Beth's Gravatar Beth
    March 17, 2018 - 12:06 am | Permalink

    This one was hard!

  90. Karen Sculley's Gravatar Karen Sculley
    March 17, 2018 - 7:53 am | Permalink

    Voting late here … Martin it is, for his beautiful compassion!

  91. Rachel's Gravatar Rachel
    March 18, 2018 - 9:07 am | Permalink

    Do we not vote on the weekends?

    • JoAnne Powers's Gravatar JoAnne Powers
      March 18, 2018 - 6:29 pm | Permalink

      No, only on weekdays.

  92. Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
    March 18, 2018 - 10:45 am | Permalink

    St Martin de Porres might very well have known St Turibius of Mongrivejo . . .

    From the Catholic Calendar app on my iPhone:

    St Turibius of Mongrovejo (1538 – 1606)

    He was born in Spain in about 1538 and studied law at the university of Salamanca. He was named bishop of Lima in 1580 and sailed to America. Full of apostolic zeal, he traversed his gigantic diocese three times, generally on foot, baptizing, teaching and confirming the natives. He assembled many synods and councils to make the Church strong, organised, and above all holy; and he strongly defended the rights of the natives, who were Spanish citizens according to the law but who were nevertheless being oppressed by the colonists and the provincial governors. He died in Lima on 23 March 1606.

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