Martin de Porres vs. Maria Skobtsova

The fast and furious pace of the Saintly Sixteen continues today as Martin de Porres faces Maria Skobtsova. To get to this round, Martin defeated John of Beverley and Dymphna while Maria took down Thomas à Kempis and Quiteria.

In yesterday's saintly action, Richard Hooker and his three-legged stool buried Phocas the Gardner and will face the winner of tomorrow's battle between Anna Alexander and Eglantyne Jebb in the Faithful Four.

As we get deeper into the season, many of the Lent Madness faithful must decide between two saints they voted for in previous rounds. Oh, the agony! And yet in the end, despite all the amazing saintly souls, only one will emerge victorious.

Martin de Porres

Martin de Porres paintingSt. Martin de Porres Velázquez, born in 1579, died in 1639, and lived his entire life in Peru. After years of disrespect and oppression, he was eventually admitted as a lay brother of the Dominican Order.

Martin was known for his kindness to those with no hope; his compassion to the sick, the weary, and children; his healing abilities; and his miracles.

In artwork, windows, statues, statuettes, medals, holy cards, posters, and books, he wears the Dominican lay brother habit, often with a broom (because no chore was beneath him), sometimes with a dog, a cat and a mouse or a bird.Friar Broom Movie cover

He is a media star, too. Among the movies and television shows depicting his life are the 1963 film Fray Escoba (Friar Broom) and 1975 Un mulato llamado Martin.










A character in the popular 1980 novel A Confederacy of Dunces prays to Martin for justice for black factory workers. Jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams honors him with “St. Martin De Porres,” a track from Black Christ of the Andes.

Book cover

Album cover







Martín de Porres Velázquez - St. Martin of Charity - St. Martin the Charitable - the first Black Saint from the Americas - Saint of the Broom – pray for us.

-Neva Rae Fox


Maria Skobtsova

Being a Russian Orthodox nun living in Nazi-occupied France, you might think that Maria Skobtsova would not have much in the way of kitsch. You would be wrong.

Maria IconMaria excels not just at poetry, not just at theology, and not just at Nazi-fighting, but also at kitsch-producing. Behold, for starters, this lovely icon. It includes a quote from her, as well as the crucifix she showed the German official who asked her where she was hiding the Jews during her interrogation. (Not without a sense of humor, was Maria.)Street sign

She also has her own street in Paris!  That’s right!  Smack dab in the 15e Arrondissment, a street sign memorializes the life of “Mère Marie Skobstova,”  (In English the sign reads: Resistance member assassinated at Ravensbruck)

embroidery Oh, did I not mention she was an artist?
YOU BET YOUR BORSCHT SHE WAS. Look at this icon she embroidered!  (That’s embroidery, y’all.)

Saint painting


And this one, that she drew, of a Russian saint who I’m sure is very holy, but appears to be doing a little dance!

Now, perhaps you are a bit sad, because what you are looking for is some fun kitsch. Some wacky kitsch. You’re in luck!

If you truly want to follow in the poetry-writing, icon-embroidering, beer-drinking footsteps of Maria, then firstly, you need a crucifix. I recommend this one. It is an excellent size to brandish in the face of any fascists you might encounter in your daily life. Carry it in your pocket and if someone asks you to do anything evil, pull it out and wave it in their face! Also wards off vampires, so: bonus!

Quote from SolomonYou’ll also need a notebook, for those flashes of inspiration. There are many to choose from, of course. We have the inappropriately-religious themed (that’s….not what that verse is about) to the humble-brag themed, to the hipster meme-approved! Definitely something for everyone! (My money is on Maria owning the last one.)


To conclude on a more solemn note, Maria did leave a final, poignant bit of herself behind, as well as a lot of amazing work and inspiration. While she was in Ravensbrück, she traded her bread rations each day for a bit of colored thread, so she could continue to make art. She embroidered icons, including one of the British landing at Normandy, until she died. Her work, up until her final moments, was bringing light and joy into the lives of those around her in any possible way she could, even in the worst possible conditions. And miraculously, her final work survived the camps.

-Megan Castellan


Martin de Porres vs. Maria Skobtsova

  • Maria Skobtsova (62%, 3,854 Votes)
  • Martin de Porres (38%, 2,400 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,254

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159 comments on “Martin de Porres vs. Maria Skobtsova”

  1. I voted for Maria because she let people into her house and died for them. Her daughter and son died.

    1. Martin did so much more and he let sick people in ad cured them and helped the poor and Minority even if he wasn't treated correctly

      1. Spot on Bryan! Martin and the Uof K both lost yesterday. I'm done with Lent Madness this year. Time to focus on Holy Week and Easter.

  2. What a struggle! I voted for both in earlier rounds. However, I'm going with Martin today, because of the many groups for which he is the patron: Peru! and public health workers, particularly. Tough choice!

  3. As someone who never saw a saint who looked like me, I’m pushing for Martin all the way to the finish line!

    1. Wallace, you may have just swayed my vote in this tough pairing. We all need saints of God who "are just folks like me"!

  4. A foot and a half of snow, can't get out, cats wait, not patiently, what would Martin do ?

    1. Probably shovel a little space just outside the door, as I used to do. Thankfully, my cats are now of the indoor persuasion.

      1. 4 are, 3 aren't — 2 cans of food, a few cups of dry left — needing strong solar power today

          1. I, too, thought you meant the cats. Horrors! Won't the outdoor cats condescend to use the litter box in an emergency?

          2. I credit my vote for Martin de Purrs getting the driveway cleared(St. Carla had much to do with the labor of that) but the temperature was above freezing so clearing and "finding" the car under 12+ inches of snow was a lot easier and quicker than could reasonably be expected. I'm sure it was Martin's smile- the cats have now gotten the proper/usual amount of food since I was able to get to the store. Go Martin!!

    2. Thank you St. Carla for getting Donna's driveway cleared.
      Now, if St. Martin de Purrs could thaw enough soil that the outdoor cats can get their business accomplished and covered...or do they dig in the snow and use that to cover up afterwards?

  5. Martin is one of the saints venerated at my church, so I had to vote for him. Besides being poor, black, and a lay person from South America people like this are all too often overlooked! Go Martin!

  6. On Monday, in the pouring rain, I visited Civitella Della Chiana, a tiny Tuscan hill town where in 1944 the Nazis massacred over 100 people including the parish priest, who refused to be exempted, as a reprisal. That moving experience has captured my vote in this round.

  7. I went with Maria. It was a tough choice voted for both earlier. Had to support her fight for all humans. Can’t get the song out of my mind. “I once knew a girl named Maria . . .”

    1. Of course, there’s that other song:”How do you solve a problem like Maria?”! (I voted for her, though.)

  8. More tough decisions no loosers in these brackets. I am compelled to Maria for her devotion, her sacrificing for others, her sence of humor, and that she enjoyed a glass of beer from time to time.

  9. Lovely animals, helping those with no hope, happy to sweep up and good at flight and bilocation - just the Saint I need as I wait for an international flight ..go Martin, go.

  10. Wow, I voted for Maria thinking that Martin would soundly defeat her, so when I saw the vote totals so far I was blown away! Both of these saints are deserving, so no argument with whoever wins this round.

  11. Today it was Martin for me. I was won over by the jazz album and the "Poof! I'm healed!" illustration and the jazz album. (Although Megan's "You bet your borscht she was" gave me a good pre-breakfast chuckle!)

    As a side note, our newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, had an article yesterday on Anna Alexander, in honor of Women's History Month. How about that, Lent Madness Global Public!

    1. Cool! And you and other Lent Madness fans could say, "I know about her from Lent Madness!"

  12. This was such a difficult choice. As other's have said, both are deserving, so who to vote for?? I voted for Maria but I'm still torn. Will be happy no matter which one wins. That said, google Maria (no matter who you vote for) and look at the many images - they're very moving, especially the images that show her with a cloth and thread. Some of them really reminded me of my mother and grandmother, so much so that I'm crying into my coffee!

  13. My vote for Martin. I’m not doing well on this round, but it’s ok. I have to follow my heart.❤️

  14. "Her work, up until her final moments, was bringing light and joy into the lives of those around her in any possible way she could, even in the worst possible conditions. And miraculously, her final work survived the camps." I loved this. Both are deserving. The rounds get tougher and tougher.

  15. A saint who stood up to the threat of facism and treated all with compassion, vs a saint who made a difference despite the scourge of racism and treated all with compassion. I see Christ clearly in each of them. What a hard choice!

    1. Well said, Patrice! I fully agree. This vote was the toughest choice for me, so far...both are so deserving!

  16. I also went for Martin because I have admired his humility and determination in the face of prejudice and injustice for a long time. However, I would not be disappointed if Maria wins and I am sure Martin would cheer her on for her courage and determination to do what was right instead of what was easy.

    1. Same here. I've long admired Martin and vote for him today as the underdog. But I am very happy about MARIA, a brand newly admired saint in my book. Here's a verse I wrote for her in the last round in celebration of her witness that a nun could be a free spirit and evil could be met with whimsical defiance (i.e. the Mary icon gift to the Nazis). I reprint it here in hopes that somebody else can expand it into a PUB SONG:

      When fascism raises it’s fear mong’ring head,
      and the Bandwagon March has begun,
      Dance a song of faith and wit instead,
      in the steps of the good Russian nun.

      1. Oh, yeah! There's probably a hymn tune that would work also--a real tw0-fer.

  17. That one's artistic work survived a concentration camp is indeed a miracle. That's the sort of miracle I can believe in. And the concept of brandishing a crucifix in the face of fascists is too charming to pass over. Whenever I see the white supremacist talking heads on large-screen TV's airing a maleficent station that rhymes with Pox, I can wave a crucifix at them, and that will be very satisfying. Plus Mother Marie had a sense of humor. How can I not vote for a bonne vivante who was "assassinated" by spitters upon poetry and tramplers of icons? Va, Marie!

  18. I vote for Martin today because perhaps it may be harder to fight every day evil and dispair than to fight obvious evil and dispair.

    1. Thank you Susan. I agree with you. I will vote for Martin for doing the hard thing over and over when it would be easy to give up/in.

  19. I had to go with Maria today. All I could see in my mind's eye was my Volga Deutsch grandmother saying. "You want 'my' Jews? I'll show you a Jew!!" And then shoving a crucifix in a Nazi's face. My grandmother's voice compels me, haha.

    1. I love your grandmother! This was the hardest decision yet. Both are so deserving, but I went with Maria who stood up to the Nazis.

  20. This bracket is getting as tough as the Basketball brackets. Do I vote for Martin today
    because I think Esther will easily win later? Or vote for Maria & toss a coin for that challenge?
    Problem solved-Maria of the cloth & thread.

  21. This has been the most challenging choice yet. I re-read the first two entries on each saint. I've been participating in Lent Madness for three or four years now, and this is only the second time I read the comments before voting. Each time I decide, "I'll vote for . . ." there's a "but . . ." I think finally I am going to have to vote for Martin. I think it's important for us to recognize saints of color and the Lent Madness crowd has a tendency to ignore the more historical saints as well. In addition, I have been in the presence of his remains in Lima, Peru. (I wasn't close enough to discern how they smelled!) But Maria is certainly worthy of everyone's vote who chose her. What a hard decision today.

    1. What you said, Kathy! And it's time for the Southern Hemisphere to be represented as well!

  22. Both are worthy contenders. The daily struggle and courage of Martin and the extraordinary self-sacrifice of Maria Skobstova are different but great examples of the human spirit and what Judaism calls "tikkun olam", THE IDEA THAT JEWS BEAR RESPONSIBILITY NOT ONLY FOR THEIR OWN MORAL, SPIRITUAL, AND MATERIAL WELFARE, BUT ALSO FOR THE WELFARE OF SOCIETY AT LARGE (WIKI).

  23. This was the hardest choice I have had to make. They are both so saintly and would fit on opposite sides of a mug, but I finally went with Martin, whom I first encountered on a trip to Peru.

    1. How about it, Lent Madness? A mug for this really hard match-up with both these wonderful saints? Great idea, Karen.

  24. So I’m pretty sure Maria is going to win this one (and she would be most deserving) but any saint depicted with a dog, a cat, a mouse, and/or a bird who finds no task too menial gets my vote!