Dominic vs. Marina the Monk

In yesterday's saintly action, Richard Allen defeated Hannah Grier Coome 61% to 39% to advance to the Saintly Sixteen, where he'll face William Wilberforce for a shot at the Elate Eight.

Today it's Dominic vs. Marina the Monk in this intriguing battle of monastics. The winner of this matchup will square off against Ignatius of Loyola in the next round.

Yesterday's contest is, to our mind, one of the best things about Lent Madness (besides the swag in the Lentorium): Two lesser known saints with fascinating backstories amplified under the warm glow of the purple lights, to our collective inspiration and edification. Plus, while she didn't win, the electioneering by the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine in Canada on behalf of Hannah Grier Coome was something otherworldly (she was one of their early leaders). We encourage you to like their Facebook page, where you can see the good work they're doing and watch the slick (okay, heartwarming) campaign video they produced on Hannah's behalf. Nicely done, good sisters!


Dominic Born in Castille, Spain, in the twelfth century, Dominic became an Austin Canon (a priest following the rule of Saint Augustine) and lived in a religious community at the cathedral of Osma. In this role, he gained a reputation for both zealous scholarship and care for the poor. When forced to choose between the two, Dominic sold his books to help the infirm and needy.

As he moved up the church ranks, he traveled on diplomatic missions and in France, he met Cathars, members of a religious sect deemed heretical by the Roman Catholic church. Dominic understood that the only way to convert the Cathars was with missionaries who were both intellectually strong and living under a vow of poverty.

To that end, in 1215, he established the Order of Preachers in Toulouse, France, to supply the church with learned clergy who could travel two-by-two throughout Spain, France, and Italy. The newly founded Dominican Order had a democratic structure with superiors occupying positions of power for short terms. Support from several bishops as well as the pope were critical in Dominic’s success. By design, the Order of Preachers was also closely linked with universities all over Europe. Though he never converted the Cathars, the Dominican Order and Dominic’s ministry has transformed people throughout the ages.

Dominic died in Bologna in 1221 at the age of 51, worn out by his hard work, travel, and austerities. True to his vow of poverty, he was known to fast, wear threadbare clothing in winter, and refuse a bed. Iconography often shows Dominic with a lily, holding a torch, and with a black-and-white dog, which in Latin is a pun of the name domini canes (Dog of our Lord). He is the patron saint of astronomers because when he was baptized, his mother saw a star shining in his chest.

Although several Dominican friars became associated with the Inquisition, Dominic died before it began. However, the Spanish inquisitors had a painting made of Dominic as a sort of anachronistic justification of their actions, and Protestants ran with the characterization, using it to criticize the Dominicans of their day.

Collect for Dominic
Almighty God, Grant unto all your people a hunger for your Word and an urgent longing to share your Gospel, that like your servant Dominic we might labor to bring the whole world to the knowledge and love of you as you are revealed in your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

-Amber Belldene

Marina the Monk

MarinaBefore Joan of Arc led the French army to victory, Marina the Monk shaved her head and entered the monastery.

The details of Marina’s life are sketchy, but it’s generally believed she lived in the fifth or eighth centuries in Lebanon. Her mother died when she was young, and she was raised by her devout Christian father, who planned to retire to the Monastery of Qannoubine after she was married. When she was old enough to marry, Marina asked her father why he would save his own soul and “destroy” hers. He answered, “What shall I do with you? You are a woman.”

She immediately shaved her head, dressed herself in men’s clothing, and took the male name Marinos.

Seeing his child was serious, Marinos’ father was supportive, and the two entered the monastery together, sharing a cell there until he died. After that time, Marinos lived an increasingly ascetic life of fasting and prayer.

But that’s not what the monk is most remembered for.

Some time later, Marinos was traveling on business for the monastery and spent the night at an inn. The innkeeper’s daughter was raped, and when she became pregnant, her abuser told her to name Marinos as the child’s father.

The abbott confronted Marinos. Because the monk did not immediately offer a defense, the abbot took it to be an admission of guilt and forced Marinos to leave the monastery.

Marinos remained at the gates, living as a beggar and raising the child born to the innkeeper’s daughter. A number of years passed before the monks convinced the abbot to allow Marinos to return.

Marinos died at age forty after a brief illness. While preparing the body for burial, the monks were shocked to discover Marinos could not have fathered the child.

Unlike Joan of Arc, Marinos was not dismissed as a heretic or witch. Rather, all reportedly were convicted of how unjustly they had treated the pious monk. Another monk who was blind in one eye even claimed he miraculously recovered his sight during the funeral prayers.

Collect for Marinos
Teach us, Lord God, to refrain from false judgments about the sins of others, and to hold fast to our path of discipleship when we suffer unjustly because of judgments made by others. All this we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our only mediator and advocate. Amen.

-Emily McFarlan Miller

Dominic vs. Marinos the Monk

  • Marinos the Monk (62%, 5,305 Votes)
  • Dominic (38%, 3,205 Votes)

Total Voters: 8,510

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Dominic: Fra Angelico [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Marinos: By Richard de Montbaston, from Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda aurea (traduction de Jean de Vignay), France, Paris [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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208 comments on “Dominic vs. Marina the Monk”

  1. Let Lenten commotion begin again;
    Which saintly contender will win again?
    This monastic, I ween,
    Heads to Saintly Sixteen:
    If anyone can, St. Dominican.

      1. Yes! I tutor adults in literacy in Detroit with the Adrian Sisters. Dominic gets my vote for them and for the Rosary - how was that omitted from this write up?

        1. We don't learn everything in the first round. If she'd gotten to the Elate Eight, maybe the Rosary would be mentioned in the "saintly kitsch"? Just a thought...or you could ask Amber Belldene.

    1. For those of you who thought you'd missed your chance:

      "Domini canis" = "Dog of the Lord"


      1. The excitement over dogs gives me hope that SOME year my nomination of St. Guinefort for Lent Madness will succeed.

          1. I am batting 1000 this vote for my voting record! All on the losing side. Well, I have never sought out, nor been in the company of the popular ones, so this is nothing new. But I think that maybe there is a bit of saintliness in most of us!

    2. "Ween"!! Haven't come across that word this decade! And "Dominc-can"! John, you outdid yourself today.

    3. Hey John Cabot, I read your limericks before I read the biographies and vote. I don't always agree with your choice but I always agree with your use of the language.

      1. Nancy, I agree with your opinion above! I'm a great fan of wordplay, especially puns, and greatly appreciate John Cabot's contributions to this community. As for my choice today, I go with Dominic, for many reasons, but one of which is that, when I was a hospital chaplain, I worked alongside some wonderful Dominican sisters, and I value highly his lasting contributions to the practice of Christianity. I don't blame him for the Inquisition.

    4. Major, major groan! (Which is high praise for a pun.) I was going to vote for Marina the Monk, partly for her wonderful story and partly because the only woman so far in the Saintly Sixteen is Martha of Bethany.
      But your limerick--and having known a pair of amazing Dominican priests--is moving me toward the founder of the Order of Preachers.

    5. Oh, somewhere in the Promised Land the Halo’s shining bright;
      the choir is singing praises, and the church is filled with light,
      and other men are chuckling as they watch children clown;
      but I’ve got a broken bracket — Saintly Dominic’s gone down.

      -- with respects (and apologies) to Ernest Thayer

    1. Isn't it interesting, though, that Marinos's brother monks, who knew Marinos for many years, are not reported as understanding the monks life as "living a lie"? Their shock over the monk's body humbled them into even more fully honoring Marinos. Those who knew Marinos best didn't seem to think Marinos was a poor example of being in full Communion with God.

    2. I had to go for Dominic. My daughter attended a Dominican school from kindergarten on up, receiving an excellent education and giving her a love for social justice!

    1. Thomas, Marinos wasn't transgender. Women of her era who dressed or lived as men did so for safety or security or because of restrictions imposed on them by patriarchal oppression. Please don't disrespect people by posthumously and anachronistically assigning identities to them that they probably did not assume for themselves. (The same thing is often done to Joan of Arc, who wore men's clothes in prison to prevent being raped. It needs to stop.)

      That said, I cast my vote for Marinos for her courage in infiltrating a religious world that excluded women. Had she been discovered or revealed herself, she likely would have been tortured to death or burned at the stake as a witch. Ironically, assumed to be a man, the price she paid for a false accusation of rape was much lower.

    2. How do we know Marinos's self-understanding of gender? I don't think we can assume one way or the other--that Marinos understood herself to be a woman hiding her gender, or that Marinos understood himself to be a man, despite the gender assigned to him at birth. "Transgender" as a category may not have been understood at that time, but people fully embracing lives outside of the gender categories assigned to them at birth is not a new thing nor has it always been for reasons of safety, security, or restrictions, though cross-dressing for those reasons still happens today. I don't think wondering if a historical person would understand themselves to be transgender if given today's vocabulary and gender categories is disrespectful, because being transgender is just one more wonderful way to live out the image of God!

      Even though we can't go back and ask Marinos to clear this up for us, Marinos is a wonderful saint who can be a hero for cisgender women, a hero for transgender people, and a hero for adoptive parents (we could list more groups...) because Marinos shares life experiences with each of these groups.

      1. Alyssa, I appreciate you for your mediation! I had similar glimmers of thought about Kathleen's remarks, but could not have expressed them so clearly.

    1. Yes! A star shining in his chest. And then Dominic went on to fulfill the promise of that star. Dominic for me today.

  2. Marina, who had a wonderfully supportive earthly father and who supported the wronged girl led to bear false witness by her rapist, gets my vote.

    1. Agreed! What incredible strength to not only not reveal herself when accused but also to care for the child herself. Let's hear it for mothers!

  3. «Dominique, -nique, -nique s’en alle’ tout simplement... »

    Sœur Sourire’s song from my high school days will be in my head all day!

    Marina is a new saint to me, and more than a little fabulous. I’m sticking with my old friend. « Il ne parle que du bon Dieu! » Plus, my rector is a former Dominican. And John Cabot’s limerick is the best ever. Sorry, Marina.

    1. We live about 8 miles away from the Dominican Motherhouse in Sinsinawa, WI. We've attended lots of events there, and the Sisters are wonderful, so Dominic got my vote.

    2. This song was the first thing that occurred to me. too! And it is especially pleasing to see you on this line, Mollie! Though I should have expected it. Smallish world, TEC. Greetings from Oregon!


      I had the single as a kid. My mother grew up next door to a convent of French-Canadian nuns, and across the street from a French parish (St. Anne's in Salem, Mass). I inherited the 45 from someone in that house, and wore the grooves off of it on my little boxed turntable. Merci Beaucoup, Mollie, for mentioning the song.

      I did vote for Marinos, nonetheless, because Marinos has something unique to share with the world, and we know the teachings of Dominic so well already.

  4. With science under attack at every turn, the contributions of scholars like Dominic MUST be remembered.

  5. As thankful as I am for intelligent and educated preachers, I had to vote for Marina who probably had a tougher time during her short life.

  6. I’d like to propose a toast…

    Here’s to the monk from Castile
    Known as Dominic.
    Scholarly and helping the poor with such zeal.
    One he had to pick.
    To aid the poor,
    Infirm, and needy,
    Sold his books, stat!
    That opened doors
    He rose quite speedy:
    Does anyone like a diplomat?
    I’ll drink to that.

    Here’s to conversions in France.
    Dom’s idea’s a gas!
    Monks converse with Cathars in delicate dance,
    But they reach impasse.
    And yet the pope deigns to approve
    Dom’s new monastic order!
    Dominicans are on the move –
    Transforming across borders.
    I’ll drink to that!
    And one for Dominic!

    Here’s to Marina the Monk,
    Brought up by her dad.
    If she’d wed, he’d sleep in an aesthetic’s bunk:
    His monastic pad.
    Marina knelt down and pled,
    Told him she’d rather not wed.
    They shaved all the hair from her head.
    Dressed her like a him.
    I’ll drink to them!
    Let’s all drink to them!

    Here’s to the monks in the cell
    They shared ‘til papa died.
    The life of fasting and prayer went quite well,
    ‘Til a raped girl lied.
    She blamed “Marinos” for the child.
    The ex-monk raised the baby.
    She begged for bread and when she died.
    They found out she’s a lady.
    I'll drink to that.

    So, here’s to the saints on the chart!
    Living lives of note.
    On the poor they’d dote
    And you saw they had heart.
    Much too meek to gloat!
    A toast to this most unlikely pair.
    Two monks with gave up more than their share.
    For Dominic/Marina who cared,
    Everybody vote!
    Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote!

    1. Michael, you really are a musical theatre fan: Sondheim! That one's a little harder to sing, but your lyrics are brilliant. Per usual!

      1. Sondheim is a tough sing - plus the rhyme schemes and rhythms change with every verse.

    2. You’ve outdone yourself...the match-up of song, lyric and the refrain of “Vote!” is magical! And I heard Elaine Stritch in my head...

  7. So disappointed by the defeat of Hannah Greir Coome. The Sisters' campaign was awesome and I'm sorry it wasn't successful!!

      1. I can't speak of future brackets, but I hope Hannah fans will not despair. When Francis was in the bracket the first time, he did poorly. Second time, he went all the way to the Golden Halo. Lent Madness is, among other things, a place for second (and third) chances.

  8. Wow. What a story. Marina/Marinos for me. She swallowed her pride and comfort (and saved her skin and likely that of two other people) in a show of compassionate action. And she made the additional sacrifice to raise a child.

    1. When I read Dominic's bio, I thought I would vote for him. But the superb prayer for Marinos and the fact that she humbly endured being falsely accused made me change my mind. I was falsely accused once of assault by a man who, it seems, makes a living bringing criminal charges and then suing for damages. I remember sitting at the defendant's table, listening to him tell his lie, and realizing that he had convinced himself it was true. I leaned on the Lord, knowing He knew what I was experiencing, since He Himself was falsely accused.

  9. Dominic who's powerful legacy is felt even today.

    As for that Inquisition thing, we've had a number of Bishops of Canterbury that were, well, you get the point.

  10. Domenic. Because I want to see him go up against St. Ignatius; I think those two are pretty evenly matched. Plus I am not 100% sure Marina actually existed though I will take your word for it.

  11. ‘Marina’ the monk! She devoted herself to God. Followed the footsteps of her father. Cared for a child that was clearly not hers, fast, and prayed.
    Blue ribbon for any sitting on the back burner.

  12. Marinos/ a / gained my strong sympathy, but I went with Dominic as dominant in influencing history. I now celebrate that one who truly sacrificed personal self for faith triumphs over one who kept the faith in a steady, rational way.

  13. "...her devout Christian father...planned to retire to the Monastery of Qannoubine after she was married.. Marina asked her father why he would save his own soul and “destroy” hers. "
    There is no indication of who Marino/a was to marry, but clear indications in this story that remaining unmarried (upholding the virginal ?) is the better choice.
    As a happily married, book-loving child of a diplomat, my vote goes to Dominic who "sold his books to help the infirm and need" This makes the list of saints in my (um) book. - (yes I know he was unmarried also.)

    1. I think Marina just felt called to monasticism, so being unmarried was the better choice for her, personally. Not a judgment on others.

  14. I feel like I am betraying my “Sisters” today, but but I had to vote for Dominic - Intellect and alif life devoted to Christian principles.

  15. I'm surprise that this would be labelled a battle of monastics. Dominic and his order are mendicants not monastics.

  16. He sold his Books?!!!! That’s quite a sacrifice!
    Still, Marina gets my vote for her defiance of gender norms and for her care of the child.

  17. Our daughters were taught by Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia. What a legacy of devout prayer and teaching was left by St. Dominic. He gets my vote and the Sisters get my eternal gratitude.

  18. This one was really difficult! I had to vote for Dominic because my children are being led in the faith by the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecelia, whose motherhouse is here in Nashville. So many worthy Saints!!

  19. Marina/Marino has a compelling story. But I stand on the shoulders of the Adrian Dominican Sisters who educated me in grade and high school. Today I am in training to be a spiritual director at the Siena Retreat Center, a holy place offered by the Racine Dominican Sisters. So I go with those who taught me!

  20. Marina for me because our society is so quick to judge and to jump to conclusions and confusions.

  21. A haiku for my favorite today, Marina the Monk:

    Marinos the Monk
    Holy man? Holy woman?
    The Lord knew their heart.

    I am so grateful to Lent Madness for the introduction to this saint today!

    1. When reading Marinos' bio, I could not help thinking of Ellis Peters' novels "One Corpse Too Many" and "An Excellent Mystery", which both feature young women seeking refuge in a Benedictine abbey. The second one in particular shares elements with Marina's tale.

      I won't go further and spoil it for you; however, if you have not yet read the Brother Cadfael novels, you are in for a treat: mystery, history, herbal lore and above all, a rich appreciation of the power of God's grace in a time of brutal treachery.

      The TV series was OK (although I always enjoy Sir Derek Jacobi chewing the scenery); the novels are far better. I've enjoyed them all; go forth and do so likewise.

      1. Yay, Ellis Peters! And thank you for reminding me of the title "An Excellent Mystery"; I thought of that story when I read about Marina, but couldn't remember the title (and was too lazy to go to my bookcase to find it).
        Yes, the novels are better, but watching Sir Derek Jacobi playing any part is always worth the time.

  22. Grateful to learn about Marinos, and to repent of my judgements of the past, praying to do better when I know better.