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. Sabine Baring Gould notes that Marina’s miraculous deeds did not stop with her death:
    “The relics are said to have been brought to Venice in 1113 . . . from the suburbs of Constantinople, and were placed in the church of S. Liberalis at Venice, now called by
    her name. The body is entire, with the skin covering the dry flesh and bones. Not a single bone is missing. However, another body is shown at Pavia as that of S. Marina. 'A thorny question between the Pavians and the Venetians,' say the Bollandists ; 'for it is clearer than the noon-day sun that the same saint cannot repose in two places at the same time.' But a third body of S. Marina is preserved in the abbey of S. Marina de Flastris, near Tolentini, in the marches of Ancona. A fourth body, like the other three, incorrupt, is at Spoleto. But a church in Paris, dedicated in 1228 to S. Marina, claimed, before the Revolution, also to possess the relics of S. Marina; other portions of a body of S. Marina at Tournai, and in the church of the abbey of S. Marie Descouvier, in the diocese of Rouen.”

  2. Although my priest is a Dominican, and I was ready to vote for his guy, I was moved by Marinos, and reminded that we are so judgmental. THERE is a vice to give up for Lent.

  3. Gender identity is such an interesting and baffling part of the human experience.

  4. Marina!
    I just met a monk name Marina!
    And suddenly that name
    Will never be the same to meeeeeee!

    1. Oh, dear! I may have to vote for Marina/os after all, just because that song is going to be today's ear worm.

      But then, there's the longing for life close to God, taking the blame for someone else's wickedness in order to spare the woman, and raising the child. I'm not sure Marina/os was indeed transgender or if s/he was doing what other women have done over the years to protect themselves and/or to have the life they truly chose, but my vote is going to her/him.

  5. I had Sisters of St. Dominick in elementary school, hence, I did NOT vote for Dominick. I voted for the unknown woman (on so many levels) because it's time she was acknowledged.

  6. I was all set to vote for Marina, when I read her prayer about not judging for the sins of others - since I was judging Dominic by the sins of the inquisition and the poor administrators of Dominican Colleges (PC for one.)

  7. The legend about Marinos is a fascinating one that resonates with present day gender concerns, but it is of dubious historical value. We don’t even know what century Marinos might have lived in, if indeed the monk existed at all. Therefore I voted for Dominic, a great and worthy saint who actually lived, whose life reflected heroic sanctity, of whose history we know a great deal and whose life and influence still enrich the Church today, including of course through the learned religious order of Dominican friars he founded. The Latin pun on Dominic’s name should be “Domini canis,” using the singular, not the plural, of the word for dog in Latin.

  8. This is so difficult ... Dominic’s intellectualism, service, and dog pull so. Yes, the Dominicans became enmeshed in the Inquisition, but they were also influential, if not decisive, in later debates on indigenous humanity. Pedro de Gante and Bartolomé de las Casas, Dominicans who did Dominic proud. But Marina, patron saint of all people who had to pretend to be something they weren’t in order to live who they were, how is she not worthy of honor? Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, 17th century Mexican nun who refused marriage to become a nun so she could be an intellectual, and died serving the poor ... yes, Marina is most worthy. Who to choose?

  9. Interesting fact: Dominos Pizza is named after the order of Dominican nuns, as the founder once was cared for by one of their orphanages.

    I'm a cat person and I was moved by what Emily wrote, so I voted for the one who in the example of Saint Joseph raised someone else's child.

  10. According to my Oxford Dictionary of Saints, there is no evidence that Marina ever existed outside pious fiction. Even had she been a real person, my vote would not have gone to her because the hagiography you give is very different to that provided by the Oxford Dictionary. As a former teacher and a promoter of literacy, my vote goes to Dominic, a real person, whose work continues to this day through the order he founded.

  11. This is a tough one... As a librarian, the thought of giving up ones books to serve the poor is wonderful, however, giving up ones reputation to serve the needs of a innocent child causes me to cast my vote for Marina.

  12. HOW CAN YOU NOT VOTE FOR CHRISTIAN MULAN? 😀 Marinos all the way!
    Also I'm surprised no one else has brought up whether Marina/Marinos was a trans man or just living as a man because being a woman was so much more restrictive... It's always hard to discern whether we're participating in trans-erasure or acknowledging how determined and cunning women can be to live the life they want!

  13. If only it was the parable of St. Marina. I so hope her day has arrived! The lesson of such harsh judgement and punishment and the revelation of the undeniable truth, is profound. The story has lived and died since the 8th century. We still seem to require just such irrefutable proof as this.

  14. Seems a very appropriate contender in this time of coming to understand transgender brothers and sisters.

  15. I think the greatest joy of Lenten Madness is discovering lesser/unknown saints. They are like jewels tucked into our history and I appreciate your efforts to discover more about them and bring this to us. Do I need to add that St. Marina won my vote?

  16. Dominic, for the sake of nostalgia for the songs we used to learn about him when I was a kid.

  17. While there is not way for us to know if Marina/Marinos was transgender, she/he/they give us a way to think about trangenderism in our communities of faith. Does it matter whether she/he/they were male or female, or does their faithfulness and willingness to endure matter more. This is why I am voting for Marina/Marinos.

  18. I always have an aversion to people spend spend time and/or treasure attempting to covert people who are already in the Christian fold. So I vote for Ste. Marina...although neither of them stand out for me as examples to follow.

  19. What to do? What to do. This is the 2nd time, this year, that I wished I could have voted for the dog. I actually voted for Marino's because of her discipleship to care for and protect an innocent child who would have been marginalized by society at that time.

  20. Marina/Marinos certainly has an interesting story, but I'm going with Dominic and his missionary zeal. They're both monastics, but it seems to me that Dominic's goal was to reach out to the world outside the monastery while Marinos' goal was to retreat from it.

  21. Had to vote Dominic in honor of my favorite O.P., Fr. Joe Gillespie. Nobody leads a Lenten Fish Fry bingo night like he does!

  22. Thanks for pointing us to the SSJD Facebook page. Great production--cues taken from the Supremes, and even embellished--, well thought out. I hope Hannah will be back on board again in the future.

  23. I always like the underdog. Dominic has made a lasting impression on the church and most traditional Christians know his name if not his story. The story of Marina/Marino’s is a compelling testimony of a deeply personal faith. She lived in Christ rather than in the world.

  24. I would like to know what became of the
    He must have still had a hard life
    Being raised by a beggar
    Where was the mother
    And I think if she had told the truth
    Maybe the monks might have helped
    Them more rather then ostracizing her
    I voted for Dom because as a leader
    Of Christ’s teaching he was straight
    Forward was did not have to lie
    To show his love for God