John Chrysostom vs. Margaret of Cortona

Welcome back for the first FULL WEEK of Lent Madness 2019. If you’re just joining in the fun, we’re glad you’re here! There’s plenty of madness to go and we’re delighted to have people jump aboard the purple Lenten train at any point in the season.

Over the weekend, in the only Saturday battle of the season, Ignatius of Loyola strode past Tikhon of Zadonsk 65% to 35% to advance to the Saintly Sixteen, where he’ll face the winner of Dominic vs. Marina the Monk.

Today we make our first foray into the Miscellaneous quadrant of the bracket as John Chrysostom faces Margaret of Cortona. Perhaps we should have had a play-in round to decide, once and for all, whether the correct pronunciation of “Chrysostom” should have the accent on the first or second syllable. But however you pronounce it, this should prove an intriguing battle to kick off your Monday.

And don’t forget, later today, in order to make your Monday complete, Tim and Scott will be releasing another epic episode of everyone’s favorite penitential viewing experience: Monday Madness. Stay tuned! (or just binge-watch old episodes).

John Chrysostom
John ChrysostomJohn Chrysostom was born to a wealthy family around 345 ce in Antioch, Syria. His father, a commander of imperial troops in Syria, died at an early age. John felt a call to monastic life early but stayed with his mother, acting as a caregiver. When the time came for his education, John was sent to study with the great pagan orator Libanius. John excelled in his education. (Later, at the time of his death, when asked who should succeed him in the leadership of his school, Libanius is reported to have said, “John, had not the Christians stolen him.”) John would ultimately use his intellect to become one of the great doctors of the church.

Around 373, John became a hermit and took to an ascetic life, continually standing, scarcely eating, and reading the Bible constantly. Like so many at this time, his asceticism would later impact his health. John was made a deacon in 381 and a priest in 386. From 386-398, John would earn his surname Chrysostom (literally, the “golden-mouthed”) through powerful sermons and oratory. In fact, his Easter sermon is still read from pulpits around the world today. Against his wishes John was made bishop of Constantinople in 397.

His focus on reform and care for those who were poor and vulnerable won him a good deal of respect and admiration. But Chrysostom was often blunt and tactless and did not shy away from criticizing people with incredible power. His disputes, first with Theophilus, the bishop of Alexandria, then with Empress Eudoxia, led to the Synod of the Oak, in which he was deposed. One year later, despite support from Pope Innocent I and much of the Western Church, Chrysostom was convicted of unlawfully resuming his episcopal duties and was exiled.

By this time, Chrysostom was in poor health from his years of asceticism. He was nonetheless forced to march to Pontus in extreme heat. He died in September of 407 from the toll the journey took on his body.

Collect for John Chrysostom
O God, who gave your servant John Chrysostom grace eloquently to proclaim your righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of your Name: mercifully grant to all who proclaim your word such excellence in preaching, that all your people may be made partakers of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

-David Creech

Margaret of Cortona
MargaretMargaret of Cortona grew up in Laviano, Italy, where her family farmed the land. Margaret was a beautiful girl and an only child. Her mother died when Margaret was only seven years old. Her father remarried, and Margaret had a treacherous relationship with her stepmother.

When she was seventeen, Margaret met Gugliemo di Pecora, lord of Valiano. She became the nobleman’s servant. Gugliemo recognized Margaret’s beauty and began to offer her gifts and attention. Margaret became Gugliemo’s mistress and had a son.

When they had been lovers for about ten years, Gugliemo went on a journey. When he didn’t return, Margaret became worried. Then Gugliemo’s dog came home alone, went directly to Margaret’s room, and began whining. Margaret followed the dog into the woods until the hound began whimpering over a pile of sticks. Margaret immediately set about moving brush and found the body of her lover in a hole below.

In her shock and distress, Margaret left the home of her murdered lover and took her son to her father’s house. They were turned away, and so Margaret knocked on the doors of the monastery of Cortona. The monks welcomed the mother and son—and her son later became a friar there.

Margaret practiced extreme acts of penance. She clothed herself in rags and slept on hard ground. She cut and bruised her face in order to mar her beauty. When she visited her hometown, she hired a woman to lead her around like a beast on a rope, yelling, “Look at Margaret, the sinner!”

Margaret joined the Order of Saint Francis and chose to live in poverty, often begging for bread to eat. She became a nurse and began a hospital for those who were sick, poor, and homeless. And she was willing to stand up to authority figures, even chastising a bishop for his violence and plundering.

Throughout the rest of her life, Margaret was drawn to God, not through severe acts of self-punishment but through the mystical reality of God’s love for her. She became known as the second Magdalene because of her tears and Christ’s love for her.

Collect for Margaret of Cortona
O God, as your servant Margaret of Cortona found a home where her repentance led to a life of prayer, service, and leadership, Grant that we may always seek to dwell where estrangement yields to reconciliation, through Jesus Christ, who is himself the goal of all our seeking and the answer to our desires, unto whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.

-Carol Howard Merritt

John Chrysostom vs. Margaret of Cortona

  • John Chrysostom (53%, 5,156 Votes)
  • Margaret of Cortona (47%, 4,522 Votes)

Total Voters: 9,678

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John Chrysostom: Dionisius [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Margaret of Cortona: By Jacopo Alessandro Calvi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

219 Comments to "John Chrysostom vs. Margaret of Cortona"

  1. John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
    March 11, 2019 - 8:00 am | Permalink

    A challenging candidate’s Chrysostom:
    The “golden mouth” hits some and misses some:
    His homilies can vex
    (Those on Jews and same-sex)
    But on Easter it’s hard to rhysostom.

    • Kate the Catechist's Gravatar Kate the Catechist
      March 11, 2019 - 8:45 am | Permalink

      Love your limericks. It is hard to rhysostom!

      • Kate the Catechist's Gravatar Kate the Catechist
        March 11, 2019 - 1:29 pm | Permalink

        But of course, I did rhystostom this time. I voted for Margaret.

    • kesmarn's Gravatar kesmarn
      March 11, 2019 - 9:48 am | Permalink

      This is just SO wonderful.

    • Charles Stuart's Gravatar Charles Stuart
      March 11, 2019 - 9:53 am | Permalink

      John and Margaret present us with a pair of rather off-putting ascetics. Never sitting down? Engineering one’s own public humiliation? Yuck. But my vote goes to Margaret because at least she is not associated with the Church’s vile history of anti-Semitism. I like that she lived fully in the broader secular world before shunning it. Her good works in nursing and taking on Church corruption are compelling. And, yes, the story of the dog.

      • March 11, 2019 - 10:31 am | Permalink

        WI voted for her for many of the same reasons. Plus, I am also a Margaret…

        • Jaden Flaherty's Gravatar Jaden Flaherty
          March 11, 2019 - 10:55 am | Permalink

          I liked how Margaret served penance for so long, even though her sins weren’t so great.

      • Karin's Gravatar Karin
        March 11, 2019 - 11:18 am | Permalink

        I agree, Charles. I didn’t particularly “like” either of these. I ended up going with the hospital over the oratory.

      • Mary Jane C. Ingalls's Gravatar Mary Jane C. Ingalls
        March 11, 2019 - 11:40 am | Permalink

        I hold similar sentiments as expressed by Charles Stuart. The example of self-loathing by dear Margaret and, asceticism by John are Christian “values” that are of little service to the enlightenment of people who are trying to follow Christ in our world. I do not believe that people in the past should be made accountable to current sensibilities; however, I hope we lovers of Lent Madness can make suggests for competitors in the future who reflect a more positive approach to spiritual development.

        • March 11, 2019 - 1:19 pm | Permalink

          Same here. This is the first time in my 5+ years of Lent Madness that I can’t vote for either one. Glorifying self-harm does not make for a trauma-sensitive church.

          • Jean's Gravatar Jean
            March 11, 2019 - 4:45 pm | Permalink

            like this but I voted for Margaret because of John’s vitriol against the Jews

        • Margaret Hasselman's Gravatar Margaret Hasselman
          March 11, 2019 - 2:24 pm | Permalink

          I wish more had ben said about John’s beliefs and arguments. And I wish Margaret had been placed in her historical context; it was not until you mentioned the Franciscans tha I came out of 4th century thinking. But thanks anyway.

      • Beth North's Gravatar Beth North
        March 11, 2019 - 12:05 pm | Permalink

        I agree – come on voters – join the Margaret coalition!

      • Wendy Buczynski's Gravatar Wendy Buczynski
        March 11, 2019 - 1:48 pm | Permalink

        Charles you put it so well. My thoughts exactly, another vote for Margaret!

      • Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
        March 11, 2019 - 1:49 pm | Permalink

        I agree with yuck for these two souls. Had to go with Margaret and her puppy dog.

    • NLT's Gravatar NLT
      March 11, 2019 - 10:12 am | Permalink

      Love it!

    • Sarah's Gravatar Sarah
      March 11, 2019 - 11:18 am | Permalink

      Love the poetry. However, I felt called to vote for Margaret today.

      • Linda's Gravatar Linda
        March 11, 2019 - 1:59 pm | Permalink

        I voted for Margaret because her journey and repentance which she demonstrated through her life of prayer and service is foremost on my mind during this lentant season. I didn’t think we were glorifying self harm; I just saw that as part of her journey. The point being by grace and God’s love we are all forgiven.

    • March 11, 2019 - 9:00 pm | Permalink

      Awesome, but I voted for Margaret. I’m verlooking the self mutilation as a phase and focusing on her service.

  2. Michael Wachter's Gravatar Michael Wachter
    March 11, 2019 - 8:00 am | Permalink

    The show tune tribute today features one of your favorite songs from many people’s favorite musical. Please sing this to “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music”…

    Picture it. Antioch in the 4th Cent’ry.
    Dad’s a commander which means they are gentry.
    Left wealth to get what monastic life brings.
    These were John Chrysostom’s favorite things.

    For several years, John became an aesthetic,
    Then, once ordained, preached his sermons poetic.
    Cared for the poor. Chewed out bishops and kings.
    These were John Chrysostom’s favorite things.

    He was defrocked
    And was exiled
    While his health was bad.
    If John knew his sermons were still preached today,
    Perhaps he would not feel sad.

    After a troubling youth in Laviano,
    St. Margaret served a rich lord in Valiano
    They became lovers. A son the stork brings.
    He was just one of her favorite things.

    When the lord died, how her father would shun her.
    Moved to Cortona with monks. What a stunner!
    Practicing penance with poverty’s sting,
    Nursing the poor was her favorite thing.

    No, she wasn’t mad.
    She challenged authority, cared for the poor.
    Vocation made Margaret glad.

    • Tammie's Gravatar Tammie
      March 11, 2019 - 8:19 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the humor this morning – excellent lyrics!

      • Elizabeth's Gravatar Elizabeth
        March 11, 2019 - 1:26 pm | Permalink

        This makes the consideration of these 2 contenders much easier, and less dreary.

    • Mariclaire's Gravatar Mariclaire
      March 11, 2019 - 9:06 am | Permalink

      Thank you! Very, very impressive!

    • Kathy Hartley's Gravatar Kathy Hartley
      March 11, 2019 - 9:30 am | Permalink

      Wonderful! Great start to the morning!

    • kesmarn's Gravatar kesmarn
      March 11, 2019 - 9:51 am | Permalink

      Well done!

    • Charles Stuart's Gravatar Charles Stuart
      March 11, 2019 - 9:59 am | Permalink

      Your verse sparks Lenten joy. So much so that between Lent Madness, lectionary readings, and Lenten study, this season almost doesn’t feel sufficiently penitential. Then I remember that I’m fasting, too.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 11, 2019 - 10:04 am | Permalink

      Oh bravo, Michael! Bravo! It’s so much fun to sing your songs to my husband in the morning. Keep ‘em coming!

    • Debbie Basile's Gravatar Debbie Basile
      March 11, 2019 - 10:14 am | Permalink

      Amazing! Hysterical! Inspired!

    • Jane Trambley's Gravatar Jane Trambley
      March 11, 2019 - 10:43 am | Permalink

      Well done, Michael! I voted for Margaret, who seems to me a real-life Cinderella. Am I the only one who keeps getting reminded of Disney movies this year?

      • Michael Wachter's Gravatar Michael Wachter
        March 11, 2019 - 2:22 pm | Permalink

        Which other Disney movies have you been reminded of?

    • bundle's Gravatar bundle
      March 11, 2019 - 10:54 am | Permalink

      Awesome Michael! I love “favorite things” and I was able to hum it while I read your poem! Julie Andrews would be so proud of you!
      by the way I voted for Margaret. Very hard decision!

    • Marianne's Gravatar Marianne
      March 11, 2019 - 3:13 pm | Permalink

      Well done! I sang it.

      • Paul Kett's Gravatar Paul Kett
        March 11, 2019 - 7:47 pm | Permalink

        Me too.

    • Paul Kett's Gravatar Paul Kett
      March 11, 2019 - 7:48 pm | Permalink

      Wonderful! Thank you.

    • Linda Barnard's Gravatar Linda Barnard
      March 12, 2019 - 1:32 am | Permalink

      You came through again, Michael!! Great stuff!! I look forward to your posts each day!

      Linda Barnard

      • Linda Barnard's Gravatar Linda Barnard
        March 12, 2019 - 1:35 am | Permalink

        Forgot to say I voted for John. Must be Michael’s lyrics…..

  3. Donald Harting's Gravatar Donald Harting
    March 11, 2019 - 8:09 am | Permalink

    Awesome! What a great way to start the week!
    Thanks so much!

  4. St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
    March 11, 2019 - 8:10 am | Permalink

    I have to say, I don’t want to vote for either of these arch-ascetics. The extreme penitence and asceticism practiced by early figures is, in my view, a poor model for the rest of us struggling sinners. I was disturbed by John’s harsh practices and then downright appalled by Margaret’s self-disfigurement. Today we have girls succumbing to bulimia and anorexia. And John’s golden tongue could perhaps have been more valuable had he been willing to persuade and work in alliance with other “social justice warriors” to effectuate the beloved community. I have to share Libanius’ regret at the loss of John’s gifts. Still, I’m giving John the grudging vote here with the proviso: “John, had not the Christians stolen him.”

    • Kate the Catechist's Gravatar Kate the Catechist
      March 11, 2019 - 8:16 am | Permalink

      Yeah, I didn’t really like either of them either. John has baggage I find difficult to deal with (though he wrote brilliantly), so I really felt I couldn’t go with him, though he will be the favorite. The thing I liked most about Margaret’s story was the dog.

      • Sonia's Gravatar Sonia
        March 11, 2019 - 9:18 am | Permalink

        But what happened to the dog when she went the monastery?

    • Michelle C's Gravatar Michelle C
      March 11, 2019 - 8:45 am | Permalink

      I agree. Neither of the saints spoke to me this morning for the same reasons St Celia gave. I went with Margaret (I liked the story about the dog too; wish I could vote for him) mostly because that’s who I have in my bracket.

    • March 11, 2019 - 9:02 am | Permalink

      Yes, to all the above. My vote for John is simply to get him to the next round so he can be put in his place by another saint.

    • Mary Beth Butler's Gravatar Mary Beth Butler
      March 11, 2019 - 9:49 am | Permalink

      Yes. Hiring someone to abase you publicly…ugh.

    • JOAN OGDEN's Gravatar JOAN OGDEN
      March 11, 2019 - 9:51 am | Permalink

      I’m in the same camp. I don’t mind John’s bluntness, but the story of Margaret left me with the sense that she spent a lot of time in useless activity until she got the message to concentrate less on herself and more on others.

    • kesmarn's Gravatar kesmarn
      March 11, 2019 - 9:57 am | Permalink

      Yeah, there is a creepiness factor to the extreme asceticism. If only they could have realized that — if you wait long enough — life will usually supply you with all the suffering (and joy) you can handle. You don’t have to seize the reins.

      • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
        March 11, 2019 - 10:16 am | Permalink

        I’m in agreement with all of you about this asceticism business. I’m glad that is not in vogue so much anymore. There just wasn’t much “there” there, so I voted for John. It’s a real shame when even the pope can’t save you!

      • Tessa Lucero's Gravatar Tessa Lucero
        March 11, 2019 - 10:50 am | Permalink

        And the extreme asceticism often seems to be a bid for attention — which Matthew figured out early on in Chapter 6 of his Gospel. “When you fast, do not be somber like the hypocrites, who disfigure their faces to show men that they are fasting”. Isn’t that what both John and Margaret, especially Margaret, were doing?

        Not thrilled with either one of these choices, and I hope whichever one makes it to the next round gets knocked out then.

        And another accidental bishop? I must say I liked Tikhon better than John.

    • Sharon's Gravatar Sharon
      March 11, 2019 - 10:09 am | Permalink

      I agree this was a tough one and I was also left the readings with a concern for this faithfull companion dog. I’m going to believe she took the pup with her and they just forgot mention it;)

    • Susan Reeves's Gravatar Susan Reeves
      March 11, 2019 - 10:13 am | Permalink

      I agree that this choice was difficult today. Neither of these folks inspired me more than the other, but finally I chose John because of his care and work for the poor and vulnerable and his choice to stand up to authority when it was necessary for others’ rights.

    • Patricia's Gravatar Patricia
      March 11, 2019 - 10:35 am | Permalink

      I agree – hard choice for all the reasons you supply so eloquently. And much as I love dogs and yet another example of their loyalty and devotion, Margaret was too much for me to take. Thank you for providing the excellent caveat with the choice of John!

      Love the Lent Madness community!

    • March 11, 2019 - 11:16 am | Permalink

      Interesting you mention anorexia and bulimia. Rudolph Bell, in his excellent book, Holy Anorexia, cited her as one of the medieval ascetics who likely suffered from anorexia. (Often self- harm is a comorbidity). To me, struggling with such issues does more to connect the saints to us other lowly humans (remember, we all have the capacity for sainthood) than not. Also, in that book (which I highly recommend) they point out that the Franciscans did whatever they could to deter her from some of her more extreme penitences.

  5. Kate the Catechist's Gravatar Kate the Catechist
    March 11, 2019 - 8:11 am | Permalink

    I have composed a haiku for my favorite of the day:

    Margaret’s my vote
    A beauty then a penitent
    She had a good dog

    You’re welcome. 🙂

    • St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
      March 11, 2019 - 8:30 am | Permalink

      I count eight syllables in the second line: I suggest a revision: “Beautiful then penitent.” You’re welcome. I keep imagining the dog standing in front of the stepmother’s house pointing: J’accuse. I was trying to figure out how the stepmother had dug that hole. The story has holes in it!

      • Kate the Catechist's Gravatar Kate the Catechist
        March 11, 2019 - 8:39 am | Permalink

        You’re right! I will take your syllable count (and it makes better sense). But for me today it is all about the dog! Saint Margaret’s Dog of Cortona for the win! 😀

        • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
          March 11, 2019 - 10:21 am | Permalink

          “The Dog of Cortona—“ I like it!

          • Patricia's Gravatar Patricia
            March 11, 2019 - 10:36 am | Permalink

            I like it too!

      • Gloria F. Ishida's Gravatar Gloria F. Ishida
        March 11, 2019 - 8:48 am | Permalink

        Modern haiku allows for deviation from the claasic.

        • Gloria F. Ishida's Gravatar Gloria F. Ishida
          March 11, 2019 - 8:50 am | Permalink

          Additionally, classic haiku refers to the seasons in some way.

          • St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
            March 11, 2019 - 9:07 am | Permalink

            In bleak mid-winter
            Margaret’s good dog discovered
            her beloved’s corpse.

          • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
            March 11, 2019 - 10:23 am | Permalink

            St C, you’re going with “Mar’gret” in that haiku?

        • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
          March 11, 2019 - 4:15 pm | Permalink

          Thank you.

    • John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
      March 11, 2019 - 9:11 am | Permalink

      Kate’s still my chosen
      Though in this Lenten season
      Our votes may differ.

  6. Jenny's Gravatar Jenny
    March 11, 2019 - 8:11 am | Permalink

    I don’t blame John because I COMPLETELY understand why he wrote what he wrote, but I can’t vote for Hitler’s favorite saint. His “On Judaizing” has been used in so many terrible ways he never intended.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 11, 2019 - 10:25 am | Permalink

      Yikes! I didn’t know that!

      • Elizabeth's Gravatar Elizabeth
        March 11, 2019 - 1:34 pm | Permalink

        Ok, that did it for me. John’s had quite enough veneration for his contributions to humanity, worthy and NOT. Time to recognize the good in another flawed follower of Jesus. Either of them would be crushed in the next round, anyway, so I’m going to give the needy but well-intentioned Margaret some love.

  7. Harriet's Gravatar Harriet
    March 11, 2019 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    John’s prayer at the end of Morning Prayer is a favorite of mine. Had to vote for John.

    • Alice's Gravatar Alice
      March 11, 2019 - 1:06 pm | Permalink

      I love that prayer, too! It always Speaks for me and to me.. My vote goes to the “golden-mouthed.”
      Now I’m off to Google his Easter sermon.

  8. Barb Gutzler's Gravatar Barb Gutzler
    March 11, 2019 - 8:21 am | Permalink

    I voted for Margaret in tribute to my old Bronx stomping grounds, Crotona Park! Go, Margaret of Crotona.
    Oh, darn… it’s Cortona not Crotona.

    • March 11, 2019 - 8:31 am | Permalink

      I’m still stomping those grounds, Barb, and I have to admit, everytime I see Margaret’s name it comes our Crotona in my head.

    • St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
      March 11, 2019 - 8:31 am | Permalink

      Close enough! 🙂

  9. Ali's Gravatar Ali
    March 11, 2019 - 8:21 am | Permalink

    I’m voting for John. I love people who aren’t afraid to criticize those in power.

  10. John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
    March 11, 2019 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    Margaret of Cortona had my vote because God calls the least likely (or likable) people to be instruments of His crace. And lets their dogs come along, too.

    • Kate the Catechist's Gravatar Kate the Catechist
      March 11, 2019 - 8:40 am | Permalink

      Go dog! 😀

  11. Leamarie's Gravatar Leamarie
    March 11, 2019 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    St Celia, I agree with you! I wonder why such punishing self deprecation was so in vogue in ancient times. When people do that now, they need lots of therapy and love, not a saintly halo. Still, being able to preach eloquently is definitely a gift. I think Margaret was too much a product of her times, painfully so.

    • St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
      March 11, 2019 - 8:36 am | Permalink

      I keep thinking that she must have felt her public acts of penitence were the price of finding support for her son. At 10 he would have been approaching puberty. Her exaggerated piety perhaps secured him a future as a friar, which would have given him some toehold on life. The story does not say who was the legitimate heir of the estate. But I suspect property rights were involved. I’m smelling yesterday’s fish soup in this story.

  12. March 11, 2019 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    To pity or to vote? Ay, there’s the rub.

  13. TJ's Gravatar TJ
    March 11, 2019 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    John, because reluctant leaders who don’t seek the spotlight but accept it if called are the ones I find most trustworthy. I also respect his willingness to deal plainly with everyone regardless of their station or the potential consequences.

  14. Carolyn Mack's Gravatar Carolyn Mack
    March 11, 2019 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    Usually find one who moves me, but these two extreme penitents apparently did not believe God’s forgiveness was freely given. I think they misunderstood that Christ’s sacrifice does not demand individual martyrdom for salvation and went overboard. John went less overboard, so I voted for him.

  15. June's Gravatar June
    March 11, 2019 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    I agree that neither one of these ascetics really moves me one way or the other. Margaret is getting my vote simply because her dog was such a good boy.

  16. Susie's Gravatar Susie
    March 11, 2019 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    I voted for Margaret of Cortona today because God can redeem us no matter what. Her father may have disowned her but God’s servants welcomed her. That must have been a hard decision. God lead her to an understanding of LOVE conquering all. What a blessing.

  17. Tricia's Gravatar Tricia
    March 11, 2019 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    It was difficult to relate to either of these saints at first. I voted for Margaret because her repentance and change of heart reflected in her later life was a beautiful example of the first chapter of A Resurrection Shaped Life by Jake Owensby-“Growing Beyond Our Past”. Her knowledge of God’s love brought her freedom.

  18. Patricia Evans's Gravatar Patricia Evans
    March 11, 2019 - 8:54 am | Permalink

    So this is sad.
    We have just knock out some saints we admire because they are pitted against each other, and now one of these two with not much that one might want to uphold will get through. SEC please… next year…
    The dog was Gugliemo’s. There is no indication that Margaret of Cortona brought the dog along with the son back to her Father’s house and then the monastery of Cortona.
    Today my vote is for the monks of the monastery of Cortona.
    But between the two put before us:, for what we pray at Evening and Morning Prayer.
    A Prayer of St. Chrysostom
    Almighty God,
    you have given us grace at this time with one accord
    to make our common supplication to you;
    and you have promised through your well-beloved Son
    that when two or three are gathered together in his Name
    you will be in the midst of them:
    Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us;
    granting us in this world knowledge of your truth,
    and in the age to come life everlasting.

    • Alice's Gravatar Alice
      March 11, 2019 - 1:09 pm | Permalink

      I love that prayer, too! It always Speaks for me and to me.. My vote goes to the “golden-mouthed.”
      Now I’m off to Google his Easter sermon.

  19. Linda's Gravatar Linda
    March 11, 2019 - 9:01 am | Permalink

    I love dogs and good mothers. I have an aversion to extreme penitence when it takes the form of disrespect for the gift of a healthy body. I cannot vote for a ‘cutter’ as a role model for young people who are trying to find their purpose in today’s world. We are all wonderfully made and in need of role models who treasure God’s gifts.

  20. Ruth Douglas Miller's Gravatar Ruth Douglas Miller
    March 11, 2019 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    No, neither of these two is particularly inspiring. However, a few years ago, John was one of the two who did a saintly colour commentary for each week, courtesy a cloaked Canadian, so I will vote for him for that. I’m sure the commentaries are in the LM archives somewhere!

    • Ruth Dougals Miller's Gravatar Ruth Dougals Miller
      March 11, 2019 - 9:11 am | Permalink

      LM 2014 posts are where to find the colour commentary featuring John Chrysostom.

    • Lane's Gravatar Lane
      March 11, 2019 - 1:57 pm | Permalink

      I’m voting for John because of his color commentary with Cranmer. It was a weekly high point for me.

  21. Mariclaire's Gravatar Mariclaire
    March 11, 2019 - 9:14 am | Permalink

    Ascetics don’t appeal to me-I’ve never seen the point. It’s John for me-partially because he put his ambitions aside to take care of his mother. And Margaret’s stunt of being dragged around the village just made me cringe

  22. Oliver--11 year old's Gravatar Oliver--11 year old
    March 11, 2019 - 9:18 am | Permalink

    We vote for Margaret because she loved God not for self-punishment but for mystical lovel

    • kesmarn's Gravatar kesmarn
      March 11, 2019 - 10:03 am | Permalink

      A very interesting point, Oliver. I ended up voting for her as well. So good to see you here.

    • Pamela Payne's Gravatar Pamela Payne
      March 11, 2019 - 12:48 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you Oliver. She may have started with self-punishment but she learned that God loved her and wanted her to help others. She stopped her self punishment and started a hospital. As a nurse, I have to go with a fellow nurse!

  23. Diana's Gravatar Diana
    March 11, 2019 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    John Chrysostom was an eloquent speaker, an ascetic hermit and one of the worst, most vehement, hate filled anti-Semites in a history of shameful anti-Semitism in the Christian Church. His series of sermons against the Jews were used as excuses for actions and teachings against Jesus’ own people, against the people from the same people and faith as the Apostles, against the people God chose to the a light to enlighten all the nations, including us. There are indications that he was used as justification by Hitler and his hate-filled followers. Early anti-Semitism among “Christians” is part of the history we prefer to gloss over, but we must not forget it, must stand up against any vestiges left, and must not honor those whose shallow reading of Scripture was used as an excuse to perpetrate and justify it in the name of the Jewish Rabbi we follow today.

    • Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
      March 11, 2019 - 10:46 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Diana! I looked up those sermons and was appalled.

    • Carol Tyrrell's Gravatar Carol Tyrrell
      March 11, 2019 - 4:30 pm | Permalink

      You convinced me! I will vote for Margaret despite the fact that I think self mortification is a sin in itself. Whatever happened to the “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit”? I do wonder about what happened to the dog.

  24. Sonia's Gravatar Sonia
    March 11, 2019 - 9:23 am | Permalink

    But what happened to the dog when she went the monastery?

    • Lisa Keppeler's Gravatar Lisa Keppeler
      March 11, 2019 - 10:45 am | Permalink

      Cast aside to the streets along with Augustine of Hippo’s mistress.

  25. JustMeJo's Gravatar JustMeJo
    March 11, 2019 - 9:24 am | Permalink

    Well, this was a difficult choice, for sure! So many similarities between the two, and most of them less than attractive, for me. Their extreme asceticism I found off-putting, to say the least. I finally chose Margaret for no good reason whatsoever.

    • JustMeJo's Gravatar JustMeJo
      March 11, 2019 - 9:27 am | Permalink

      Now that I have seen Diana’s comment, I do have a reason!

  26. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    March 11, 2019 - 9:31 am | Permalink

    John gets our vote with all his foibles and golden mouth. Can’t support a cutter, as there are too many young girls going that route these days and I can’t encourage that. Hoping tomorrow ‘s saintly matchup gives us better choices, SEC.

    March 11, 2019 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    is there an online bracket i can follow and post my picks to ?

  28. Rita Norris's Gravatar Rita Norris
    March 11, 2019 - 9:37 am | Permalink

    OK…I have to say, I just could not vote for Margaret…disfiguring her face…OH COME ON NOW. As St. Celia said (above) we are in a time when young girls try to live up to those Magazine Models who are rail thin…young girls do anything to be “just like the models”. Although I am not waving the John C. flag, (he has a few oddities) I cannot in good conscious vote for a woman that, in my estimation, sets a BAD example for our youth!

  29. Sally's Gravatar Sally
    March 11, 2019 - 9:38 am | Permalink

    My Byzantine heritage bids me vote for John. Sally

  30. Marian the Lutheran's Gravatar Marian the Lutheran
    March 11, 2019 - 9:42 am | Permalink

    It seems that all the astetics at that time had no concept of faith through grace, not acts alone, and therefore thought this was the only way to the love of God. As to the contemplativeness (is that even a word?) of John, spending too much time over-thinking can lead to “stinking thinking” and the publicized hatred of Jews that he espoused. For that reason alone I will vote for Margaret.

  31. Elaine's Gravatar Elaine
    March 11, 2019 - 9:45 am | Permalink

    Ascetics don’t appeal to me either, but both these folks lived in very different times and cultures than our own. I was really moved by John’s biography, which I was unfamiliar with, because even though he felt a call to monastic life, he stayed with his widowed mother to care for her, delaying what he believed to be his calling. So often we hear of holy men (in various faith traditions) who abandoned their families to serve God or pursue a spiritual path. We need more models like John, who had his priorities straight.

    • Marjorie Menaul's Gravatar Marjorie Menaul
      March 11, 2019 - 10:34 am | Permalink

      Thank you – important point. I agree

  32. Glenn Gustafson's Gravatar Glenn Gustafson
    March 11, 2019 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    Liturgist here so I have to vote for John.

  33. Judy Bye's Gravatar Judy Bye
    March 11, 2019 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    I’m voting for John not because he gave us some beautiful prayers for our BCP, but because I love what David Creech wrote right after the 2016 election. I follow Lent Madness for moments like this. Hang in there, David!

    • St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
      March 11, 2019 - 10:10 am | Permalink

      Please post a link to David Creech’s commentary. I am not familiar with it and would like to read it.

      • Judy Bye's Gravatar Judy Bye
        March 11, 2019 - 1:15 pm | Permalink

        St. Celia,
        Click on David’s name at the end of his blurb. Scroll down to Nov. 9th and 10th, 2016. I’m impressed he’s still writing.

        • St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
          March 11, 2019 - 3:25 pm | Permalink

          “The next four years (and beyond) look like a big f*cking mountain. Bring it.” Wow. Our entire American democracy looks like a big f*cking mountain of injustice right now. It’s hard to let God have control of the end game. It’s too hard not to freak out. I’m not ready for the bravado of “bring it.” I try to hang on and witness where I can. Right now the cost of even small acts of witnessing seems pretty high and pretty painful. But it’s good to feel the warmth of others’ commitment and righteous anger.

  34. Mary Beth Butler's Gravatar Mary Beth Butler
    March 11, 2019 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    I’m voting for John because is apparently the patron saint of standing desk users.

    • Susan Reeves's Gravatar Susan Reeves
      March 11, 2019 - 10:20 am | Permalink

      I needed this chuckle today, Mary Beth.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 11, 2019 - 10:51 am | Permalink

      Oh, that’s good! I like that, Mary Beth!

  35. March 11, 2019 - 9:51 am | Permalink

    Using as his text “Luke 19:27, John of the golden mouth was a master of the horrific sermon genre known as Adversus Judaeos. All of which encouraged an immediate destruction of synagogues, savage assaults on Jews and their expulsion from their Antioch, Alexandria, ultimately leading to the abolition of the Jewish patriarchate in Palestine. John victimized others, whereas Margaret was a tragic victim. It is with this in mind that she gets my vote.

  36. Evelyn Czaja's Gravatar Evelyn Czaja
    March 11, 2019 - 9:52 am | Permalink

    Plus for us Orthodox Christians, St. John is our hero as he shortened the Divine Liturgy to something a bit more reasonable. Only about 90 minutes. ha! His Liturgy is beautiful and flowing.

  37. TJ Mannion's Gravatar TJ Mannion
    March 11, 2019 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    Hard decision, but I had to go with John. His writings are still influential today.

    • Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
      March 11, 2019 - 11:03 am | Permalink

      Yes, they are. They’re still being quoted by people who are anti-homosexual.

  38. Margaret VanDyke's Gravatar Margaret VanDyke
    March 11, 2019 - 10:04 am | Permalink

    It is tough to vote for one of Hitler’s heroes . I too am a Margaret, but I cannot imagine the demands on women in that era. Survival alone was a terrible uphill battle, but to be remembered for her skills as a nurse and example of Christ’s love is remarkable.

  39. Carolyn's Gravatar Carolyn
    March 11, 2019 - 10:05 am | Permalink

    Margaret deserves the vote, she persevered through all life threw at her and suffered greatly for the faith she found .

  40. Karen Mallon Sharp's Gravatar Karen Mallon Sharp
    March 11, 2019 - 10:12 am | Permalink

    Hmm…such a dilemma!

  41. Diane in Colorado's Gravatar Diane in Colorado
    March 11, 2019 - 10:15 am | Permalink

    Must vote for Margaret. Disfiguring her face was and is no doubt a sign of deep pain. Sometime it takes awhile to accept the reality of the mystical love of God. I decided she deserves a break!

  42. Sally in Dallas's Gravatar Sally in Dallas
    March 11, 2019 - 10:25 am | Permalink

    I can understand the negative comments about both of today’s saints. The extreme asceticism of some of the early Christians is very disturbing for most modern followers of Jesus, especially in 2019 in a world of abuse, narcissism, hate, and injustice. But “A Prayer of St. Chrysostom”, that I have memorized from years of saying it at Evening Prayer, won my heart then and does today. His prayer is part of my spiritual formation. Thank you, John Chrysostom.

    • Diana's Gravatar Diana
      March 11, 2019 - 10:41 am | Permalink

      Sally in Dallas I understand your reasoning. I, too, love that prayer. I just cannot support the person who wrote it because of his hatred for Jesus’ people, the Jews. I wonder how his eloquence and the beauty of his language holds up against the ferocious and eloquent hatred with which he preached against the Jewish people – the very people from whom our own faith and much of its inherent wisdom come.

      • Kate the Catechist's Gravatar Kate the Catechist
        March 11, 2019 - 12:21 pm | Permalink

        Well said, Diana.

  43. Anthony Lee's Gravatar Anthony Lee
    March 11, 2019 - 10:31 am | Permalink

    I can see why Golden-mouth is leading. Anyone who’s blunt and tactless and critical of people in power has my vote. As for Margaret, anyone who dresses in rags and has someone lead her around on a rope is going a bit overboard with the penance trip, even though she later got over it and worked in a hospital.

  44. Judith Genaway's Gravatar Judith Genaway
    March 11, 2019 - 10:39 am | Permalink

    Eventually Margaret of Cottons realized
    Chysostome is a place near Montreal where I live.
    But my vote goes to Margaret….

  45. March 11, 2019 - 10:44 am | Permalink

    Except for the extreme penance and cutting, I voted for Margaret for 3 reasons:
    1. I had a sister, Margaret, whom I never knew because she died in the delivery room.
    2. My mother is a nurse, like Margaret.
    3. She worked with people experiencing homelessness, and so do I. (

  46. Kathy in Nicaragua's Gravatar Kathy in Nicaragua
    March 11, 2019 - 10:44 am | Permalink

    I found this paragraph in a Life of St. Margaret of Cortona on the website of the St. Margaret of Cortona School in the Bronx. That sounds like a reliable source!
    “One day after he had failed to return from visiting some of his estates, the family dog returned without him. She set out to look for him following the dog who led her to his body. He had been murdered. She immediately felt great remorse at her estrangement from God and her family. She gave away to her dead lover’s family all the possessions she had and returned home to attempt a reconciliation with her father. However, at the urging of her stepmother, her father refused to take in Margaret and her son.”
    So it sounds like she left the dog in Valiano. Inquiring minds wanted to know.

  47. Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
    March 11, 2019 - 11:02 am | Permalink

    Margaret’s a problem for me because of her self-mutilation and ascetic wallowing, but it sounds like she was suffering from periods of mental illness, and at least the only person she hurt was herself. John, on the other hand, used his golden eloquence to hurt so many others. I looked up his sermons on the Jews and was appalled. His homily against people in same-sex relationships is also horrifying. He said that such sexual activity was worse than murder, and men in same-sex relationships should be stoned. The fact that complete vilification was an accepted rhetorical device at the time doesn’t excuse these sermons for me, especially because they have continued to echo down the ages. I hope Margaret makes it to the next round so we can learn more about her work for the sick and homeless, her defiance of authority figures, and her mystical awareness of God’s love. If John makes it to the next round, I hope he gets creamed.

  48. Kit Mackenzie's Gravatar Kit Mackenzie
    March 11, 2019 - 11:02 am | Permalink

    St. Margaret of Cortona
    Decisions of youth came with great negative consequences, which she set her life to improving not just her own, but the lives of many. She did this without a wealthy start and the handicap of being a woman during a time when women had little respect in the world.

  49. Lisa Keppeler's Gravatar Lisa Keppeler
    March 11, 2019 - 11:08 am | Permalink

    No to both. Saints are supposed to have miracles attributed to them. Instead (or perhaps in addition), both John and Margaret left profoundly negative legacies with damaging effects throughout the centuries: Chrysostom with his anti-semitic rhetoric which spawned a horrible legacy of bigotry, murder, and persecution, and ultimately helped to shape Hitler’s Holocaust; Margaret with her extreme masochistic asceticism, modeling mawkish and bloody excesses imitated by countless others, with echoes today in cutting and eating disorders among young people. I don’t want my vote to count for either of them, so will toss my vote to the underdog (looks like Margaret) later today.

  50. Verdery Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery Kassebaum
    March 11, 2019 - 11:09 am | Permalink

    Did John become an “aesthetic” (lover of beautiful things) or an “ascetic” (one who practices severe self-discipline)?

  51. Linda Burnett's Gravatar Linda Burnett
    March 11, 2019 - 11:09 am | Permalink

    I could have gone with these folks today, but went with John. As a person who has endured Texas summers my whole life I had to go with the guy who was forced to march in extreme heat. I’ve almost died just walking to my car in August, so he totally gets my vote.

  52. Verdery Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery Kassebaum
    March 11, 2019 - 11:16 am | Permalink

    After reading comments and re-reading the bios, I voted for Margaret, mainly because she was the underdog at the time, and a little bit because I have a sister named Margaret.

  53. Meredith Hales's Gravatar Meredith Hales
    March 11, 2019 - 11:18 am | Permalink

    Maybe Margaret’s extreme public penance was a requirement of her being taken in by the monks. She had to provide for the wellfare of her son. The sacrificial love for a mother for her child is a strong instinct.

  54. Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
    March 11, 2019 - 11:31 am | Permalink

    Once upon a Lent Madness time, John was the co-star in a series of semi-animated commentaries on the various Lent Madness match-ups. These thoughtful and often very funny little videos were the work of the mysterious Maple Anglican, who has a whole series of more serious videos still available on YouTube. In memory of Lent Madness past, John got my vote today.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 11, 2019 - 2:40 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I always enjoyed those videos. Was Thomas Cranmer the partner? I can’t remember.

      • Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
        March 11, 2019 - 5:06 pm | Permalink

        Yes, it was Cranmer. The Archbishops! As noted earlier in the comments, you can dive into the archives of 2014 and find samples of their deadpan pronouncements, courtesy of the Clairevoyetron.

  55. Elaine Hood Culver's Gravatar Elaine Hood Culver
    March 11, 2019 - 11:32 am | Permalink

    Coming from a line of wordsmiths and having married one, I also love the power of words and the creativity they offer. John Chrysostom gets my vote today.

  56. Virginia's Gravatar Virginia
    March 11, 2019 - 11:36 am | Permalink

    John Chrysostom, if it were only for the great Paschal Homily so cherished at the Great Vigil of Easter!

  57. Sharon Pattison's Gravatar Sharon Pattison
    March 11, 2019 - 11:38 am | Permalink

    I knew I had to vote,but, if I Didn’t vote, I do not have a voice! So, I voted for Mary the least posioning of the two! I would be surprised if she makes it thru another round, but the history I learned today was remarkable!
    Can’t believe we today say the prayer of Chrystsdom, I never ever be able to say this prayer with the same respect I used to have! We were not told when Mary was born? Different stokes for different folks!

  58. Bob A-B's Gravatar Bob A-B
    March 11, 2019 - 11:43 am | Permalink

    Anyone besides me wondering where Oliver is this year?

    • Pamela Payne's Gravatar Pamela Payne
      March 11, 2019 - 12:56 pm | Permalink

      He is here. He posted around 9:00. So good to have him and several other young people with us this year.

  59. Marcia inman's Gravatar Marcia inman
    March 11, 2019 - 11:46 am | Permalink

    The public penance seems as prideful as ostentatious prayer. That sent me back to John, whose sermons are truly severe. But since I must vote for one, I’ll go with John who was eluctant to assume power and who kept his penance in a cell.

  60. Judy Hoover's Gravatar Judy Hoover
    March 11, 2019 - 11:52 am | Permalink

    They both deserve votes for challenging authorities when they were remiss. But this time I had to go with Margaret. Taking up nursing to help the ailing is a great vocation.

  61. Sai's Gravatar Sai
    March 11, 2019 - 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Like many others, I am not drawn to either saint today. However, that being said, I am voting for Margaret.
    John was born into a wealthy family and enjoyed an education, as well as positions of power and influence throughout his adult life. He is honored regularly with a prayer bearing his name. He’s already received significant recognition.
    Then there’s Margaret, the farmer’s daughter, with the stereotypical ‘wicked stepmother.’ A wealthy man takes her on as a servant, and while it cannot be ascertained as fact, my guess is she didn’t have a huge chance of refusing his advances. So there she is, servant-mistress with an illegitimate child. With the death of her employer/protector, she fled in fear. Turned away by her father, she turned to the monks. Her beauty had been a source of trouble for her in the past, so I understand her self-mutilation; it was an act of protection in the totally male world that had taken her in. Of course, I’m creating a whole scenario here, but I feel her aseceticism and self-humiliation might have been prompted by the monastic environments in which she found herself. At any rate, she became a nurse and took care of the sick and homeless.
    My vote goes to Margaret.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 11, 2019 - 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Ah, a good new perspective on Margaret. Thanks!

  62. Peggy Goldsmith's Gravatar Peggy Goldsmith
    March 11, 2019 - 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Margaret’s story has it all. Loss of mother, evil stepmother, seduced by her boss, murder, the dog, single mother, and actually helping a lot of people. I would like to hear more about the murder – motive, suspects.

  63. Colleenrose's Gravatar Colleenrose
    March 11, 2019 - 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Go dog go!

  64. Miranda's Gravatar Miranda
    March 11, 2019 - 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I will vote for Margaret today because she found her way through self-loathing to recognizing that God loves everyone, including her. Then, she channeled that love to help others. A powerful message.

  65. Emily's Gravatar Emily
    March 11, 2019 - 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I cannot vote for John, who anti-Semitic writings echoed down through the centuries and caused such harm. Margaret shows us God’s grace in the our brokenness. I hope she wins so I can learn more about her. I don’t think her sins were that great, but she apparently thought so.

  66. Jody's Gravatar Jody
    March 11, 2019 - 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Tough choice because I don’t like either one for the reasons cited in many comments above. Went with John but not happy about it.

  67. Kim Drogan Prentice's Gravatar Kim Drogan Prentice
    March 11, 2019 - 12:41 pm | Permalink

    This is the sentence that swayed me to vote for Margaret

    ‘Throughout the rest of her life, Margaret was drawn to God, not through severe acts of self-punishment but through the mystical reality of God’s love for her. ’

  68. Christina Thom's Gravatar Christina Thom
    March 11, 2019 - 12:43 pm | Permalink

    We stomp our feet and ring our bells at the Vigil.

  69. Mama J's Gravatar Mama J
    March 11, 2019 - 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Lenten fasting and abstinence are appropriate ways of observing the season…
    Neither John nor Margaret speak to me; he because of his anti-Semitic rhetoric and she for flaunting self-loathing and disfigurement.
    As many have already pointed out, they are both ‘off-putting’ (though they both also have redeeming qualities. )
    Therefore, I abstain from voting today.

  70. Myra W. Clark's Gravatar Myra W. Clark
    March 11, 2019 - 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Margaret’s story and contribution to Christian life is worthy but not as compelling as John’s contributions for me. It is likely that those who practice self-denial through prayer and fasting may have “baggage,” however in Christ all of the baggage that we carry is transformed in doing His work. Jesus gives us the gift of our imperfections, our greatest strength as well as weakness. So, go John! And blessings on Margaret.

  71. March 11, 2019 - 12:57 pm | Permalink

    The dog gets my vote!

  72. Linda S's Gravatar Linda S
    March 11, 2019 - 1:01 pm | Permalink

    John’s write-up didn’t do him justice. I feel like I still don’t know him … know what special something that caused his endurance.
    My consideration of Chrysostome relies on an experience with a Russian Orthodox supervisor I had working for a national nonprofit. My friend, Julia, lived him and shared his Easter sermon with me. I loved her dedication to Chrysostom’s teaching and legacy.
    Then there’s Margaret. Sheesh! I’m sickened by the steps she needed to take to Humbly prove her dedication to Christ in her world.
    I’m voting Margaret, the underdog. Of the two, I’d love her for my neighbor.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 11, 2019 - 2:45 pm | Permalink
  73. John Miller's Gravatar John Miller
    March 11, 2019 - 1:05 pm | Permalink

    John was an anti-semite, not unusual in the Church at his time, but I am distressed by that part of him. Margaret made good use of her erring ways by doing good deeds. I cast my vote for Margaret.

  74. Pamela Payne's Gravatar Pamela Payne
    March 11, 2019 - 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I think it can be difficult to blame persons in the past for opinions which we now reject as wrong and opposed to God’s love. Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, we continue to learn and grow and I hope that this enlightenment continues to fight the wrong opinions of our day. I don’t see Margaret as encouraging our young women to disfigure themselves, but rather as one who came to know God’s encompassing love and who accepted herself as she began to serve others. The point is that she DID accept that love and shared it with others less fortunate.

  75. March 11, 2019 - 1:23 pm | Permalink

    The biography of John suppressed his extreme anti-Judaism, which is not exactly fair. I’m with the other commenters that extreme asceticism is a distortion of the Gospel, and though it may have spoken well of the church in past cultural settings, it is hard for us to understand. I voted for John because of his glorious Easter homily.

  76. KAM's Gravatar KAM
    March 11, 2019 - 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I’ve gotta go with Margaret. Didn’t know much about her before today, but I feel truly moved by someone who, from a modern perspective really looks like she’s struggling with self-harm, saying “peace between my soul and this miserable body is no longer possible. Let me treat it as one treats an irreconcilable adversary…” who is also called by God to mediate peace between ‘irreconcilable’ warring factions in medieval Italy. Someone excluded from community repeatedly (kicked out by stepmom as a teen, homeless after the violent death of the father of her child, denied entry to religious order she wants to join for three years) who builds and supports communities (building a tertiary congregation of women, setting up a pilgrim’s house, establishing a hospital, caring for the homeless and orphaned children, working in community peacekeeping and what we’d now consider family counseling, etc etc). If we can kinda see through the veil of medieval narrative with its obsession with women’s impurity and sexuality (SIGH) there’s a lot in Margaret’s life that emphasizes the idea of God working in and with our most broken parts of ourselves. I think that’s lovely.

    • Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
      March 11, 2019 - 2:00 pm | Permalink

      Hear, hear! As you say, we need to consider the medieval narrative. Margaret lived in a society that considered female beauty a lure for sin. (Geez, this is my 3rd posting about this match-up! I guess both saints have struck a nerve.)

      • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
        March 11, 2019 - 2:49 pm | Permalink

        Haha! I hear you! The more comments I read, the more I wish I’d voted for Margaret. I should’ve know there was something off since I found myself on the side of the winner!

    • St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
      March 11, 2019 - 7:23 pm | Permalink

      You take a persuasive line of thought toward Margaret. I find it highly credible. Thank you.

  77. Rene Jamieson's Gravatar Rene Jamieson
    March 11, 2019 - 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Neither of today’s contestants wholly turns my crank. I voted for John of the Golden Mouth based solely on that wonderful Easter sermon which still resonates 1, 602 years after his death. St Margaret of Cortona (of whom I had never heard before today) strikes me as being somewhat over the top, and while I hesitate to apply today’s standards to the behaviour and attitudes of mediaeval people, the self-humiliation, self-abasement, and disfiguring makes her, to my mind, a very poor role model. Perhaps I shouldn’t have voted at all…or you should have given us the choice of voting for Margaret’s lover’s dog, who displayed true love and devotion.

  78. Jane Bucci's Gravatar Jane Bucci
    March 11, 2019 - 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Even though my name is Margaret Jane, I voted for Margaret because despite the self-mutilation and anorexia, there was healing, and that allowed her to express God’s Grace in her life to the benefit of humanity. I wasn’t thrilled with either of them, but the manner in which John used his gift of oration, not to mention his caustic tongue, cost him my vote.

  79. Lane's Gravatar Lane
    March 11, 2019 - 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I’m voting for John because of his color commentary with Cranmer. It was a weekly high point for me.

  80. Barb Di's Gravatar Barb Di
    March 11, 2019 - 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Consider this: What path would Margaret have chosen had her baby-daddy not been killed? I highly doubt self-humiliation would have made her list. Yes, she redeemed herself after entering the monastery, but remember, this was her third choice. What other option did she have? It seems to me that all of Margaret’s choices have an aroma of self-servitude to them. Hooking up with her boss & having his child must have garnered a bit of status for her. Disfiguring herself as well as being led around on rope also must have gained her status (albeit of a different sort). Jesus commanded “When you are fasting, anoint your head and wash your face”, calling those who make a show of their pious suffering “hypocrites”. Surely she could have established a hospital and done good works without drawing so much attention to herself.

    John, on the other hand, despite his less than appealing qualities, was deliberate in his path, he had wealth but chose Christ intentionally, not because it was his only option.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 11, 2019 - 6:53 pm | Permalink

      One note on Meg’s behalf: The hoi
      polloi didn’t have access to scripture at that point in time. She probably didn’t know any better when it came to self-mortification.

  81. March 11, 2019 - 2:10 pm | Permalink

    As a writer, I am crazy abour John Cabot’s poems (rhysostom! brilliant) and would vote for him if I could. Next vote would be for the faithful dog and finally for the monks who took Margaret in. But that won’t work, so I voted for Margaret and then read the comments about John and would have gone back and voted for Margaret again, if allowed. (I didn’t, I didn’t.)

    • John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
      March 11, 2019 - 5:18 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for your words of praise, Nancy! However, I would prefer you not vote for me because:

      a) I’m no saint
      b) I’m also not dead yet

      I’ll keep working on the former, until the latter intervenes. ;^)

  82. Brian's Gravatar Brian
    March 11, 2019 - 2:17 pm | Permalink

    If this was a summary of a murder mystery novel, we would all be fingering Margaret as the killer– motive, opportunity, acts of contrition. I guess she wouldn’t be the first saint to start as a murderer– St. Vladimir murdered his brother. Do others come to mind?

    • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
      March 11, 2019 - 3:00 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, what would the motive have been?

      • Brian's Gravatar Brian
        March 11, 2019 - 5:29 pm | Permalink

        If you take the romance out of it, you have a young woman employed as a maid to a nobleman. Her master proceeds to have sex with his servant, leading to an illegitimate child. At least according to one account, Margaret “accepted the [master’s] importunities unwillingly”. Whether you consider the relationship consensual or not, there was certainly a problematic power dynamic. As one example of that power dynamic, Margaret asked repeatedly to be made the master’s wife. The master promised marriage, but never honored the commitment. So you have a young woman who left her parents’ home to seek independence and adventure who instead found herself with a child, reliant completely on the man who (for all practical purposes) owned her. I think there might be some motive in there somewhere.

        • St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
          March 11, 2019 - 7:18 pm | Permalink

          Subject to duress
          to yield sex favors, Meg slashed
          the man then her face.

        • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
          March 11, 2019 - 8:04 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I can see that. Thanks for the additional information.

          I wonder is such suspicions delayed her canonization.

  83. Christina Repasky's Gravatar Christina Repasky
    March 11, 2019 - 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Margaret had an evil stepmother! That earned my vote. : )

  84. Rich's Gravatar Rich
    March 11, 2019 - 2:37 pm | Permalink

    These were two tough candidates; perhaps a demonstration that saints are not perfect, and some are less perfect than others. I truly wish that Margaret had lived in a time where she could have gotten help, and not blamed herself and gone to such extreme measures of self-harm for what she perceived her sins to be. There are people reading this today who have similar feelings and impulses, and I pray that they both understand God’s love and grace, and that part of that love and grace is the availability of help through compassionate and well trained counsel and medicine.

  85. Judy N's Gravatar Judy N
    March 11, 2019 - 2:40 pm | Permalink

    I agree with many of the above comments. I just can’t find myself voting for either one.

  86. March 11, 2019 - 2:46 pm | Permalink

    The best thing about them is that they stood up to authority! Voted for John, would rather have been able to vote for the dog.

    • Elaine Chilcote's Gravatar Elaine Chilcote
      March 11, 2019 - 6:13 pm | Permalink

      Yes, the dog would have been the best choice. I finally voted for John with great reluctance.

  87. Betsey's Gravatar Betsey
    March 11, 2019 - 2:55 pm | Permalink

    As a fellow sometimes blunt and tactless communicator and the hardship of his forced march to Pontus, John’s story moves me, but Margaret’s telling off a “fat” bishop appeals to me too. Only one vote, only one vote …

  88. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    March 11, 2019 - 2:58 pm | Permalink

    As a part-time Cortonese I am very much in Margaret’s corner. The loving veneration accorded her by the citizenry of Cortona finally brought about her canonization in 1728, 421 years after her death, and continues to this day. Her shrine crowns the hill on which the city is perched, and it was only fourteen years ago that her hospital was replaced by a modern facility named in her honor.

    As to the accounts of self-harm and humiliation I will say only that, among the many accounts of Margaret’s good works, I had never heard them until now. She was certainly ascetic, but she remained in and with the world. I see her as an example of the sort of balance that is so often sought in these pages between action and contemplation.

  89. Sarah Bryan Miller's Gravatar Sarah Bryan Miller
    March 11, 2019 - 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Having belonged to a parish named for John Chrystostom (where it was always pronounced KRIS-oss-tum), I had to cast my vote for him. But I wouldn’t lay money on either of this pair for the Golden Halo.


  90. aleathia nicholson's Gravatar aleathia nicholson
    March 11, 2019 - 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Margaret was really such a wuss ! That’s why I voted for her….a weak, probably sex crazed,run-of-the-mill little nobody whose own family didn’t want to be bothered with her and her little offspring bastard. Sounds cruel for me to describe her that way but that’s how her own treated her. Yet, in her brokenness. she found strength in her belief of the God of mercy and love and forgiveness, the One in whom we place our love and trust and our serving God by serving God’s people.

    • Pamela Payne's Gravatar Pamela Payne
      March 12, 2019 - 12:56 am | Permalink

      Good to see you again, Deacon Nicholson. I always look forward to your comments.

  91. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    March 11, 2019 - 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear, self harm is not at all attractive. I voted for John, in part because of his care for the poor and his blunt challenge to those in authority, whilst acknowledging the repugnance of some of his views. But mostly because a friend called Jon studied John for his PhD. If there had been an option to vote for the dog, i would have done so. 🙂

  92. Candace Hallett's Gravatar Candace Hallett
    March 11, 2019 - 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Margaret – hers is a life transformed by the redemptive power of grace. And….of course, the dog!!

  93. Barb Gutzler's Gravatar Barb Gutzler
    March 11, 2019 - 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Here’s to that gal from the Bronx, St. Margaret of Crotona!

  94. Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
    March 11, 2019 - 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Ever since the bracket was announced I’ve been waiting for the chance to vote againt John Golden Mouth Hateful Heart. His dislike of women was enough to earn him my non-support It is a real struggle for me to use his prayer. Add in his anti-semitism and how can he conceivably be a saint. Emulate him — thank you, no.
    Margaret stood up to a bishop! And she listened to the “words” of a dog. Go Woman!! Right ON!

    • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
      March 11, 2019 - 8:00 pm | Permalink

      Go, Donna! Nice to hear from you.

      • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
        March 11, 2019 - 8:30 pm | Permalink

        Hi, Davis.
        Some day I’m going to have to learn to speak my mind.

  95. Betty A Morris's Gravatar Betty A Morris
    March 11, 2019 - 4:58 pm | Permalink

    John was a misogynist-said women had no souls. Margaret, even with her problems, for me.

  96. Allison Brooks's Gravatar Allison Brooks
    March 11, 2019 - 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear, they’re both so off-putting.

  97. Genie Kinney's Gravatar Genie Kinney
    March 11, 2019 - 5:36 pm | Permalink

    I vote for the dog!

  98. Mother and Son's Gravatar Mother and Son
    March 11, 2019 - 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Neither of us wanted to vote for either one, so we flipped a coin and Margaret won. We wish we could have voted for the dog. If the dog had been running, it would have been hands down!

  99. Peggy Hans's Gravatar Peggy Hans
    March 11, 2019 - 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Not an easy choice. As the dog was not a candidate, “A Prayer of St. Chrysostom” won my reluctant vote.

  100. Barbara A.K. Franklin's Gravatar Barbara A.K. Franklin
    March 11, 2019 - 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Bad, bad, bad –what a way to treat God’s creation. At least Margaret let a dog talk to her, and honored her physical gifts for a while before beating up on herself. As the lesser of two evils, Margaret.

  101. March 11, 2019 - 6:58 pm | Permalink

    John Chrysostom, for his sermons that continue to declare the Gospel long after his death.

  102. Mary Palmer Legare's Gravatar Mary Palmer Legare
    March 11, 2019 - 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Concerning the self-punishment vs. asceticism–at least Margaret had what seemed like a complete turnaround from her earlier acts of self-deprecation and seemed to be basking in the love of God for a good part of her life. She also stood up to the powers in her time from a very lowly station. I suspect John gave out a lot of golden tongue-lashings while Margaret did the real work on the front lines.

  103. Jim Begley's Gravatar Jim Begley
    March 11, 2019 - 7:29 pm | Permalink

    Just because I can pronounce her name, Margaret gets my vote

  104. Rev. Lucy H00k Porter's Gravatar Rev. Lucy H00k Porter
    March 11, 2019 - 8:01 pm | Permalink

    As an imperfect woman, a forgiven sinner, a called and ordained clergywoman, a hospital chaplain, a servant of God with little to do for Him in retirement, a patient in great pain, I can identify with and love St. Margaret. I vote for her.

  105. Anita's Gravatar Anita
    March 11, 2019 - 8:45 pm | Permalink

    So wanted Margaret

  106. Kay Owen's Gravatar Kay Owen
    March 11, 2019 - 8:49 pm | Permalink

    Margaret had me at “dog”

  107. Jack Zamboni's Gravatar Jack Zamboni
    March 11, 2019 - 10:28 pm | Permalink

    I take great delight in preaching Chrysostom’s Paschal homily at the Great Vigil of Easter. However, I voted for Margaret because, as many others have noted, Chrsysostom’s anti-semitism.

  108. Tom the Pure's Gravatar Tom the Pure
    March 11, 2019 - 10:57 pm | Permalink

    I was not too inspired to applaud either of these saint’s stories. However, I appreciate that Margaret was later taken with God’s love for her. She got my vote.

  109. Terrie Wallace's Gravatar Terrie Wallace
    March 11, 2019 - 11:40 pm | Permalink

    I agree with everyone else who would vote for the dog and had a hard time with both today’s candidates.
    The self-punishment and extreme monastic asceticism Margaret felt she had to exercise was actually quite self-serving instead of honor to Christ as she thought it was, plus especially as she had been very beautiful in her earlier life, it was also absolutely sickening. And hiring someone to lead her around like a dog?? I too wished she had lived in a time where she could obtain help.

    Having to choose one of today’s saints though, I did like the very changed Margaret later on who eventually became a nurse and started a hospital to help those in need, as well as the homeless and downtrodden. I also loved the way she stood up to authority figures- especially the bishop who may have had a very holy, dignified and well respected public persona on the outside but whose darker side of violence and plundering spoke volumes about his true relationship with God, and about how much of a pseudo Clergyman he truly was.

  110. Maggie's Gravatar Maggie
    March 12, 2019 - 1:08 am | Permalink

    I quite like Margaret’s gritty life story, eventually leading to the transforming realization of the mystical reality of God’s love for her. I understand her pain and gratitude. Margaret is my given name as well. Thanks for her story.

  111. Amy Miller's Gravatar Amy Miller
    March 12, 2019 - 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I chose Margaret! I thought she had a life that was very deversified and she was able to keep her faith and project it for good in her later years!

  112. Barry Moss's Gravatar Barry Moss
    March 13, 2019 - 2:09 am | Permalink

    In Perth WA a Sister Chrysostom drowned at Trigg Beach back in 1947 along with the man who tried to rescue her. As it turned out, he was a Freemason. His funeral was the first (supposedly) in WA where Catholic priests and nuns attended a Freemason’s funeral. There is now a street in North Beach named Chrysostom Street in the nun’s honour

  113. Amy Kendall's Gravatar Amy Kendall
    March 17, 2019 - 7:07 pm | Permalink

    I forgot to vote all of last week. I would have voted for Margaret

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