Paula of Rome vs. Marcella of Rome

Yesterday, in one of the tightest matches in Lent Madness history, Pandita Ramabai snuck past Damien of Molokai despite a virtual dead heat. With over 8,500 votes cast, she won by a mere 45 votes. She’ll square off against Marguerite d’Youville in the Saintly Sixteen. Close observers of this tight contest watched as Pandita staked out a slim early lead, watched as Damien came storming back as the Hawaiians woke up — literally — because of the time difference, and then Pandita’s enthusiastic advocates tipped the scales. Whew!

Today, it’s the Battle of Rome as contemporaries Paula of Rome and Marcella of Rome clash for the exclusive right to claim Rome as their own. Who will end up as queen of the Eternal City? You won’t have to wait an eternity to find out, but a mere 24 hours.

And in case you missed yesterday’s edition of Monday Madness, why not watch it right now? You’ll be reminded of why Tim and Scott are serious when they claim each episode is never rehearsed and always done in a single take. Also, they share the stunning (and true) news that this week we have passed the 5 millionth page view in Lent Madness history. Not bad for a mom-and-pop online Lenten devotion.

Paula of Rome

Paula of Rome was a wealthy woman purportedly descended from the line of Agamemnon, the Greek king during the Trojan War. When she was 16, she married a nobleman named Toxotius, and they had five children. In her youth, Paula lived extravagantly. She wore lavish silks procured from the finest markets in China. When she traveled around the city streets, a cluster of eunuch slaves carried her.

When Paula was in her thirties, Toxotius died. Then five years later, one of her daughters died. Paula’s grief was so great that she nearly died herself. Inspired by the faith and action of her contemporary Marcella, Paula opened her palace to the needy and set upon a life dedicated to God. She met Saint Jerome, who later described the “earnestness of her prayers, the brilliancy of her conversation, the tenacity of her memory, and the quickness of her intellect.” Paula and her daughter Eustochium joined Jerome on a pilgrimage from the bustling city of Rome to the Holy Land and Egypt. Paula settled in Bethlehem and built four monasteries, one for men and the other for women. She fasted, abstained, and lived a destitute life in order to focus on God, spending the rest of her years giving away her vast fortune to the poor.

Paula and Jerome continued working together. Jerome was commissioned to revise the Old Latin Gospels. Paula encouraged Jerome to expand the job and translate most of the books of the Bible into Latin. She provided him with resources for the translation, suggested revisions, and edited the manuscripts. The women of the convents served as scribes, making copies of this groundbreaking work, which became known as the Vulgate, the first translation of the Old Testament directly from Hebrew to Latin (rather than from Hebrew to Greek to Latin). In the sixteenth century, the Roman Catholic Church affirmed the Vulgate as its official Latin Bible, and it remained the standard until 1979.

Some have speculated about the extent of the relationship between Jerome and Paula. Yet Jerome’s words about his friend offer important insight to her life’s work. He wrote that Paula continued to practice a life of poverty and ascetic devotion in order “to preserve a singular attachment to God.”

Collect for Paula of Rome
Compel us, O God, to attend diligently to your Word, as your faithful servant Paula, that, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we may find it profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness; and that thereby we may be made wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Carol Howard Merritt

Marcella of Rome

Marcella of Rome was born in 325 ce in Rome to wealthy parents. Her father died while she was still young. Her mother, Albina, continued to be an important influence, modeling kindness and care for those who were vulnerable. One of the more noteworthy guests to their home was Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, during one of his many exiles. Upon his departure he gave Marcella a copy of his Life of Antony, a gift that would deeply inform Marcella’s life.

As a prominent noblewoman in Rome, Marcella married a wealthy aristocrat. He died just seven months after their marriage. Shortly thereafter, to the chagrin of her mother, Marcella rejected the marriage offer of an older Roman consul and took on the life of an ascetic. She wore simple clothes and abstained from meat. She regularly fasted and avoided excessive wine. She turned her estate into a place of refuge for those who were poor and vulnerable. As Saint Jerome so aptly wrote, Marcella chose “to store her money in the stomachs of the poor rather than to keep it at her disposal.” The community in her home came to be known as the Brown Dress Society, on account of their simple and unadorned attire.

Although education was not commmon for women in that time, Marcella also became a student of the scriptures, reading them in both Hebrew and Greek. Jerome, the famed translator of the Vulgate and one of our best sources on Marcella’s life, clearly thought the world of her and deeply respected her intellect. She is described as a keen mind who would, in spite of social pressures to be a silent woman, engage in rigorous theological debate.

In 410 when the Visigoths sacked Rome, they ravaged wealthy homes; those with money could pay for their survival. The Visigoths approached Marcella’s large estate and were incredulous when she informed them that she had no money. They beat her mercilessly. She was transferred to the Basilica of St. Paul and died there of her wounds.

Collect for Marcella of Rome
O God, who satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry with good things: Grant that we, like your servant Marcella, may hunger and thirst after you more than the vain pomp and glory of the world and delight in your word more than all manner of riches. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

David Creech

Paula of Rome vs. Marcella of Rome

  • Paula of Rome (57%, 4,088 Votes)
  • Marcella of Rome (43%, 3,118 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,206

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Paula of Rome: By kenward [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Marcella of Rome: Illustration by Alexis Fortuna Caoili

149 Comments to "Paula of Rome vs. Marcella of Rome"

  1. John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
    March 26, 2019 - 8:00 am | Permalink

    When he wrote about wealthy Marcella
    Turning down that old consular fella,
    The brown dresses she wore,
    And her care for the poor,
    St. Jerome made her life a best-sella.

    • Remee D's Gravatar Remee D
      March 26, 2019 - 8:34 am | Permalink

      This is too good!

      • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
        March 26, 2019 - 10:51 am | Permalink

        Just noticed something about the image used with Paula’s bio . . . she is shown seated in a fancy chair with a group of nuns. In that time, if I recall correctly, it was still Christian tradition (inherited from the Jewish tradition of Jesus’ day) that teaching/preaching was done whilst seated on a fancy chair. Usually it was a Bishop doing the teaching/preaching in the early Church and that is why Cathedrals each have a fancy chair for exclusive use of the local Bishop.

        • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
          March 26, 2019 - 10:53 am | Permalink

          FYI My comment directly prior to this comment was supposed to be in the main thread not as a reply to anyone else’s post.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 26, 2019 - 9:23 am | Permalink

      Funniest one yet! I am laughing out loud!

      • Karlen's Gravatar Karlen
        March 26, 2019 - 7:18 pm | Permalink

        Me too!

  2. Michael Wachter's Gravatar Michael Wachter
    March 26, 2019 - 8:01 am | Permalink

    Today’s Roman monastic tribute takes us to the musical town of “Chicago” where it can be sung to the tune of “When You’re Good to Mama.”

    Ask any Roman Christians who lived then,
    They’ll rave about their works from way back when.
    These Rome-born saints from the 4th Century –
    Yes, in both time and space, these women lived as contemporaries.

    Motto by Marcella
    Always sees me through:
    Store your wealth in others,
    Don’t hoard it for you.

    She was born to money.
    Dad died early. Boo!
    So, she’s raised by Mama
    Taught her kindness, too.

    Marcella made her grand estate
    A refuge for the poor.
    When Visigoths could find no cash,
    They beat her all the more.

    Jer and Athanasius
    Gave her great reviews.
    Voting for Marcella
    Will speak well of you!

    Born in wealth and grandeur.
    Nobly married, too.
    Paula life was lavish.
    Hubster said “adieu!”

    Opened up her palace;
    Fed the poor some stew.
    Emigrates with St. J.
    She has work to do.

    She founds four monasteries,
    Fasts, abstains, and prays prostrate.
    With Jer, the Latin Bible wrote –
    Developed the Vulgate.

    Lived as an aesthetic;
    Poverty she knew.
    To get closer to God,
    Money she’d eschew.

    So, what’s the one conclusion
    I can bring this number to?
    Paula or Marcella
    Need a vote from you.

    • Jackson's Gravatar Jackson
      March 26, 2019 - 8:11 am | Permalink

      I just sang this whole thing about (it’s one of my favorite numbers from “Chicago”). Good thing I live alone.

      • andrea's Gravatar andrea
        March 27, 2019 - 12:19 am | Permalink

        Really liked today’s song. It’s one of my favorite numbers from “Chicago” as well!

    • Kathy Hartley's Gravatar Kathy Hartley
      March 26, 2019 - 8:13 am | Permalink


    • Deborah D's Gravatar Deborah D
      March 26, 2019 - 9:31 am | Permalink

      Michael, are you already hard at work on Songs for the Saintly Sixteen matchups? Or are your show tune skills only for the opening round?

      • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
        March 26, 2019 - 9:37 am | Permalink

        Yes, I’ve been worried that this would all stop once we move into the next round….

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 26, 2019 - 9:35 am | Permalink

      Great way to start the day! I love it when you’re able to change just a word or two of the line!

  3. Carolyn Mack's Gravatar Carolyn Mack
    March 26, 2019 - 8:09 am | Permalink

    Not the biggest fan of the St. Jerome, who I generally give the blame for making the Holy Spirit masculine. Marchella spent less time with him, so I picked her.

    • Jules's Gravatar Jules
      March 26, 2019 - 8:35 am | Permalink

      I have a soft spot for Jerome, because if a vituperative old crank could be acclaimed not only a saint but also a Doctor of the Church, there’s hope for the rest of us.

      • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
        March 26, 2019 - 2:04 pm | Permalink

        “Vituperative”! Now there’s a word to lift your hat to!

    • March 26, 2019 - 9:08 am | Permalink

      From the bios, it looks like Marcella may have changed Jerome’s mind about the value of women. I’d like to see a timetable. Without Marcella’s influence is it possible that Jerome may never have been open to Paula’s help?

  4. March 26, 2019 - 8:14 am | Permalink

    Impossible choice, and why aren’t they on the Anglican calendar? Absent a coin toss, I chose Marcella because I’m fascinated by the idea of Athanasius as a dinner guest, and I enjoyed reading Life of Antony when in seminary.

    • Stephen Lusk's Gravatar Stephen Lusk
      March 26, 2019 - 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Both are in the Episcopal Church’s calendar: Paula (with Eustochium) on September 28, and Marcella on January 31. See Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018.

  5. Katherine Grimes's Gravatar Katherine Grimes
    March 26, 2019 - 8:19 am | Permalink

    Marcella, a fella vegetarian!

  6. Kate the Catechist's Gravatar Kate the Catechist
    March 26, 2019 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    Paula of Rome for me!

  7. Galbert's Gravatar Galbert
    March 26, 2019 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    As a retired high school English teacher, I have to go with Paula the Proofreader.

    • March 26, 2019 - 10:30 am | Permalink

      Oh, yes!!! Paula just got another vote.

    • Carolyn's Gravatar Carolyn
      March 26, 2019 - 10:40 am | Permalink

      Ditto! All hail the powerful proofreader!

  8. Bill Lesshafft's Gravatar Bill Lesshafft
    March 26, 2019 - 8:23 am | Permalink

    Another fantastic choice but Paula gets my vote with her encouragement and support of Jerome.

    Nonetheless 2 amazing Saints of Catholicism.

    • Mh's Gravatar Mh
      March 26, 2019 - 3:41 pm | Permalink

      I am just curious. Why do you call them “Saints of Catholicism”, when they are considered to be Saints in other denominations, too? Thanks. 🙂

  9. Susan C's Gravatar Susan C
    March 26, 2019 - 8:29 am | Permalink

    Such similar women, similar times, similar influences, similar devotion to God. While Marcella paid the ultimate price of giving away her wealth and devotion to God by being beaten to death, Paula had greater long-term influence, with her assistance in translating the Vulgate. My vote is for Paula.

  10. Jane Fenicle's Gravatar Jane Fenicle
    March 26, 2019 - 8:29 am | Permalink

    Another mind wringer! Both used wealth to help and sustain others. Both were educated and recognized as intellectual women. One suffered and died because she gave to the needy rather than hoard her money to save her life and the other used her money to encourage the spread of the gospel while eschewing the use of her wealth for her own comfort. I want to vote for BOTH!!!!! But I will choose Paula because the Vulgate may have been the cause of the greater spread of the Gospel and the emergence of more Paula and Marcellas in the world.

  11. Rodney Hayes's Gravatar Rodney Hayes
    March 26, 2019 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    Hey, Carolyn Mack – Our priest, when saying the Nicene Creed says…
    “We believe in the Holy Spirit….. With the Father and the Son SHE is worshipped and glorified. SHE has spoken through the Profits”. ( I could hear her quietly while up on the altar being a chalice bearer.) I loved it and now do the same. Tho not a big woman’s libber, I can relate to the Holy Spirit as a female. Give it a try next Sunday, think you’ll like it! PS although Rodney, I am a female!!!

    • Claire Miller's Gravatar Claire Miller
      March 26, 2019 - 8:55 am | Permalink

      Great idea! I was doing a children’s talk on Sunday and the Spark Bible we use always pictures God as a man. I kept emphasizing that God is not an old man. In fact, we don’t know what God looks like. The children were game to taste the fresh figs I brought for the parable of the fig tree. 🙂

      • Ginny Berkey's Gravatar Ginny Berkey
        March 26, 2019 - 10:27 am | Permalink

        What a great idea the figs are. Next year when my tree produces that will be on my Sunday School agenda.

    • Mindy's Gravatar Mindy
      March 26, 2019 - 8:55 am | Permalink

      I do this too… even if my priest doesn’t! How awesome, thanks for sharing!

    • Susan's Gravatar Susan
      March 26, 2019 - 10:27 am | Permalink

      I, too, relate to the Holy Spirit as feminine and use the pronoun “she” when saying the creed.

    • Stephen Lusk's Gravatar Stephen Lusk
      March 26, 2019 - 12:55 pm | Permalink

      If there’s a feminine member of the Trinity, it’s the Logos, which by John’s time was identified with Lady Wisdom of Proverbs and Wisdom. And Jesus went out of his way to associate himself with Lady Wisdom’s attributes, too.

    • drlulu's Gravatar drlulu
      March 26, 2019 - 2:58 pm | Permalink

      They make such a good family. Father, Son, and Mother-Holy Spirit.

    • Greg's Gravatar Greg
      March 27, 2019 - 1:14 am | Permalink

      I do this too – and I also only say the Holy Spirt “comes from the Father” – that is correct.

  12. Catherine's Gravatar Catherine
    March 26, 2019 - 8:37 am | Permalink

    Paula, because Jerome didn’t give her nearly enough credit for her work.

    • NLT's Gravatar NLT
      March 26, 2019 - 1:49 pm | Permalink

      I wondered about that. Depending on what exactly her “editing” and “suggested revisions” were, is this one of those cases where all the credit went to one person (Jerome), even though the work was really a collaboration?

      I voted for Paula, in honor of all the forgotten “assistants” of history.

  13. Marcia A Tremmel's Gravatar Marcia A Tremmel
    March 26, 2019 - 8:37 am | Permalink

    Both amazing and inspiring women. Paula got my vote because of the fond memories of my church history class in seminary.

  14. Laura Campbell's Gravatar Laura Campbell
    March 26, 2019 - 8:39 am | Permalink

    I literally flipped a coin on this one.

    • Pamela Payne's Gravatar Pamela Payne
      March 26, 2019 - 9:35 pm | Permalink


  15. Lois Hayward's Gravatar Lois Hayward
    March 26, 2019 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    I thought that yesterday’s choice was tough but I found today’s to be the most difficult vote so far this season!

  16. Kate Mason's Gravatar Kate Mason
    March 26, 2019 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    Two saints: Both knew wealth,
    both turned. But Paula was changed
    by suffering, to serve.

  17. March 26, 2019 - 8:47 am | Permalink

    Who knew that so much was made of the Latin translation of the Bible. My high school Latin may now be coming into focus. Thank you Paula and Jerome and the others Ambrose,Augustine and Gregory, the Latin Doctors of the Church.

  18. Karen's Gravatar Karen
    March 26, 2019 - 9:02 am | Permalink

    Tough one. I voted for Paula because she had five children and I do too. She also went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and we’re reading about pilgrimages in our Lenten book group in our parish.

    • March 27, 2019 - 7:29 am | Permalink

      Lenten book group. What a great idea!
      Will try next year to form one. Pray I succeed in getting enough people interested.

  19. March 26, 2019 - 9:02 am | Permalink

    All these husbands and fathers dying early. What’s with this?
    (Now, with a name like Toxotius, I can understand why one wouldn’t survive long.)

    • March 26, 2019 - 9:22 am | Permalink

      I agree, pHil. I was reading bios aloud to help two friends make decisions, and was struck by how one woman after another got married, only to have her husband pass away, which then led to her saintliness! What indeed is going on here? Perhaps there’s a dark side to some of these women. Or perhaps I watch too many true crime programs.

      • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
        March 26, 2019 - 9:48 am | Permalink

        Hahaha! It’s either because all the guys start out as monks and never have a wife, or life expectancy being what it was, the guys kicked off early! I surmise.

        • Michelle C's Gravatar Michelle C
          March 26, 2019 - 6:26 pm | Permalink

          It could also be a case of much older husbands and child brides.

      • Melissa's Gravatar Melissa
        March 26, 2019 - 11:51 am | Permalink

        In the case of these two women, they had more power to decide their own destiny, as well as how to use their money and estates, after they became widows. Prior to their husbands’ death, they had little to no legal agency.

  20. Lee Greenawalt's Gravatar Lee Greenawalt
    March 26, 2019 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    I went with Marcella as the inspiration which led Paula to become the benefactor and publisher of the Good News via the Vulgate

    • March 26, 2019 - 9:19 am | Permalink

      I was in the end won over by the fact that Marcella actually opened her home to the poor. Actually lived with them.

    • Pamela Payne's Gravatar Pamela Payne
      March 26, 2019 - 9:38 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you, Lee, and did the same. (This battle brought back memories of translating the Vulgate Book of Genesis in Latin class…ugh!)

  21. Deb D's Gravatar Deb D
    March 26, 2019 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    It’s a hard choic but I’m going with Marcella as she inspired Paula.

  22. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    March 26, 2019 - 9:17 am | Permalink

    While our vote yesterday was the flip of a coin, today’s was not a hard choice for us. Paula for the win today.

  23. March 26, 2019 - 9:19 am | Permalink

    This really seems like Tweedledum vs. Tweedledee to me. How did they find two contemporary women so much alike who are both admired by Jerome? Using Jerome’s assessment of each, I will vote for Marcella for her decision to “store her money in the stomachs of the poor …” Also she was cruelly martyred. Good enough reasons as any, I guess.

    • Elaine's Gravatar Elaine
      March 26, 2019 - 9:32 am | Permalink

      I loved that quote from Jerome as well.

  24. Rene Jamieson's Gravatar Rene Jamieson
    March 26, 2019 - 9:20 am | Permalink

    Notwithstanding their odd choices in male friends (Jerome, whose translation of the scriptures is seriously flawed; Athanasius who, even though he didn’t, has been credited with writing the most convoluted of creeds!), Marcella and Paula are worthy competitors for the Golden Halo. After thought and prayer, I went with Marcella, because I liked Jerome’s description of her storing her wealth in the stomachs of the poor instead of keeping it at her own disposal. I am involved in food ministries in my parish and through the Grow Hope program of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund. Anyone who feeds the hungry gets my vote!

  25. Rene Jamieson's Gravatar Rene Jamieson
    March 26, 2019 - 9:23 am | Permalink

    PS to Rodney and Mindy” I also use the feminine pronoun for the Holy Spirit. Her name is, after all, Sophia. I percieve God as both-gendered, Jesus as the male aspect of God and the Holy Spirit as God’s female aspect.

    • EA's Gravatar EA
      March 26, 2019 - 10:34 am | Permalink

      With you Rene. Sophia, wisdom, was there from the beginning in the form of the Holy Spirit though I have heard her referred to as God’s girl friend…..

  26. Emily's Gravatar Emily
    March 26, 2019 - 9:30 am | Permalink

    Paula, for supporting the poor and providing women with a role in producing the Vulgate, however Unacknowledged.

  27. Mary O'Donnell's Gravatar Mary O'Donnell
    March 26, 2019 - 9:32 am | Permalink

    Two great ladies.

  28. Cassandra's Gravatar Cassandra
    March 26, 2019 - 9:32 am | Permalink

    I chose Paula. It was hard – they are very similar, down to the close association with St. Jerome! Marriage, widowhood, and dedication to those in need. But I chose Paula because I think it must have been harder to leave her home and family and dedicate herself to Christ and the Church in a foreign land, than to remain at home as Marcella did.

  29. Gloria F. Ishida's Gravatar Gloria F. Ishida
    March 26, 2019 - 9:37 am | Permalink

    I am not overwhelmed by either of these women, and so many things in their lives were similar. But in the end I went for Narcella.

  30. John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
    March 26, 2019 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    I woke up this morning with the words of the Magnificat on my lips, so my choice had to be Marcella. And as always the collects were part of my devotions.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 26, 2019 - 9:51 am | Permalink

      What a nice way to wake up!

  31. Charles Stuart's Gravatar Charles Stuart
    March 26, 2019 - 9:53 am | Permalink

    Another close matchup with accomplished and devout women. I had to vote for my fellow editor, Paula.

  32. Fr. Bill of Gulf Shores's Gravatar Fr. Bill of Gulf Shores
    March 26, 2019 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    Another hard choice but one which must be made. I am thinking Paula as she influenced Jerome, but then again Marcella greatly influenced Paula. Which ever I vote for will probably lose as has been the case nearly every time.

  33. Tara Soughers's Gravatar Tara Soughers
    March 26, 2019 - 9:56 am | Permalink

    I went for the theologian, who refused the proper role for women of the time: Marcella.

  34. Anita's Gravatar Anita
    March 26, 2019 - 10:03 am | Permalink

    I made the choice of Marcella since she died in the service of others.

  35. Susie's Gravatar Susie
    March 26, 2019 - 10:05 am | Permalink

    BIG Thank Yous to Michael & John for your wonderful creativity & sharing it w/us! Blessings to them, SEC, & this online community + all the Saints we’re learning about :- )

  36. Joan Clingman's Gravatar Joan Clingman
    March 26, 2019 - 10:10 am | Permalink

    Both women were inspiring. They were so advanced in their education, thinking, faith and bravery. It was hard to decide on a vote.

  37. Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
    March 26, 2019 - 10:15 am | Permalink

    These two women are so very much alike, it’s up to the minutiae of the bloggers’ bios to sway us one way or another, I suppose. This matchup truly shows the SEC at their most demonic, and I am sure there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth (not to mention pulling out one’s hair) throughout the worldwide LM community today. I finally went with Paula because of her close work with Jerome on the Vulgate. (Perhaps Marcella contributed just as much as Paula to the translation, but the bio doesn’t really indicate that.) When I read that Paula had helped translate the Vulgate, I was at first astonished, then rapidly went through the five stages of grief because I am almost 60 and am only now finding out this important fact!

    Marcella has much to commend herself–I especially like the Brown Dress Society–but her friendship with Athanasius sealed the deal. I have always been Against Athanasius myself. Not a huge trinitarian (yeah, I know: a weird trait in an Episcopalian, but there it is). Sure, Marcella may have had tea with Athanasius, too, but the blogger didn’t say that!

  38. Judy Bye's Gravatar Judy Bye
    March 26, 2019 - 10:17 am | Permalink

    I can’t remember if I voted already, for Paula. I’m thinking about changing my mind. Her relationship with Jerome is suspicious. She may have left a young son traumatized as she sailed off. The surviving children all seem to end up in Bethlehem. She certainly did travel a lot. I thought she used her vast wealth, well. Then, when the “compound” got into financial trouble, Jerome sold two properties–after she had bankrolled quite a bit of his work. Can’t deny the Vulgate they produced that was used until 1979! Oh, well. The Catholic church murdered thousands, accepted bribes for centuries and was horribly corrupt and has covered up mortal sins. Good thing we are all forgiven. I changed my mind. There’s just something I like about Paula.

  39. etupper's Gravatar etupper
    March 26, 2019 - 10:21 am | Permalink

    Paula! As a 40-year career editor, I value anyone who helps clarify the thoughts of the great to benefit the rest of us. If the Vulgate is that inaccurate, just think how bad it was before. 😉 (Besides, the Holy Spirit is an “it”; Jesus is the feminine – see Julien of Norwich.)

  40. Nancy Baxter's Gravatar Nancy Baxter
    March 26, 2019 - 10:24 am | Permalink

    That lovely LM mug that was shown yesterday by Tim and Scott was, in fact, not shown as an option when I visited the Lentorium!

    • Diana's Gravatar Diana
      March 26, 2019 - 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Nancy Baxter, I looked for it, too, and was devastated — I tell you DEVASTATED!!! – – not to find it. Heavy martyred sigh!!!!!

  41. Michelle's Gravatar Michelle
    March 26, 2019 - 10:30 am | Permalink

    Another difficult choice! My decision again was rather arbitrary and I don’t want to influence antyone’s choice. Either deserves to be chosen!

  42. Victoria's Gravatar Victoria
    March 26, 2019 - 10:31 am | Permalink

    Marrying someone named Toxotius does not seem like a good omen. Apparently that proved not to be a problem.

    These two saints are so similar that I had to make an arbitrary choice.

    • Sonia's Gravatar Sonia
      March 26, 2019 - 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Rather toxic, would you say?

  43. beth's Gravatar beth
    March 26, 2019 - 10:36 am | Permalink

    toughest vote yet, for me. i originally wanted to vote for paula – opening three monasteries for women, and by proxy, voting for all the women who helped with the translation for the vulgate. but the collect for marcella tipped it for me. may we all hunger and thirst for god.

  44. Laurie's Gravatar Laurie
    March 26, 2019 - 10:37 am | Permalink

    Been fabulous I love all the comments and have learned so much.
    Disappointed my vote didn’t register this morning.
    Many thanks all for your wonderful comments and creativityI have been bitten by the Lenten Madness Bug. L.

  45. Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
    March 26, 2019 - 10:39 am | Permalink

    I happen to like the Creed attributed to Saint Athanasius and I like that Marcella welcomed the poor into her home and provided food along with shelter.

    That he had, Paula gave Jerome the idea to translate the entire Bible and not just the four Gospels. And she proofread it!

    Would we have all our modern translations without the existence of the Vulgate?

  46. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
    March 26, 2019 - 10:42 am | Permalink

    I’m glad to learn about both these saints of old, never known to me before. (But then, we Methodists don’t focus on the saints much, being very suspicious of praying to other human beings. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy Lent Madness so much; I learn about so many people in our history.) As I was an editor in one part of my life, I can’t resist voting for one of my early forewomen. Imagine being part of a literary effort that lasted so many centuries!

    • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
      March 26, 2019 - 4:59 pm | Permalink

      We don’t pray to them, rather we ask them to pray for us in the same way we ask other fellow Christians to pray for us. If I asked you to pray for me about something, it would be just like asking Saint Lucy (aka Lucia) to pray for me about the same thing.

  47. Diana's Gravatar Diana
    March 26, 2019 - 10:57 am | Permalink

    Since Marcella is the one who inspired Paula, she should get the vote. Granted, Paula put up with Jerome a lot longer, which, in itself, makes her a saint, but would she have discovered such a holy life had it not been for Marcella? I suspect not. VOTE FOR MARCELLA!

  48. Linda S's Gravatar Linda S
    March 26, 2019 - 10:58 am | Permalink

    Today, I am enjoying the interconnectedness of these early Christians. Marcella and Paula were acquaintances, they had similar social circumstances and their faith directed their responses to hardships similarly, both had meaningful relationships with Jerome, and Athanathius was a house guest somewhere in there. (Considering St Jerome’s legendary inattention to personal hygiene, I’ve long since dispatched the notion that he and Paula were anything but friends and fellow-workers…).

    I must confess, I’ve found some of these match-ups somewhat – – uninspiring. And it’s not just me, I’ve heard this in other fans’ comments as well. Have we used up the Skobtsovas or the Bonhoeffers? At the same time, my …. pusillanimity over these match-ups is embarrassing to me. (“Oh reeeeally? I’m bored about the quiet yet brave faith of …. _______ ?” “Used up?” What is wrong with me?? )
    Then here comes the ol’Lent Madness Magic. I’m beginning to ponder deeply the “slow saints” in the match-ups. This morning I am considering how both Marcella and Paula’s lives unfolded into beauty, piety and adventure. Scary and uncertain times for the Empire, yet they grew in faith and service. Yet, they persisted.
    These slow match-ups highlight for me that we must follow Christ – in terms of devotion and obedience even as we wrestle with the intense demands of life. Paula and Marcella are perfect points for inspiration here.
    One more notion sparked by these slow match ups: I’m wondering what my write-up a la Lent Madness might look like. You know, sometimes we’re challenged to do great deeds with the question, “what would your obit say about you?”
    This year’s bracket competition has definitely taken a surprising turn inward!
    P.S. I voted for Paula, the lady who pilgrimaged to the Holy Land. Wouldn’t that have been fun to tag along????

    • Anthony Lee's Gravatar Anthony Lee
      March 26, 2019 - 11:29 am | Permalink

      Can you tell me more about Jerome’s “legendary inattention to personal hygiene”? Why on earth would anyone elevate that to the level of legend? Who would care that much unless they were a little kinky?

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 26, 2019 - 12:49 pm | Permalink

      I love that thought: What woulda Celebrity Blogger say about me? I would be a “slow saint” most certainly!

  49. St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
    March 26, 2019 - 11:00 am | Permalink

    I’m actually sort of gobsmacked that Paula has received any votes at all. But perhaps nothing says “Lent” more than being carried around city streets by eunuchs. One of my favorite hymns is “Hail Thee, Sybarite Day.” I figure neither of these ladies will make it to the final round. I suppose being beaten by Visigoths counts as a form of martyrdom, but I prefer to respond to the idea of a woman reading and studying languages. That she could “engage in rigorous theological debate” interests me. I was glad to learn of women’s role in generating the Vulgate Bible. But today’s match is not one for the record books; send them both to the lions.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 26, 2019 - 12:50 pm | Permalink

      I love that thought: What woulda Celebrity Blogger say about me? I would be a “slow saint” most certainly!

  50. March 26, 2019 - 11:01 am | Permalink

    As a vegetarian, and a Franciscan who mostly wears brown, I had to vote for Marcella, but both women seemed equally compelling, and since they were friends, I imagine whoever loses will be very delighted that her friend won. (and not in that fakey-nice way of beauty contestants, either!)

  51. Elaine Chilcote's Gravatar Elaine Chilcote
    March 26, 2019 - 11:04 am | Permalink

    Lucy, it isn’t supposed to be a matter of praying to other human beings, but rather asking the members of the communion of saints in heaven to pray to God for us, just as we ask members of that communion on earth, our friends and family, to pray to God for us. (Granted, superstition is always ready to creep into spiritual practices.) That the “Grump of Bethlehem,” St. Jerome, was so admiring of the intellect of these two women was a revelation to me and makes me like him better than I did. I am still torn as to which worthy woman gets my vote.

  52. Ann Tottenham's Gravatar Ann Tottenham
    March 26, 2019 - 11:13 am | Permalink

    Have never been a fan of St. Jerome but may have to revise my attitude when faced with these two girl friends of his. It occurs to me that many (most?) of our possible female . saintly choices had short-lived husbands, though I’m not implying foul play. At least today’s two women sound like brave, sensible souls without the vague cloud of creepiness which lingers around some of the others.

  53. Judith's Gravatar Judith
    March 26, 2019 - 11:15 am | Permalink

    As an English major, erstwhile proofreader, lover of scholarship, I am drawn to Paula–but I find her collect heavy on judgment and light on joy. “storing her wealth in the stomachs of the poor”, and her collect swayed me.

    March 26, 2019 - 11:16 am | Permalink

    This was a nearly impossible to for me, but I ended up voting for Marcella, because like dear Martha, she stayed home and was busy with many things. Paula, on the other hand, still had time to go gallivanting with Jerome and building minarets and such and so forth. Marcella, on the other hand, have it her all, and gave all she had to fill the stomachs of the poor, and gave her life. So, Marcella for the win for me.

    • TJMannion's Gravatar TJMannion
      March 26, 2019 - 11:18 am | Permalink

      Lord love a duck, spell check is my enemy today. Let’s try again:

      This was a nearly impossible tie for me, but I ended up voting for Marcella, because like dear Martha, she stayed home and was busy with many things. Paula, on the other hand, still had time and money to go gallivanting with Jerome and building monasteries and such and so forth. Marcella, on the other hand, gave it her all, and gave all she had to fill the stomachs of the poor, and also gave her life. So, Marcella for the win for me.

      • St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
        March 26, 2019 - 11:24 am | Permalink

        Oh, I was charmed by “building minarets.” I think all the saints should have a minaret built for them.

  55. Lucretia Jevne's Gravatar Lucretia Jevne
    March 26, 2019 - 11:18 am | Permalink

    Neither are in Holy Men, Holy Women. Surely an oversight that needs correcting!

  56. Mary Jane C. Ingalls's Gravatar Mary Jane C. Ingalls
    March 26, 2019 - 11:23 am | Permalink

    What a coin toss is this matchup. The dead husband and no living children seem a frequent narrative vehicle that frees a woman (person) to follow her spiritual vision quest similar to the folkloric use of parental death to launch the protagonist onto their journey of self-discovery.

    Reading the daily matchups is my morning meditation. It squares me up for one day at a time.

  57. John Miller's Gravatar John Miller
    March 26, 2019 - 11:31 am | Permalink

    This was a close one for me…I give the nod to Marcella, because the push for a Bible in the then-vernacular is a big and lasting plus,

  58. Angela's Gravatar Angela
    March 26, 2019 - 11:44 am | Permalink

    Quite an even match-up today. I chose Marcella because I liked her collect more than the collect for Paula.

  59. Amy's Gravatar Amy
    March 26, 2019 - 11:47 am | Permalink

    Why couldn’t one of yesterday’s contestants been against one of these two ?!! Damien and Pandita are both more deserving of the crown than either of these two.

  60. Chris's Gravatar Chris
    March 26, 2019 - 11:48 am | Permalink

    Paula bears the holy card trumps: better pic (fancy chair, group of disciples) and more obvious spiritual fruit. I just about voted for her and then, in a feast of cyber distraction, enjoyed reading y’all’s comments before submitting my vote–which surely is the most important thing I do today. 🙂 I live where homeless folk are now expanding their street corner pleas for help even to the ‘burbs. I am changing my vote to Marcella. She did something about homelessness.

  61. Jane Trambley's Gravatar Jane Trambley
    March 26, 2019 - 11:51 am | Permalink

    My husband had an aunt named Marcella, soooo, in her honor. Marcella!

  62. JessicaD's Gravatar JessicaD
    March 26, 2019 - 11:56 am | Permalink

    I don’t think Paula’s collect lives up to her example. Marcella’s collect is far more inspiring. However, because Paula has such an extraordinary second act after losing husband and child, and because Marcella’s brown dresses unfortunately remind me of the strict policing of women’s appearance in the churches I grew up in and around, I’ve voted for Paula. Two admirable women, though, for sure.

  63. hapax's Gravatar hapax
    March 26, 2019 - 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Just had to comment on this one because I love both of these women – they were central to the paper I wrote on the “virago” (women who literally “become men” through their saintly virtue — oh, Jerome, you problematical polemicist!) in Christian thought.
    Nearly voted for Paula because of the way she stood up to Jerome, but finally picked Marcella because I yearn for her virtues (I’m already mouthy and strong-willed enough, thank you Paula)

    • St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
      March 26, 2019 - 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Yet Joan of Arc was mocked as an “hommasse”–a woman with a man’s traits–because of her man’s dress and martial activities. Hommasse was a severe term of denigration for a woman, not a rise in status at all. Damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t.

  64. Diane Carroll's Gravatar Diane Carroll
    March 26, 2019 - 12:08 pm | Permalink

    “She stored her wealth in the stomachs of the poor”. What more needs to be said.

  65. Jan Curtis's Gravatar Jan Curtis
    March 26, 2019 - 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Smiling over “Mom and Pop Lenten devotion” this morning. Glad for you. I’ve followed this Saints-thing for several years and always look forward to its return. Thank you. Carry on! Jan C.

    • Bob A-B's Gravatar Bob A-B
      March 26, 2019 - 12:55 pm | Permalink

      But, given that the SEC consists of 2 men, shouldn’t it be “pop and pop?”

  66. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    March 26, 2019 - 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Both inspirational ladies. Marcella for me.

  67. Christine Parkhurst's Gravatar Christine Parkhurst
    March 26, 2019 - 12:38 pm | Permalink

    This is why I love Lent Madness: obscure gems of history. ” [Paula] provided [Jerome] with resources for the translation, suggested revisions, and edited the manuscripts. The women of the convents served as scribes, making copies of this groundbreaking work, which became known as the Vulgate, the first translation of the Old Testament directly from Hebrew to Latin (rather than from Hebrew to Greek to Latin).” It seems to me that this is evidence of a woman actually making a major contribution to what has become the canonical Bible. Think about the subtext of “suggesting revisions” and “editing.” When he got it wrong, she fixed it. Wow. For example, there was long and heated early debate about how to understand and translate just one word/concept into Greek (“being of one substance”= Trinity as milk shake or parfait?) How was that translated? Clearly editing and revising was huge.

  68. TJ's Gravatar TJ
    March 26, 2019 - 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Love them both but went with Paula because she put up the coin so that the Vulgate could be translated.

  69. Jane Bucci's Gravatar Jane Bucci
    March 26, 2019 - 12:49 pm | Permalink

    My only unbroken bracket so far, and I’ve gone with Paula. What a hard decision this was, and the sway for me became Paula’s influence on the Vulgate. I want them both to win.

  70. Lisa Keppeler's Gravatar Lisa Keppeler
    March 26, 2019 - 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Can I trade my vote in toward a recount for St. Damien??? Please??? If not, as a former proofreader, I’ll go with Paula in this coin-toss matchup. (Who am I kidding? Once a proofreader, always a proofreader!)

    • John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
      March 26, 2019 - 7:16 pm | Permalink

      In mid-Pacific a tremulous murmur runs through the earth:

      “damien, damien, Damien, Damien, DAMIEN, DAMIEN…”

      Madame Pele is gonna have a word with some mainland friends about a certain election result…

  71. Kathleen's Gravatar Kathleen
    March 26, 2019 - 1:25 pm | Permalink

    If Paula isn’t already the patron saint of editors, she should be.

  72. Bob Bennett's Gravatar Bob Bennett
    March 26, 2019 - 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Can we give Damien a new life instead of either of these two? Neither would survive a round with either of yesterday’s contenders…..

  73. Tobu's Gravatar Tobu
    March 26, 2019 - 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Such an almost indistinguishably similar matchup, on the heels of such a distinctive battle of worthies! I was about to flip a coin until I noted Paula’s work as an editor of translations, something I do myself as part of my freelance translation work. Sister Paula, I salute your hard work sorting out other people’s words – often a thankless and unrecognized task – with my vote.

  74. Nancy Iredale's Gravatar Nancy Iredale
    March 26, 2019 - 3:42 pm | Permalink

    A fairer match-up would have had similar photos/drawings of both!

  75. dewluca's Gravatar dewluca
    March 26, 2019 - 4:29 pm | Permalink

    From the bios it sounds like Marcella was an inspiration to Paula . . . “Inspired by the faith and action of her contemporary Marcella, Paula opened her palace to the needy and set upon a life dedicated to God.” . . . so if Marcella had followed the more traditional path, perhaps Paula would have as well . . . One then wonders if we would have ever gotten that Vulgate Bible from Jerome. So I voted for Marcella.
    Maybe the bio writers could clarify the connections between these two women?

  76. Amy's Gravatar Amy
    March 26, 2019 - 4:43 pm | Permalink

    I, too, am an editor, as a volunteer for which provides microfinancing for people in developing countries all over the world who want to invest in a business (or their farm). So Paula the editor of the Vulgate gets my vote! Another very close matchup, though.

  77. Lynn Werdal's Gravatar Lynn Werdal
    March 26, 2019 - 5:07 pm | Permalink

    My vote goes to Marcella. Without her, would Paula have chosen the path she did? Marcella was the Trail Blazer.

  78. March 26, 2019 - 5:17 pm | Permalink

    My vote is for Marcella. “Pressured to be a silent woman,” yet, she persisted, engaging “in rigorous theological debate.”

  79. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    March 26, 2019 - 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Marcella, on points. Another lost cause, I see, by a hot me) surprising margin.

    • St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
      March 26, 2019 - 10:53 pm | Permalink

      Glad to see you back, Davis. Was ready to send out the St Bernard with the little keg of brandy on its collar.

      • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
        March 27, 2019 - 6:29 am | Permalink

        I’m in Germany, and the time difference is inconvenient. I’m up too early to participate and then usually busy and/or without Internet until rather late in the day. Don’t know where “hot me” came from.

        • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
          March 27, 2019 - 6:38 am | Permalink

          Oh, I see, “to me.”

  80. Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
    March 26, 2019 - 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Marcella has a seat at Judy Chicago’s “Dinner Party”

    • Joy Cass's Gravatar Joy Cass
      March 26, 2019 - 5:59 pm | Permalink

      So interesting!

    • St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
      March 26, 2019 - 6:04 pm | Permalink

      That’s amazing. Thank you. I see Paula’s name in the floor beneath her place setting. “She often questioned [Jerome’s] arguments and was never afraid to criticize him.” I think some of the trouble I’m having with today’s match-up is it feels strange to shift to Rome away from the primitive church. And it’s the fallen Rome; I wonder who will sack us, even if only figuratively. I suppose these women offer some guidance for how those inhabiting a decaying empire can find strength and spiritual support to go on.

      • Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
        March 26, 2019 - 6:47 pm | Permalink

        I hadn’t noticed Paula’s name on the Heritage floor! Thank you! Also thank you for your comment about finding strength when living in a decaying empire….

        • St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
          March 26, 2019 - 9:44 pm | Permalink

          Alas. The orange writing is on the wall. This story in the New York Times about the decade of the 1980’s as a period when the US could have led the world in combating climate change and saving the planet puts to rest any residual hope that we were still a viable republic. “Decaying empire” is only too apt. The decline begins with a certain nominal leader whose name rhymes, appropriately enough, with “pagan.” And now of course the looting has begun in earnest; we are sacking ourselves from within.

    • Grace's Gravatar Grace
      March 27, 2019 - 1:30 am | Permalink

      Thanks so much for this!

  81. Donna's Gravatar Donna
    March 26, 2019 - 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Did anyone else have trouble this morning (West Coast time) bringing up the page. I tried several times and it was not available. Fortunately this afternoon, 2:30 pm I got it.

    • Pamela Payne's Gravatar Pamela Payne
      March 26, 2019 - 9:50 pm | Permalink

      I had the same problem, Donna. I just presumed that the hordes of voters were overwhelming the LM server!

  82. Catherine's Gravatar Catherine
    March 26, 2019 - 6:20 pm | Permalink


  83. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    March 26, 2019 - 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Tempting as it is to vote for a dinner companion of Athanasius, my vote goes to Paula for her work to ensure the translation of the bible – why isn’t she better known?

  84. #Heim37's Gravatar #Heim37
    March 26, 2019 - 7:32 pm | Permalink

    Go Paula of Rome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  85. Carolyn's Gravatar Carolyn
    March 26, 2019 - 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Marcella , love storing her wealth in the stomachs of the poor, how much suffering she minimized.

  86. Paula S.'s Gravatar Paula S.
    March 26, 2019 - 10:53 pm | Permalink

    No contest 🙂

  87. andrea's Gravatar andrea
    March 26, 2019 - 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Paula because of the Vulgate and in honor of editors.

  88. March 27, 2019 - 12:14 am | Permalink

    I voted for Paula, the driving force behind the Vulgate. She not only fed people’s bodies by spending her fortune, but also their souls.

  89. Stephanie's Gravatar Stephanie
    March 27, 2019 - 7:48 am | Permalink

    Thank you for pointing out we do not pray to the saints but ask them to pray for us. And what sense it makes to ask Mary, Mother of Jesus to intercede with her Son for us!

    It is so sad that the misunderstanding of this belief has caused so much criticism of the Catholic church.

Comments are closed.