William Wilberforce vs. Agatha Lin Zhao

Congratulations! You survived the very first day of Lent Madness 2019. Which is more than we can say for Mary of Bethany, who was bounced by her sister Martha 58% to 42%. Martha becomes our first saint to qualify for the Saintly Sixteen, where she’ll face the winner of James the Greater vs. Nicodemus.

You should also congratulate yourself for having participated in a record setting day in the annals of Lent Madness history. Yesterday’s sibling matchup received nearly 10,500 votes, with over 500 comments, and more page views than we’ve ever had on a single day (almost 39,000, for those keeping score at home). And, despite a few shaky moments, you didn’t crash the server!

Today, in saintly action it’s William Wilberforce, the 18th century English abolitionist and reformer, squaring off against Agatha Lin Zhao, Chinese Christian and educator.

Don’t forget that tomorrow is the ONLY SATURDAY MATCHUP of Lent Madness 2019. After Ignatius of Loyola faces Tikhon of Zadonsk, voting will strictly take place on the weekdays of Lent, giving everyone a needed breather from the intensity of everyone’s favorite online Lenten devotion.

William Wilberforce

William WilberforceWilliam Wilberforce was an English politician who underwent a dramatic conversion experience and spent his life trying to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire.

Born in Yorkshire in 1759, he lived with his aunt and uncle for a number of years, who influenced him with their love of Methodism. However, during his years at St. John’s College in Cambridge, their religious influence waned, and he was known as a man about town, fond of “theater-going, attending balls, and playing cards.” The horror.

He decided to run for Parliament when still a student, based on the solid premise that his friend was also doing it and it seemed like fun. Wilberforce turned out to be good at politics, being persuasive and gifted with a great speaking voice, but his persistent disorganization and proclivity for lateness meant he wasn’t much of a powerhouse.

In 1785, Wilberforce had a conversion experience, and after a period of discernment, he decided to use his public position to spread Christian ideals and ethics. He began meeting with several other high-profile politicians in England who were concerned about the moral depravity of the slave trade. At the time, the so-called Triangle Trade contributed about 80 percent of British income that derived from trade. The group, which included William Pitt, Thomas Clarkson, and others, became known as the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

The group launched an intense and long-lasting campaign, with logo, pamphlets, and chapters that sprang up across the United Kingdom—effectively the first grassroots human rights campaign in history. Wilberforce’s group networked with abolitionists in France, Spain, Portugal, and the United States and brought together Quakers and Anglicans on the same cause for the first time.

Finally, after a long and difficult fight, Wilberforce and his society succeeded in banning the slave trade in the United Kingdom in 1807. Wilberforce continued lobbying and working for a total abolition of slavery. He received word that a total abolition law would be enacted three days before his death in 1833.

Collect for William Wilberforce
O Lord, reassure me with your quickening Spirit; without you I can do nothing. Mortify in me all ambition, vanity, vainglory, worldliness, pride, selfishness, and resistance from God, and fill me with love, peace and all the fruits of the Spirit. O Lord, I know not what I am, but to you I flee for refuge. I would surrender myself to you, trusting your precious promises and against hope believing in hope. Amen.
(-Attributed to Wilberforce)

-Megan Castellan

Agatha Lin Zhao
Agatha Lin Zhao devoted her life to educating others about traditional Chinese culture, the world, and her faith. Ultimately, that commitment to education cost her life.

Early on, two conflicting commitments were made in Agatha’s life. Her parents had committed Agatha to be married to a young man whom they thought would help secure their family’s future. Meanwhile, Agatha had committed herself to serving God and the church.

Agatha’s parents were no strangers to the sacrifices of faith. Themselves Christians, Agatha’s father was in prison for refusing to renounce his faith when his daughter was born in 1817. When they found out about her commitment to God, her parents released Agatha from the betrothal. In the following years, Agatha pursued her education under her religious tutors, coming home at intervals to care for her parents.

At twenty-five, Agatha Lin Zhao took religious vows and was sent out as a missionary and educator. She proceeded to the frontier of Southern China, weaving together traditional Chinese culture and Christian faith as she taught in the local villages of the Hmong, Hmub, and Xong people (collectively known as the Miao by the Chinese).

Agatha did not see the Chinese culture of her childhood in conflict with her faith, but the Chinese authorities disagreed. Refusing to renounce her Christian faith, she was arrested and beheaded on January 28, 1858.

The work and sacrifice of Agatha Lin Zhoa was recognized as a martyr saint of China canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000. She is remembered on February 19 alongside Anges Tsao Kou Ying and Lucy Yi Zhenmei.

Collect for Agatha Lin Zhao
Lord Jesus Christ, who willingly walked the way of the cross: Strengthen your church through the witness of your servant Agatha Lin Zhao to hold fast to the path of discipleship even unto death; for with the Father and Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

-David Hansen

William Wilberforce vs. Agatha Lin Zhao

  • William Wilberforce (59%, 5,677 Votes)
  • Agatha Lin Zhao (41%, 3,888 Votes)

Total Voters: 9,565

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William Wilberforce: By Karl Anton Hickel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Agatha Lin Zhao: https://catholicsaints.info/saint-agatha-lin/ Image, http://desertsilver22.deviantart.com/

234 Comments to "William Wilberforce vs. Agatha Lin Zhao"

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

    We honor today’s saints with a ditty to be sung to “Superstar” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar”…

    After his conversion, he did not understand
    Why the evil slave trade had got so out of hand.
    Thought it was depraved and so he took a big stand.
    Strived to have all slavery abolished in England.
    An errant youth, no one would guess you had the volition
    To work your life to lobby for a full abolition.

    Didn’t get that wrong. (Repeat 3Xs)
    We want him to know. (Repeat 3Xs)

    Wilberforce. Wilberforce.
    Your life was one we could all endorse. (Repeat)

    Wilberforce. Modern saint.
    Thank you for fighting without restraint. (Repeat)

    Christians born in China often ended up dead –
    First, our girl was tortured then they chopped off her head.
    Jesus – he was where it’s at – so that’s what she taught.
    She mixed Christ with Chinese culture. It put her in a spot.
    Due to her beliefs, they threw her into a prison.
    She would not renounce Christ, so they said, “Cut short her mission!”

    Oh, her faith was strong. (Repeat 3Xs)
    We want her to know. (Repeat 3Xs)

    Agatha. Agatha.
    Your faith in Christ gave them agita. (Repeat)

    Agatha. Modern saint.
    Thank you for teaching without restraint. (Repeat)

    • Shannon's Gravatar Shannon
      March 8, 2019 - 8:10 am | Permalink

      Michael Wachter
      you are a master
      of words and tunes.

    • Peggy's Gravatar Peggy
      March 8, 2019 - 8:14 am | Permalink

      Oh, how wonderful! I will be looking forward to these. Thank you!

    • Kim's Gravatar Kim
      March 8, 2019 - 8:24 am | Permalink

      I’ll be singing this all day! 🙂

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

      Awesome song!

    • Nancy Shaw's Gravatar Nancy Shaw
      March 8, 2019 - 8:54 am | Permalink

      Lovely! And interesting.

    • Barbara L Ross's Gravatar Barbara L Ross
      March 8, 2019 - 9:02 am | Permalink

      Love it, Michael! Next stop Broadway?

    • Gloria's Gravatar Gloria
      March 8, 2019 - 9:07 am | Permalink

      Excellent. Now Superstar will be playing on repeat in my head all day. Great earworm!

      • Rebecca L Christian's Gravatar Rebecca L Christian
        March 8, 2019 - 10:46 am | Permalink

        My thought exactly!

      • Alexandra Stephens's Gravatar Alexandra Stephens
        March 8, 2019 - 1:26 pm | Permalink

        Same here! Thanks?

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 8, 2019 - 9:12 am | Permalink

      I love it! The pressure’s on now. You realize you have to do this for six weeks now, don’t you?? 😀

      • Sally Fox's Gravatar Sally Fox
        March 8, 2019 - 9:34 am | Permalink

        Oh yes, SIX weeks. I made and passed out flyers in my parish, too.

      • Helen J's Gravatar Helen J
        March 8, 2019 - 10:17 am | Permalink

        What fun!

    • Jack Zamboni's Gravatar Jack Zamboni
      March 8, 2019 - 9:12 am | Permalink

      Dang, your good!

    • March 8, 2019 - 9:19 am | Permalink

      How can you possibly keep this up? I am thankful for whatever you can muster, because your words are golden!

    • Sharon's Gravatar Sharon
      March 8, 2019 - 10:14 am | Permalink

      Fantastic thank you for this!

    • Martha's Gravatar Martha
      March 8, 2019 - 10:37 am | Permalink


    • Janet Irvine's Gravatar Janet Irvine
      March 8, 2019 - 10:53 am | Permalink

      I was deeply touched (read: sobbing) most of the way through watching the movie, Amazing Grace. He suffered so much, and his health got terrible as he fought to abolish slavery. Plus he was a really cute actor. I love William.

    • Marlene Hogue's Gravatar Marlene Hogue
      March 8, 2019 - 10:58 am | Permalink

      Mike, you know we love you,
      We can all see why,
      You should pursue poetry,
      It’s written in the sky!

      We wanna let you know
      You really ought to know
      Don’t you let it go,
      Don’t you let it go!

      On this International Women’s Day, I say: Go, Agatha!

    • Julie C Watt Faqir's Gravatar Julie C Watt Faqir
      March 8, 2019 - 12:02 pm | Permalink


      I will look forward to your musical contributions throughout Lent. Incidentally I now have this tune stick in my head.

    • Ray's Gravatar Ray
      March 8, 2019 - 12:28 pm | Permalink

      I’m dead. This song killed me. Thank you for a great start to Friday morning!

    • Lyn Morander's Gravatar Lyn Morander
      March 8, 2019 - 1:32 pm | Permalink


    • Elaine Culver's Gravatar Elaine Culver
      March 8, 2019 - 2:06 pm | Permalink

      Brilliant! Thanks for the “saint song du jour.”

    • Tamsen's Gravatar Tamsen
      March 8, 2019 - 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Great song for Day 2! Two days, two great songs!

    • Joseph R. John's Gravatar Joseph R. John
      March 8, 2019 - 4:38 pm | Permalink

      You are so VERY talented. Keep up the good word

    • Sharyn L. Flanagan's Gravatar Sharyn L. Flanagan
      March 8, 2019 - 6:23 pm | Permalink

      This is awesome!

    • March 8, 2019 - 6:40 pm | Permalink

      Also works pretty well with “Pinball Wizard,” but I date myself

    • Sue's Gravatar Sue
      March 8, 2019 - 7:09 pm | Permalink

      Brilliant! Thank You!

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

    One could say that Agatha fought the enslavement of her fellow countrymen’s souls, but anyone who fought or alleviated the plight of actually enslaved people gets my vote. I also was moved by the movie Amazing Grace, so I voted for William.

    In case my use of first names seems to familiar — I teach history and I say to my students who refer to George Washington as “George” that you only get to use the first name if the person sits next to you in class or was a king , a queen, or a saint. Practicing what I teach.

    • Carolyn Mack's Gravatar Carolyn Mack
      March 8, 2019 - 8:10 am | Permalink

      Oops, “too” familiar.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 8, 2019 - 9:14 am | Permalink

      Your class sounds like fun! Hooray for teachers!

    • Julie C Watt Faqir's Gravatar Julie C Watt Faqir
      March 8, 2019 - 12:05 pm | Permalink

      I too was moved by the movie AMAZING GRACE.

      Recognizing Zhao’s life and sacrifice, I voted for Wilberforce. This match up was not an easy one for me.

      • Linda Nichols's Gravatar Linda Nichols
        March 9, 2019 - 1:00 am | Permalink

        While Zhao gave the ultimate sacrifice for God, Wilberforce’s life impacted far more people. That is why I voted for him.

    • Nancy Stone's Gravatar Nancy Stone
      March 8, 2019 - 12:25 pm | Permalink

      Carolyn Mack, I like how you teach history. I have always thought of history being about the people more than the dates and happenings. I especially love British history and have told
      my children the people breathed, slept, ate, cried etc just like we do and their thoughts, beliefs and actions are what made history happen. For me, the history of Britain can be found in its churches. My ancestral church was built in 1478 and still stands in Essex. I too voted for William with all his very human “faults”!

    • Hatgirlstargazer's Gravatar Hatgirlstargazer
      March 8, 2019 - 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Off topic, but as an astronomer I have to ask: What about Galileo Galilei and Tycho Brahe? Both usually referred to by their first names, Galileo almost exclusively.

  3. Maggie's Gravatar Maggie
    March 8, 2019 - 8:12 am | Permalink

    vote for agatha

  4. John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
    March 8, 2019 - 8:12 am | Permalink

    His name does not command the same attention in the United States as Lincoln or Garrison, but William Wilberforce deserves great credit for his forty-five year campaign to end first the slave trade, then slavery itself, in the British Empire. A committed Christian, a gifted orator and Member of Parliament, he joined Thomas Clarkson and others in spearheading the effort to abolish it.

    When he began his work, the “triangle trade” accounted for four-fifths of Britain’s foreign income, with the slave trade one of its legs. Around 11 million men, women and children were taken from Africa, subjected to the horrors of the middle passage, where over a million died, and sold into lifelong bondage in the New World.
    Great fortunes were made off this trade, and Wilberforce and his allies met stiff resistance from wealthy and powerful families. Britain was a superpower with interests around the globe; Wilberforce and his allies faced a challenge roughly akin to ending fossil fuel use in the present-day United States.

    Nevertheless, they persisted: the passage of the Slave Trade Act in 1807 ended much of the Empire’s trade in slaves, with the Royal Navy’s West African Squadron charged with seizing slavers and freeing their captives. In 1833, shortly after Wilberforce’s death, the Slavery Abolition Act effectively ended slavery itself in most of the Empire, freeing nearly 800,000 African slaves worldwide.

    Wilberforce’s deep Christian belief in the moral repugnance of slavery, and his tireless efforts to eradicate it, led directly to the freeing of nearly a million people from bondage in the dominions of the the world’s leading superpower. It took another thirty years (and hundreds of thousands of lives) for the United States to free its four million slaves, but the example had been set for the world.

    And now, the limerick du jour:

    A parliamentarian and moral force;
    Forbidding the slave trade his chosen course.
    Its eradication
    Deserves acclamation:
    Please join me in honoring Wilberforce!

    • Kate the Catechist's Gravatar Kate the Catechist
      March 8, 2019 - 9:55 am | Permalink

      Well said, John Cabot and I love today’s limerick! <3

    • Rebecca Christian's Gravatar Rebecca Christian
      March 8, 2019 - 10:48 am | Permalink

      Thanks so much for the added information. And, that limerick was great!

    • Patricia's Gravatar Patricia
      March 8, 2019 - 2:05 pm | Permalink

      I did join you, John! William got my vote. Love your commentary – looking forward to more
      ” limericks du jour”.

  5. Sue Goodman's Gravatar Sue Goodman
    March 8, 2019 - 8:14 am | Permalink

    Although William is my countryman, on International Women’s Day it’s got to be Agatha!

    • Debs Voorhees's Gravatar Debs Voorhees
      March 8, 2019 - 8:19 am | Permalink

      Right? And, mostly, for herself, her own story. ‘Some gave all.’

      • Robyn's Gravatar Robyn
        March 8, 2019 - 8:41 am | Permalink

        Ditto to both of your replies…we need a like button for replies Supreme Executive Committee!

        • Jayne Edgley's Gravatar Jayne Edgley
          March 8, 2019 - 9:15 am | Permalink

          Totally agree for a like button! 🙂
          Both were faithful passionate servants working for others on thier religious principals. To do that within a democracy and politcal framework accepting and allowing change (though not easy or without objection and difficulty) is so much easier than to do it inspite of and against a culture and government where the final result was her life. Both worthy saints, but for standing faithful and strong to the point of loosing her life I have to go with Agatha.

          • Gail's Gravatar Gail
            March 8, 2019 - 7:43 pm | Permalink

            Although Agatha was a brave person, the life of Wilberforce was important to more people.

          • Germaine Bergeron-Lynn's Gravatar Germaine Bergeron-Lynn
            March 9, 2019 - 3:19 am | Permalink

            William Wilberforce was a true “force” in the abolition of slavery. Because he is better known in the West than Agatha Lin Zhao, I expected Wilberforce to win; however, my vote was strongly cast for deserving Saint Agatha.

            For the “Round of 32” contestants, I always do some independent research before casting my vote, because the short articles supplied on Lent Madness will likely not include important and salient information, IMHO, needed to prayerfully consider the more deserving Saint.

            Knowing something about the difficulty of being Christian in China in earlier centuries, I was pre-inclined to vote for Saint Agatha. It was difficult to discover additional information about her life to support my inclination. For those interested, I succeeded in learning more about St. Agatha from 2 books that I found in part online: 1) Guizhow, The Precious Province by Paul Hathaway, copyright 2018 and 2) Christians in China A.D. 600 to 2000, by Jean-Pierre Charbonnier, copyright 2002. Armed with this additional information, particularly from Charbonnier’s book, and though still appreciating Wilberforce’s significant work to abolish slavery, there is no doubt in my mind that Agatha Lin Zhao deserves to win this challenge. She isn’t winning so there will be no “Saintly Sixteen” round article on her. How unfortunate.

            I found these books buried deeply on Google’s “Agatha Lin Zhao” search. For those who would like to learn more about the Christian virgin women teachers in China and St. Agatha’s life and martyrdom, I recommend the 2nd book. The link to Charbonnier’s book is: https://books.google.com/books?id=YIRHDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT265&lpg=PT265&dq=Agatha+Lin+Zhao&source=bl&ots=keHFBav8u_&sig=ACfU3U1t39es-q37_8VODXSNEKP8yx-oEA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjU08i9gfTgAhVKZawKHZehBkg4FBDoATABegQICRAB#v=onepage&q=Agatha%20Lin%20Zhao&f=false

        • March 8, 2019 - 12:53 pm | Permalink

          Yes we do! I keep looking for one…

        • Sai's Gravatar Sai
          March 8, 2019 - 12:55 pm | Permalink

          Yes, a like button would be great!

          • Patricia's Gravatar Patricia
            March 8, 2019 - 2:09 pm | Permalink

            I’m voting for a “like” button, too!! (And also for Wilberforce!!!)

        • Jennifer's Gravatar Jennifer
          March 8, 2019 - 3:45 pm | Permalink

          Exactly! Of course they are both amazing, but it is International Women’s Day, so Agatha.

    • Elaine's Gravatar Elaine
      March 8, 2019 - 9:05 am | Permalink

      I agree!

      • Elaine Culver's Gravatar Elaine Culver
        March 8, 2019 - 2:19 pm | Permalink

        I voted for Wilberforce, commented on Michael Wachter’s “saint song du jour,” and then Safari dropped the connection. Since my comment was posted, I assume that my vote was counted. I hope so. I served my Perkins School of Theology internship in the Human Trafficking department of Mosaic Family Services, and I became a huge fan of Wilberforce. I can’t decide whether I’m rooting for him or for St. Damian of Molokai to win the Golden Halo.

  6. Debs Voorhees's Gravatar Debs Voorhees
    March 8, 2019 - 8:17 am | Permalink

    How did i not know about Blessed Agatha before? Wonderful!

  7. Susan Bickings's Gravatar Susan Bickings
    March 8, 2019 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    Both saints made a commitment to Christ in their twenties. Agatha died for her faith. She is almost our contemporary. My vote is for her !

    • LauraR's Gravatar LauraR
      March 8, 2019 - 10:14 am | Permalink

      Agatha gets my vote. Unlike Wilberforce, she committed her entire life to sharing the Good News of God’s love for all people, all the way to her ultimate sacrifice for her faith. And since this is also International Women’s Day, that sealed the deal for me. Go, Agatha, go!

    • Mar's Gravatar Mar
      March 8, 2019 - 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Agatha got my vote too.
      And if she could weave together her Christian faith with her Chinese culture, we can certainly follow her lead in more thoughtfully weaving together our own Christian faith with our modern times. She suffered death for proclaiming that faith, yet all we fear is social shaming for proclaiming our faith. She certainly is someone to look to for such strength.

  8. Johanne Hills's Gravatar Johanne Hills
    March 8, 2019 - 8:19 am | Permalink

    He gads, we are dealing with talented folks and amazing stories of the witnesses to faith. Again a hard choice. But it is International Women’s Day today so…..

  9. Jill Brogneaux's Gravatar Jill Brogneaux
    March 8, 2019 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    William Wilberforce is close to my heart, but I had to vote for Agatha who paid with her life

  10. Michael Cudney's Gravatar Michael Cudney
    March 8, 2019 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    Once I saw ‘theatre-going’, I was convinced this my saint.

  11. Mary W. Cox's Gravatar Mary W. Cox
    March 8, 2019 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    Oh, my–this song is flat-out brilliant!

  12. Loretta Ishida's Gravatar Loretta Ishida
    March 8, 2019 - 8:21 am | Permalink

    I cannot compete with the song and limerick, but I voted for Agatha. We don’t need more white male Europeans to win a bracket, albeit, it was a white male European who fought for non-white non-European men and women (#ally!). I’ll leave the song and limerick speak to his honor.

  13. JustMeJo's Gravatar JustMeJo
    March 8, 2019 - 8:21 am | Permalink

    As moving as the story of Agatha Lin Zhao was, I must align myself with the righteous works of William Wilberforce in the fight against slavery. All these years of championing the mystics, and I have now picked up the banner of ” be ye doers!” I shall have to pray diligently, it seems!

  14. Sonia's Gravatar Sonia
    March 8, 2019 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    WW didn’t lose his head over his beliefs. He benefited from living in a civilized country – as much as any is civilized!

    • Patricia Samuel's Gravatar Patricia Samuel
      March 8, 2019 - 11:01 am | Permalink

      Whoa! Careful with language. Chinese civilization is one of the oldest in the eastern hemisphere.

  15. Patricia White's Gravatar Patricia White
    March 8, 2019 - 8:27 am | Permalink

    Another hard choice. Both saints amaze me, being called by God to minister to brothers and sisters in need of salvation, physical and spiritual. How glad I am that William Wilberforce lived to see the outcome of his calling. And I am assured that, like Stephen, Agatha Lin Zhao saw those heavens open to her. Such exemplars.

  16. Bill Stockbridge's Gravatar Bill Stockbridge
    March 8, 2019 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    I’m so glad I found this! My church (church of the ascension in nyc), posted about it in their bulletin. I’m one day late but I’m def coming back. The story of Wilberforce was so inspiring and the collection prayer brought me to tears. Well done!

  17. Sue Fisher's Gravatar Sue Fisher
    March 8, 2019 - 8:35 am | Permalink

    Wilberforce was clearly quite the man, but I had to go with Agatha if for no other reason than to get her name out there – especially in light of the current Chinese crackdown on freedom.

    • #grace37's Gravatar #grace37
      March 8, 2019 - 3:08 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you Mrs.Fisher

  18. Marcia A. Tremmel's Gravatar Marcia A. Tremmel
    March 8, 2019 - 8:36 am | Permalink

    Let’s see – I voted for Mary yesterday and Agatha today so it looks like I am starting off this year’s “Madness” with the losers. That’s OK – William’s story (taking an idea from the teacher who posted above) is very familiar, but Agatha was new to me. I like to learn new things about the servants of God. Go, Agatha.

    • Sarah's Gravatar Sarah
      March 8, 2019 - 9:46 am | Permalink

      Me, too.

  19. AnnE's Gravatar AnnE
    March 8, 2019 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    William Wilberforce, for his turn-around from shallowness and carousing to speaking for the enslaved, working to free them, and for that beautiful prayer attributed to him.

  20. Anna Fraser's Gravatar Anna Fraser
    March 8, 2019 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    Yay, Martha! You were always overshadowed (by your saintly sit down sister). But here you go!

  21. Sarah's Gravatar Sarah
    March 8, 2019 - 8:44 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately I have no button to vote–just the results are showing

  22. March 8, 2019 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    Wilberforce is one of the few Anglicans on the calendar to have a movie made about him, and President Bartlett’s cat (or housekeeper?) was named Mrs. Wilberforce!

  23. Joyce's Gravatar Joyce
    March 8, 2019 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    I very much admire William Wilberforce. However, having seen what is still going on in China I admire Agatha Lin Zhao a little more. Her courage is astounding having a small idea of what she faced. I do not think I could be that strong. She gets my vote today because her battle was not just about abolishing one thing knowing you would not be put to death, she faced huge odds and did so at great peril to her own life.

  24. Madame Senora's Gravatar Madame Senora
    March 8, 2019 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    Christians in China today are still persecuted. Owning a Bible there is a crime. The few Christian churches that are allowed to exist do so under the scrutiny of the Chinese government. I am blessed to know many Chinese Christians who have given up so much to find their way to America where they can worship in peace. My vote for Agatha honors their faith and hers.

  25. Diane Follet's Gravatar Diane Follet
    March 8, 2019 - 8:47 am | Permalink

    Sarah, I have the same problem. I have results but no vote button. I want to vote!

  26. Laura's Gravatar Laura
    March 8, 2019 - 8:47 am | Permalink

    I have never heard Agatha’s story, and how sad that she’s not in the books of the saints I was given as a child. What a remarkable and brave woman. She’s my vote today.

    • Sally Fox's Gravatar Sally Fox
      March 8, 2019 - 9:40 am | Permalink

      Agatha was added to the Saints fairly recently.

  27. Anna Fraser's Gravatar Anna Fraser
    March 8, 2019 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    Definitely Wilberforce!

  28. Susie Stanley's Gravatar Susie Stanley
    March 8, 2019 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    I love these stories and am awed by their faith and steadfast work to further God’s kingdom I have voted for Agatha because she found a way to honor her culture and reach people where they are rather than asking them to abandon their traditions

    • Victoria's Gravatar Victoria
      March 8, 2019 - 10:13 am | Permalink

      Susie Stanley, this was a hard decision, but your comment tipped the balance. I’m also voting for Agatha.

    • Sue's Gravatar Sue
      March 8, 2019 - 7:19 pm | Permalink

      Me too. If it was a really close race I’d probably have to vote for William since he probably changed more lives. But in honor of International Women’s Day and that she gave her life I vote happily for Agatha. I was completely humbled by how she honored her culture and brought Christianity to her people.

  29. Lee Greenawalt's Gravatar Lee Greenawalt
    March 8, 2019 - 8:50 am | Permalink

    Agatha gave her life, which is laudable. However, I can better relate and model the long life struggle of William Wilberforce who stayed within the system, using Christian patience and friendly persuasion.

  30. Charles Stuart's Gravatar Charles Stuart
    March 8, 2019 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    Tough one, despite Agatha’s lack of name recognition. But I have to go with Willy the Force for his success in translating the energy of ethical principle into political activism

    • Elaine Culver's Gravatar Elaine Culver
      March 8, 2019 - 2:22 pm | Permalink

      “Willy the Force” – I like this. I had been trying to think of a “…Force be with you” riff on his name. Thanks!

  31. St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
    March 8, 2019 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    The manga treatment of Agatha Zhao in her portrait is pretty (though alas it makes her look western and white). Plus she joins an illustrious line of headless saints, St Denis being primary among them. Still, I have to go with an abolitionist. In the 18th century, “playing cards” meant gambling. Wilberforce was quite the dissolute young lout. I’m captivated by his conversion experience. I suspect he reverted to the Methodism that he had been raised in. How can one resist a doctrine of “prevenient grace”? There is probably no more important movement in modern times than the effort to end slavery and to extirpate the heritage of white supremacy from our societies. The only rival would be the movement to confront and end man-made climate change. That Wilberforce was at the fore of human rights movements and our contemporary method of networking (Quakers and Anglicans together for the win!) is huge. May the Force be with Wilberforce.

    • Patricia's Gravatar Patricia
      March 8, 2019 - 2:10 pm | Permalink


  32. Michelle C's Gravatar Michelle C
    March 8, 2019 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    While Agatha gave her all and despite it being International Women’s Day, I had to vote for William Wilberforce and his work in abolishing Slavery. At least I tried. It’s been saying loading for at least 5 minutes so I don’t know if my vote went through or not.

    Loved both the song and the limerick. Very talented.

  33. chrissie's Gravatar chrissie
    March 8, 2019 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    Just a little sad that the Supreme Executive Committee didn’t flip the first two contests so that everyone could have voted for a woman on International Women’s Day.

  34. Barbara Geiter's Gravatar Barbara Geiter
    March 8, 2019 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    Vote for Agatha Lin Zhao!!!

  35. Elizabeth Praul's Gravatar Elizabeth Praul
    March 8, 2019 - 8:54 am | Permalink

    The page said I had already voted. I had not. Something ha disenfranchised me. What do I do?

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 8, 2019 - 9:29 am | Permalink

      Vote on another device. See if that works!

  36. JKoll of FX's Gravatar JKoll of FX
    March 8, 2019 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    Hi! First year to Lent Madness. I’m out of town and thank goodness I took a quick picture of my bracket, because I thought I had voted for Agatha. This was a tough call. William and his peers helped free millions and influence other nations to end slavery.
    I pray Agatha’s martyr and testimony gives faith to billions!

  37. Mike Hadaway's Gravatar Mike Hadaway
    March 8, 2019 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    Both worthy. Wilberforce is a hero of mine so I voted for him, but if St. Agatha came close for me.

  38. Pat's Gravatar Pat
    March 8, 2019 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    Admire both very much. However, my grandparents were also missionaries to the Miao for a time, so had to vote for Agatha!

  39. Beth Graboski's Gravatar Beth Graboski
    March 8, 2019 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    It is obvious from the snippets of Agatha and William’s lives who gave till it hurt for their faith. Agatha gave up a comfortable existence for a very uncomfortable stand against the powers that be, while William finally got his act together. Besides, it is International Women’s Day! Come on ladies!

  40. Karen's Gravatar Karen
    March 8, 2019 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    In addition to his tireless work to abolish slavery, Wilberforce was also one of the founders of the RSPCA, the world’s first animal welfare charity. So, my vote had to go to Wilberforce.

  41. Elmer Praul's Gravatar Elmer Praul
    March 8, 2019 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    Well going in another way allowed me to vote. I am glad. Disregard previous post.

  42. Sally Fox's Gravatar Sally Fox
    March 8, 2019 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    Have been an ardent fan of William Wilberforce ever since I first heard of him many years ago. Just met Agatha Lin Zhao today and must vote for her today for her incredible dedication and commitment even unto death.
    A-ga-tha Su-per-star!!

  43. Kaye Bellot's Gravatar Kaye Bellot
    March 8, 2019 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    A real toughie. While I respect that Agatha made the ultimate earthly sacrifice in her devotion, William’s work lived on after him and affected the lives of millions, so I had to go with him this time.

  44. Micah's Gravatar Micah
    March 8, 2019 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    You may wish to correct Zhoa to Zhao in the second biography.

    • Sally Fox's Gravatar Sally Fox
      March 8, 2019 - 9:30 am | Permalink

      Thanks! Mental typo! Thought I had it right, a-o

  45. Leann Wilson's Gravatar Leann Wilson
    March 8, 2019 - 9:05 am | Permalink

    I vote for women every chance I get. Sorry… not sorry.

  46. Joe's Gravatar Joe
    March 8, 2019 - 9:11 am | Permalink

    As far as I can determine
    William didn’t sacrafice much for
    What he did
    I don’t think he was ostracized
    Or lost any of his wealth
    And live till 74
    His reform was noble but it I don’t
    Feel he had to give up much
    On the other hand Agatha tried to bring
    The Chinese culture and christian beliefs
    Together and lost her head for it
    I voted for her because I think it’s easier
    To fight for a cause from a soft arm chair
    Then to defend your beliefs in the face
    Of a man with an AXE

    • Sue's Gravatar Sue
      March 9, 2019 - 7:22 am | Permalink


  47. March 8, 2019 - 9:13 am | Permalink

    Against hope, believing in hope. The comments for Agatha might have swayed me, but Wilbur’s collect says it for me – what it takes to take on the Empire for forty five years.

  48. Micah's Gravatar Micah
    March 8, 2019 - 9:14 am | Permalink

    …and Anges to Agnes.

  49. Elizabeth's Gravatar Elizabeth
    March 8, 2019 - 9:15 am | Permalink

    Hard choice today!! I do love a good beheading, but I’m a longtime admirer of William Wilberforce. He gets my vote.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 8, 2019 - 10:37 am | Permalink


  50. Mary Lynn's Gravatar Mary Lynn
    March 8, 2019 - 9:15 am | Permalink

    WW took on the Love for all of God’s children by ending the slave trade. Let’s face it, oh how the the New World’s slave history would have taken on a different story if it to had a WW. My vote is for W. Wilberforce who was for love for all of God’s children.

  51. March 8, 2019 - 9:17 am | Permalink

    Voted for William Wilberforce, also under the influence of the movie Amazing Grace (though in his portrait here he’s not as dreamy as Ioan Gruffydd…). More seriously, he did such important work ending the slave trade in England and by extension here in the United States.

  52. Michelle J Walker's Gravatar Michelle J Walker
    March 8, 2019 - 9:18 am | Permalink

    It’s International Women’s Day. How could I vote for anyone other than this inspiring woman!

  53. Denise's Gravatar Denise
    March 8, 2019 - 9:19 am | Permalink

    Currently reading Thomas Merton’s “Mystics and Zen Masters” where he describes the Jesuit missionaries and their respect for the spiritual life of China and it’s people. So Agatha gets my vote.

  54. March 8, 2019 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    I was going to vote for Wilberforce, but I think I’ll work to smash my own bracket by voting for Agatha. Her outfit is gorgeous, and that look in her eyes! She must be about to glow because she looks like she’s seeing God!

  55. Teddi ashby's Gravatar Teddi ashby
    March 8, 2019 - 9:26 am | Permalink

    I have Ignatius winning but will see!

  56. Ruth Douglas Miller's Gravatar Ruth Douglas Miller
    March 8, 2019 - 9:27 am | Permalink

    The movie was my introduction to Wilberforce, and it was very well done. I particularly remember the scene near the beginning where Wilberforce stops a fellow from beating his exhausted horse, and another later with MPs on a visit to the harbour where a slave ship is in dock. Yes, Zhao’s work and martyrdom pull at me, but Wilberforce’s effect on innocent Africans outranks today.

  57. Judy's Gravatar Judy
    March 8, 2019 - 9:30 am | Permalink

    Agatha was exemplary in her unwavering devotion but my vote goes to William Wilberforce. His human imperfections show how Gods redeeming grace uses unlikely and imperfect people to do the work He would have us do. There’s hope for me too! Abolishing the British slave trade was a huge achievement for human rights.

  58. Mary Thompson's Gravatar Mary Thompson
    March 8, 2019 - 9:33 am | Permalink

    Gotta go with Agatha today in honor of International Women’s Day!

  59. Corey Sees's Gravatar Corey Sees
    March 8, 2019 - 9:34 am | Permalink

    From Williams Wikipedia page: His underlying conservatism led him to support politically and socially controversial legislation, and resulted in criticism that he was ignoring injustices at home while campaigning for the enslaved abroad.

    That’s enough for me to not want to vote for him.

    Also, Agatha was my favorite discovery on the bracket this year and the saint I most want to learn more about. I’d rather spend time learning about a young Chinese woman than an old white man. If she goes today, an entire half of my bracket is already trashed!

  60. Kathleen's Gravatar Kathleen
    March 8, 2019 - 9:37 am | Permalink

    What a great pairing that really made me think about William & Agatha’s relationship to Christ devoting their lives to going against cultural norms as an act of faith. The best part of the ‘madness,’ considering my own discipleship as I learn about the saints — a ‘mad’ and brilliant plan!
    My first inclination was Wilberforce, his work undeniably changed humanity! Then, I thought about William’s privilege, simply being a man with the power to effect change (sorry guys!). Agatha, being a woman, let alone a Christian woman in Chinese culture, now that’s faith, hope and love on a saintly level! Agatha gets my vote!

    • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
      March 8, 2019 - 6:17 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you on that. And she paid with her life.

  61. Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
    March 8, 2019 - 9:37 am | Permalink

    As soon as I can find a vote button (is this a problem just on iPhones?), I will vote for Agatha. What a brave lady. She was going out to teach others this wonderful thing she is found, and coming home and helping her parents, too. Mary and Martha!

  62. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    March 8, 2019 - 9:41 am | Permalink

    Voted for Agatha. Both did important work in different ways. Wilberforce is well known, but she risked her life. International Women’s Day too.

  63. George Wheeler's Gravatar George Wheeler
    March 8, 2019 - 9:43 am | Permalink

    Zhao – to me, to die for your faith is the ultimate

  64. W. L. Webster's Gravatar W. L. Webster
    March 8, 2019 - 9:44 am | Permalink

    It was: “his persistent disorganization and proclivity for lateness“ that got my vote for William! God willing, there may be hope for me yet.

  65. Nancy Franklin's Gravatar Nancy Franklin
    March 8, 2019 - 9:45 am | Permalink

    This was a hard one.

  66. Melanie Mitchell's Gravatar Melanie Mitchell
    March 8, 2019 - 9:46 am | Permalink

    Wilberforce took on the powerful, and fought for a great cause, but he also lived in safety, comfort, and security. Agatha gave it all, lived in danger, and died for the faith. Go Agatha!

  67. Leamarie's Gravatar Leamarie
    March 8, 2019 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    Having recently seen a screeningof the documentary Traces of the Trade, I must vote for Wilburforce. To see the dramatic effects slavery has had on generations of people and is still having, I so admire someone who spoke out so effectively as to actually effect a change to abolish that from which so many profitted! It is hard to go against the status quo, yet he did it. This was larger than slaying dragons in my book, maybe it was slaying a dragon of white priviledge. What dragons are there in our societty we must fight to stay true to Jesus’ teachings of love and equality?

  68. Patricia Evans's Gravatar Patricia Evans
    March 8, 2019 - 9:52 am | Permalink

    Through the eyes of the European west, a white European male working to free slaves is certainly something to be upheld.
    Through the eyes of ta non-European, non-colonialist-based, female, a women and her family upholding the Christian faith within their OWN community gets my vote. Why do we seem to honor dead white men helping “others”. These are good saints, but is there an implicit (unrealized) bias towards a paternalistic, colonist point of view?

    And now perhaps in contradict my words above, at a time when the current People’s Republic of China’s government (Han Chinese) are decimating the minority cultures, especially the Tibetian and Uyghurs my (double vote if that were allowed) goes to 聖林昭
    “She proceeded to the frontier of Southern China, weaving together traditional Chinese culture and Christian faith as she taught in the local villages of the Hmong, Hmub, and Xong people (collectively known as the Miao by the Chinese).”

  69. Barbara Pyle's Gravatar Barbara Pyle
    March 8, 2019 - 9:53 am | Permalink

    I voted for Agatha Zhaio in memory of my 8th grade Sunday School teacher, Mrs. John Magee and her husband, the Rev. John Magee who were missionaries in China for 20 years, prior to the Communist takeover.

  70. Janice Pauc's Gravatar Janice Pauc
    March 8, 2019 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    More music to rattle around in my brain. Agatha wins with me due to the influence of a former priest that my children adored. TY Charlie.

  71. Ginny Berkey's Gravatar Ginny Berkey
    March 8, 2019 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    Second hard choice day! Both were committed to others through Christ.

  72. Patricia K Jue's Gravatar Patricia K Jue
    March 8, 2019 - 9:56 am | Permalink

    Indeed, there is the thought… go help the “other, over there” but ignore the problems at your own front stoop. How often are we convicted of this sin. Forgive us, our sins, by what we have done, and by what we have not done.

  73. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    March 8, 2019 - 10:06 am | Permalink

    While recognizing the perils of armchair diagnosis, I see Wilberforce’s youthful immersion in distractions and “his persistent disorganization and proclivity for lateness” as strongly suggestive, if not a dead giveaway, of ADHD. If so, he would be an ideal patron for those of us with the condition. His life reflects our struggle with internal disorder, as well as the personal charm and the ability to think outside the box and, once focused, singlemindedly to “hyperconcentrate” that may attend ADHD at its best.

    A web search reveals no designation by the Roman Catholic Church of a specific ADHD patron. There are only some references, reflecting a serious misunderstanding of the condition, to a number of saints (including Margaret of Cortona, concerning whom I shall have more to say on Monday) considered to be patrons of the “mentally ill.” So the field is open.

    Thus, while much moved by Agatha’s holy life and her staunchly courageous death, this member of the ADD community and great-grandson of a slaveowner has cast his vote for the great WW.

    • Carole's Gravatar Carole
      March 8, 2019 - 11:33 am | Permalink

      I also said, “that sounds exactly like ADHD” and, oh so familiar. It would be great to have a patron saint. St. Dymphna comes to mind for overall mental illness. Anyone who fought against slavery has my vote. Well, I could also be a little biased, as my son’s name is William. I appreciated learning about Agnes.

      Dear SEC – It’s Lent Madness X – still no “like” button?

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 8, 2019 - 12:59 pm | Permalink

      Davis, your disavowal of being categorized as having a “mental illness,” strikes this woman with chronic depression and anxiety as disappointing. Say more, please.

      • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
        March 8, 2019 - 3:44 pm | Permalink

        What I mean is that ADHD, at least as I experience and understand it, is a genetic trait with advantages and disadvantages. In our society, which values focus and achievement so highly, it’s increasingly a net disadvantage; but its prevalence in the gene pool, perhaps especially among men, suggests that for hunter-gatherers it may have been important to the survival of the troop. Imagine a hunting party of ten in which seven are fully intent on the spoor (and free to be so) while the other three, lacking a static filter, notice every sound off in the bushes such as a twig snapped by the errant paw of a sabertoothed tiger lying in wait for unsuspecting primates.
        It’s also been suggested that the associated appetite for risk has produced many explorers, and that the missing filter leads to the “thinking outside the box” to which I referred. Armchair diagnoses have been applied to Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and other creative geniuses.
        The condition pretty clearly is a defect in physiological terms. The mechanism of ADHD seems to be a dopamine deficiency, which stimulants treat by inhibiting the reabsorption of what dopamine the system does produce and maybe also by stimulating increased production. ADHD is also associated with conditions such as substance abuse and dyslexia, as well as with certain physical deformities such as the dwarfed, crooked little fingers I inherited from my dad, an undiagnosed but I guarantee you raging case.
        That’s why I prefer to characterize ADHD as a “condition” or “syndrome” rather than as an illness or even a disorder. I see it as a disorder only to the extent that it impedes functioning and in fact rather enjoy some of its other aspects. Another imperfect analogy would be to deafness which, as I understand it, some deaf people prefer not to treat.
        So I disavow “mental illness” as a descriptor because I think it’s less accurate than those other terms. What it has in common with much mental illness, of course, is its amenability to treatment with drugs; but what differentiates it is the fact that it’s not altogether pathological, and the extent to which it is depends largely on the context in which it presents.
        Does that help?

        • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
          March 9, 2019 - 1:26 am | Permalink

          I’ve also heard non-neuro-typical or neuro-atypical.

          My ADD is in my brain not my mind.

    • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
      March 9, 2019 - 1:21 am | Permalink


  74. Susan Reeves's Gravatar Susan Reeves
    March 8, 2019 - 10:06 am | Permalink

    Definitely have a Wilberforce earworm now. While I recognize the value of education and the work Agatha did, in light of folks still subjected to servitude here and around our world, Wilberforce gets my vote for his stand on this issue. Good to learn about Agatha, though.

  75. Mary O'Donnell's Gravatar Mary O'Donnell
    March 8, 2019 - 10:08 am | Permalink

    A tough matchup. Agatha did great work and I am glad she is a saint. But I believe that Williams more worldly existence helped him accomplish his goals and create a more human world.

  76. Ann Cooper's Gravatar Ann Cooper
    March 8, 2019 - 10:10 am | Permalink

    It’s hard on International Women’s Day, but I voted for Wilberforce, admiring and rejoicing in his turn-around and his ability to found and persevere in an international grassroots movement to end the slave trade in the UK.

  77. Patricia Berini's Gravatar Patricia Berini
    March 8, 2019 - 10:11 am | Permalink

    Women of faith on International Day of Woman!

  78. Doris Udry's Gravatar Doris Udry
    March 8, 2019 - 10:12 am | Permalink

    Difficult choice. But Zhao gets my vote. Her entire life and commitment to Christianity were lived in a very dangerous time, plus being a woman was an additional detriment for her. Her beliefs cost her her life. A note to the Lent Madness team: Call me silly but your artistic picture of Zhao could be improved if she resembled a Chinese woman, not a white woman in a Chinese dress. Peace.

  79. Verdery Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery Kassebaum
    March 8, 2019 - 10:15 am | Permalink

    Only the second day and a really hard choice!
    While I admire Mr. Wilberforce immensely, I voted for St. Agatha. As a student of comparative religions (long, long ago!), I understand and applaud her “weaving together traditional Chinese culture and Christian faith….” As St. Patrick did for the Irish.

  80. Anthony-Paul Larson's Gravatar Anthony-Paul Larson
    March 8, 2019 - 10:20 am | Permalink

    My vote went to Agatha, first I think she is the more deserving of the two, not being a politician and all. Second it is international Woman’s Day and she is after all is said and done a woman and we should honor all women living and dead on this day(well everyday would be best) and because I have a great Aunt named Agatha. Mostly however I think anyone who is dedicated to Christ enough to take vows, and forsake marriage is worthy of the Golden halo, we have to think ahead. Agatha was brave. Agatha was wise, Agatha lost her head for the Lord. Agatha!Agatha!Agatha! Agatha!

  81. Caroline Keller's Gravatar Caroline Keller
    March 8, 2019 - 10:27 am | Permalink

    Agatha in honor of International Women’s Day and her embodiment of what the day stands for — strength, courage and perseverance.

  82. Melissa's Gravatar Melissa
    March 8, 2019 - 10:35 am | Permalink

    Always difficult for me to make a choice in Lent Madness. Thank you for the education about Agatha who was unknown to me. Another thing about Wilberforce which bears mentioning is that he also fought for animal rights and was a co-founder of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

  83. Carolyn's Gravatar Carolyn
    March 8, 2019 - 10:36 am | Permalink

    Amazing Agatha on World Women’s Day, clear vote as I see it ! Love this chance to learn and vote.

  84. Pat Sadd's Gravatar Pat Sadd
    March 8, 2019 - 10:47 am | Permalink

    I voted for Agatha Lin Zhao not because she was a women, but because she did her mission with out a group to keep her going. She knew she was walking to her death as Jesus did but she still kept bringing the message to all she met as He did.
    I think she followed Jesus’ example of being an apostle better, and she died for it as she knew she would. God Bless her soul. We may all take a lesson of what faith it took to make her journey.
    As our world keeps changing in front of our eyes may we find our way to follow the example of Jesus’ life in some “small” ways each day.

  85. St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
    March 8, 2019 - 10:49 am | Permalink

    I’m struck by the comments that people don’t want to vote for an “old white man” who fought against injustice on behalf of “others” on distant shores because this effort was somehow colonialist. To put this into perspective, I offer this comparison: Paul Manafort was just sentenced to four years in prison for massive crimes against our system, whereas a black man was shot by police for selling single cigarettes on a street corner. Our judicial system is still riddled with structural inequity based on race and class. I would suggest that the movement Wilberforce was connected with is still operative today, on our shores, and that it is not yet complete. I would also suggest that justice is a Christian concern. I offer this New York Times piece from 1974 by Russell Baker as a companion piece to the saintly bios we have just read in order to supplement our Lenten meditations on the role Christians still have to play in achieving justice for all in our earthly sojourn.

    • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
      March 8, 2019 - 11:28 am | Permalink

      We seem to think alike, again.

    • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
      March 8, 2019 - 11:48 am | Permalink

      I just finished reading the Russell Baker piece. Thank you for finding it and for reminding us of his wisdom and gift of expression.

    • Lisa Keppeler's Gravatar Lisa Keppeler
      March 8, 2019 - 12:08 pm | Permalink


    • Elaine Chilcote's Gravatar Elaine Chilcote
      March 8, 2019 - 12:45 pm | Permalink

      St Celia, thank you for posting this. I was getting a little tired of hearing the “old white men”
      refrain. I am voting for Wilberforce.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 8, 2019 - 1:07 pm | Permalink


  86. Sally in Dallas's Gravatar Sally in Dallas
    March 8, 2019 - 10:55 am | Permalink

    William Wilberforce has been one of my favorite saints for many years. And an outstanding movie about him, “Amazing Grace” in 2006, staring Ioan Gruffudd, Benedict Cumberbatch, Albert Finney, tells the story beautifully and gracefully. Wilberforce is my choice for the Golden Halo! Here’s a very human person, enjoying this life, and God uses him to change the story of human rights in Great Britain (and ultimately the world)! A miracle? Yes. But doesn’t He do that daily as we reach toward Him and use His gifts to effect love and justice in the world? Yes!

  87. Priscilla's Gravatar Priscilla
    March 8, 2019 - 10:58 am | Permalink

    Your matchup make it difficult to choose. Great people , both of them

  88. March 8, 2019 - 11:03 am | Permalink

    I graduated from Southern Methodist University with a minor in Human Rights. Agatha has a martyr’s robe, but William has my vote.

  89. Peggy's Gravatar Peggy
    March 8, 2019 - 11:06 am | Permalink

    Hard choice today–I went with Wilberforce because he battled the powerful and rich.

  90. James Lodwick's Gravatar James Lodwick
    March 8, 2019 - 11:20 am | Permalink

    Though I voted for William Wilberforce for his life’s work to abolish slavery, I was also pleased to learn about Agatha Lin Zhao and her faithfulness even unto death. We are indeed surrounded by a great company of witnesses!

  91. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    March 8, 2019 - 11:25 am | Permalink

    All of us are limited by the conditions into which we are born. A white male at the turn of the 19th Century couldn’t choose to be otherwise, but he could choose how to live as such a person. Wilberforce chose, as few did, to struggle for the freedom of millions of others whose circumstances precluded their doing so on their own behalf. He applied his own privilege to a cause that would undermine and eventually overthrow it; but in doing so he very possibly thought in the paternalistic, colonialist terms that shaped his own context.

    As a white male expecting to be dead within the next twenty or so years, and carrying as my burden the baggage of the past seventy-five, I feel perplexed and conflicted. Has privilege made it impossible for Western white men ever truly to do good? Might we find an example in how Jesus made of his status as a revered teacher a fulcrum for bringing about the salvation of the world?

    None of this is to deny that the lives of women, persons of color, and other groups have been and continue to be diminished to the point of obscurity by our racist, sexist, patriarchal culture, and that there is a gigantic imbalance (even the word is inadequate to describe it) to be redressed as we revisit our history. But this needn’t be a zero-sum enterprise. Valuing and exalting those people’s lives need not, I hope, require devaluing the lives of those who are born privileged and do their best, notwithstanding the limitations that very privilege imposes upon them.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 8, 2019 - 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Well said.

    • Mollie Turner's Gravatar Mollie Turner
      March 8, 2019 - 2:00 pm | Permalink

      Very well said, indeed, Davis. I’m having a terrible time deciding between these two, but cheap shots in either direction are no help to anyone. And deciding on the fly, I cast my vote for Wilberforce with gratitude for having been introduced to Agatha.

    • Sally Clark's Gravatar Sally Clark
      March 11, 2019 - 10:41 pm | Permalink

      Splendid commentary.

  92. Juul Embid's Gravatar Juul Embid
    March 8, 2019 - 11:26 am | Permalink

    Do these saints use Juuls?

  93. March 8, 2019 - 11:37 am | Permalink

    I had to vote for Agatha Lin Zhao today, not only for her martyrdom, but also because today is International Women’s Day.

  94. Marilyn Clark's Gravatar Marilyn Clark
    March 8, 2019 - 11:48 am | Permalink

    While I admire William for his abolitionist work, and believe it was very important, I had to vote for Agatha. Being a female in China is/was hard enough, but an unmarried Christian woman teaching about her faith was a true testament of her faith.

  95. March 8, 2019 - 11:52 am | Permalink

    Wilberforce is a deserving candidate. But my vote goes to a woman of a non-white culture who gave her life for her beliefs and faith. We don’t hear enough, or know enough, about women saints.

  96. Carole's Gravatar Carole
    March 8, 2019 - 11:53 am | Permalink

    Dear SEC,

    I just checked the WordPress Support page. Apparently it is possible to have a “Like” button. Please Make It So.
    The Lent Madness Faithful

    • Lisa Keppeler's Gravatar Lisa Keppeler
      March 8, 2019 - 12:09 pm | Permalink


  97. Judy Bye's Gravatar Judy Bye
    March 8, 2019 - 11:56 am | Permalink

    Wilberforce used his platform and his talents and took on the system and fought for what he believed was right. Slavery and Forced labor seems to be flourishing worldwide. We need to fight it. Tricky as it is. Most of us don’t buy slaves at auction these days, but we help pay their owners, globally. We buy food picked or processed by children–like shrimp. We support companies that don’t pay a living wage. Most don’t bat an eye at “Made in China”. Some vacation in countries that enslave whole families, like Thailand. We need to quit financing all kinds of slavery. I voted for Wilberforce.

    • Judy Bye's Gravatar Judy Bye
      March 8, 2019 - 12:23 pm | Permalink

      I changed my mind. Everyone might not know this. We have thousands of slaves in the U.S.
      The standard price for sex at a brothel in the U.S. is $30. Typically, trafficked children see 25-48 customers a day. They work up to 12 hours a day, every day of the week; every year, a pimp earns between $150,000 and $200,000 per child.
      http://www.endslaverynow.org also has a Slave-Free Buying Guide you can download.

  98. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    March 8, 2019 - 12:00 pm | Permalink

    See, this is one of the many things that’s so wonderful about Lent Madness. I’ve learned so much in the last ten years! I’ve never heard of Agatha and love her story. But I had to go with the man about town. Go Willy!

  99. Anthony Lee's Gravatar Anthony Lee
    March 8, 2019 - 12:01 pm | Permalink

    I like Wilberforce not only for his abolitionist work, but also for going to the theater and for being disorganized and late. I guess his conversion experience straightened him out to make him more effective.

  100. Jim Begley's Gravatar Jim Begley
    March 8, 2019 - 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I went with Wilberforce, in this time of reflection, revisiting all those times I spent squandering or on spun wheels, an example of a man who redirected his life gives me hope

  101. Jeanne King's Gravatar Jeanne King
    March 8, 2019 - 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I had to vote for Agatha. It is International Women’s Day.

  102. Lisa Keppeler's Gravatar Lisa Keppeler
    March 8, 2019 - 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Good to learn about Agatha Lin Zhao. But slavery still exists, and every day is still a day when lives, peoples, nations, and the whole world are still scarred by the legacy of slavery. My vote goes to William Wilberforce, for his mighty force and witness that helped to bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice.

  103. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    March 8, 2019 - 12:17 pm | Permalink

    On this International Women’s Day, my vote goes to Agatha Lin Zhao, much as I admire Wilberforce. It is so good to discover a woman educator who dedicated her life to God’s service. My vote is also for Agatha’s parents who supported her and recognised her vocation.

  104. Patrick Alther's Gravatar Patrick Alther
    March 8, 2019 - 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Saw Amazing Grace recently, what a magnificent film. Had to go with Wilberforce, for what he did affected more people all over the world, not just in his native country. Agatha’s was an interesting and moving story, first assumed when I saw she had been martyred that it happened after the Communist takeover, not in the 19th century.

  105. Meredith Hales's Gravatar Meredith Hales
    March 8, 2019 - 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Agatha is new to me. I love learning about new saints of God. I admire Wilberforce, but Agatha it is!

  106. Linda Burnett's Gravatar Linda Burnett
    March 8, 2019 - 12:40 pm | Permalink

    only day 2 and the tough choices are upon us! Have admired Wilberforce for a long time, but today went with Agatha. Martyrdom usually wins out for me.

  107. Janene's Gravatar Janene
    March 8, 2019 - 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Having your head chopped off for refusing to denounce Jesus Christ gets my vote, Agatha

  108. March 8, 2019 - 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I came into this thinking that I’d vote for William Wilberforce, whom I admire greatly. But I was moved by the story of Agatha Lin Zhao’s dedication to Christ. This is the first I’ve ever heard of her, and I’m voting for her today.

  109. Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
    March 8, 2019 - 12:56 pm | Permalink

    When I was a kid growing up Catholic, I was always deeply discouraged that all the saints were hermits, clergy, nobility, martyrs, and/or virgins. There were no models for my everyday life. One of the reasons I love Lent Madness is that I learn about so many everyday models. William Wilberforce is a magnificent example of a long lifetime of fighting the good fight. He gets this old-school feminist’s vote.

  110. Jane Bucci's Gravatar Jane Bucci
    March 8, 2019 - 12:58 pm | Permalink

    A mostly modern martyr and a mostly modern abolitionist. Now throw in it’s Woman’s Day……it’s just never easy! Disloyal to my gender though I am feeling, I had to go with Wilberforce; I simply can’t put aside the grief I feel around what I know of the history of slave trade, and considering how variations of the same hatred continue to plague our culture, anyone who fights it is my winner.

  111. Catherine Keyser's Gravatar Catherine Keyser
    March 8, 2019 - 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Anyone who has tried to travel in southern China knows sister Zhao had it rough. Wilberforce was persistent, but Agnes Lin Zhao’s trial in the face of imperial persecution wins hands down!

  112. Mike's Gravatar Mike
    March 8, 2019 - 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Wilberforce, a force to be reckoned with!

  113. Ann's Gravatar Ann
    March 8, 2019 - 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Wilberforce was an amazing man. I urge everyone to read Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas, a
    good biography. He was also instrumental in founding the British society for the Prevention of
    Cruelty to Animals, and promoted true Christian ideals. Here’s hoping he wins this year!

  114. James's Gravatar James
    March 8, 2019 - 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I went with William.jik

  115. Art's Gravatar Art
    March 8, 2019 - 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Wilberforce, one of the great heroes of England.

  116. Christina Repasky's Gravatar Christina Repasky
    March 8, 2019 - 1:37 pm | Permalink

    We lived in Singapore for a time – I have to vote for our Asian sister!

  117. Meg K's Gravatar Meg K
    March 8, 2019 - 1:41 pm | Permalink

    My son attended a church service in Beijing in 2010 when he spent a semester there studying Mandarin. There were many cameras there filming, not the service but the congregation who took the risk to worship in public. My vote is for Agatha to honor the many Chinese Christians who are still persecuted for their faith.

  118. anchorageABC's Gravatar anchorageABC
    March 8, 2019 - 1:57 pm | Permalink

    This was a tough vote. I have admired Wilberforce for a long time. This is the first that I heard of Agatha. Both are compelling stories. Wilberforce won, but just barely.

  119. John Miller's Gravatar John Miller
    March 8, 2019 - 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I like saints that go against the norm…Wilberforce had a vision and nothing stood in the way of his “force” for good.

  120. Deacon Georgia's Gravatar Deacon Georgia
    March 8, 2019 - 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Wilberforce has been my dude since I first learned about him. Dedicating year after year of your life to a cause is saintly. I hope in Lent Madness X he gets beyond the first round this time! And starting it off with lyrics to Jesus Christ Superstar just clinches it for good.

  121. A Butler's Gravatar A Butler
    March 8, 2019 - 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I was all set to go with Agatha as she was willing to stick with her convictions of Christ as Lord even if it meant martyrdom. However, in the overall good of the world, many more lives were touched and saved by Wilberforce’s persistence and dedication.

  122. Lynelle Osburn's Gravatar Lynelle Osburn
    March 8, 2019 - 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Wilberforce for me since he was instrumental in having Chaplins accompany the first fleet to Australia. I’m also relieved that he was a tad disorganised- a real person, quirky and flawed.

  123. #grace37's Gravatar #grace37
    March 8, 2019 - 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Go Agatha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  124. Leslie's Gravatar Leslie
    March 8, 2019 - 3:12 pm | Permalink

    No slight to Wilberforce’s work for abolition, but I vote for Agatha. She carried out her mission during the Opium War in China, when Britain worked to tip the economic balance in its favor by pushing opium consumption in China. As a woman she would have been very much a second-class person, and her Christian faith ran counter to the Imperial government that ruled under the “Mandate of Heaven.” Not an easy mission for anyone.

  125. Patricia H Laybourn's Gravatar Patricia H Laybourn
    March 8, 2019 - 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Love the songs and singing the choruses today; both winners. I voted for Agatha and her courage.

  126. Catherine Patterson's Gravatar Catherine Patterson
    March 8, 2019 - 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Such compelling lives, such commitment to their Christian journey.
    Such a hard decision but, I had to vote for Agatha who walked with
    Christ, never denying him, even to the end.

  127. Sai's Gravatar Sai
    March 8, 2019 - 3:49 pm | Permalink

    The biographies, as well as the many comments, are thoughtful and thought-provoking. Wilberforce dedicated his life to pursuing the noble goal of abolishing slavery in the UK. He worked his entire adult life to achieve this, and he is to be honored and respected for doing so.
    Agatha Lin Zhao is new to me, and I was struck by the fact that she was named for a Christian saint, a saint who was brutally tortured and killed for her faith. Agatha Lin Zhao’s own father was imprisoned for his faith, which helps tip the scales slightly in her direction.
    What finally convinced me to vote for her was Agatha herself. She rejected what I assume would have been the comfortable life of being a well-to-do matron to pursue religious training and then go out and spread the Gospel. She knew full well that dedicating her life to Christianity was undoubtedly a death sentence as it was a period in Chinese history when religious (Christian) persecution was rampant.
    William Wilberforce spent his adult life changing an evil law, but he did so without having to compromise his lifestyle or his safety. While he was prompted by Christian ethics, his achievement falls more under the heading of Social Reform (when compared to Agatha).
    Agatha knowingly put her life on the line in order to spread the Gospel. Her entire life was a dedication to God. Therefore, Agatha Lin Zhao gets my vote.
    (Note to the SEC: You certainly aren’t making these choices easy for us!)

  128. Irene's Gravatar Irene
    March 8, 2019 - 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Agatha. Two very praiseworthy people, but he died an old man in his bed and she was killed in her prime. Gotta go with the martyr.

  129. Cheryle Gardiner's Gravatar Cheryle Gardiner
    March 8, 2019 - 4:15 pm | Permalink

    It’s hard to not vote for a martyr, but I must stand with William Wilberforce against the slave trade!

  130. Mother and Son's Gravatar Mother and Son
    March 8, 2019 - 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Originally our thoughts leaned toward Wilberforce because of the slave issue. He’s widely known because of the movie and it’s easy to vote for someone you recognize. However, he might of been reviled, but his faith was never in question. But Agatha, she made the sacrifice of her life for not renouncing what she believed.
    Agatha gets our vote.

  131. Mary Anne Osborn's Gravatar Mary Anne Osborn
    March 8, 2019 - 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Today is International Women’s Day. Agatha gets my vote.

  132. Nancy Larkin's Gravatar Nancy Larkin
    March 8, 2019 - 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Another tough one today! I voted for Wilberforce but could just as easily gone with Agnes… both exemplary humans.

  133. Tom Simpson's Gravatar Tom Simpson
    March 8, 2019 - 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Though discision, but Wilber’s work against slavery has had more far reaching impact even to this day.

  134. Peggy Hans's Gravatar Peggy Hans
    March 8, 2019 - 4:45 pm | Permalink

    So glad to learn about Agatha, a dedicated servant of God. Voting for Willy the Force (as a previous commentator called him), committed to eradicating an utter evil, the slave trade. We need voices like his today. (Less to the point, I’m happy to learn he was disorganized and always late.)

  135. Isabel's Gravatar Isabel
    March 8, 2019 - 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Tough to compete with someone the subject of a recent movie with a cause that so resonates today. But
    I don’t know there’s something about being beheaded….

  136. Marjorie Menaul's Gravatar Marjorie Menaul
    March 8, 2019 - 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Wilberforce has long been my #1 favorite saint, so the vote was easy. But I will remember and honor Agatha, who is very much worth knowing about. Lent Madness invite more than choose-one-reject-one.

  137. The Rev. Allison LeBrun's Gravatar The Rev. Allison LeBrun
    March 8, 2019 - 5:29 pm | Permalink

    It’s International Woman’s Day!
    Look, I love Wilberforce’s work and Methodist influences.
    BUT Female saints and women of color get the vote EVERY TIME for me!
    I appreciate her martyrdom and what seems to be her very healthy understanding of Christ and indigenous culture.

  138. Donna Jablecki's Gravatar Donna Jablecki
    March 8, 2019 - 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Wilberforce’s work saved thousands and influenced America to to move toward abolitio

  139. Larry Yarbrough's Gravatar Larry Yarbrough
    March 8, 2019 - 6:43 pm | Permalink

    After visiting The Legacy Museum : From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration yesterday in Montgomery, Alabama, I welcomed the chance to caste my vote for William Wilberforce today. His opposition to slavery, America’s “original sin,” was truly saintly. May he serve as a witness to us all.

  140. Pamela P.'s Gravatar Pamela P.
    March 8, 2019 - 7:02 pm | Permalink

    This is so hard!! (I know, SEC, that we say that every year, but it remains true!)
    Wilberforce’s tireless work to abolish slavery and to oppose cruelty to animals pulls me to vote for him. St. Agatha is new to me, and I deeply admire the courage and the faith that led her to reject a more comfortable life and to risk all for the Good News. Will need to think about this a while longer, but will rejoice in learning about these 2 fine Christians and be happy with whichever wins this match.

  141. Kateh50's Gravatar Kateh50
    March 8, 2019 - 7:33 pm | Permalink

    It’s International Women’s Day amd we have a martyr for the faith. Thos was easy, sorry Wilbur.

  142. Gloria F. Ishida's Gravatar Gloria F. Ishida
    March 8, 2019 - 8:09 pm | Permalink

    I had to ponder on this one. But after all I voted for Agatha. Brave to venture out into the back country to share her faith. But I especially like the fact that she showed people that there need to be no problem in keeping their culture when becoming and being Christian.

  143. C.M. Rogers's Gravatar C.M. Rogers
    March 8, 2019 - 8:31 pm | Permalink

    I relate more with Wilberforce, a card playing man fighting the good fight on slavery, but how can you not vote for Agatha. She gave her life spreading our faith in an unwelcoming land. I’ve never been to China, but I can only imagine the fight and struggles. She also suffered as a child since her dad was locked up for our faith. It’s a shame if she doesn’t rally and win this round.

  144. TJ's Gravatar TJ
    March 8, 2019 - 8:58 pm | Permalink

    I like Wilberforce, an abolitionist and a person willing to jump into something because his friend is doing it and it sounds like fun. He’d be great to have adventures with! I went with Agatha, though. I have a soft spot for martyrs and underdogs.

  145. Cheryl L Nix's Gravatar Cheryl L Nix
    March 8, 2019 - 9:01 pm | Permalink

    William was working within his own society that held Christianity as its basis, and at a time where his sharing of beliefs did not demand public punishment for heresy.

    Agatha was working as a tiny fraction, a voice in the wilderness, as was Christ, daring to oppose a mighty government. She knew the risks she faced and persisted.
    She gets my vote.

  146. Paul Rosbolt's Gravatar Paul Rosbolt
    March 8, 2019 - 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Love Wilberforce, but how do vote against martyrs??

  147. Kathy's Gravatar Kathy
    March 8, 2019 - 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Another Hard choice. Thank you for introducing us to lesser known saints. I’d never heard of Agatha Fantastic life and ministry.
    But I voted for Wiberforce –

  148. Debbie Kair's Gravatar Debbie Kair
    March 8, 2019 - 11:23 pm | Permalink

    I loved learning about both and I have admiration for both. To be able to hear that voice inside even when it calls one to do something that challenges the existing powers know ing that what lies ahead is struggles and difficulties is what we need more of. They should both win!

  149. paula Sterling's Gravatar paula Sterling
    March 9, 2019 - 5:18 am | Permalink

    What time do you cut off the voting? I’m here in Hawaii way behind Eastern time… can you let me know?

    • paula Sterling's Gravatar paula Sterling
      March 9, 2019 - 5:22 am | Permalink

      Does my vote count after a certain hour here in Hawaii?

    • March 9, 2019 - 6:51 am | Permalink

      You’re good. Voting’s open for a full 24 hours. Starting at 8 am Eastern time.

  150. Alicia Clark's Gravatar Alicia Clark
    March 9, 2019 - 6:28 am | Permalink

    Agatha Lin Zhao, in honor of my mother and aunt who were both teachers.

  151. Jerry Mawhinney's Gravatar Jerry Mawhinney
    March 9, 2019 - 5:29 pm | Permalink

    I’d vote for William Wilberforce if I knew where to cast my ballot. I understand he was not in the best of health for a good part of his life and that his friend John Newton (Amazing Grace) was influential in convincing him to enter into politics so he could do something about slavery.

  152. andrea's Gravatar andrea
    March 9, 2019 - 11:48 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Wilberforce “Willy the Force”-(Thanks, Charles Stuart) because he persisted and ended slavery in the British Empire. Also, he founded the RSPCA. I also liked the Collect.

  153. Barbara A.K. Franklin's Gravatar Barbara A.K. Franklin
    March 11, 2019 - 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Agatha for me. Living in Laos, Thailand in Vietnam, where many of these hilltribe people would have starved, suffered and been completely neglected if they had not been connected to Christian teachings, I appreciate the woman who brought them to them. Some love to disparage missionaries but these border people who wander between states owe many blessings to Agatha’s legacy

  154. John-Eric Robinson's Gravatar John-Eric Robinson
    March 12, 2019 - 8:30 am | Permalink

    I have to wonder. Is one a saint because of acts of social justice? Or because one gives one’s life to God and works to bring others to Christ?

Comments are closed.