For the Golden Halo: Martha of Bethany vs. Pandita Ramabai

Well, friends, we set out upon this Lent Madness journey over five weeks ago on “Ash Thursday.” With your help we have narrowed the field of 32 saints down to just two: Martha of Bethany and Pandita Ramabai (who defeated Zenaida 61% to 39% yesterday). Who will win the coveted Golden Halo of Lent Madness 2019? Only 24 hours and your voting participation will reveal this holy mystery.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, we’ve met some truly remarkable saintly folks along the way. Perhaps you learned about some saints you’d never heard of or maybe you renewed acquaintances with saints who have long offered inspiration. Of course the entire notion of placing saints in a bracket is absurd — each “contestant” has already earned a crown of righteousness in addition to a “golden halo.” But at the heart of Lent Madness is the abiding conviction that encountering those who have come before us in the faith enriches and enlivens our own walk with the risen Christ.

In the process of this whimsical Lenten devotion we’ve all made some new online friends, encountered a community of believers who take their faith but not themselves too seriously, learned a few things, were inspired by saintly witnesses, and had a lot fun along the way.

Of course we literally couldn’t have done this without our stellar Celebrity Bloggers to whom we offer sincere gratitude: Amber Belldene, Laurie Brock, Megan Castellan, Anna Fitch Courie, David Creech, Marcus Halley, David Hansen, Carol Howard Meritt, Emily McFarlan Miller, and David Sibley. Thanks to Bracket Czar Adam Thomas for his unsung behind-the-scenes work in keeping the bracket updated daily — in his inimitable style. You all rock! And we’re all grateful for your good writing, good humor, and adhering to most, if not all, of the SEC-imposed deadlines.

We’re also grateful to the Forward Movement staff who have supported this endeavor: Richelle Thompson, Carole Miller, Jason Merritt, Alyssa Finke, and Alexis Fortuna Caoili, as well as everyone who answered the phone in the Lentorium and all the other things to make Lent Madness successful: Tania Z. Jones, Rachel Jones, Hugo Olaiz, Allison Sandlin Liles, Brandon Hill, Miriam McKenney, Jay Sidebotham, Loren Dixon, Samantha Franklin, Chris Yaw, Liz Brignac, Karen Robertson Henry, Christina Dorn, Jane Paraskevopoulos, Barbara Hine, Vicki Everett, Amy Golden, Kathy Jose, Aleia Robinson, Peggy Sanchez, Debbie Springer, and the office mascot, George T. Dog.

2018 Golden Halo Winner Anna Alexander prepares to hand over the 2019 crown.

Finally, thanks to all of you who participated by voting, commenting, drinking coffee out of Lent Madness mugs, filling out brackets, talking about saints at coffee hour, liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter, and allowing us to play a small role in your Lenten journey. We’ve loved having each one of you along for the “madness” and on behalf of the Supreme Executive Committee we wish you a blessed Holy Week and a joyous Easter.

But enough gratitude. We have a Golden Halo to award! As with all the matchups, the polls will be open for 24 hours and the winner will be announced right here at 8:00 am Eastern Time on Maundy Thursday. At this point, everything about these two worthy saints has been said (though if you need some refreshers, click on the Bracket tab and scroll down).

Today, we have simply asked our remaining celebrity blogger, Amber Belldene (who has faithfully advocated for both Martha of Bethany and Pandita Ramabai) to provide us with one image and one quote.

The rest is up to you, the Lent Madness voting public. So go do your thing! And thanks for playing along this year — we’re delighted you joined us on the journey.

Martha of Bethany

Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” - Martha of Bethany (John 11:27)

Pandita Ramabai

A life totally committed to God has nothing to fear, nothing to lose, nothing to regret. - Pandita Ramabai

Martha of Bethany vs. Pandita Ramabai

  • Martha of Bethany (55%, 4,439 Votes)
  • Pandita Ramabai (45%, 3,561 Votes)

Total Voters: 8,000

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167 comments on “For the Golden Halo: Martha of Bethany vs. Pandita Ramabai”

  1. What a journey enlightening it’s been;
    Just five short weeks ago did we begin.
    Our bloggers resourceful
    Their arguments forceful
    Have presented; may the best woman win!

    1. Thanks for the limericks, John. It's been a lot of fun, and I wish you well through Easter, Ordinary Time, and the rest!

    2. This has been the best 5 weeks of late! Never tried this last year, it has been a hard and emotional roller coaster for 3 1/2 years personally, but, came thru the storm Christmas 2018! It has been a struggle, but the help and love of many friends and family, I am here to cast my final vote! It doesn't really matter who wins , it is how you ran the race! I could hardly wait each day to read and learn more of these saints, most of Who I couldn!t even pronounce their names! I was healing thru this Lenton Madness and thru them and the grace of God I made it thru the storm and learned that I still had more to learn and to share! I have learned to stop overcompensating and TO LET IT GO!
      Now to,put on my other hat of wife, mother,and grandmother, and to use what I learned from these saints to just take one day at a time and to thank God of each day I am here,! HE has a plan for me and I am listening! God Bless to all from CANADA And a Blessed Easter to all!. . .

      1. I am a Lent Madness "vet", and say, Welcome, Sharon! So glad you have found fun and solace with us. May the Lord bless you richly this Easter and always!

        1. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! I have felt so welcomed to the Madness, what will I ever fill my time with, gardening in our new home! Blessingsmtomall, and HAPPY EASTER,. .

        1. How?!
          How can we choose 'tween two beautiful souls!!?

          One knew Jesus first hand,
          One lived Jesus, 'first' in her land.
          One who served Jesus his meal,
          One who served others with zeal.
          One knew Christ, the First Day,
          One followed Christ All the Way.

          How can I choose in a day?
          How will I find the best way?

          Pandita or Martha?
          Martha, Pandita?
          As the grandaughta,
          Who brought her gram, Martha,
          Down to us , here, near our day,
          Pandita it is who holds sway.
          [But, just barely... :-)]

        2. So sorry stupid crooked fingers, Sharon Dianne Pattison! Just love this Lenton madness and even figured out how to get my picture with husband taken in Antartica Feb. 14/2013 lon Valentine's Day, he proposed to me Vslentines day 1962, and our house of 51 years sold Vslentines Day 2019! We have just moved into our new HOME Marxh 18/19 until God takes us to,our forever home!
          This Lenton madness not only taught me about the Saints but resilance and to,keep going no matter what happens to you, it is for a reason! Only with the GRACE of GOD will we all be saved and taken HOME, someone will wear the HALO ,but in GODS eyes we are all worthy of that HALO, IF NOT HERE ON EARTH THEN IN HEAVEN WITH HIM!
          Remember he has a New Jersulem waiting with many floors, some of us will have a room with a view and some will be the worker Bees and some in the basement stoking the coals ! Keep,the faith and NEVER SAY NEVER! I wish you all a BLESSED EASTER!

  2. There is one day more of voting. What would be a more appropriate tribute for Martha and Pandita that a tribute sung to the tune of One Day More from Les Miserables?

    SCOTT GUNN
    One vote more.
    Another saint will find her destiny
    Is written in Lent Madness history.
    Though technically it’s not a crime,
    Please do not vote a second time.
    One vote more.

    MARTHA
    I could not rest at all today.
    Who can relax when Jesus visits?

    SCOTT GUNN
    One vote more.

    MARTHA AND MARY
    So, at the Lord’s feet she (I) will lay.
    I’ll (She’ll) ask for help and just get crickets.

    TIM SCHENCK
    One more day here with my mug.

    MARTHA AND MARY
    Will our brother breathe again?

    TIM SCHENCK
    Cold brew, pour over, or K-cup.

    MARTHA AND MARY
    We can smell him from the tomb!

    TIM SCHENCK
    Why’s my nemesis so smug?

    MARTHA AND MARY
    Why did Jesus wait four days?

    TIM SCHENCK
    And when we will Skype again?

    PANDITA
    From my bio, you now know…

    MARTHA
    Will I meet him on the road?

    PANDITA
    ...Of the plight of Hindu women.

    MARTHA
    Will my sister join me there?

    PANDITA
    Lives so poor if they’re widowed.

    MARTHA
    Or scrub nard out of her hair?

    PANDITA
    Will you fight for them with me?

    LENT MADNESS VOTERS
    The time is now!
    The email’s here!

    SCOTT GUNN
    One vote more!

    PANDITA
    Women need an education.
    They deserve this right, you see.
    Holding lectures without schoolgirls
    Is like naan not brushed with ghee.

    SCOTT GUNN
    One vote more!

    GOBNAIT AND ZENAIDA
    We are both dumbstruck
    We did not move on.
    Wish those two some luck
    ‘Cause their lives are a yawn.
    Training swarms of bees.
    Healing for no price.
    I’d (She’d) be in the finals
    But they voted twice!

    LENT MADNESS VOTERS
    One vote! Do not be a cheater!
    (Raise the Golden Halo high!)
    Be you sheep or be you goat!
    (Be you sheep or be you goat!)
    Opt for Martha or Pandita!
    (One of them will wear the crown)
    Do you count the people’s vote?

    MARTHA AND PANDITA
    My place is here.
    It’s time to choose.

    SCOTT GUNN
    One vote more!
    (it is at this point that the ensemble begins the iconic marching-in-a-triangle choreography.)

    TIM SCHENCK
    One more day here with my mug.

    PANDITA
    I will study in Great Britain.
    I’ll convert and be a nun.
    I’ll return and fight for justice.
    Mukti Mission I will run.

    SCOTT GUNN
    One vote more!

    GOBNAIT AND ZENAIDA
    We are both dumbstruck
    We did not move on.
    Wish those two some luck
    ‘Cause their lives are a yawn.

    PANDITA
    Women need an education.
    They deserve this right, you see.
    Holding lectures without schoolgirls
    Tomorrow the judgement day.

    SCOTT GUNN
    The finals seemed so far away.
    Tomorrow is the judgement day.

    ALL
    Tomorrow we’ll discover
    Who won. Maybe there’ll be an encore...
    One more choice.
    One more click.
    One vote more!

    (TIM SCHENCK waves a large flag emblazoned with the Lent Madness bracket.)

      1. Wow these songs have been the highlight of Lent Madness for me. This one is superb!

      1. And me! AWESOME!! (Standing Ovation by All! :- )
        Love your combo of humor, theater, & more (pls consider doing more--a blog or?)

    1. O.M.G. (Can I say that here??!) I thought you might do something from "Candide" (Candi-da?), but this was fantastic, Michael; you really pulled out all the stops. So much in there, but the line that made me and hubby spit out our coffee was Mary washing the nard out of her hair. This has just been the best part of the whole she-bang for me. Thank you so much, and have a great rest of the year. (I'm dying to hear what shows you will see this year. May I recommend "The Prom"? My former voice teacher is Mrs. Green!

      1. I have heard music from The Prom and I am very intrigued. I really want to see King Kong.

    2. Brilliant! Michael, this is your best yet. Grand finale, everyone on stage, wonderful music. The next time I listen to Les Miserables, this image will be in my head.
      Rest well these next several months so you can come back next year.

    3. This is my absolute favorite of all the wonderful renditions you’ve presented! Bravo, and thank you for appealing to the theater nerds among us!

    4. I too vote for turning this into a rousing video! Our favorite Lenten duo would do it up right.

    5. Martha has an excellent and extremely Biblical quote and a colorful, albeit shared with her sister and our Lord, image.

      That had me leaning toward the sister from Bethany, then among the the lyrical talent of Michael Wachter I encountered the question from a Sister in regard to our sisters in India . . .

      >em>PANDITA
      Will you fight for them with me?

      No matter who wins, I plan to order a celebratory cup, so I can toast Gobnait & Zenaida with a 2019 LM mug full of a nice medicinal tea sweetened with honey come next Common Cold Season.

      I hope G & Z are back in future years and each get a future LM Golden Halo.

      1. >em>PANDITA
        Will you fight for them with me?

        Should be
        PANDITA
        Will you fight for them with me?

    6. This one was masterful. I'll miss the daily musicals! Thank you for your delightful contributions.

    7. One vote more, indeed! Thanks, Michael, for all of the amazing lyrics and choice musical selections. I too vote for a recordings of your fine parodies, perhaps on a Lent Madness YouTube channel????

    8. I will add my thanks here too. John, Michael and others clever rhymes have made Lent Madness over the top extraordinary this year. Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!

  3. Pandita Ramabai literally did so much for women's rights. Martha was great, but Pandita deserves the Golden Halo. She deserves the honor. Ramabai was an incredible woman and everything she has done is known to be true.

  4. This is a super hard choice. Pandita was clearly a Martha in her time. But it's MARTHA!!! What a choice.

    1. Two saints for whom I’ve voted all the way, but today there is no choice: without Martha there is no Pandita. Martha has taught all of us how important it is to. DO God’s work.

    2. The Prom was great!!
      Especially the musical number “Love Thy Neighbor” for your Lent Madness tie-in!

  5. I was once told that if a woman was mentioned, especially by name, in the Bible, she must have done something extraordinary and that was well known so could not be denied because in Jesus' time, women were not to be seen or heard. So to see Martha remembered as a friend and faithful follower of Jesus shows how esteemed she must have been to the early Christian community. So I vote for Martha who showed the path for future women of leadership and faithfulness as followers of Christ.

    1. I have the exact opposite interpretation of Martha. Mary wanted to learn from the rabbi, like a man, but her unconventional sister protested that she belonged in the kitchen. Jesus spoke up for Mary, but 2,000 years later, women are still struggling to get out of the Church's kitchen.

    2. Well, Debbie. I thought I was going to #votemartha, but once again, I changed my mind at the last moment and #votedpandita. I was persuaded by the arguments on behalf of lesser known saints yesterday. I still wish, however, that I voted for Martha. I love her story and the friendship and devotion the showed to Jesus. It's nice to know he had some human friends beyond the twelve disciples. Whoever wins, I'll be toasting you with the latest coffee mug soon (and I drink a lot of coffee!).

  6. Thanks a bunch! To ALL! I've been gratified and affirmed as a person who looks to and is inspired by saints living and dead, recognized by the people of God or just by 'yours truly'.
    As a man married to a 'Mary' who lives and moves and has her being fashioned more like a Martha my vote was not that difficult; I voted for Martha.

  7. Although I’m a huge devotee to Martha, Ramabai has won my heart. I’m looking for modern day inspiration.
    Thanks, SEC, for another rich Lent season. Also, sorry I got so ticked off when Wilberforce went doooown.

  8. Yikes. That quote from Martha seems more like something Mary her sister would have said; but Pandita's citation is genuinely from her heart, her soul, and her own lips.

    Pandita gets my vote. Blessings upon you all for a great job this year, fellow madcappers. Can't wait for Nominationtide!

    1. Good heavens, TJ. "That quote", that confession of Jesus as the Christ, is scripture: John ch 11, vs 27. Read the story of Lazarus again. It is Martha who goes out to greet Jesus when he comes. Mary stays in the house and has to be urged by Martha to go out and meet Jesus...

  9. On behalf of the non-executive ranks that participate in Lent Madness a big thank you to John Cabot and Michael Wachter for your inspiring limericks/poems/musical numbers. Who knew you could set the saints to show tunes? You brightened up many a Lenten morning.

    1. i'll add my thanks here, as well - reading john and michael's contributions to the conversation has been wonderful. many thanks to you both!

  10. Martha, for her confession. Photini, the woman at the well, steadies my hand as I click. Mary of Bethany, who was never her sister's rival, smiles wistfully. Go, Team Biblical Women!

  11. I had to stick with Martha but I love Pandita Ramabai as well. It has been great learning about her. I will add both of today's quotes to my file of quotes that I use when I need inspiration.

    This has been a spectacular Lent Madness! Thank you to everyone involved. I've learned about some incredible saints, had lots of morning chuckles, and enjoyed some thought provoking conversations in the comments. I will miss this morning discipline but I am inspired to do some research to find a saint or two for nominationtide.

    1. Oh yeah, Michelle C, me too! This was my first Lent Madness, but I have some ideas for nominationtide already.

  12. Genuinely struggling to choose today. What wonderful saints and inspiring women. However, having come this far, I can't not vote, so my support will go to Pandita because of her role in educating women, and because I have visited the convent at Wantage that played a part in her conversion.
    Thank you all for another fabulous year. I have learned so much and I am deeply grateful to widen my acquaintance of saints and glimpse a little more of the wonderful diversity of the Kingdom of Heaven.

  13. I have always loved Martha. However, even though I have only just learned of Pandita Ramabai this Lent Madness, she has my vote. In addition to her deep faith, she had extraordinary vision and courage in her tireless work to educate women in India, a legacy that continues in our time.

    1. You spoke how I have been thinking. In the end, I had to vote for Pandita Ramabai also. This year there were a number of really hard choices. Whoever wins will be the correct one.

      Also many thanks to Tim and Scott, the scribes who did the research and to all the comments.

  14. The first thing to do today is say thank you thank you thank you to Tim and Scott and to all the bloggers. You give of your Lent to join us on this remarkable virtual pilgrimage to Canterbury. This is a social medium as a best practice. WordPress may be a spavined nag, but we are within sight of the spires of Canterbury and riding into the city. No Russian novichok poisoners among us, no Irish saints in the final round to tempt the compulsive UberVoters, alas Notre Dame has burned. But we have arrived. I had thought I would vote for Rama; I was quite certain I would. I wanted to affirm otherness and difference and the rights of the sojourner in an era when brown children have been caged at the border by an illegitimate Herod. But in today's pictures, I was struck by something. I saw it the other day as well: in the images of Jesus with Mary and Martha, Martha is always shown with her face toward Jesus. Mary's face is always downcast, shaded, demure. But Martha's face is shown on a par with Jesus's. She is standing, an equal. She is the new Eve: feisty, giving, a kitchen evangelist. So to my surprise, I voted for Martha.

    1. Thank you, St. Celia! Brilliant commentary. And I love your final statement about Martha. Thank you. It is a pleasure to know you, even if not in person.

        1. I see, and feel, that Martha is the epitomy of child-like faith in Jesus. Ask any 5 year old if they know that Jesus loves them add you will get the equivalent of any eye roll and yes.
          "If you were here, my brother would not be dead". "Yes, I believe you are the messiah."
          No need to show her by miracles, no need for supernatural encounters, it's not necessary to explain. She Knew this to be true and simply continued with her life - feeding people, protecting them, loving them. And looking them straight in the eye just like she does with Jesus in the picture above.

  15. Martha! Her recognition and affirmation of Jesus as the Messiah in the midst of her grief for her brother would be sufficient to earn her the Golden Halo. But there's more. That ringing declaration of faith is inspiring, eloquent and heartwarming. Mary wasn't the only one who chose the "better part." Martha clearly got the message and then lived it. A great role model - if only I could live it as well.

  16. Martha for me—my birthday matron saint (along with Mary, of course, and Lazarus on the side). But Pandita Ramabai is inspiring and new to my understanding; I knew nothing of her before and am glad to have met her.

    Thanks to all the CBs and the SEC for another great Lent Madness.

  17. Thanks to all whose thoughts and writings have uplifted me through this year's Lent. It has gone by incredibly rapidly! Martha gets my vote today, though I value her rival tremendously. Where would all of us women clergy be without our foremothers and sisters who blazed the trail ahead of us? I thank God for you all, and look forward to net year's Madness.

  18. Thank you two delightful Nemeses, the amazing bloggers, amusing limericker, superb song writer, and all the responders. Each year is more amazing than the last. How inspiring are the lives of the saints!
    I am truly inspired by this sweet circle of saintly Lentmadness aficionados. Until next year.

  19. Too easy this year. Go “left,” go female gender, go persons of color. Though not perfect my personal algorithm got me into 2nd place with my prediction of Martha being in the final 2. Why not take her across the finish line!?

    1. So you see faithful Christian witness as "left." Sounds good to me. Perhaps to this generation WILL be given a sign.

  20. A big thank you to all the bloggers who have educated me on Saints that I did not even know. I voted for Pandita simply because she is the lesser known of the two Saints. Both deserve the Golden Halo and the voting has been enlightening and fun. Thank you Lent Madness. I look forward to next year's blogging.
    Happy Easter Morning to all.

  21. I believe in God, the Almighty,
    Creator of heaven and earth.
    I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord.

    “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.
    But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
    Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again...
    Jesus said to her [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life.
    The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;
    and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.
    Do you believe this?”
    “Yes, Lord,” she replied,
    “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.".
    [but] When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him,
    she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
    John 11

    Voting for one of the first who confesses I BELIEVE.
    The Peace of G-d be with us all as we renew our baptismal vows this Eastertide
    saying, along with Martha,
    I BELIEVE

  22. I love that this contest has come down to two Saints for whom I’ve voted all the way. First time that has happened. Today I voted for Martha, because I dare say that without Martha, Pandita’s fait wouldn’t have been as strong. Pandita was the Martha of her time.

  23. I voted for both women all the way through, too, but feel that a saint who toiled for women's rights and changed her corner of the world deserves to wear the Golden Halo.

  24. Quite the quandary, what to do? But my husband is looking at pictures of Notre Dame, which I visited only 6 weeks ago--and it occurs to me that Martha would be organizing the clean-up and feeding the workers. So there I go today, hoping to see Ramabai again soon.

  25. If you had asked me yesterday who I'd vote for in this final matchup, without reservation, I would have said Martha. But after rereading their bios by the celebrity bloggers this morning, , I've changed my mind. I love Martha of Bethany (as a Martha myself), but I believe that Ramabai had a much greater impact on society as God's love in action. Pandita Ramabai gets my vote. Ramabai for the win!

  26. From the beginning I eagerly predicted Martha for the win, and I have always been a big advocate for her. That there were two separate stories circulating about these sisters speaks volumes to me about their importance in the early Christian communities. That they seem to have lived alone is interesting--were they widowed? were they wealthy? or were they leaders of a church house, as feminist scholars believe? I love Martha for always being totally frank with Jesus ("I'm sick of doing this by myself!" "Don't open that tomb; he's been in there long enough to smell to high heaven!")

    And yet. I am so moved to have the opportunity to vote for a saint in a part of the world that we in the west forget has Christians among its multitudes. Her struggle was not just against ignorance, illiteracy, poverty, and gender, but the whole oppressiveness of a centuries-old caste system that is really beyond our ken. I treasure my education, the languages I have learned, the professors I have met and sparred with and been challenged by, the many things to which my mind has been opened, the books--the books!--I have read, the writing I am able to do.

    Out of gratitude for all this, and with awe for her vision and persistence, I cast my final vote for Pandita Ramabai.

  27. Not an easy choice, but I went with Martha--even up the old-vs.-new now that the women-vs.-men is balanced, voted for her since the beginning--and St. Cecelia's comment about Martha actually looking at Jesus, truly seeing him, following him in her own way. That really cemented my vote.
    Thank you all for another interesting Lent and for getting to know some new-to-me saints.

  28. Thank you for the wonderful Les Mis song.
    Need to go with Pandita since she worked for Christ with true beliefs and not from 'seeing' him.