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. I am so very grateful to EVERYONE who has added dimension, humor, education and awe to this magnificently irreverent and precious Lenten activity. I'm already excited for next year. Thank you and I ended up voting for Pandita.....

  2. Sad to see this end. I look forward every year to Lent Madness. What a wonderful experience to learn about so many of our fellow faith travelers. I will miss you all. Blessings my brothers and sisters!

  3. I would normally vote for the more contemporary person. Pandita is certainly worthy of the Golden Halo. I voted for Martha, however. I am a Martha. For all my 82 years, I have wished I could feel the presence of Christ but I never have. So I love Him and try to serve Him. And in not many more years, I will see Him face to face. My husband was a Mary. When our rector asked him how he felt about dying, Ron said, "I'd rather live, but I am not afraid to die. I have seen Christ." I wish I had, even just once. But I am who I am. So my vote goes for all of us who are Marthas -- practical, prosaic, but lovers of the Lord.

    1. Peace. I read that Mother Teresa, like you, felt she had never seen Christ, never felt in the presence, though her whole life was dedicated to good works. I think we have to be grateful for our gifts. I hope you have felt in the presence of the company of saints this Lent. Thank you for being with us.

    2. But isn’t Christ in those we love and serve? Perhaps your husband was not only a Mary, but full of Christ’s love as well? In the hymn St. Patrick’s breastplate, it says,
      “Christ with me, Christ before me,
      Christ behind me, Christ within me,
      Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
      Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
      Christ in the fort,
      Christ in the chariot seat,
      Christ in the poop deck,
      Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
      Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
      Christ in every eye that sees me,
      Christ in every ear that hears me.”
      Maybe we’re just looking for or expecting a different thing? I wish you peace in your searching and a blessed Easter.

  4. My participation in Lenten Madness has been a first for me — literally! I’ve never observed anything for the season of Lent. So, I have been impressed, amazed, and thankful for the many saints I have met, the writers who have blogged or commented, and the pervasive sense of God’s presence with me, and with you all. Also the occasional chuckle. Will join you all next year. Voting for Pandita, of whom I heard only last week!

  5. In the chronology of John's Gospel Martha is the first to declare Jesus as Messiah, long before Peter ever does. We tend to forget that here it is a woman that recognizes Jesus for what he is.

  6. We voted for Ramabai today. Kudos to the SEC, the bloggers, John Cabot, Michael Wachter, and Diana our faithful hymn writer. All have made this year’s Lent Madness so much fun in the learning! We look forward to next year!

  7. Do we really know what Martha of Bethany ever did for anyone else?Pandita inspired many thousands of lives. Come on, people! Vote Pandita before it is too late!

    1. Having spent many years in a retreat house kitchen while others were doing the "important" things, I can assure you that Martha and her example have done a lot for me, and I'm pretty sure that's the case for others, too.

  8. I vote for Martha today and offer up my thanks for her faith, her declaration of that faith, and her courage.
    Thanks to all for a wonderful Lent Madness season.

  9. Given a choice between supporting Martha, who supported the gender norms of her day -- women belonging in the kitchen while men discussed critical issues among themselves -- and Pandita, who defied them, I must go with Pandita.

  10. I am with Martha of Bethany. She welcomed Jesus into her home was the sister of Lazarus and a blessing to us all

  11. Martha! “If you were here, my brother would not be dead”. “Yes, I believe you are the Messiah.” I've always liked the fact that she spoke up for herself with Jesus and she recognized him as the Messiah. She also took care of her house and the people around her, and she tamed a dragon! Great song today, Michael!

  12. Another year, how about using the Final Four, or even Elite Eight, who didn't win the haloes as the saints to choose from. So many admirable Christian people - I'd love to see them all given another chance.

  13. For this year's Golden Halo, Martha gets my vote. All honor to everyone else in the 2019 Bracket.
    A blessed Great Three Days and a glorious Easter to everyone.

  14. I would like to suggest that if Martha wins the mug should depict a woman slaying a dragon and carry the words MARTHA DOMINATRIX.

    1. St.Celia ...MARTHA DOMINATRIX, YES!!!
      Wow, tough choice. However, I think after taking in all these comments, limericks, and songs, I am leaning toward Pandita...and may I suggest a Pandita Primer on her mug!
      Thank you for another amazing and interesting and fun way of Lent learning lessons! Lent Madness ROCKS!!

  15. I voted for Pandita, but no matter which godly woman wins...Pandita or Martha, I am so glad to have participated in Lent Madness 2019! Thank you, Scott! Thank you, Tim! Thanks to the wonderful lyricists! Thanks to the earnest and convivial posters! And, thanks be to God!

    Ahem...when does Lent Madness 2020 begin? Withdrawal starting very soon now....

  16. Alas, the esteemed Ramabai got so much farther than I dared hope, and yet - barring a saintly miracle - it looks like her halo this year will be silver. I'm so excited that so many people have been introduced to her story and her work for the Lord and for India this year!

    I'm looking forward to buying a Martha mug for my beloved mother-in-law, her namesake...but if the Supremes choose to make any Silver Halo merchandise this year, I'll be first in line to order both! (Hint, hint!) ;D

  17. I chose Pandita as I felt her work really took to heart the verse in John 10:10 that talks about Christ coming that they might have life and have it abundantly while the thief comes only to steal. The cultural values of the man always doing everything while their young wives were not taught how to make it on their own should the man die and the woman's place in society at that time as chattel reminded me a little of the thief in the reading from John. Part of Christianity is also abundant life which includes the life-skills Pandita taught the women as well as skills to have a livelihood and a better life. I also couldn't help but think after completing an ETS training this afternoon which included scoring 7 sets of essays, 10 a set, all of them written by 7th graders on an anonymous quote dealing with learning and the student's feelings on learning with another person vs. doing everything yourself. If Martha hadn't had been taught by her family as well as other women around her when she was young the natural gifts of hospitality she had, as well as skills such as cooking, baking, cleaning, keeping up a home etc. would have been skills she wouldn't have ever learned. Nor would her personal gifts have had a chance to develop. As I pondered this after getting into a much better mood than I had been after learning I had failed the first attempt at ETS's training calibration as well today, a couple of the sample essays I had been assigned to read through and score suddenly felt like "out of the mouths of babes.". Without being taught the young women Pandita was helping would not have gone from destitute widows a deceased spouse left behind to proud women able to support themselves, and most likely from unbelief in Christ to belief . Martha had wonderful people, and homemaking skills. But where would she be if she hadn't had others there to watch and learn from while she was on her journey to a mature adult woman, and later a follower of Christ whom she also learned from.

    1. Terrie, I thought your late comments were interesting. I went to read John 10 in its entirety. The image is of the gate. The shepherd enters through the gate. The thief climbs over the fence. I think what you are saying is that Rama provided a gate for women. I think you are saying that many people have a "fence" around them of family and cultural institutions that "invisibly" provide them a set of social skills. It is a mitzvah to offer the rest of us a "gate" to those same skills. It is also a good teaching to call all of us to notice the importance of both fence and gate in all our lives and to provide both to those who do not have them. Leave no one out of the flock. Call even the thief to contribute to the good of the whole and repent. Thank you. I hope Rama will be back; she was received with remarkable enthusiasm, and with another appearance may win the golden halo.

  18. Thank you to St. Celia for the wonderful added insights! I too hope she will be back. 🙂 as so many thought so highly of her. Have a lovely Easter as well!

  19. A big thank you to Scott, and Tim and all the wonderfully talented people in the Lent Madness Community! Have a blessed, and Happy Easter everyone!