Ignatius of Loyola vs. Gobnait

Yesterday, in a hotly contested matchup, Pandita Ramabai made it past William Wilberforce 55% to 45% to claim the second spot in the Faithful Four. She joins Martha of Bethany and awaits two more companions as we move ever closer to awarding the coveted 2019 Golden Halo.

On tap today we have Ignatius of Loyola vs. Gobnait. To get to this point, Ignatius made it past Tikhon of Zadonsk and Marina the Monk, while Gobnait defeated and Hrotsvitha and Paula of Rome.

Also, in a move of largesse reminiscent of the recently defeated Nichols of Myra, the Supreme Executive Committee has devised a method for giving away (yes, for free!) the last three remaining France Perkins Golden Halo mugs. Rather than donating them to the Lent Museum, they will be given away at random to three lucky winners. Click here for details. And if you gave up Facebook for Lent or for Zuckerberg, add not being eligible to your list of crosses to bear. Alas, it's Lent.

Ignatius of Loyola

Leo Tolstoy quite famously did not write in Anna Karenina that “tasteful saintly goods are all alike; every kitschy saintly good is kitschy in its own way.” But he should have – because it’s true. Year after year, Lent Madness digs for Saintly Kitsch, and you’d think, after ten years, we’d run out. You might begin to think that the jig is up, the game is run, the kitsch is kaput! Never fear, dear reader, never fear. When you have a saint as popular as Ignatius of Loyola, you’ll never be wanting for kitsch.

Perhaps you’ve seen the portraits of Ignatius from previous rounds and thought, “you know, he seems ok, but I don’t know I like the cut of his jib.” Well, for the low price of $9.00 on Etsy, you won’t have to look at Ignatius’ jib at all – because this Ignatius’ jib is covered with a BIG BUSHY BEARD! To be clear, while Ignatius did have a beard, and Ignatian spirituality does ask you what you desire, Ignatius is not Santa Claus. Sorry.

Maybe you’ve read Ignatius’ works, and know well that Ignatian spirituality centers in finding God in all things. But as you search for where God is moving in your life, you find yourself frustrated because you can’t peg down what Ignatius would think in a given situation. Oh, beloved, don’t worry. For a limited-time, you not only can peg Ignatius down, you can have Ignatius on a peg! ($25.91 on Etsy; void where prohibited; tax, title and license extra.)


If you’re trying to chase down Ignatius, then exercise is important. Physical exercise does the body good and leads to healthy living; the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius help us examine our desires, discern the movement of God in our lives, and find God in all things – giving us spiritual health. And thanks to the good folks at Zazzle, for $34.85, you can let folks know you’re working through the spiritual exercises as you do your physical exercise, with this snazzy “Exercising with Ignatius” tee-shirt.


The t-shirt shows our hero sitting happily with a cup of coffee. After all, if you’re going to find God in everyday life, you need to be sure to have your caffeine fix as you begin the day. Luckily, an Ignatius of Loyola knitted coffee cozy can keep your coffee hot and your hand cool! It’s only $16.95 on Etsy, and includes a quote Ignatius supposedly used with members of the Jesuit order – “Go forth and set the world on fire.” Just make sure your coffee isn’t fire-hot. That would be painful.


Ignatius sought to develop contemplatives in action – but even contemplatives in action need to rest. So as you wind down your day, pray your examen, and resolve to respond to God again tomorrow, you can nest your head one person’s paraphrase of Ignatius’ spirituality. Rest well. Tomorrow, there’s work to be done for the Greater Glory of God – AMDG!

-David Sibley



Saint Gobnait is one of the national saints of Ireland – her story is tied to the place where she waits for her resurrection. What a great reason to travel – a pilgrimage to picturesque Ballyvourney, in County Cork.



Once you’ve visited the church there you can continue with the other pilgrims to the ruins of Gobnait’s house, her gravesite, and pray for healing at Gobnait’s Well.

Or perhaps you are looking to get into the spirit of Gobnait a little more locally.



What better way to remember Gobnait than to make a home for her beloved bees! Remembering that saving the bees is saving God’s creation, why don’t we make more hives shaped like churches – reminders of the holy work of caring for creation.

If you provide a home for Gobnait’s bees, you will also want to provide them with food. As you plant you plant a bee-friendly garden, say prayers of intercession for those in need of healing and for our world.

Beeswax is often associated with Easter, as we light the new fire of the paschal candle. But with an artistic eye we could weave the wax form Gobnait’s bees into remembrances of every season, including Christmas.

Whether you make a pilgrimage to Ballyvourney, stay home and plant a bee garden, or fashion beautiful devotional art from beeswax, show your support for the Gobnait every day.

-David Hansen

Ignatius of Loyola vs. Gobnait

  • Gobnait (51%, 3,990 Votes)
  • Ignatius of Loyola (49%, 3,905 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,895

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123 comments on “Ignatius of Loyola vs. Gobnait”

  1. His support for a strong education
    Helped establish his own reputation:
    With the Faith and the Mind
    Aiding our path to find,
    To Ignatius we give approbation.

  2. We finish off the Monastics and Martyrs quadrant with this musical theatre tribute to Ignatius of Loyola and Gobnait. What would be more fitting than this song sung to the tune of “What’s the Buzz?/Strange Thing Mystifying” from “Jesus Christ Superstar”:

    What's the buzz? Gobnait and Ignatius (Repeat 7 Xs)

    What do you want to know?
    Can I tell you ‘bout Ignatius?
    Or of Gobnait and her bees?
    Just reread the Saintly Scorecard;
    You’ll complete your vote with ease.

    What's the buzz? Gobnait and Ignatius
    What's the buzz? Gobnait and Ignatius
    What's the buzz? Gobnait and Ignatius (Bloggers give you Quotes and Quirks)
    What's the buzz? Gobnait and Ignatius (They can tell you ‘bout Saintly Kitsch)
    When do we hear about the Jesuits? (Give forecasts on how we’re voting)
    When do we hear about the Jesuits?
    When do we hear about the Jesuits?
    When do we hear about the Jesuits?

    That group started in France –
    Called Society of Jesus:
    Not confined by Abbey walls.
    Used Ignatian exercises
    So they can find God in all.

    What's the buzz? Gobnait and Ignatius (Repeat 3 Xs)
    Let me try protecting the town with bees. (Repeat 4 Xs)

    Gobnait, ooh that is good.
    When they tried to build a fortress,
    You collapsed it with your ball.
    Drew a line for their protection;
    Stopped the plague for one and all.

    What's the buzz? Gobnait and Ignatius (Repeat 11 Xs)

    It seems to me a strange thing. Gobnait’s vision:
    She was just a child but knew to build
    In Ballyvourney, Cork.
    And now I understand her well heals pilgrims.
    They leave unused crutches at her grave
    To show their journey worked.
    She said that site would see her resurrection,
    So they build the convent there nestled in the trees.
    As Gobnait shields the town from all attackers,
    Employed her cunning and her wits – and swarms of killer bees.

    Iggy’s ideas brought suspicion.
    Both Spain and Rome’s Inquisitions.
    Radical thoughts stem from his faction:
    Contemplatives should be in action.
    This was his credo,
    Hear how the truth rings:
    “We should seek and serve
    our God in all things.”

    I’m amazed this quadrant’s through.
    They are the last monastics.
    One more week until we’re finished.
    The winner crowned with gold, not plastic.

    Now, you must vote: Gobnait or Iggy. (Repeat 3 Xs)
    Who wins the Halo? (Repeat 3 Xs)

    1. Monastic/plastic? Bwahaha! I didn't need YouTube for this one. Love me some "Superstar"--especially this time of year. Thanks, Michael!

    2. Thank you for the link! Who wouldn't want the Gobnait "Chubby Bee" Necklace? Bit pricey though. Patriartsgallery.com what a great discovery.

    3. Brilliant! I'll be singing this all day. (Wait a minute! That scans!)

      Thank you, Michael, for your lyrics.

  3. Again a difficult decision. I would love to visit County Cork Ireland but for today I voted for Ignatius because I want to read Spiritual Exercises and because God is not confined to our church.

  4. It wasn't mentioned in the post, but there's a plentiful supply of lovely Gobnait charms, posters, tee shirts, and other kitsch on Etsy.
    I love David Sibley's terrific promotion of Ignatius and his kitsch, but our bees need a holy advocate more than ever today, so I'm voting for Gobnait and planting a flower garden.

  5. So torn. Jesuit educated, 2 of 4 kids Jesuit educated, but recent Jesuit grad doing a year of service in Ireland. Going with Gobnait this morning since I just got to visit her in that amazing country.

  6. I have to go with Gobnait and her bees. We need her care for bees and other pollinators rather desperately today. While she is no doubt interceding for them and us, it would bee the height of ingratitude not to express our appreciation for that intercession and her witness all those centuries ago. Besides, that beehive church is one honey of a structure. Well, I’ve waxed on about this subject for long enough. GO GOBNAIT!

    1. I found this; maybe Irish Gaelic is at least close, if not the same.
      "In Scottish Gaelic, the 'ait'/'aid' ending would be a very soft 'nidge' sound, almost 'nishdt'. So it's not harsh, really, though 'Gob'/'Gov/Gonn' is not perhaps the most pleasing. Gobnait= Gobvnisht/ Gonnishdt is not too bad."
      Some respondents said "GUB-nicht," or "GUB-nit."

    2. From babynamespedia.com: [ 2 . go-bnai(t), gob-na-it ] The baby girl name Gobnait is pronounced GAAB-NEYT †. Gobnait's language of origin is Celtic and it is predominantly used in Irish. The name Gobnait means 'little smith'. The name is of obscure origin; it could be from goba, alluding to Gobniu, the Celtic god of craftsmanship. It was later borne by the 6th-century Irish abbess and patron saint of Ballyvourney in Munster. The name is today still in use in west Munster. Gobnait is the feminine form of the Irish Goban. ....

      † English pronunciation for Gobnait: G as in "grin (G.R.IH.N)" ; AA as in "odd (AA.D)" ; B as in "be (B.IY)" ; N as in "knee (N.IY)" ; EY as in "ate (EY.T)" ; T as in "tee (T.IY)"

  7. That's really a crocheted coffee cozy. But hey, coffee cozy ! I'm contemplating on my vote for Ignatius.

  8. Ignatius of Loyola vowed to exterminate all the Anglicans. It’s Gobnait for me!

    1. Would you please direct me to documentation, preferably a primary source, that he "vowed to exterminate all Anglicans"? I know he was deeply concerned with sending missionaries to England because of what was, legitimately in his POV, heresy, but I've never heard that he wanted to kill people.

  9. Last year during Lent Madness, I became fascinated with St. Dymphna, an Irish saint. This year, another female Irish saint has caught my eye: St. Gobnait. I mean, the woman commanded bees, for heaven’s sake! How cool is that?
    I must admit, Harry Clarke's drawing for the Saint Gobnait window in Honan Chapel, Cork, Ireland had an enormous impact on me. It’s utterly stunning!
    St. Ignatius has been praised and acknowledged for ages, plus there’s that whole anti-Semitism thing muddying his saintliness, so I’m in favor of honoring...and voting for... the Irish lass.

    1. I just planted sage in my front yard and before I was done with the last plant, bees were showing up. Gobnait for sure.

        1. because I won the Frances Perkins mug or because I'm in BIG trouble . . . ? I'd better check. Oh no. I bet I'm in trouble. I shouldn't have told Megan to have herself a "yellow fever."

  10. I want to vote for both.


    The pillow at the end of the post for Ignatius of Loyola seems to be tipping me towards him.

    The words on it speak to me.

    Whatever you are doing, that which makes you feel most alive, that is where God is.

    If I only I could get paid to do that which makes me feel most alive.

  11. With bees in crisis around the world, and our ecosystems dependent on them for survival, I had no choice but to go with Gobnait. And yes, I was powerfully swayed by that beeswax Nativity scene!

  12. I'm considering an Internet search for a bobblehead Ignatius. Several years ago a professor at Perkins had a bobblehead Jesus on his filing cabinet. Quite a few people, including but not limited to faculty, staff, and students, asked him to sell it to them or leave it to them in his will. Sadly for us, nothing could separate him from this icon. More proof that God has a sense of humor.

  13. Our bees are in trouble – it’s bad!
    Yet our Bee Patron Saint is most rad.
    Vote for Gobnait today,
    And for bees, with her, pray,
    That our world, once again, is plant clad.

    Besides, how can we vote for someone who hated Anglicans?

  14. Not sure a vote for Abbess Gobnait is a vote for bees, though as God's creatures, without free will to sin, they too wear haloes. Ignatius's influence is the greater, so I go with him.

  15. Music,
    Active listening,
    All make me feel alive,
    All bring me into the presence of God.

  16. Hokey smoke! This is turning into a real battle. With upsets all over the place, can Gobnait take down Ignatz? Not in kitsch, that's for sure! You did what you could, David Hansen, but let's face it, when it comes to kitsch, St. Ignatius has it all over the Gob! I'm voting for the man! And I want that peg!!!! But I don't want to spend $26 on it. So if you're planning on a Christmas gift for me, you know what to get.

    1. I just want to say thanks, Richard - I look forward to your posts every day. Wherever you are, I like to imagine going to the local coffee shop and seeing you walk in - wry grin and jaunty halo in place. Your comments always make me smile and often influence my vote. Ignatz! I have liked Gobnait (have even suggested that as a name for my coming grandchild - parents aren't biting) - but am voting for Iggy. Thanks again for your presence every year in Lent Madness!

      1. I second that emotion. May you "get pegged," Richard. (And $26 does seem like a lot for a peg.)

        1. (only in the nice way, she adds hastily, having just discovered from an internet search of urban slang that . . . never mind--and there's no "edit" button)