John Chrysostom vs. Zenaida

Yesterday in a hotly contested matchup for the third spot in the Faithful Four, Gobnait stung Ignatius of Loyola 51% to 49%. She joins Martha of Bethany and Pandita Ramabai in the rarified air of Lent Madness 2019.

Who will make the Faithful Four the quartet to which it's called? We'll find out in the next 24 hours as John Chrysostom faces off against Zenaida for the final spot. To make it this far, John defeated Margaret of Cortona and Marina the Monk, while Zenaida took down Apollonia and Nicholas of Myra.

Then take a deep cleansing breath and get ready for the last three battles of Lent Madness 2019. On Monday and Tuesday it’s the Faithful Four. And then on Spy Wednesday the scene will be set as we collectively crown the Golden Halo winner. The end is near!

John Chrysostom
John IconThere is no better way to honor the man who so tirelessly advocated for care of those who lived in poverty than by spending your pennies on pious excess. And for you, dear Lent Madness faithful, I have limited all my searches to eBay and Amazon so you can go find these gems and purchase them for yourself, if you so please.

The easiest finds are his books. SO MANY BOOKS by him and about him. Those are boring pictures though, so I’ll let you find those on your own.

After books, there are so many traditional things you’d expect to find. Like the lovely icon above. Or this nifty rosary. You can find it with blue beads too.

keychainBut perhaps you want more peculiar religious paraphernalia. Like this John Chrysostom medal attached to tennis shoes.

Because in addition to soaring oratory, Good St. John also had literal hops, apparently.

One of my favorite finds was this “Aromatic Scroll.”

The description from the seller is worth reading in full: “Made with pure beeswax, mastic and incense… It emits a very distinct odor due to the incense from Mount Athos creating an atmosphere similar to an Orthodox church or to a Monastery (emphasis original)". I wonder if they have one that comes in the “distinct odor” of church basement.

candleApparently beeswax is common with John Chrysostom. Maybe for its golden hue? Anyhow, a Chrysostom search in “Home and Kitchen” will yield this find: a pine cone shaped beeswax candle. Go figure.

But perhaps these items are not spectacular enough for your religious sensibilities. Fear not, for I have found on the eBays this fantastic reliquary.

What is most amazing about this find is that it is a two-fer! You get a relic of both St. Augustine and St. Chysostom. I don’t know about you, but when I think of pairing saints, those two come immediately to mind. You may be worried about the transmission of human remains on an e-commerce site but the seller assures us that “As per eBay policy, this reliquary does not contain human remains but only objects of devotions.”purse

I am so curious as to what that gray blob is and who on earth would want to show it devotion. Also, if the selling of relics strikes you as somehow a little wrong, again the seller reminds us that the “Relic is free, only the theca is on sale.” $995 seems steep for that if you ask me.

But perhaps you don’t want explicitly religious items. You want to show your Chysostom fandom in more mundane ways. Well, here’s a nifty St. John bag (list price $450) for you to carry your alms in.

This stylish tote also has easy access so you can quickly grab coin when you see someone in need.grill

Maybe such a purse is too ostentatious for you. Maybe you’d prefer something more subtle to show your support. Might I suggest your own “golden mouth” imitation with this fab grill?

mugIn truth though, there just is not enough sacred kitsch out there for John. Should he win this year’s Golden Halo, you, dear voter, will have graced the world with the most kitschy of sacred devotion, a Lent Madness mug.


David Creech


leechMedicine during the time of Jesus was an odd combination of spells, chants, prayers, herbs, rituals, and instruments of torture. To apply a scholarly approach in conjunction with Christian practice was indeed a cutting-edge approach by Zenaida and her sisters. To provide this care for free, was simply unheard of.Since there is no Etsy or Ebay store committed to Zenaida kitsch (what’s with that?), let me immerse you in the medical practice of common human ailments. Treatment of disease revolved around manipulating what was thought as the four humors: blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile.

Colds and Flu have plagued humans since the beginning of time. Satan sneezed and infected us all. Along with prayers and chants, colds and flu were treated with leeching of the blood since most diseases were attributed to the work of Beelzebub.

Frankincense and Myrrh were given to baby Jesus because of their value in treating common diseases. Both are known to have antiseptic properties and can aid with digestive problems and improve oral healthcare. F and M were the ancient equivalents of our current use of antibiotics. And if you think that pharmaceutical companies over charge now, these two babies were probably worth MORE than the gold Jesus was given.








Got a tapeworm? Who has tapeworms these days? Back then, tapeworms, dysentery, vomiting, and other gastric fun times were all too common. Pomegranate would have been the “go-to” treatment by Zenaida and her sisters.

Got a head injury? Much like today, but without ascetic technique, physicians would drill holes in the skull in order to relieve intracranial pressure to allow the brain to heal. This is the skull of one such human having undergone a craniotomy. What’s more surprising is that although a number of people died following the procedure, archeological evidence suggests many more survived.

old medical instrumentsWounds from war and tribal infighting were treated with tools from the kitchen and garden shed. Spoons were used to scrape out infected cuts, saws were used for amputation, forks were used as probes, and of course knives were used to slice open human flesh.

wineAnd finally, wine. Wine was used to disinfect wounds; treat anxiety; and hydrate (since it was often safer than water). And lest we forget, the gift of wine (and bread) is our promise from the Great Physician that while our physical ailments may not be cured, that there is greater healing in store for us in the Kingdom of Heaven. Zenaida knew that any of her treatments were for naught if God was not a part of the healing process.

Anna Courie

John Chrysostom vs. Zenaida

  • Zenaida (61%, 3,967 Votes)
  • John Chrysostom (39%, 2,559 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,526

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Zenaida Images: WikiCommons,


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127 comments on “John Chrysostom vs. Zenaida”

  1. Once again cast your vote for Zenaida
    Who health care for all did provida
    This physician so kind
    Healed both body and mind
    Her sisters as well worked besida.

  2. The musical tribute for today is special because the song comes from last year’s Tony Award winning best musical, which is nothing short of amazing. I included the link as it is probably unfamiliar to most listeners. I have also included a link in the comments to Katrina Lenk singing “Omar Sherif” at the Tony’s because it makes me weep. So, without further do, we end the Elate Eight and pay homage to John Chrysostom and Zenaida to the tune of “The Beat of Your Heart” from “The Band’s Visit”…

    She was quite the doctor,
    His last name translates to “the mouth of gold.”
    And she never charged for service.
    He was known for sermons which were bold.
    They competed in the upper right-hand quadrant
    Known as Miscellaneous –
    This does not imply that what these saints did
    Was extraneous.

    John starts as a rich kid.
    John starts out in Antioch.
    John starts with monastic call.
    What makes him enthralled?
    Education and God.

    John heeds his calling.
    John’s leading an aesthetic’s life:
    No food and he always stands.
    Bible in his hands.
    It’s learning and God.

    And none paid Zenaida,
    The “unmercenary” doc.
    And the girl born in Tarsus
    With a bishop for her bro
    Came from good stock.
    She studied medicine.
    A doctor in the family!
    And she chose to move
    To a mountain town:
    Upscale ‘burbs in Thessaly.

    They make John a deacon,
    Starts preaching when ordained a priest.
    Well-spoken about what he’s learned.
    His nickname earned:
    John Chrysostom now.

    John’s made a bishop.
    Focused on reform for the poor
    Lacking tact, he’s awfully blunt.
    Thus, bears the brunt
    For calling out people in pow’r.

    (Dance break with plate and table tapping)

    And in Zenaida’s doctoring,
    Holistic care’s what she provides.
    She treats her patients’ body,
    Mind, and soul – keeps them alive.
    Her healing was redemption based.
    Her healing was a gift from God.
    And she refused to charge.
    I said, Zenaida didn’t charge.

    So, John fought with Eudoxia,
    Theophilus, Synod of the Oak.
    They deposed John. Sent him on a march.
    But he was too parched, he could withstand no more.

    This ends the Elate Eight round.
    (Ends the Elate Eight round)
    So, click the link and vote, vote, vote.
    (Vote, vote, vote)
    Either pick Zenaida or
    John Chrysostom
    The Miscellan’ous quadrant is done!
    And next week it’s over ‘cause Holy Week has come.
    Embracing the madness of Lent
    That is almost complete.
    Next week is Faithful Four.
    (Next week’s Faithful Four.)
    (Next week’s Faithful Four.)
    (Next week’s Faithful Four.)

      1. You did it!! I think I owe you a quarter now. Check or Mastercard? Oh, I really enjoyed singing this one--here at breakfast at Hyatt Place with 100 people milling around! I love that you retained the "gift from God" and the "Dance break with plate and table tapping"! So much fun--I think I shall give it another go, maybe this time on a Hyatt table top!

      2. Susan that's an interesting observation. I've seen something of a pattern, too, but not so much by gender as for the lesser known or less appreciated Saint. It certainly happened in the initial vote of Mary v. Martha, and the pattern has continued in most (certainly not all) votes. I've been excited to encounter the "ordinary" Saints who give me encouragement for daily struggles. With a few exceptions, those Saints who have statues and kudos galore in high places rarely help me see Christ as clearly as do those to whose daily, quiet ministries this year's bracket have introduced me. That's one of the reasons I'm so excited about Zenaida - someone who ignored what it would take to make her rich in favor of daily caring for all who came to her with the best medicine she knew, with prayer and without charge.

        1. I agree, Diana. I also think that it's no coincidence that the "lesser known or less appreciated" often happens to be the woman. For the record, I sometimes vote for whoever's lagging behind (regardless of gender) because the matchups are often between such equally deserving candidates. Thanks for your observations.

          1. I tend to vote for the "reality-based" saint in a matchup with one whose history is more apocryphal, unless I have a serious problem with that saint. I voted for Iggy over Gobnait, but then his namesake university is my alma mater, too.

            That said, I welcome the fact that women have been prevailing in the last couple of years. It feels like, in a small way, we're helping write them back into Church history.

      3. This gives me joy with tears; a longing tinged with my own memories of watching old movies on Saturdays while the doors and windows are open and the birds are singing. This voice and tune will haunt my mind for the rest of the day and will bring good memories of younger times. Thank you for this beautiful gift.

      4. There's no end to the benefits of participation in Lent Madness. I get to discover stuff like this! Many thanks.

    1. Who knew about the Mouth of Gold? Not I, anyway. Thank you, Michael, for that tidbit as well as for all the rest of your delightful contributions to this year’s Madness.

    2. Michael, you are amazing! I'm really going to miss you when this is over. It's your fault I had "Jesus Christ Superstar" stuck in my head all day yesterday!

    3. Michael, you're awesome. I'm really going to miss your songs when Lent Madness is over. BTW, it's your fault I had "Jesus Christ Superstar" running through my head all day yesterday. Oh well, I guess there are worse things to have in your head!

  3. Sing praise to God for fine doctors
    The unmercenary!
    Praise for the service and prayers of
    The holy Zenaida.
    She with her sibs
    Cared for all who were in need.
    Copays were unnecessary.

    Sing praise for women ignoring
    A chance to grow wealthy.
    Served without pay so their patients
    Could then become healthy.
    Woven in prayer
    Was all their treatment and care.
    Zenaida wants all to well be.

    Tune: Sing to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation

    1. Thank you for raising this tricky subject, Susan. At times I haven’t felt part of the conversation this year. I applaud the empowerment of women, in the lives LM brings before us as well as in the comments and discussion; but it troubles me when someone declares that she always votes for the woman, or when the discussion seems to me to reflect gender bias in subtler ways.

      While I wouldn’t consciously vote for a male contestant on the basis of gender, I’m tempted in this round to do just that, ostensibly to preserve gender diversity in the Faithful Four but really out of frustration at feeling excluded. Some may say that it’s high time men felt excluded, and I even get that; but I don’t accept that turning the tables is an effective way of righting past wrongs.

      Nor is voting for the male candidate a healthy response to bias, actual or perceived. I can’t get past the antisemitism problem with John and have plenty of positive reasons to vote for Zenaida, so today it will be the Golden-mouthed over the Golden-tongued for me.

      1. One of the US's female Supreme Court justices (I'm tempted to say it was Sandra Day O'Connor, but I can't remember for sure) answered a reporter's question about the "right" number of women on the high court. She said that the right number was nine, because for most of history the "right" number was zero. Statistically speaking, nine women is exactly as "right" as nine men; historically speaking, we have a lot of catching up to do! We need to strive for a state where "all men" or "mostly men" is no longer seen as normal, and "all women" or "mostly women" is no longer seen as weird.

        1. Sorry—I posted this in the wrong place. Please excuse the misplacement and the duplication!

      2. I hear you, Davis. I’m here looking for inspiration with the saints of our faith.
        I find the dialog of the LM Faithful challenging and have been pushed in so many directions. Weird, this forum is literally the only place in life and on social media where it’s safe to dialog about weighty things. We might be talking in earnest about Gobnait’s bees, but below the surface, we’re wrestling with finding strength for today through all the messes we are muddling through.
        That said, when someone votes from a flippant bias, I’m annoyed. Then I try and move on to the others, who are dialoging.
        Thank you for your contribution this morning. We “read” you!

        1. Yes- it can't be easy, snap decisions on any kind of bias because that defeats the whole purpose of grateful contemplation. These are indeed weighty matters. Much to reflect on!

      3. Thank you Davis. I'm frustrated by this as well. Your concerns were well and carefully stated.

      1. Phil, at first I was afraid you were being sexist; then I remembered! (There are some advantages to being "a woman of a certain age".)

  4. Am I seeing a pattern here? Might we finish the final four with only women up for the golden Halo? Hmmmm. Any figures on the gender of the voters? Not that I would mind, but I would hate to see the results sullied by claims of gender bias.

    1. Yes, it looks as though this year's Golden Halo award will be female! Where are the Gender Cranks?

    2. I can't speak for others, but my votes for female saints are frequently because they are the lesser known--considerably lesser known--and I want to advocate for those about whom we need to know more. Often they are the contemplatives (since that is one of the only ways women were allowed to express their vocation), and we have a tendency in this group to under-appreciate the contemplative vocation. And I prefer not to vote for those who influenced more people simply because they influenced more people; I like to think that one's saintliness in one's own corner of the world is just as important as that of the powerful and famous. For these reasons, I often end up voting for female saints.

    3. I agree with you. It’s already sullied in my opinion. I’m a woman and can understand the strong feelings of other women in our culture of male-dominated life. Time after time, particularly in this year’s voting, we’ve seen a woman prevail over her male opponent. It’s become a joke in our family, as we wake up to the previous day’s vote results. But God is also present in this, I know. We still love Lent Madness and rejoice in learning about the more obscure saints. Perhaps it’s time - especially in today’s divided America - to learn about our neighbors, even those who don’t look like us, whatever the gender.

      1. Love this!
        I was a bit stunned that Iggie got bounced by the bee lady. It’s just the way it is this year. But you are right, o so right. God is in this funny, mad exercise.

    4. I agree with what some others have said, I think the bias is in favor of the less well known and more marginalized saint. This year I've voted for the winner many more times that previously, which worries me a little, because I don't usually go with the majority viewpoint. But maybe it shows a shift in Lent Madness voters. I was definitely surprised when Pandita Ramabai beat Wilberforce, and a little surprised at yesterday's vote.
      Just out of curiosity, does anyone know if this is the first time the Faithful Four have all been female?

      1. Also, as a black woman, I was surprised and gratified when Anna Alexander won last year so maybe there has been a bit of a shift in the LM voting. And it did feel good to have someone I can really identify with win the golden halo.

  5. Well, the photo of the leech didn't go very well with my breakfast muffin but I'm voting for Zenaida anyway!

  6. As this event goes from year to year, I've noticed that males do not tend to do well as the rounds progress. Some worthy men have been cast aside, for lesser known and relevant females.

    1. That can happen, that worthy men are cast aside. So are worthy women.

      I think we all need to remember that the SEC puts forth 32 candidates, all of whom are already recognized as holy persons in at least one church's official calendar, and that only one can win. 31 of the nominated saints won't win.

      I would prefer not to take into account the gender of the nominees, or where they hail from. And I tend to shake my head when someone announces that a candidate has their vote because the candidate has the same name as a voter's relative, or that the voter attends a church named for a saint affiliated with the nominee, or the voter and the nominee share an interest or hobby or background. How does this factor into the decision of which nominee deserves to advance to the next round?

      However, it's meant for fun and for education. And if some lesser known and relevant females -- and lesser known and relevant males -- become more known to the Lent Madness participants, that's all good.

      And let us not forget that we are doing this as we wait for the appointed time to honor someone who in his own time was considered an unknown and irrelevant, until the man from the carpenter's shop in Nazareth became an annoyance to the authorities.

      1. Thanks for the reminders. In Lent Madness, voting for one’s cat’s name or mother’s friend’s vocation are equally good reasons to any really well-thought-out theological reason, simply because it is Lent MADNESS, and all these saints are equally deserving. We are all fools for Christ's sake, and that’s the summit bonum, isn’t it?

    2. Question, because I haven't really read the comments regularly in previous years: Did we worry about gender bias when male saints won in 2010 and 2011, or 2014, 2015 and 2016? Yes, some voters have a preference for the lesser-known figure, and often that means the saint is from a historically non-dominant group. And most people are influenced to think about issues and take different perspectives based on the totality of what has been occurring in their world in the previous year. We can't escape the society we live in, unless, of course, we are cloistered ascetics. But these and other factors add up to make the results what the SEC would call a "mix-up" and a "mash-up over time," over the 10 years of Lent Madness. I am glad and proud that participants have chosen a mosaic of Christians: Lesser Known Holy People—Anna Alexander, Francis Perkins, Dietrich von Bonhoeffer, C.S. Lewis; George Herbert; and Long-Time Christian Hall of Famers—Charles Wesley, St. Francis, Mary Magdalene, Florence Nightingale. Or move these winners around according to your own ranking. I count 4 female winners to date, plus it looks like another female for 2019. That means 5 and 5. Maybe it's not about gender. Wouldn't that be refreshing!

  7. Well, unless Chysostom makes a second half come back, it is wait until next year for me.

  8. To you, Anna Courie, all I can say is "Eeeyeew!" Putting aside my unsettled stomach, I will support Zenaida anyway, because she reminds me of two good missioner friends who have served the poor in Africa for over fifty years (together, 25+ for each of them). I can think of no greater service than extending a helping hand and love to those who frequently have no one else to turn to in their time of greatest need. Plus will end up with an all-woman Faithful Four! I can get into that.

  9. A close choice because the 1st century medical info was a great idea and very interesting, but in the end I had to vote for John Chrysostom because the absurd kitsch and write up kept making me laugh. ( :

  10. "To make it this far, John defeated Margaret of Cortona and Marina the Monk":
    Marina the Monk? Did Ignatius sneak his victim across the chart and ascribe the victory to John?

  11. Thanks for the kitsch, David and Anna. David, you had it easier, but I like that you branched out with the purse and the grill. That made me laugh out loud. I'm still pondering the beeswax pinecone... And Anna, God bless you, you made the most out of nothing! Can one buy leeches on eBay? One wonders...

    1. Wait! You CAN buy leeches on eBay! $19.99 for "Gulp Alive" leeches; $5.99 for used. (Oh, upon closer examination the "alive" leeches are fish bait that are quite "lifelike"; "used" is referring to a BOOK about leeches. Rats!)

          1. Just because you’ve never heard of then, my friend, doesn’t make them “mythical.” As I’ve said many times here, even Jesus himself would not pass many people's tests for “realness.”

  12. Yes, it's gender bias all the way. For all the SEC say they are surprised, the outcomes of the Elate 8 were pretty clear from the beginning. I'm particularly sad about Wilberforce.

  13. I’ve said it before and here it goes again. The game has become too predictably easy. Pick woman or color over European male and you found your winner. There have been some exceptions to this rule of thumb but it has served me well this season!

  14. When I first saw the bracket it seemed likely that Ignatius & Nicholas would end up on Spy Wednesday, but not it appears that the winner of Lent Madness MMXIX will be a female saint whose name starts with a consonant.

    It is nice that only one universally well known Saint is among those expected, based on early voting, to end up in the Faithful Four.

    Along with the lesser known saints of this year's bracket, it would be nice to know something about the 17 saints whose images grace the bottom of the bracket, along with any other Saints whose visages appear around the website.

  15. Tshirts. We need tshirts. (Maybe just the Golden Halo winner? Or a generic Lent Madness, which could be used in any year?)

  16. Both today's and yesterday's post began "Yesterday in a hotly contested matchup...", but yesterday, "Yesterday" was set off with a comma, whereas the comma was omitted today. That's all.

  17. Voted for Zenaida today. We love pomegranates and mostly the Mediterranean Diet, so we had to give her our vote. And wontit be a good thing for four faiths women to be the Faithful Four!!! It will be maddening indeed to choose between them, but that’s ok!

  18. A heroic effort in the kitsch round by all the bloggers. The "golden grill" offered by David Creech was truly inspired. The grill and the leech have almost put me off my breakfast. Anna Courie's imaginative effort deserves applause. I voted for the Zed sisters. I am a little troubled by the angst over some mythical "gender balance" in the final rounds. I note that in 2012 the final four were Mary Magdalene, Emma of Hawaii, Margaret of Scotland, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The man didn't win! But Bonhoeffer went on to win in 2016. In a very close match in 2015 Francis beat Brigid. This group tends to vote for Social Justice Warriors with a little bit of bias for all-time favorites. There's a sentimental streak. (I'm talking to you, Irish bloc.) Seeking some mythical "gender balance" smacks a bit too much of kvetching to Jesus: Sir, we wish to see a sign. I tell you this generation will have no sign! My consolation is that all these figures come back into the mix with a new chance for victory. Unless Tim and Scott get burned out and retire this foolish piety (and I can only imagine the amount of work that goes into this (thanks thanks thanks to Time and Scott and to the company of bloggers), I look forward to all these figures having another shot at the halo. I want to see Julian of Norwich and Oscar Romero be "aura'd" eventually. And perhaps there will be new ones. Maybe one of us will eventually be a saint. (Here's wishing very long life to Tim and Scott.) For me today the Zed sisters despite that leech and the hole in the skull. Who knew trepanation had such a long history? I learn so much from Lent Madness, and my heart is expanded. The Zed sisters expand my heart more than John does. So there's my vote.

    1. You spelled it out well--Social Justice Warriors and the Sentimentalists! I'm hoping for another shot at Dympha and Christina the Astonishing myself. And I wouldn't object at all to Julian or Oscar.

  19. Diana, I appreciate your observations; they mirror some of my own sensitivities to the 'gender thingy.' It is often the 'quiet saintliness' of the common person that we can most easily relate to. The legendary candidates would seem to be the heavy weights of the competition, but the candidates of legend have much to recommend them, as well and often worked in obscurity. So. . .yes, that would seem to lend itself to a sense of gender bias and therefore a lack of copious kitsch! ( Something alluded to by Ms. Courie) She did a fine job of representing Zenaida with so little to go on! I salute her AND Zenaida!

  20. Regardless of who wins the last slot it is the Year of the Woman. Is this the first time this has happened/ WOW.
    This is going to be very close. the end count of the last match could be decided by less than 0.1% of the total vote. EXCITING

  21. Voting for Zenaida for a number of reasons, but the strongest one is that SHE HAS NO KITSCH?!? This is a travesty that hopefully can be corrected by a better PR campaign on her part -- and what could be better PR than advancing toward the Golden Halo?

  22. Oh dear!! Two of my favorites have already been defeated, and now St. John Chrysostum is woefully behind. Not good. Not good at all!

  23. What a gift you have been to us with these magnificent compositions. Thank you!! I am in awe.

  24. “Shall I tell you of their plundering, their covetousness, their abandonment of the poor, their thefts, their cheating in trade? The whole day long will not be enough to give you an account of these things…The synagogue is not only a brothel and a theater, it is also a den of robbers and a lodging for wild beasts…a dwelling of demons…The Jews themselves are demons.”

    I implore anyone who is thinking of voting for Chrysostom to read for yourself what he said about Jews, in no fewer than eight full sermons, plus other references consistently throughout his works:

    Oh, and he also said homosexual men should be stoned to death. So Christ-like.

    Exactly because Chrysostom was so eloquent, his comments have echoed down the centuries, quoted over and over again. I am appalled that in Lent Madness he has gotten this far.

    On the other hand, we know nothing of Zenaida but acts of love. All questions of gender and kitsch aside, this round is a no-brainer.

    1. Certainly trepanation would be a likely method for removing brains. But that would be one's last vote!

  25. After reading John Chrysostom' views on the Jews was shocked . Thank you for including him , it opened my eyes. We need to look beyond his beautiful sermons. Unfortunately a lot of his teachings were used by the Nazis to justify their cruelty.

  26. Just had to vote for Zenaida, since I'd been voting all along.
    Also, there are bound to be some interesting comments if the Faithful Four are all women.