Zenaida vs. Nicholas of Myra

Congratulations! You survived another weekend devoid of voting. We realize this can cause Itchy Mouse Finger Syndrome (IMFS) for which we recommend sleeping all weekend. But, sleepers wake! For it is time to begin the last FULL week of Lent Madness 2019.

As a reminder, on Friday, Gobnait washed away Paula of Rome 73% to 27% to reach the Elate Eight, where she'll face Ignatius of Loyola.

Today, in the final matchup of the Saintly Sixteen, Zenaida faces Nicholas of Myra with the last remaining spot in the Elate Eight on the line. After today we bid farewell to Quotes & Quirks and set our minds upon the Saintly Kitsch of the Elate Eight. Stay tuned later today for another exciting episode of Monday Madness as Tim and Scott break it all down.


Move over Mother of Dragons, it’s time to meet the Mother of Modern Medicine. In the time of Jesus, when winter was coming, the woman who faced off against what was known as “mercenary medicine” or healthcare for only those who could afford it, was Zenaida of Tarsus. She, along with her sisters Phionella and Hermione (hello ancient Harry Potter reference), were the first women to enter formally into the profession of medicine and establish what is known as “unmercenary” medicine. Unmercenary medicine was care that focused on the holistic integration of clinical practice with prayer, mental hygiene, and spiritual wellness and was offered to not only those who could afford it, but also to those who could not.

Even in earliest times, the idea of “universal healthcare” was seen as a need. Today, that tradition continues through the Spiritual Works of Ministry in which we heal the sick and care for the poor as a part of our Christian practice. On the healthcare side of the house, integrated medicine is making a comeback as more and more people see a connection between their physical ailments and other mental and spiritual ills.

Zenaida and her sisters were drawn to medicine after studying philosophy at the school of Tarsus. Following her baptism, the marriage of philosophy, Christian practice, and medicine appealed to her. The idea that salvation and redemption were a part of the healing process struck a chord for Zenaida and she saw how Christ is fundamental to the healing of the whole person: mind, body and spirit.

As a result, Zenaida is often attributed to be one of the first practitioners of psychiatry (along with gynecology and pediatrics—she really was a forerunner of the modern family physician) recognizing that mental illnesses often have specific causes and cures and are intricately interwoven with the health of the body and spirit.

Another name for Zenaida and her sisters is the “friends of peace.” They built their hospitals in areas of extreme poverty rather than in city centers where wealth was concentrated. Her sister Hermione is attributed with establishing “xenodochia” of “hostel hospitals” which became a ministry of the early Orthodox church. It is not surprising to learn that Christianity was spread concurrently with spreading health and healing across the lands. Indeed, can one really be healthy or whole without Christ?

-Anna Courie

Nicholas of Myra

“Everybody loves Saint Nicholas, because Saint Nicholas loves everybody.” - Father Andrew Phillips

The impact of and admiration for Nicholas of Myra cannot be overstated. He provides an example and a hope that reaches across denominational, historical, ethic, and religious lines.

Writing in her famous diary, young Anne Frank penned these lines:

Once again St. Nicholas Day
Has even come to our hideaway;
It won't be quite as fun, I fear,
As the happy day we had last year.
Then we were hopeful, no reason to doubt
That optimism would win the bout,
And by the time this year came round,
We'd all be free, and safe and sound.
Still, let's not forget it's St. Nicholas Day,
Though we've nothing left to give away.
We'll have to find something else to do:
So everyone please look in their shoe!

How has Nicholas remained so important for so many? How was it his story that inspired countless other stories about generosity and kindness?

It could be that Nicholas was known to stand up for the innocent and the wrongly accused – as when he intervened at the moment of execution for three innocent young men.

Or it could be that Nicholas is remembered for acts of great generosity – whether it was the story of providing the dowry for three girls, or providing food for two years in the middle of a famine.

But most of all, perhaps it is Nicholas’s care and love for children – those most vulnerable and innocent in every society – that has endeared him to history. There was the story beloved in the medieval church of Nicholas resurrecting three boys who had been murdered and then placed into pickling barrels. Or the infant that he rescued from being burned in an overheated bathtub. And on and on, countless stories told of Nicholas caring for, providing for, and protecting children.

The example of Nicholas – generous, kind, protector of children and the innocent – can be as daunting as it is inspirational. While no writings of Nicholas have survived, one of the few quotes attributed to him give us a hint of how Nicholas lived such an amazing life, and how we can follow in the same direction:

“The giver of every good and perfect gift has called upon us to mimic His giving, by grace, through faith, and this is not of ourselves.”

-David Hansen

Zenaida vs. Nicholas of Myra

  • Zenaida (59%, 4,183 Votes)
  • Nicholas of Myra (41%, 2,930 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,113

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Zenaida: https://owhm.org/saints.html
Nicholas: "Saint Nicholas of Myra saves three innocents from death", Public Domain 


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108 comments on “Zenaida vs. Nicholas of Myra”

  1. That Christian physician Zenaida
    To nobody treatment denaida;
    Brought affordable care
    To the poor everywhere,
    So for her make your vote the decida.

    1. John Cabot, I am impressed and humbled by your rhyming talent and appreciate the wisdom of your choice. Zenaida for the Golden Halo!

    2. As a Threshold Choir Int'l member, singing to the sick, hurt, and dying, I had no choice. Zenaida!!

    3. Voting really late and voted for S. Claus. Which gives me an almost perfect record of voting for the loser every time. But my wounds are much easier to tolerate because of John Cabot's amazing tip toe through the English language usually not in support of my candidate. Stay with us into the Eight, John. Maybe I'll even hit a winner or two.

  2. Our tribute to Zenaida and Nicholas takes it cue from a show tune with a loose holiday-theme. Well, the word "Christmas" is in the title. This can be sung to "Hard Candy Christmas" from "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" - enjoy!

    Hey, these saints had stellar wins;
    Outshone two might-have-beens.
    First, Apollonia lost
    Then Rudolph paid the cost
    With margins wide.
    In a word, landslide.

    Nick was a lock, because
    Who votes ‘gainst Santa Claus?
    Then there’s Z who endures –
    Not charging for her cures, plus no complaint.
    Now, they’re in the

    Saintly Sixteen
    This is not a routine saints’ match-up.
    I’m really not sure who I’ll vote for,
    But I’m certain
    One of them’s goin’ down.

    Yes, they’re Saintly Sixteen:
    Bishop and a Thess’lian doctor.
    Each won by such a mammoth margin,
    I don’t know which
    One of them’s goin’ down.

    Hey, Nicholas has some cred.
    As bishop, Myra led.
    Guardian of the poor,
    Innocent kids, and more – his piety
    And generosity.

    Zenaida proved that she
    Healed with humility.
    Could have had fame and wealth,
    But she cared more for health
    Than bottom line.
    These two are both

    Fine and dandy.
    Still, Lent is a no candy season.
    And choosing Nich’las or Zenaida
    Gives me a headache.
    Which one is movin’ on.

    Still we have to pick one.
    Squeeze your eyes shut. Click one – then enter.
    The choice gets harder as we progress.
    Will you pick the
    Doctor or Santa Claus?

    Now, we sing the last verse.
    Lent Madness is our perverse obsession.
    We barely made in through the sixteen.
    Tuesday starts our
    Trek through the Elate Eight.

    Cause, we’ll be fine.
    Oh, we’ll be fine.

    1. Well, you have introduced me to another new song! And Dolly Parton comes to Lent Madness! A match made in--where else? Heaven! "Lent is no candy season" is hilarious, and I can't believe you got "Thessalonian" in there! Bravo!

  3. Zenaida a doctor sublime;
    Insurance did not cross her mind.
    When people were ill
    She did not just give pills.
    She gave love, she gave prayer, she gave time.

    1. Thank you, Diana. (And John and Michael too.) Your words are a great way to start the day.

  4. Nicholas has had accolades galore. Let's give some recognition to Saints who gave so much of themselves w/o the historical accolades.

  5. I'm going with Zenaida, because one of the great contributions of Christianity to our world was the invention of the hospital (see Basil of Caesarea). But Zenaida was an early precurssor of the care of the everyone regardless of their ability to pay. We can look at Zenaida as a model in this day and age with the need for universal healthcare.

  6. The following is to the tune of Songs of Thankfulness and Praise:

    Nicholas is better known
    This fine bishop’s fame’s full blown.
    But Zanaida’s care for all
    Barely known in hallowed halls
    Rings with joys in courts of heav’n
    For her love was holy leav’n.
    Should fame win o’er selfless doc?
    She charged naught and gave a lot!

    1. Love this hymn and love your new verse for it Diana!
      I was surprised not to vote for Nicholas but you capture the essence of why I had chosen Zenaida.

    2. Nice, Diana! It fits the Salzburg setting perfectly! Are you the same Diana who wrote the limerick?

  7. You had me at "psychiatry." Also "gynecology" and "pediatrics." I'm voting for universal healthcare and for women's role in the healing arts. My day is going to be haunted by the gruesome image of the thin boy in chains. He looks as if he faces starvation rather than execution. I'm staying loyal to the Zed sisters today. Cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good. When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move. May we all be raised to full health and the levee of the beloved community repaired to protect us all.

    1. I'm with you St C. I had to look up your song reference--you are a woman of eclectic tastes! Thanks for broadening my horizons.

  8. This was a particularly hard vote. I wanted both but the quote from Anne Frank's diary got the vote for St Nick.

  9. Hmmm. One who loved and protected children and is now beloved over much of the globe versus one who pioneered spreading health and healing across all Lands. As a physician I have to go with Zenaida, who addressed mental, physical and spiritual health and ministered to the poor.

  10. We clearly need more people like these two in the world right now, but since i must choose one I have to vote for St. Nick. When I think of all the good he inspires to this day, I can't think of anyone else to go all the way to the Golden Halo! Hope is the most powerful gift that can be given.

  11. This promises to be a lively contest. Both of them are very deserving. St. Nick has received a lot of acclaim while Zenaida hasn't.

  12. This was a difficult choice today as both had high social justice themes but the end I went for spiritual, psychological and physical health.

  13. Nicolas the front runner for me in this battle but Zenaida too is awesome among saints always

  14. From when. I first saw the name Saint Nicholas of Myra on the bracket I thought Santa's getting a Golden Halo to go with his North Pole. Also, there could finally be a new reindeer game: ring toss.

    Seriously, though I need Saint Zenaida'a help today. I have to call the billing office for the health care system my PCP and explain to them, as I very clearly explained when I checked in for my annual exam that as long as the doctor's office billed for an annual exam the insurance would pay. I had doubly clarified that with Aetna in advance, both before I had made the appointment and again a few days before the actual appointment.

    That was in February. Friday night I come home exhausted from work and find a freaking bill for over $200! And of course it is eight thirty and the billing office is already closed for the weekend.

    I pray Saint Zenaida can help me convince them that if they want to get paid they'd better send Aetna a bill for an annual exam, cause I'm not paying for what I was told I would not have to pay for. Firstly, because I don't have the extra money (see loans, student); secondly, I only made the appointment because high-deductible Aetna said they'd cover it 100%; and thirdly, I now know that a visit to out-of-pocket-until-you-meet-your-deductible urgent care is considerably less than a covered annual exam billed incorrectly as an office visit.

    Seriously urgent care is financially more affordable than seeing my regular doctor. I wouldn't have guess that in a million years.

    #MakeAmericaBritishAgain so we can have National Health (which even includes dental).

    [How I'll vote depends on how helpful Saint Zenaida is in dealing with this billing mess.]

    1. sending you a quick prayer for speedy resolution of your billing issue

    2. Miss Jan, I always look forward to your very thoughtful posts. I hope Zenaida can help you. Maybe if you vote for her, she will? Haha

      1. Thank you Susan.

        Update: the billing office is going to submit a code review, which means it'll probably get re-billed to Aetna with the correct coding. I won't know for a fortnight.

    3. Miss Jan, may Sts. Zenaida and Nicholas advocate for you in moving God's Spirit upon those imprisoned by the drudgery of bureaucracy and make right this wrong. Christ's healing on you.

    4. "#MakeAmericaBritishAgain so we can have National Health (which even includes dental)."
      Seriously? Go over there and be a royal subject.

      1. It was a tongue in cheek comment, though I wouldn't mind having a head of state who spends more time working and less time golfing.

        And for the record some of my ancestors arrived less a century ago while others were already here when Columbus got lost in 1492.

        1. I apologize for coming off as rude. My folks are also from here and there.
          I'd like to have a head of state.

  15. Right believing. Right acting. The whole deal. How can Saint Nicholas not be ahead? Friends of the Saint Nicholas Center VOTE!

  16. I can’t believe Lent Madness is making me vote against Santa Claus! But Zenaida sounds amazing!

  17. These pairings are always harder as the weeks go on. As wonderful as Zanaida and her sisters are, I vote for St. Nicholas for his generosity in response to the Giver of all . . . In that vein, his memory has given hope, and inspired generosity, for centuries -

  18. As a Wellness Nurse of 30+years (when did that happen?!), I chose the universal and wholistic approach of Zenaida - mind, body, and spirit care. Sorry Santa....

  19. There is so much to recommend both of these inspiring saints. . . they are 'timely,' as well! Today I cast lots to see who gets my vote, knowing that 'the other' is just as dear to me and a beacon for out times!

  20. Oh gee. Universal healthcare and holistic medicine are close to my heart. But I do want the final to be Bees v. Reindeer. So it’s Nick for me this morning. ‘Cuz we need a little Christmas now.

  21. Zenaida's bio seemed more factual, while Nick comes across as mostly legend (but, yes, Virginia, I do believe in Santa Claus.)

  22. I have wanted to see St. Nick go all the way . . . but a medical practice of 3 women who cared about those who could not pay? So timely and impressive in many ways . . . I had to go with Zenaida.

    How cruel to pair them against each other! How heartless to make us choose!

  23. I have a bumper sticker on my car that says, "I'm a health care voter." Today, that seems to apply to Lent Madness as well! Zenaida's witness is still sorely needed today.

  24. I thought I'd be voting for St. Nicholas all the way. But good St. Nick will have imitators and admirers for a long time. It seems Zenaida could use more help. So, for all the Christmases I spent working in a pediatric hospital (even silently putting gifts in kid's rooms during the night shift) and with apologies to St. Nick, my vote goes to Zenaida.

  25. Found out several years ago that our family actually has a patron saint! Who knew? There's a tiny chapel in St. Mauro, Italy, built in the sixteenth century by our ancestors and dedicated to St. Nicholas. I have an entire cabinet of Nativities from around the world. As an (Incarnationsl) Episcopalian, I have to keep it all in the family. Good St. Nicholas gets my vote today.

  26. I so want to vote for Zenaida — I’m a doctor’s daughter — but I can’t vote against Santa .