Andrew vs. Elizabeth

After a rousing first day of Lent Madness 2020, in which Thomas More routed James the Less 68% to 32% amid heavy voting (over 10,000 votes cast), we're on to day two. And we've established, once and for all, that less is not more. At least in this year's edition of the Saintly Smackdown.

Today, you're invited to gird your loins for a battle of Biblical proportions as two Scriptural saints face off. Now, you may be aware that this year's bracket features a quartet of Elizabeths, one in each quadrant: The Biblical Elizabeth, Elizabeth of Hungary, Elizabeth the New Martyr, and Elizabeth Frye. Will the four Elizabeths make up the Faithful Four? Only time and your votes will tell (though the oddsmakers in Vegas are dubious).

Today we encounter the first of the four Elizabeths, she of the Bible, who takes on Andrew the apostle.

But before you read, reflect, and vote (hopefully in that order), we wanted to share an article about Lent Madness that appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune. Partly because it's a nice article about this little devotion of ours, but mostly because we like cities named for saints.

Also, note that tomorrow is the ONLY non-weekday vote of Lent Madness. Margery Kempe will square off against Eustace. So don't forget to head over here to make your pick.

Okay, enough blathering on. Time to see whether Elizabeth or Andrew will be cast out of Lent Madness 2020!


Andrew was Simon Peter’s brother. When they were young, they learned to fish on the Sea of Galilee. They spent stormy afternoons together, watching the brooding clouds form and then wrestling the battering waves. They breathed in the calm days, floating on the gentle rhythm of the sea, staring into the horizon, talking about life, God, and meaning.

Sometimes Andrew and Peter fished late into the night. Under those glimmering stars, they must have looked at where the sky and sea met and wondered if there was something else for them, something more than nets and scales.

For many people, it would have been difficult to have Peter as a brother. Peter’s tongue spoke every word on his mind and his body followed every impulse. Living with Peter’s passion would have been overwhelming. Even as the authors compiled the gospel stories, the focus always seemed to gravitate toward Peter. Yet, Andrew didn’t seem to mind Peter’s big personality. When Jesus invited Andrew and Peter to follow him, Andrew didn’t hug Peter goodbye and wish him well on his adventure. Instead, Andrew dropped his nets and said farewell to the boats.

We get a glimpse of Andrew’s humility when we first meet him in the gospels, and that humble attitude marks Andrew to his death. Not only did Andrew follow Jesus, listening to his teaching, watching as he multiplied the loaves and fishes, and sharing the Last Supper with him, but after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, Andrew went on to preach in Thrace, Scythia, and Achaea. His journeys took him along the Black Sea and the Dnieper River.

In Achaea, Andrew was martyred. He refused to be nailed to a cross as Jesus was. Just as John the Baptist didn’t feel worthy enough to tie Jesus’ sandals and Peter couldn’t bear to have Jesus wash his feet, Andrew couldn’t imagine being executed on the same instrument of death. Instead, Andrew was tied to an X-shaped cross, which is now commonly known as a “Saint Andrew’s Cross.” Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland, Ukraine, Romania, and Russia.

Collect for Andrew
Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give unto us, who are called by your Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

—Carol Howard Merritt



Elizabeth of the Bible has her story told mostly in the Gospel of Luke. She was the mother of John the Baptist, and a relation of some kind — most likely a cousin — to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

The name Elizabeth literally means “God has sworn,” an idea that was prominent in Elizabeth’s life. When we meet her in Luke’s Gospel, she is already married to Zechariah, a high priest in the temple. Tradition holds that Elizabeth, too, would have been a member of the priestly class.

When Zechariah fails to believe the word of the angel who announces the birth of John, the angel, in a fit of holy pique, strikes him mute until he can shape up. Luckily, Elizabeth is there to rescue her erstwhile husband, name her son John, and restore his voice to him. Although Elizabeth doesn’t even receive a visit from the angel, she believes enough that she accepts the divine gift of her pregnancy and, in turn, passes the gift of acceptance onto her cousin.

When Mary, her unwed teenaged cousin, arrives on her doorstep, it is Elizabeth who provides Mary shelter and it is to Elizabeth that Mary sings the triumphant Magnificat. Elizabeth, notably, doesn’t ask Mary where the baby came from, or what is going on — Elizabeth simply welcomes her with open arms.

The writer of Luke doesn’t opine on what sort of mother Elizabeth was, or really, what sort of person she was, but between correcting her husband, sheltering an outlandish cousin, and raising John the Baptist, one can imagine she must have been quite the force.

The only other account we receive of Elizabeth is from one of the non-canonical gospels — the Infancy Gospel of James. It records the tradition of Elizabeth and baby John the Baptist fleeing from Herod’s genocidal soldiers. When Elizabeth cries out to the mountains for shelter, the mountain splits open and hides her and the baby.

It’s worth noting that Elizabeth is hailed as a holy figure by a wide range of faith traditions, groups as diverse as Islam to the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Though we don’t have much concrete information about her, Elizabeth’s legacy of hospitality, courage, and compassion left a lasting impact.

Collect for Elizabeth
Almighty God, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of your servant Elizabeth, may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at last we may with him attain to your eternal joy; through Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

—Megan Castellan

Andrew vs. Elizabeth

  • Elizabeth (63%, 5,919 Votes)
  • Andrew (37%, 3,462 Votes)

Total Voters: 9,381

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Andrew: © Plamen Agov • [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]
Elizabeth: Peter Paul Rubens, 1618. [Public domain]


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222 comments on “Andrew vs. Elizabeth”

  1. Said this mom to her odd little boy
    “Honeyed locusts you want? Oy vavoy!
    So to mothers out there
    Whose sons won’t comb their hair:
    Should Elizabeth win, leap for joy!

      1. OK, all you fellow Elizabethans: it's now February 29th and she's won — so I want to see you leap!

    1. Love it. I'm afraid I was the John the Baptist of my family. I would eat anything I could get my hands on and grew a beard for a part in a play. Then I passed a petition around school to demand my mother let me keep my scraggly beard. My mother laughed and handed me the razor.

    2. I am moved by the talk about Andrew as Peter's younger brother and his humility in spite of the shining light of his brother. I was the third of four, and all throughout public school my teachers would compare me to that exemplar student, my older brother John. I don't think I took it as well as Andrew back then, but now I appreciate what a good example John was for me. So for younger brothers everywhere, I vote for Andrew!

      1. Me too! So far I'm 0 and 2 but that's the story of my life and doesn't necessarily make me wrong.

    3. My favorite of all of your limerick offerings so far! And of course I am Pro-Elizabeth this round as well!

    4. Elizabeth's patience, love and care
      Andrew's humility, oh so rare
      Which do I choose - both so fine
      I went with Andrew, brother divine

      1. Me. I would have preferred to vote for the woman but the church where I serve is named in honor of St. Andrew so I felt I had to be true to our patron saint in this round.

        1. I am so happy to learn more than just me voted for St. Andrew because I attended his church in Torrance, CA for 50 plus years.

        2. Just the same with me! Difficult choice ( & I learned more from the non-canonical information on Elizabeth) but I finally voted for Andrew.

    1. Since we're talking about the Magnifi-Cat, who would you take in a smackdown of Sylvester vs. Tigger?

    2. Ah. WE are reading the Divine Dance at St. Paul's Cathedral Erie for Lenten discussion. within it is topic of SYNCRONICITY. The Cat goes quite nicely with Alice's Cheshire Google Doodle today!!!!!

    1. As a Scotsman, I must vote for Andrew (or reveal what I wear under my kilt!), though the way Elizabeth was amazingly strong and warmly welcoming challenges me to stretch my will and heart.

    1. Andrew is a favorite icon, My Parish, and my son's name.
      The bloggers didn't mention that he led Peter to Jesus (the first evangelist!)

    1. Both candidates have the gift of following the spirit. Elizabeth appeals to me because she accepts the miraculous.

  2. Elizabeth--not only because she was eminently faithful through a lot of life's "trials" but because she is acknowledged widely by several faith traditions. And women get a lot less "credit" in most Western faiths...go Liz!

  3. I am Vicar of Church of the Holy Apostles in Oneida WI and I am headed to Scotland, my ancestral home, in May so I have to cast a vote for Andrew the “first-called” of the Apostles and the patron saint of Scotland.

    1. a believer in synchronicity! I once (1978-1980) was vicar of Church of the Holy Apostles, Wauconda (Illinois not Waconda, Africa) and I share your sentiments. However our votes cancelled out. I always vote for one of my many relations. As a Levite, still under blessing of Numbers 28:12-13 to mu-Great-Grandpa Phineas, Elizabeth is something like my 8th or 9th first cousin 90 x removed. LOL. This was a tough choice, though.

  4. Andrew - the "First called," and "First to answer." The name is Greek in origin, not Hebrew, which tells us something of his parents' willingness to embrace their Galilean neighbors. I give my vote to the one who first accepted the call to "Follow me."

  5. Oh for the facebook thumzup when I really want one - John Cabot's limerick! Since there is no thumzup, will a hurray from a mother of odd little boys do in a pinch? Thank you!!!

  6. Very tough choice today! I really appreciate this brilliant observation about Elizabeth - "between correcting her husband, sheltering an outlandish cousin, and raising John the Baptist, one can imagine she must have been quite the force" but in the end decided to vote for Andrew, because, although "it would have been difficult to have Peter as a brother," "he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him." May we bring all those (even "difficult" ones) in our spheres of influence to Jesus and readily obey His call, even if it costs us everything!

  7. I choose Elizabeth, because if we didn’t have John the Baptist where would we be? Also, what grace in her welcome to Mary.

  8. A really tough choice today. I would have happily voted for either as there is so much to admire in both. As a child I was always drawn to Andrew, so my (single) vote goes to him for playing a part in my journey into faith.

  9. With my nephew Andrew, who shares the same traits of humility and mindfulness with St. Andrew and who is attending the University of Edinburgh, I had to vote for Andrew!

    1. Elizabeth- Not just because of her relationship with ornery men, but because she was there for Mary. Through her listening heart she allowed a young woman the space to announce her choice, to be just who she was in that time and through eternity.

  10. I guess I'll have to go with Andrew, tho tough choice. Elizabeth, a most wonderful 'force' to be sure, had her life changing situation HAPPEN to her, while Peter CHOSE his. Although I'm still not sure which little circle I'll hit when voting!!!!

    1. Andrew certainly chose his fate, but Elizabeth didn't have to shelter Mary and be so gracious to her. The Magnificat is sung to a joyful audience, not a judgemental one. Not that that helps me vote! I'm going to wait awhile here...

  11. I agree with those who have said that today was a really tough choice. My middle name is Elizabeth, so . . .

  12. A bit of a wrangle, this one was, for me. Our parish is developing a wonderful relationship with St. Andrew's Church nearby, with our choirs joining together for special Evensong celebrations, while our rector's wife (also a priest) has undertaken study of "The Anglican Way" with their priest. On the other hand, I have long had a soft space in my heart for Elizabeth, who so long barren, conceived in her latter years and bore a son who, even before his birth, demonstrated his rebel presence by dancing with joy in her womb! And she welcomed Mary, and sheltered and loved her unconditionally!
    Thank goodness I have adequate time for prayer and pondering before casting my vote!

  13. My legal name is Elizabeth, so, what can I do???
    Two very worthy opponents, two beautiful write ups, very impressed with Megan Castellan’s research into the non canonical gospels and Islam!

  14. Hospitality, courage and compassion! How refreshing! What we could use more of! Besides, Elizabeth is my middle name - she gets my vote!

  15. Our daughter, Elizabeth, is married to Andrew, so this was a tough one for me! Andrew (son in law) is humble, but Elizabeth is our DAUGHTER, and is a gift of God and one tough cookie, who is showing much love and grace to an "outlandish cousin," among other similarities to the biblical Elizabeth. Go,Liz! We love you!

    1. Similar problem here. We have two children: Elisabeth and Andrew. One knows she's my favorite in the girl division and we've always told Andrew that he tops the boy division. I shall have to leave it there.

  16. I mean, I'm named for her so I had to go Liz but that Andrew piece...phew! Carol Howard Merritt really knows how to move me.

  17. I voted for Elizabeth. She was so good to Mary and seemed to be a real take-charge person.

    Last year was my husband’s and my first time following Lent Madness. Except for 1 or 2 saints, we both ended up voting for the same person. This year, it’s only the second day of the Madness, and both days we voted for the opposite person. Ha, ha. Wonder what we’ll do next!

    P.S. I love the limericks, but where’s the guy with the songs?

        1. Iona is a magical place....I was only there for a half day but had the joy of singing a concert in the church! What a truly blessed experience!