Elizabeth vs. Joseph

On the last day of a full (in some ways endless?) week, the Saintly Sixteen heads back to the Biblical quadrant for a showdown between Elizabeth and Joseph. To get here, Elizabeth got past Andrew while Joseph bested Joshua. Reminder before you start complaining: No one said any of this was fair. It’s called Lent MADNESS, after all!

Yesterday, Herman of Alaska became the first saint to make the Elate Eight, easily defeating Thomas More 68% to 32%

We’ll see everybody first thing Monday morning as the Saintly Sixteen continues with a matchup between Brother Lawrence and Margery Kempe. Have a great weekend, everyone, and stay safe out there!

Elizabeth (biblical figure, mother of John the Baptist, wife of Zechariah) doesn’t have a treasure trove of legendary stories about her.

There are a few in the non-canonical infancy gospels. In one story, she has to escape Herod’s marauding soldiers with the baby John, and so she begs the mountains above to come to her aid. Miraculously they split open, revealing a cave, and provide shelter for her and the infant for years. An angel of the Lord stands guard over them until the danger has passed.

If you’re reading the above and wondering where Zechariah is, he was murdered in that story. (The Infancy Gospels are DARK, man.) In the Infancy Gospel of James, Zechariah is martyred in the Temple by some furious soldiers when he refuses to tell them where his wife and child are. The other priests arrive in the morning to find his blood turned to stone, and the walls of the Temple crying out news of what has occurred. They then cast lots, and appoint Simeon to take his place–who acclaims the Baby Jesus the salvation of Israel in Luke. (The Infancy Gospels also like to tie up loose ends.)

St. Hippolytus suggests that she and Mary, mother of Jesus were sisters, in an echo of the relationship that Jacob had with Leah and Rachel.

Now, it should be said that others besides orthodox Christians also honor Elizabeth. The Mandeans, who hail John the Baptist as the true Messiah, and still exist in tiny minorities in Iraq, Syria and New Jersey (look, all religious minorities end up in New Jersey), are big fans. According to their Gospel of John the Baptizer, Elizabeth was 88 when she conceived John, and found him in the basin of the River Jordan. We also are told that she and Zachariah survive into the public years of John’s ministry. At one point, John returns home after a long absence, and Elizabeth is so thrilled to meet him, she rushes outside without her veil. Because of this lapse, Zachariah wants to divorce her, but John talks him out of it.

Again, in these legends we see a picture of a woman who is brave, compassionate, and so caring that she is honored among many religious traditions, not just one.

Megan Castellan


Despite the current pandemic, the feast of St. Joseph was heralded and celebrated yesterday (March 19), with pastries and special foods (as much as was available).

In many ways and to many people, Joseph is considered a man for all ages. While his words were never recorded, his actions speak volumes.

What is known about the life of Joseph is limited. The Gospels tell of a man dedicated to caring for his wife Mary and her son Jesus, and dedicated to upholding and teaching the traditions of his faith. A deeply observant Jew, he silently witnessed the religious and societal milestones of Jesus’ life.

What is known about the impact of Joseph is not silent. Images and representations of his life surround us. He made an indelible mark on the world culture and society in such facets as religion and educational institutions. Prayers are often offered to Joseph for a holy death. His influence is indisputable and undeniable, as evident through the heralding of his life by important religious and spiritual leaders.

Pope Francis considers Joseph a solid model, “a man of dreams, but not a dreamer. He wasn’t abstract. A dreamer is something different. It’s someone who believes… goes off… has his head in the clouds, and doesn’t have his feet on the ground. Joseph had his feet on the ground. But he was open-minded.”

Early church leader St. Gregory of Nazianzus in the 300s likened Joseph to the sun. “The Lord has arrayed Joseph, like with a sun, in all which the saints possess together in regard to light and splendor.”

In the Middle Ages, St. Thomas Aquinas addressed Joseph as the patron for everyone: “Some Saints are privileged to extend to us their patronage with particular efficacy in certain needs, but not in others; but our holy patron St. Joseph has the power to assist us in all cases, in every necessity, in every undertaking.”

St. Teresa of Avila in the 1500s spoke to Joseph’s connection with God: “Though thou hast recourse to many saints as thine intercessors, go specially to St. Joseph, for he has great power with God. Those who give themselves to prayer should in a special manner have always a devotion to St. Joseph; for I know not how any man can think of the Queen of the angels, during the time that she suffered so much with the Infant Jesus, without giving thanks to St. Joseph for the services he rendered them then.”

At the end of the 1800s, Pope Leo XIII spoke of Joseph’s character: “He was both the true and chaste spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the foster-father of the Word Incarnate. For these two reasons, St. Joseph shines among all mankind and approaches nearer than any other saint to the holiness of the Mother of God.”

Framing him as a man for all times, Pope John Paul II said: “Saint Joseph was a just man, a tireless worker, the upright guardian of those entrusted to his care. May he always guard, protect and enlighten families.”

Although words uttered by Joseph have not survived the centuries, his influence is timeless.

Neva Rae Fox


Elizabeth vs. Joseph

  • Joseph (76%, 5,484 Votes)
  • Elizabeth (24%, 1,703 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,187

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Joseph: Giovanni Battisti Gaulli, called Baciccio “St. Joseph and the Infant Christ” c. 1670-1685. Oil on canvas.
Elizabeth: Orthodox icon of Saint Elizabeth, Mother of Saint John the Baptist.

117 Comments to "Elizabeth vs. Joseph"

  1. March 20, 2020 - 8:00 am | Permalink

    Call Steve Harvey! It’s a Biblical family feud between Mary’s cousin and Mary’s husband…


    • Denise LeGendre's Gravatar Denise LeGendre
      March 20, 2020 - 8:15 am | Permalink

      Your best to date!

      • Mum Martin's Gravatar Mum Martin
        March 20, 2020 - 2:53 pm | Permalink

        I agree, the best one text.

    • Jo's Gravatar Jo
      March 20, 2020 - 8:34 am | Permalink

      Completely unfair! The names of 2 of my grandparents and I am named for both! Well, Joseph is very understanding of why I am going with Elizabeth today but both are special to me!

    • March 20, 2020 - 9:10 am | Permalink

      Survey says ….

    • Diane Pike's Gravatar Diane Pike
      March 20, 2020 - 10:02 am | Permalink

      Or Dr. Phil

    • LA's Gravatar LA
      March 20, 2020 - 10:38 am | Permalink

      Messiah-detecting uterus for the win!

      • Kiki Mayer's Gravatar Kiki Mayer
        March 20, 2020 - 2:06 pm | Permalink


    • Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
      March 20, 2020 - 10:54 am | Permalink

      “Messiah-detecting uterus.” I’ll never be able to unthink that. Never! (^v^)

      • Meredith Hales's Gravatar Meredith Hales
        March 20, 2020 - 1:26 pm | Permalink


  2. March 20, 2020 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    Lent Madness’ version of the Family Feud

  3. Neva Rae Fox's Gravatar Neva Rae Fox
    March 20, 2020 - 8:09 am | Permalink

    Go St. Joe! Let’s continue the celebration of St Joseph’s Day (yesterday) with a positive nod for his strength and silent witness.

    • Frank Hubbard's Gravatar Frank Hubbard
      March 20, 2020 - 9:01 am | Permalink

      I especially remember that, prompted by God in a dream, he took drastic and effective action (taking the Holy Family to Egypt as refugees, away from murderous King Herod) when they faced a life-threatening situation. May we all take courage from his example in this pandemic. Though “Egypt” for us may be our homes. May sheltering in place be as effective for many people.

    • Brian Thom's Gravatar Brian Thom
      March 20, 2020 - 10:09 am | Permalink

      Joseph! All the way to the Golden Halo!

  4. Janene's Gravatar Janene
    March 20, 2020 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    It seems strange that no other mention of Joseph is in the Gospels.
    What kind of father was he to Jesus growing up?
    What was he thinking and feeling as Jesus began his rebellious mission?
    Fascinating to imagine.
    Joseph gets the vote today

    • Kathryn's Gravatar Kathryn
      March 20, 2020 - 9:40 am | Permalink

      I was thinking about that too, Janene.

      Today I thought that he must have been a very loving father, because Jesus taught us to call God “Abba.”

      (One could argue the other side, but I’m thinking today that the tenderness of Jesus’ address to God suggests that he had a father who was loving and approachable.)

      At the very least, Joseph and his wife raised an amazing and holy Child.

      I love your question about how rebellious Jesus may have seemed, though, and how a devout parent might have handled that.

    • Amy Jo's Gravatar Amy Jo
      March 20, 2020 - 1:41 pm | Permalink

      I think Joseph does show up in the Gospels, sotto voce, in passages like Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son. Joseph, more than anyone, showed Jesus what a good father can be like, and Jesus drew on that experience of a father in his teaching. Imho.

      • Patricia Gordon's Gravatar Patricia Gordon
        March 20, 2020 - 3:52 pm | Permalink

        Oh, I love your interpretation of Joseph’ influence on Jesus by referring to the parable of the Prodigal Son. What a lovely and loving reflection. Thank you so much. Joseph is my choice for the second time this year’s Lent Madness and for all my life. My beloved Uncle Joe, one of the finest people I have ever known, was named for Joseph. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • Barbara Gay's Gravatar Barbara Gay
      March 20, 2020 - 8:32 pm | Permalink

      Joseph must have been broad-minded not only about Jesus’ ministry but also about Mary’s pregnancy. True, he did hear from an angel in a dream, but he still went against deep religious and cultural beliefs to stay with and marry her.

    • KarenB's Gravatar KarenB
      March 20, 2020 - 9:27 pm | Permalink

      Joseph is actually mentioned in the first chapters of Matthew and Luke. Mary is mentioned a lot more, but of course she is – after all, she’s Mom! In Joseph’s defense, he signed up to become a new father (again!) when he was over 90, and he did lead Mary and the baby Jesus to safety in Egypt, and then back home – not a mean feat for a man of his advanced age! Apocryphal sources indicate that Joseph died before Jesus began his public ministry – he is considered the patron of a happy death because Jesus and Mary took such good care of him during his last days – truly the mark of a good Son!

    • Diane Mc's Gravatar Diane Mc
      March 20, 2020 - 11:48 pm | Permalink

      This is such a beautiful illustration of Joseph and baby Jesus, Joseph looks so dedicated and caring. Even though little is written about him, we know that he must have had unshakable faith. I voted for Joshua the first time but Joseph this time. Yep, I am on a roll, both rounds in the minority.

    • March 21, 2020 - 1:47 pm | Permalink

      I’ve also been thinking about where Joseph was, but don’t agree that Joseph’s absence calls us to read him into the ministry of Jesus. Jesus’ ministry taught us to deemphasize the nuclear family (or even eliminate that social unit) and replace it with the ecclesia. Christians are meant to see the Church as their family in a very radical sense…even as a replacement of their parents and siblings. I think Joseph (and Mary to some extent) is absent because we are not meant to think of the earthly family as terribly important. I know that’s not a popular idea in our current cultural context, but it’s what the Gospels teach us. I’ve provided a link below to a very short article that outlines this argument with sources.

  5. John Blackwood's Gravatar John Blackwood
    March 20, 2020 - 8:30 am | Permalink

    I’m going with the father of Jesus again. At this point in the competition, I can’t think what would trump that other than being the mother of Jesus.

  6. March 20, 2020 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    Dear Elizabeth, don’t despair. It was the bracket, not you.

    • Donice Gilliland's Gravatar Donice Gilliland
      March 20, 2020 - 12:07 pm | Permalink

      This brings to my mind an interesting “what if”. What if, during Lent Madness, all the saints in the brackets are watching over us who participate, and “pulling for” themselves, or one another, from their heavenly place? I kind of love the imagery that evokes in my mind!

      • Chris's Gravatar Chris
        March 20, 2020 - 2:43 pm | Permalink

        Me, too!

  7. Christine Parkhurst's Gravatar Christine Parkhurst
    March 20, 2020 - 8:56 am | Permalink

    Maurice Sendak illustrated a tale from the Golden Legend in which a mother sends her children into the woods to hide from advancing armies during the Hundred Years War. They are cared for by St. Joseph. Time flows differently- the children come and visit the mother as she is dying of old age. The illustrations are beautiful. I couldn’t read the book to my kids because the story always made me cry. St Joseph is the humble but faithful protector of families.

  8. Laura Laura "Mary Jo"
    March 20, 2020 - 9:11 am | Permalink

    My birthday was yesterday, so I’m voting for my birthday feast day dude. My name is Laura, but my very Catholic aunt insisted on calling me Mary Jo when I was born for months, as I should have been named for the Blessed Mother and my feast day patron. My mother stuck with Laura, but those who know the story like to wish “Mary Jo” a happy birthday each year. But a toast to Elizabeth, my middle name. It was a tough call. ( I also have a daughter, Elizabeth.) Hoping another Elizabeth makes it further.

  9. Kate the Catechist's Gravatar Kate the Catechist
    March 20, 2020 - 9:11 am | Permalink

    I made my bracket and I am sticking to Elizabeth, but in my heart, I am voting for Joseph today.

  10. Jerry Cappel's Gravatar Jerry Cappel
    March 20, 2020 - 9:20 am | Permalink

    Strong and supportive relatives; faithful fathers. We need them both. But the fathers top it today.

    • Joe john's Gravatar Joe john
      March 20, 2020 - 8:15 pm | Permalink

      Well stated Reverend. I’m sure you realize the trash talking I have with Rev Elizabeth

  11. Susan C.'s Gravatar Susan C.
    March 20, 2020 - 9:28 am | Permalink

    It’s another impossible choice. In honor of the Mandeans of New Jersey, I cast my vote for Elizabeth!

    • Elliot Ashley's Gravatar Elliot Ashley
      March 20, 2020 - 12:39 pm | Permalink

      Not just New Jersey. There seeMs to be a 2500 strong colony of Mandan in Worcester, Massachusetts

  12. Mary-Beth Esser's Gravatar Mary-Beth Esser
    March 20, 2020 - 9:30 am | Permalink


    I’ve always loved this image of the Holy Family after Jesus ignores his parents to remain behind in the Temple. It brings to mind the real day-to-day interactions of a family. And poor Joseph, all he has to put up with!

    • March 20, 2020 - 9:33 am | Permalink

      It’s beautiful, Mary-Beth. Thanks for sharing.

    • Verdery Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery Kassebaum
      March 20, 2020 - 10:47 am | Permalink

      The story of adolescent Jesus evading his parents and staying in the Temple demonstrates that he was human as well as God. I can just imagine Mary and Joseph saying to each other “I thought he was with YOU!” “I thought he was with YOU!”

    • Jane's Gravatar Jane
      March 20, 2020 - 10:53 am | Permalink

      Thank you for sharing! I just sent this to my son, Joseph, who is traveling to his home in Texas from California, if they let him. Love Joseph in this painting and I know my Joe will as well!

    • Vicar Mollie's Gravatar Vicar Mollie
      March 20, 2020 - 11:06 am | Permalink

      Joseph’s posture and both their gestures say it all! Plus it’s a gorgeous icon.

    • Amy's Gravatar Amy
      March 20, 2020 - 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Wow, the hand positions in that painting say so much, and they are perfection!

    • Elizabeth's Gravatar Elizabeth
      March 20, 2020 - 5:26 pm | Permalink

      Papa Joseph looks more than a bit perturbed there. It reminds me of my husband’s “pater familias” face that indicates he intends to lay down the law with our daughter.

    • MLM in Bethlehem's Gravatar MLM in Bethlehem
      March 21, 2020 - 4:30 am | Permalink

      When I , the first in my family went away to Penn, we did not have cell phones, or even the money to pay for a phone in my dorm room. My family brought me to Philly from South Jersey for the first time late one Sunday afternoon. The next day a new student picnic was held across the campus in a field by a different dorm. I went to it with some of my new housemates. I looked up to see my father Joseph and one of my siblings walking towards me. Dad brought me a box of clothes that had inadvertently been left behind, as well as a message. He said that my mother Mary had worried about me and wondered how I slept the night before. He had driven back to Philadelphia, an hour each way, just to check on me. I see his face on this icon pointing to my mom saying that I should have found a way to call them to say that I was okay. I probably was a little bit put out too that I had to leave my new friends to go back to the dorm with them to put the box away too. But now, 40 years later, I miss the man whose love for me caused him to track me down across campus- I still don’t know how!- just to check up on me! And to say, for the first time, “Remember to call your mother!” Sort of sounds like another story, doesn’t it? And my brother Christopher follows in our father’s footsteps with his girls…

  13. March 20, 2020 - 9:30 am | Permalink

    Indeed, a tough choice, today. I am leaning toward Joseph, as his story above seems more believable than the one reported about Elizabeth. But I’m also angry at him because of those damn pastries! I’ve given desserts for Lent (and to help me lose weight), and a friend who runs an Italian deli just posted pictures of them onInstagram yesterday. But I’m remainng firm, so God, please show some progress on my weekly weigh-in. In the end, one of my favorite storieis in the Bible is when John the Baptist leaps in Elizabeth’s womb, so I’ll vote for her!

  14. ellietupper's Gravatar ellietupper
    March 20, 2020 - 9:35 am | Permalink

    Such a hard choice today. The portrait of Joseph swung my vote. My daughter used to pull her dad’s beard just like that (30 years ago…). Daddies rule.

  15. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    March 20, 2020 - 9:39 am | Permalink

    Joseph got our vote today!

  16. Marian the Lutheran's Gravatar Marian the Lutheran
    March 20, 2020 - 9:45 am | Permalink

    Joseph is the embodiment of a good father, biological or not. In some ways I feel like God chose him to be the earthly father to Jesus *because* Joseph embodies the qualities of a good father – patient, loved the mother, mindful of teaching the church’s doctrine, hard working, protective, and allows the child to follow their own path instead of the one they decide should be followed. In honor of all good and faithful fathers, I hold up Joseph.

    • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
      March 20, 2020 - 10:50 am | Permalink

      Thanks gor that
      It reminds me of my father, Joseph

  17. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
    March 20, 2020 - 9:45 am | Permalink

    “The Mandeans, who hail John the Baptist as the true Messiah, and still exist in tiny minorities in Iraq, Syria and New Jersey (look, all religious minorities end up in New Jersey), are big fans.” Having lived in New Jersey since 1974, I have yet to meet a Mandean. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. After all, I’ve spent quite a lot of my time in New York City, where all my appointments to ministry were located. Anyway, I choose to vote for Joseph, husband of Mary, earthly father figure to Jesus, for his strength and steadfast faith and trust in God as well as his wife. He helped raise Jesus, doing what was necessary to protect him from the beginning.

  18. Deborah Northern's Gravatar Deborah Northern
    March 20, 2020 - 9:49 am | Permalink

    It was St. Joseph´s feast day yesterday so voted for him. We dissed St. Patrick right before his feast day!! Also, I liked his humility and obedient faithfulness.

  19. March 20, 2020 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    The silent Joseph’s actions speak volumes. When Jesus taught his disciples to say “Our Father” he must have had an image of fatherhood much like mine. Elizabeth’s words were laughter and denial of laughter.

    • Vicar Mollie's Gravatar Vicar Mollie
      March 20, 2020 - 11:13 am | Permalink

      Lee, aren’t you thinking of Sarah?

      Some manuscripts say it was actually Elizabeth who sang the Magnificat, not Mary. And she recognized “the mother of my Lord” with John’s leap inside her own body.

  20. William E Montgomery's Gravatar William E Montgomery
    March 20, 2020 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    St Joseph is my Patron Saint and has carried me through some really difficult times throughout my live and I will put him, now, on my shoulders and carry him to the end!

  21. Meredith P's Gravatar Meredith P
    March 20, 2020 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    The Mandeans, who hail John the Baptist as the true Messiah, and still exist in tiny minorities in Iraq, Syria and New Jersey (look, all religious minorities end up in New Jersey), are big fans.

    I just keep hearing Hamilton lyrics. . . “Everything is legal in New Jersey”
    (To be clear, no shade being thrown at NJ. I’m just a musical theatre junkie who hears lyrics in every part of life.)

  22. SharonDianneFosterPattison's Gravatar SharonDianneFosterPattison
    March 20, 2020 - 10:02 am | Permalink

    What is a father?
    One who, loves, nurtures, guides, educates, and lets go, when the time comes!
    You do not have to be a biological father to father the children put into our charges!
    With that said, I still voted for Elizabeth! Cannot remember anyone else so protected with caring of baby/child John as Elizabeth did! I didn’t matter whether she gave birth to John or found him in the river, she just loved, protected and would have given HER life for HIM!

  23. Sandy W's Gravatar Sandy W
    March 20, 2020 - 10:02 am | Permalink

    I have to vote for Joseph who, as a little statue from my sister’s Catholic inlaws, presided over the long hoped for selling of our house. I couldn’t make myself bury him head down as the tradition goes, so he watched from a high perch. The sale was not quick, but in the end on what proved to be perfect timing. In my 7th decade as an Episcopalian, I’d never had any experience with any kind of rituals involving intercession to saints. However, I must admit that, over several years as this played out, I loved having Joseph holding baby Jesus and a lily keeping an eye on things.

  24. Joanne B. Parrott's Gravatar Joanne B. Parrott
    March 20, 2020 - 10:03 am | Permalink

    Let’s get the Elizabeth’s going again, such a tough choice I went with the lady today.

  25. Will's Gravatar Will
    March 20, 2020 - 10:16 am | Permalink

    In my bracket, I had Elizabeth going all the way to the final four. Still, thinking that Joseph was the dog today, I voted for him. Now looking at the statistics, I guess I was wrong!

    • Will's Gravatar Will
      March 20, 2020 - 6:06 pm | Permalink

      Sorry! I meant to say underdog.

  26. March 20, 2020 - 10:26 am | Permalink

    I vote for silent Joseph in these troubled times.

  27. Diane in Estes's Gravatar Diane in Estes
    March 20, 2020 - 10:26 am | Permalink

    The beautiful painting of Joseph touches my heart and is very comforting. And, many statues of St. Joseph passed through my real estate office over the years. Some of those statues were actually buried, but many resided on mantels. Joseph has my vote today.

  28. March 20, 2020 - 10:26 am | Permalink

    What a tough choice! I have always deeply admired Elizabeth as a strong, compassionate woman of unwavering faith and the mother of John. But Joseph’s humble obedience really speaks to me (to marry a pregnant fiance, to drop everything and flee to Egypt, to do his best to raise the Messiah . . .). I’m fine with whatever the results may be, but Joseph gets my vote today.

    • Ruth Douglas Miller's Gravatar Ruth Douglas Miller
      March 20, 2020 - 11:00 am | Permalink

      I agree–Joseph had the more difficult task in society. Elizabeth received much rejoicing, carrying a child so late in her life, but Joseph had a lot of hard work and fleeing to do to value and keep his precious adopted son safe.

  29. Rene Jamieson's Gravatar Rene Jamieson
    March 20, 2020 - 10:32 am | Permalink

    Too bad Zechariah isn’t up for the Golden Halo. Talk about getting the short end of the stick! Regardless, when it comes to Elizabeth versus Joseph, Joseph wins hands down for me. I don’t need to hear miraculous stories about hills opening up to reveal secret caves, blood turning to stone, and other such malarkey. I just need to know that Joseph was an honourable, decent, compassionate, and loving man who raised our Lord and Saviour as his own. (Besides, as a Canadian, I could lose probably my citizenship if I don’t vote for my country’s patron saint.)

  30. March 20, 2020 - 10:36 am | Permalink

    voted for Joseph, even though I’m Elizabeth. Always liked him.

    And I totally miss Oliver this year, he would be telling us how to vote in cases like this

  31. March 20, 2020 - 10:39 am | Permalink

    This is a great match-up. I have to go with Joseph. Mercy Me has a great song, Joseph’s lullaby, that makes me cry and wonder at the love he had. It had to be extremely difficult to be Joseph having a wife that was pregnant. He and Mary had to deal with a great deal of social stigmatism and ostracism. Their faith and obedience is inspiring

  32. Pastor Rick's Gravatar Pastor Rick
    March 20, 2020 - 10:40 am | Permalink

    Pope Leo XIII considered Joseph to be our Savior’s “foster father.” I prefer to view him as his “adoptive father” since I are (sic) one. In fact, there are a number of adoptive parents in the family. In our collective experience, the relationship carries unique blessings; yet almost none of them have been easy. No regrets. Much love. I am certain the sainted Joseph uniquely gets it.

  33. Lynn Beth's Gravatar Lynn Beth
    March 20, 2020 - 10:43 am | Permalink

    While my heart was with St. Joseph, with my 102 year old mother named Elizabeth and Beth my middle name….. Elizabeth got my vote!

  34. Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
    March 20, 2020 - 10:51 am | Permalink

    Go Joe, and hooray for all the stay-at-home-go-work-whatever-it-takes guys raising kids with or without matching DNA and saving the world one day at a time!

  35. St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
    March 20, 2020 - 10:56 am | Permalink

    Joseph’s list of endorsements is daunting. So many popes can’t be wrong . . . oh, wait. But I voted for Elizabeth today. I have to say, that icon is rather grim. That must be the moment after she put her veil back on and is now facing Zechariah. Her hand says, You man, are in serious trouble. I also have to quibble with the wording in Joseph’s write-up, that he cared for “his wife Mary and her son Jesus.” Even if you buy the account that Joseph was not Jesus’s biological father, if you accept that Joseph was a true and faithful stepfather, how exactly is Jesus not “his son” as well? Given the logical and linguistic hairsplitting that the question of Jesus’ divinity forces on us (I too am going to go try that “Homoousion” once I can find the ingredients!), I can really understand why there would be Mandeans in the world. I had never heard of them; thank you, Megan. John is so much simpler and more graspable as the Messiah! All these early accounts are filled with pitfalls and hairpin turns. How do you conceive a baby and then find him in a river? Is John now twinned with Moses? When I encounter texts like this, with the mythical and the realistic strongly intertwined, I am reminded of D.W. Winnicott’s analysis of infants discovering the world: they think the breast is part of them and they command it at will. Winnicott lays down an ethical injunction for us: we must not ask baby, “Did you find it or did you create it?” The answer for the baby, same as Clare’s answer to Francis, is “Yes.” It’s always a paradox. More and more I am struck by the twinning in the Elizabeth/Mary, John/Jesus story. Is Jesus or John the Messiah? Is Elizabeth or Mary the mother of the savior? Yes.

    • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
      March 20, 2020 - 11:18 am | Permalink

      I wish I had a better understanding of Orthodox artistic sensibility. So many icons of very sympathetic characters seem forbidding and remote to me, and I don’t think that “you are in serious trouble” can have been the message the artists intended to convey. For another, more personal depiction of Elizabeth I recommend the Pontormo painting referred to in my comment at 11:04 am below.

  36. Carol's Gravatar Carol
    March 20, 2020 - 10:59 am | Permalink

    very difficult decision for me today first round I went with Elizabeth but have to go with Joseph today

  37. Gretchen Denton's Gravatar Gretchen Denton
    March 20, 2020 - 10:59 am | Permalink

    I like Elizabeth who, in spite of lacking Biblical citations, was able to inspire astounding stories.

  38. Verdery Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery Kassebaum
    March 20, 2020 - 10:59 am | Permalink

    Another match-up between two for whom I voted earlier. I was leaning toward Joseph–marrying an already- pregnant woman, Jesus in the Temple (“I thought he was with YOU!”)–but since he’s leading in the polls right now, I’m going with Elizabeth, who not only bore a child later in life but probably also saw that child grow up into a rather odd character. What strength she must have had!

  39. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    March 20, 2020 - 11:04 am | Permalink

    The parish church in the modest Tuscan village of Carmignano is home to the painter Pontormo’s beautiful, moving depiction of the Visitation. In 2018 it was restored to its original brilliance and exhibited in New York where the New Yorker somewhat oddly called it “one of the damndest great paintings of all time,” and Los Angeles. It has uniquely haunted me ever since I saw it some years ago, and in its honor I’m going to vote for Elizabeth this morning.

    You can visit it at https://www.themorgan.org/sites/default/files/images/exhibitions/PontormoVisitation.jpg

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      March 20, 2020 - 11:13 am | Permalink

      Davis, that is amazing. The enormous colour bloques, I suppose to indicate pregnant women, are dazzling. I love the double perspective. Mary and Elizabeth are Aphrodite and Demeter. Their cosmic status coupled with their emotional connection, makes this painting nearly explode. It reminds me of a much later, and also powerful, cosmic work: Matisse’s “Bathers with a Turtle.”

      • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
        March 20, 2020 - 11:29 am | Permalink

        Yes, and, like the Matisse (new to me — thank you!) it bestrides a stylistic cusp: Pontormo is variously considered to be the last Renaissance painter and the first of the Mannerists.

    • March 20, 2020 - 12:05 pm | Permalink

      We used that Pontormo painting in a Visio Divina as part of the Contemplative Formation program I took, but I don’t remember them giving ua the source, so thanks! Now I know and can find it if needed.

    • March 20, 2020 - 12:35 pm | Permalink

      I saw this in the New York Times Arts section several years ago and cut it out. I consider it one of the best pieces of religious art I have ever seen because of the expressions on the faces of Mary and Elizabeth, which convey so much feeling, but also on the faces of their two female companions, who would be just generic women in many paintings.

      • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
        March 20, 2020 - 12:46 pm | Permalink

        And I see the “two female companions” as Mary and Elizabeth themselves “doubled,” shown again from a new perspective. We get a profile and a full-face version of each. That is what fascinates me about this painting. It seems very modern.

  40. Margaret T.'s Gravatar Margaret T.
    March 20, 2020 - 11:16 am | Permalink

    Since all the stories are made up out of whole cloth anyway, (sorry, I meant “legends”) I have to go with Elizabeth since her stories are the most fantastical.

    • March 21, 2020 - 12:26 pm | Permalink

      That is a first! Most people would consider that a reason NOT to vote for her!

  41. Ruth W Davis's Gravatar Ruth W Davis
    March 20, 2020 - 11:22 am | Permalink

    Voted for Joseph. Without him, Mary and Jesus simply would not have survived.

  42. Vicar Mollie's Gravatar Vicar Mollie
    March 20, 2020 - 11:28 am | Permalink

    Though I love the “all-purpose saint” Joseph and agree with all the laudatory things said about him above, the Pontormo Visitation pulled me back to my tender snd abiding affection for that incident in Elizabeth’s story. Thanks, Megan, for your great storytelling—I had never heard of the Mandeans, either. And for those who want a picture of Joseph as a father to a divine brat, do check out the Infancy Gospels. My vote, hopeless as it appears to be, is for Elizabeth.

  43. Rebecca S. DeShaw's Gravatar Rebecca S. DeShaw
    March 20, 2020 - 11:31 am | Permalink

    I admit I have not been very engaged this year with everything else going on but Elizabeth, mother of John, has always been a favorite of mine. Can you imagine being John’s mother? Oh My! and we think our kids are a trial at times! My Godmother was named for Elizabeth and was an important influence in my life so…Vote for Elizabeth!

  44. SharonDianneFosterPattison's Gravatar SharonDianneFosterPattison
    March 20, 2020 - 11:38 am | Permalink

    See above

  45. Alan Justice's Gravatar Alan Justice
    March 20, 2020 - 11:39 am | Permalink

    Joseph was a ferocious protector of Mary and Jesus. “Get up, let’s go, we’re leaving NOW!” he told Mary when Herod’s troops were coming. Joseph all the way.

  46. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    March 20, 2020 - 11:46 am | Permalink

    Today was a toughie. Go Joe!

  47. SharonDianneFosterPattison's Gravatar SharonDianneFosterPattison
    March 20, 2020 - 11:49 am | Permalink

    I think I already left a message. Cannot at , 77 Easter Sunday, get used to this two finger typing ! I still stay with Elizabeth, sorry Joseph, I also had an uncle Joseph as so many good Catholics had back in the day! Checking with the Foster family bible, if an infant child named Joseph died , the next male child was aka Joseph! And so on until one actually made it into adult life! Oh how we have matured and grown as Christians! I remember -a son is a son till he takes a wife, BUT, a daughter is a daughter all of her LIFE, AMEN

  48. Nolan's Gravatar Nolan
    March 20, 2020 - 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Joseph reminds me of my grandfather and I was expecting Elizabeth to be winning, so I voted for him. I was surprised to see he is actually the current run away winner

  49. Sheila Williams Brockmeier's Gravatar Sheila Williams Brockmeier
    March 20, 2020 - 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Many votes during lent Madness offer difficult choices, but this may be the hardest yet. I honor Joseph, but I think I need to vote for Elizabeth. This woman held her head high despite her shame of being barren. Also, I have long wanted to write an historical novel about John the Baptist and Zechariah. I imagine John and Zechariah both were strong personalities and Elizabeth was the peacemaker in that household!

  50. Donna's Gravatar Donna
    March 20, 2020 - 12:16 pm | Permalink

    As a Jerseyean, (or is that Jerseyite?), I must go with Elizabeth. Never seen the Jersey Devil or a Mandean (to the best of my knowledge) but many other strange and wondrous inhabitants, religious or otherwise.

  51. Amy's Gravatar Amy
    March 20, 2020 - 12:48 pm | Permalink

    I don’t believe for a second that Joseph never had sexual intercourse with his wife, Mary. Nor do I believe that having a genuine, consummated marriage is an impediment to sainthood, for either of theem. So some of the language in the quotes about him (eg, “chaste spouse) turn me off. Moreover, I did not get any “pastries and special foods” on the feast of St Joseph yesterday. Nonetheless, my vote today goes to Joseph. He must have been a special man, for God to have chosen him to be the earthly father of Jesus, and he showed great faith when he chose to marry Mary after she became pregnant with a child he knew he had not fathered.

    • Grace's Gravatar Grace
      March 21, 2020 - 12:59 am | Permalink

      The pastries (cream puffs in particular) are a Sicilian tradition. There are some amazing altars on google images! Hopefully they’ll come next in the round of kitsch!

  52. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    March 20, 2020 - 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Having voted for both saints in the last round, I am voting for Joseph today. So much was asked of him, and so much given in the face of very great danger. He had the courage to say yes to God, and to Mary. I also love U.A. Fanthorpe’s poem ‘I am Joseph’, with its lovely conclusion.
    ‘My lesson for my foster son,
    endure, love, give.’
    The poem can be found here: http://christmas-time.com/ct-joseph.htm

    • Gregory of Ravenna's Gravatar Gregory of Ravenna
      March 21, 2020 - 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Fiona!

      I’m pleased at all of this appreciation of Joseph – it helps counter the highly unjust Cherry Tree Carol.

  53. Caroline Frey Malseed's Gravatar Caroline Frey Malseed
    March 20, 2020 - 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Don’t forget Joseph’s ongoing ministry: if you want your house to sell you bury an image of him upside down in your yard. I keep a plastic version on hand just in case.

  54. Marilyn Clark's Gravatar Marilyn Clark
    March 20, 2020 - 1:46 pm | Permalink

    What, no Collects for Elizabeth and Joseph? Pray, always! I pray we all were able to vote responsibly in spite of them,

    • TJMannion's Gravatar TJMannion
      March 20, 2020 - 8:33 pm | Permalink

      This is not the rounds with collects. We get more and more irreverent as we proceed.

  55. Joshua Berkowitz's Gravatar Joshua Berkowitz
    March 20, 2020 - 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I love St. Elizabeth, but have been feeling recently that Joseph gets so left out!!

  56. Sandra Leigh's Gravatar Sandra Leigh
    March 20, 2020 - 2:11 pm | Permalink

    I simply must vote for the woman who (willingly, it seems) bore a child when she was some fifteen years older than I am. Just think – when John graduated from high school, she would be +/- 105! Now that’s a brave woman.

  57. Corri C's Gravatar Corri C
    March 20, 2020 - 2:35 pm | Permalink

    This might be the hardest match up ever.

  58. James N Lodwick's Gravatar James N Lodwick
    March 20, 2020 - 2:53 pm | Permalink

    I happily voted for Joseph, since we know a bit more about him than we do about Elizabeth. And what we do know reveals Joseph to be a model husband, father and worker, as well as devout and open to paying attention to God’s motions in his life. I find allusions to Joseph’s virginity misleading and baseless. The Gospel record implies that he (and Mary) were the parents of a large family–at least 5 boys and 2 or probably more girls (“are not his sisters ALL with us?,” say the townspeople of Nazareth according to Matthew). I like the idea that Jesus came from a large family, probably boisterous and crowded into a modest little house, playing and joking and smiling and laughing and crying together. If such was the family that Mary and Joseph took up to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover when Jesus was 12, no wonder they didn’t at first notice that Jesus wasn’t with them on their return! Such a Holy Family, big and lively, makes Jesus seem so much more human and his family so much more normal and real–especially in that time of large families [even my own father came from a family of 8 children plus an adopted cousin–so 11 altogether]. The pallid image of an ever-virginal Joseph, Mary and Jesus is depressing and inhuman, an attempt by monastics battling their own sexual demons to create an imaginary sexless little “monastic” family in their own image. Me genoito!

    • Gregory of Ravenna's Gravatar Gregory of Ravenna
      March 21, 2020 - 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Thank you James.

      Christopher Moore has written an amusing (and, I’m told by my rector, “theologically accurate”) book of the life of Jesus as a boy, as told by his best friend, Biff:

      • Donna's Gravatar Donna
        March 21, 2020 - 10:18 pm | Permalink

        It is one of my most favoritest books in the whole wide world!

  59. Kaneala Nelson's Gravatar Kaneala Nelson
    March 20, 2020 - 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Wow! What a challenging bracket. Without Elizabeth, John’s fate may have been much different; possibly affecting the baptism of Jesus where he was able to see the true light. Then, there is Joseph, who is the unquestioning protector of Jesus and Mary. Both are important, but I have to go with Joseph as he showed love throughout the earthly life of Christ.

  60. Lynda Moses's Gravatar Lynda Moses
    March 20, 2020 - 3:17 pm | Permalink

    One of my favorite pictures of Joseph, is of him carrying the child (looks about 4 yrs old), Jesus, on his shoulders.

  61. Malcolm French's Gravatar Malcolm French
    March 20, 2020 - 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Joseph: the patron saint of step-parents.


    Let’s face it, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house” was essentially a very polite “You aren’t my real dad.”

  62. March 20, 2020 - 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Tried to vote for Joseph today but the page won’t load! Could we possible have so much internet traffic here in remote Hawaii island?! Anyway, I’m recording my vote here, just in case it posts!

  63. Charles Stuart's Gravatar Charles Stuart
    March 20, 2020 - 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Apologies to Liz, but I had to go with the Bible’s number one supportive spouse and dad, Joseph. Francophiles might appreciate this lovely chanson (titch of kitsch, perhaps? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbAqF3omR94) on Joseph by Georges Moustaki.

  64. Melissa Ridlon's Gravatar Melissa Ridlon
    March 20, 2020 - 7:12 pm | Permalink

    In the cathedral in Rouen there is a very humble painted statue of the child Jesus standing on the feet of Joseph and reaching up to be hugged. Unconditional love of a child by a parent always wins for m.

  65. TJMannion's Gravatar TJMannion
    March 20, 2020 - 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, Liz. Go, go, go, Joseph!

  66. Magdalena Aders's Gravatar Magdalena Aders
    March 20, 2020 - 10:20 pm | Permalink

    This was a very difficult choice! I went with Elizabeth, but by a narrow margin. As a native New Jerseyan I am LMAO about all religious minorities winding up in New Jersey because—it really does seem to be true!

  67. March 20, 2020 - 11:03 pm | Permalink

    Request for help:
    I read the daily email. I can check Results before voting and then click back to Vote option.
    I vote. Results appear….and I cannot (ever) return to the Vote option. Now, that is handy to prevent me from accidentally voting twice, but what if a guest/spouse/child wants to vote from my computer? Is there a way, or ist verboten? What happens if I email the link to someone – does it reset the Vote option?
    Sorry for the bother, but if there is an FAQ/How This Works section addressing these types of questions anywhere on this website I am missing it.

  68. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    March 20, 2020 - 11:15 pm | Permalink

    There have been problems with people attempting to “stuff the ballot box” by voting multiple times. To prevent that, or at least to make it more difficult, only one vote per device is accepted. Since the restriction is per device, there’s no problem with using a forwarded link on a different device.

    • One of the Jennifers's Gravatar One of the Jennifers
      March 21, 2020 - 5:02 pm | Permalink

      Davis, thank you for this answer.

  69. Grace's Gravatar Grace
    March 21, 2020 - 12:54 am | Permalink

    Love both, but love Joseph as the patron we need in this time of crisis. Maybe next round we will hear mention of his title as “terror of demons”!

  70. Barbara A.K. Franklin's Gravatar Barbara A.K. Franklin
    March 21, 2020 - 2:40 am | Permalink

    We let St. Patrick down in his month; we can’t let Joseph down in his. I remember St Joseph altars in New Orleans! Probably not having them this year, tho’ 🙁

Comments are closed.