Margaret of Castello vs. Simon Gibbons

In a shocking, bracket-busting upset, yesterday’s matchup ended with Brother Lawrence driving out St. Patrick from Lent Madness 2020 57% to 43%. Erin go bragh? Erin go HOME!

Today we have an intriguing matchup between two saints of different eras. Margaret of Costello was a blind, disabled medieval nun who overcame great hardship to follow her faith. Simon Gibbons was Canada’s first Inuit priest, born in the mid-19th century.

With this decision, the door will close on the first full week of Lent Madness 2020. From here on out, voting will take place only on the weekdays of Lent. Which means the Lent Madness faithful must suffer the indignity of Lent Madness Withdrawal (LMW) on the weekends of Lent. This is a difficult condition to endure and, at this time, there is no known cure. Please be kind to yourselves, friends. And we’ll see you bright and early on Monday morning as James Solomon Russell faces Evelyn Underhill.

Now go vote!

Margaret of Castello

Margaret of Castello (to whom I am not related…like 99 percent sure) was born sometime in 1287. We don’t know when exactly, because her parents—a noble couple named Parisio and Emilia—did not care for her.

She was born blind with a severe curvature of the spine that inhibited walking. Her parents resolved to hide her away, so that her appearance could not bring shame to the family honor. However, Margaret, as she was named by a kind maid, resolutely refused to die. Despite her parents locking her in a back room and forbidding her to see anyone, she managed to win the sympathy of the household staff and the local priest, who taught her the Christian faith.

One day, Emilia heard stories of a Franciscan friar who was performing miracle cures in Castello. She convinced her husband to take Margaret there, in hopes of a “cure.” They wrapped the teenager in a black shroud and smuggled her to the town, but as luck would have it, the friar had died while they were making the journey. Emilia tried to get another friar to “heal” Margaret, but no cure was forthcoming. Frustrated and embarrassed, the parents abandoned their daughter in Castello and went home.

But Margaret didn’t give up. The local beggars in town took pity on her and taught her how to beg so she could feed herself. She made her way by teaching the street children to read and learn different prayers. She also watched the children while their parents worked, essentially running a medieval daycare. In 1303, she came across some Dominican friars and begged to be allowed to join their order as a laywoman. She was inducted into the third order of the Dominicans and wore the habit until her death at the age of thirty-three. When she died, crowds from all over the countryside came to her funeral, drawn by their love of her and her compassion. They demanded that she be buried on church grounds.

Margaret is particularly loved by those who are disabled themselves. Unlike other saints, who either suffered momentarily in the process of martyrdom or suffered only to be healed, Margaret was born disabled and lived a life that showed Christ’s love in a disabled body. Her quiet love and resolute life won out against the ignorance of society and of the Church, in a struggle that inspires many today.

Collect for Margaret of Castello
Compassionate God, your daughter Margaret experienced the pain of rejection, and the joy of serving you and your people; grant to us, we pray, the courage and compassion to find your presence wherever we look, and the reflection of your beauty shining in every face we encounter. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

—Megan Castellan

Simon Gibbons
God loves a “hilarious” giver, according to Leonard F. Hatfield’s rendering of 2 Corinthians in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. And Simon Gibbons, it seems, was that.

Born in 1851, Gibbons was Canada’s first ordained Inuit priest, a prolific church builder, and a gifted communicator. At the time Hatfield wrote his biography of the saint in 1990, stories were still told in the parishes where Gibbons ministered that he had been discovered on an ice-floe off the coast of Labrador.

Other stories, which Gibbons also may have encouraged, were shared about his first appointment as an Anglican missionary on Cape Breton Island, at the eastern edge of Nova Scotia. With food and a change of clothes on his back, he traveled from place to place across the mission, sometimes on trails that could only be navigated by snowshoe in the winter. One story has him hopping across drifting ice to cross an inlet; another, crawling along a frozen shoreline to reach an isolated community at Christmastime.

Gibbons traveled twice to Great Britain, where he raised money to build new churches, preached at Westminster Abbey, and appeared before Queen Victoria. While he was bullied as a child for being Inuit, he found that in England, in his own words, “my face was my fortune.” Large audiences came to hear Canada’s first Inuit priest preach, and reports praised his “musical voice,” “fluent and eloquent speech” and “attractive personality,” according to Hatfield.

But Gibbons’s time as a traveling missionary seemed to have taken a toll on his health. He served two more parishes in Nova Scotia, taking some time in between to recover. He became known as “champion church builder of the diocese,” assisting in the construction of seven new churches in Nova Scotia. Many still can be recognized by their distinctive bell towers, which he helped construct himself.

Gibbons died in 1896 and, befitting one of the stories he encouraged, he was buried in the Parrsboro parish cemetery during what was reportedly one of the wildest winter storms of the century. He is remembered by the Anglican Church of Canada on December 14.

Collect for Simon Gibbons
Almighty God, whose will it is to be glorified in your saints, and who raised up your servant Simon Gibbons to be a light in the world: Shine, we pray, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may show forth your praise, who called us out of darkness into your marvelous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Emily McFarlan Miller


Margaret of Castello vs. Simon Gibbons

  • Margaret of Castello (70%, 5,665 Votes)
  • Simon Gibbons (30%, 2,404 Votes)

Total Voters: 8,069

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Margaret of Castello: Sailko [CC BY 3.0 (]
Simon Gibbons: Nunatsiaq News, (Harper Collection)

144 Comments to "Margaret of Castello vs. Simon Gibbons"

  1. March 6, 2020 - 8:00 am | Permalink
    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 6, 2020 - 8:57 am | Permalink

      “Simon says”—! Brilliant!

    • Audrey's Gravatar Audrey
      March 6, 2020 - 10:30 am | Permalink

      The first match-up this year in which I had no clear favorite!

      • Mary Sturdevant's Gravatar Mary Sturdevant
        March 6, 2020 - 10:00 pm | Permalink

        I agree; a really tough choice!

    • Mary-Beth Esser's Gravatar Mary-Beth Esser
      March 6, 2020 - 10:56 am | Permalink

      I love these memes. Thank you for sharing.

    • Carol Tyrrell's Gravatar Carol Tyrrell
      March 6, 2020 - 9:46 pm | Permalink

      I’m Canadian, worked in Nunavut for 10 years, this one was a no-brainer for me!

  2. March 6, 2020 - 8:11 am | Permalink

    Had to go with Margaret–2 of my daughters are Margaret and Emilia!

    • Joan Drody Lutton's Gravatar Joan Drody Lutton
      March 6, 2020 - 9:56 am | Permalink

      One wonders how Margaret was able to teach children to read while being blind. This was long before Braille.

      • Patricia's Gravatar Patricia
        March 6, 2020 - 11:12 am | Permalink

        I wondered the same thing.

      • Eva Calcagno's Gravatar Eva Calcagno
        March 6, 2020 - 11:20 am | Permalink

        It’s a miracle?

        • Thomasine's Gravatar Thomasine
          March 6, 2020 - 11:56 am | Permalink

          I told my husband about the discussion of Margaret. How could she teach the children to read if she was blind. His answer as usual was flippant, but also insightful – “that is why she’s a saint”

          • Margaret T.'s Gravatar Margaret T.
            March 6, 2020 - 1:15 pm | Permalink

            I also wondered how she could “watch the children”? But not only overcoming physical disabilities but the utter rejection from her horrible parents, she has my vote. Plus, my name is Margaret!

          • Eric B's Gravatar Eric B
            March 6, 2020 - 6:57 pm | Permalink

            Blind members of the Hmong in Laos “watch” the village children.

      • Anne Lane's Gravatar Anne Lane
        March 6, 2020 - 12:12 pm | Permalink

        There are many degrees blindness where someone could still read.

        • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
          March 6, 2020 - 1:38 pm | Permalink

          That’s what I was thinking.

      • LoisAnne's Gravatar LoisAnne
        March 6, 2020 - 2:57 pm | Permalink

        The same thought came to me. Obviously she didn’t read if she were totally blind so who knows what she taught the children. Had a lot of courage, however, and was dealt a poor hand in life, so she gets my vote.

      • Nancy Noel's Gravatar Nancy Noel
        March 6, 2020 - 7:35 pm | Permalink

        And how did she “watch” the children?

      • Joy Hume's Gravatar Joy Hume
        March 7, 2020 - 8:28 am | Permalink

        Yes that is amazing!

  3. John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
    March 6, 2020 - 8:12 am | Permalink

    Hopping across harbors, jumping floe to floe,
    Dauntless Simon Gibbons never stubbed his toe;
    Nor ever made a goof
    While building the church roof —
    On our Property Committee he should go!

    • Manny Faria's Gravatar Manny Faria
      March 6, 2020 - 8:34 am | Permalink

      He is certainly deserving of my vote and once again I am on the losing side of a rout.

      • John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
        March 6, 2020 - 8:43 am | Permalink

        I’m wondering now where the H it went
        That promising bracket I made for Lent:
        As each one of my picks
        Keeps on taking its licks
        It’s making me more and more penitent.

        • Dena's Gravatar Dena
          March 6, 2020 - 9:26 am | Permalink

          I’m on the winning side with today’s pick! Two days in a row. 🙂
          But yes, I agree….to the Property committee Simon should go!

    • Denise LeGendre's Gravatar Denise LeGendre
      March 6, 2020 - 8:38 am | Permalink

      Even the Property Committee needs a patron saint! Maybe especially the Property Committee…

    • Emily McFarlan Miller's Gravatar Emily McFarlan Miller
      March 6, 2020 - 2:57 pm | Permalink

      This made my day — thank you!

  4. John B Blackwood's Gravatar John B Blackwood
    March 6, 2020 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    Finding a path to God and a service of caring for, and teaching children while enduring a life of disability sounds very saintly – I’m going with another one who walked humbly and served children as she went her way.

    • Martha Henry's Gravatar Martha Henry
      March 6, 2020 - 10:45 am | Permalink

      I’m with you but wonder how, if she was born blind as the story says, she taught poor children to read. There’s something wrong with this account.

  5. Ellen's Gravatar Ellen
    March 6, 2020 - 8:19 am | Permalink

    We have all faced rejection in our lives. And for those who are suffering with debilitating pain everyday, rejection is even more painful. I have several close friends who have pain that is real and not curable. They impress me so much with their endurance and fortitude. So, yes…. It’s Margaret of Castello for me today.

    • Karen Sculley's Gravatar Karen Sculley
      March 6, 2020 - 9:04 am | Permalink

      Beautifully said!

  6. Susan C.'s Gravatar Susan C.
    March 6, 2020 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    Both of these worked miracles. Margaret of Costello miraculously was able to teach the street children how to read although she was blind from birth. Simon Gibbons was able posthumously to miraculously have his body buried in the ground in the middle of an Alaskan winter storm – or perhaps they used mausoleums? Margaret of Castillo gets my vote as someone who lived against apparently insurmountable odds to reach out and minister to others. The collect that talked of the reflection of God’s beauty shining in every face we encounter cemented my choice.

  7. Patti Daniell's Gravatar Patti Daniell
    March 6, 2020 - 8:25 am | Permalink

    Margaret has my vote although it was a tough choice! Kind of miraculous that she found her way to serve God and the children with such love.

  8. Charlyn Heidenreich's Gravatar Charlyn Heidenreich
    March 6, 2020 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    How can anyone von for Margaret over Simon He is my guy sure. Of course many of my grands were from Canada!

  9. March 6, 2020 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    I also was torn, but my admiration for Margaret’s efforts to help others while having to deal with her own severe limitations wins the day.

  10. Carol's Gravatar Carol
    March 6, 2020 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    For the compassionate,strong woman overcoming many obstacles in her life, I vote for Margaret!

  11. March 6, 2020 - 8:44 am | Permalink

    I will confess that neither of these candidates “popped” for me in a particularly meaningful way, though in fairness, I am certain that there have been, and will continue to be, many saints who carry on acting on deep faith with relatively unexciting tasks. Today I am voting for Simon because I find it easier to believe in someone struggling against severe weather and terrain (I do live in Buffalo, NY, and I grew up in Central NY, and moved to a mountainous region of Germany, then to Michigan and the northern reaches of Maine before settling here!) than I could figure out how a blind woman could teach children to read. I was also impressed by the way Simon took a full part in building the churches that he established.

    • Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
      March 6, 2020 - 9:41 am | Permalink

      Good point about a blind woman teaching reading. The Wikipedia article says Margaret taught the children psalms she had learned and taught them about her faith. Simon sounds like a wonderful guy, and Margaret was truly a pearl. Each one figured out how to thrive where planted, with generosity of spirit.

  12. Carol Mannchen's Gravatar Carol Mannchen
    March 6, 2020 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    I wanted to back Margaret, but her story is not believable. She was not cured yet taught children how to read and “watched” them. I don’t think this would be possible if she were blind. So, I voted for Simon. However, I think I have a 100% loss rate this year, about the same as I have in public elections.

    • Ruth Douglas Miller's Gravatar Ruth Douglas Miller
      March 6, 2020 - 9:01 am | Permalink

      The ‘teaching to read’ bit is hard to take, but maybe she wasn’t completely blind? She’d be called blind if she could only see very close up. On the other hand, the watching children could easily be listening for children, and children can be very understanding of disability in caretakers. I had a blind social studies teacher in jr high, he knew where we all were and whether we were paying attention by sound, very well indeed! Unsure again myself who to vote for, so commenters, please inspire me!

      • Karen Mallon Sharp's Gravatar Karen Mallon Sharp
        March 6, 2020 - 9:49 am | Permalink

        Where is the LIKE button for this comment? I, myself, wanted to make a comment but everything I wrote sounded too snarky!

        • March 6, 2020 - 7:33 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I have often wished for a ‘like’ button as well. So many beautiful comments but can’t ‘reply’ to them all.

  13. Joanne B. Parrott's Gravatar Joanne B. Parrott
    March 6, 2020 - 8:48 am | Permalink

    Interesting reading about 2 new saints.
    My vote goes to the lady today

  14. March 6, 2020 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    I found this a very difficult choice and wanted to vote for both. But our beautiful churches in Canada are an inspiration to me so I chose Simon.

  15. Amelia Hagen's Gravatar Amelia Hagen
    March 6, 2020 - 8:55 am | Permalink

    Living in Maine and experiencing harsh winters (not this year, though), and having driven around wild Cape Breton, my vote goes to Simon

  16. Michael's Gravatar Michael
    March 6, 2020 - 8:57 am | Permalink

    God bless the beggers who accepted Margaret and taught her to beg.

  17. Donna's Gravatar Donna
    March 6, 2020 - 8:59 am | Permalink

    Where’s the touted hilarity of Simon?

    • Emily McFarlan Miller's Gravatar Emily McFarlan Miller
      March 6, 2020 - 3:03 pm | Permalink

      I ordered his full biography on Amazon and am still hoping to make it to the next round to share more!

  18. March 6, 2020 - 8:59 am | Permalink

    Having hiked around Cape Breton, and throughout Canada, I have to vote for Simon although I am an American.

    • John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
      March 6, 2020 - 9:03 am | Permalink


  19. Jo's Gravatar Jo
    March 6, 2020 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    Am voting for Margaret in honor of my sister who has lived with severe disability from birth but radiates joy. Thank you, Margaret, for persevering and overcoming.

  20. Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
    March 6, 2020 - 9:06 am | Permalink

    For those who have scoliosis (Margaret’s disability?), for those who look after children. Like Isaiah’s Suffering Servant, she “was despised, rejected.” Nevertheless, she persisted and allowed God to make something out of her brief life.

    But I am amazed by the life Simon led—that might lead you to be floating out to see on an ice floe—yipes!

    • Susa Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susa Lee Hauser
      March 6, 2020 - 9:08 am | Permalink

      All that is to say I voted for Margaret! Hahahaha

  21. Karen Sculley's Gravatar Karen Sculley
    March 6, 2020 - 9:07 am | Permalink

    I went with Margaret, whose quiet love and resolute life won out against ignorance in the midst of extremely debilitating circumstances. What an overcomer! May we each shine ever more brightly the love of Christ through our own brokenness in this beautiful yet broken world.

  22. March 6, 2020 - 9:15 am | Permalink

    I really don’t think that people read the background of the people before they vote. How is Simon so far behind?

    • March 6, 2020 - 12:53 pm | Permalink

      I suspect some of my ” sisters” automatically vote for the female. I can’t prove that, of course.

    • Claire from Quincy, MA's Gravatar Claire from Quincy, MA
      March 6, 2020 - 3:30 pm | Permalink

      Checking in a bit late. I think folks do read the biographies (some very carefully) but more with their hearts more than their heads. IMHO. As a former, reluctant Catholic and now active Unitarian Universalist, I am ambivalent about “Saints” who emerge from colonized populations. I never doubt their faith and admire their commitment; however, I am often troubled by the power exercised over them in their formative years by Missionaries.

      • March 6, 2020 - 5:22 pm | Permalink

        I have read the material two or more times. It is very hard to choose from the choices but never guess.

  23. Micah W.'s Gravatar Micah W.
    March 6, 2020 - 9:15 am | Permalink

    I love Margaret’s witness. I’m voting for Simon mostly because of his construction skills! I looked up Saint Peter’s and Saint John’s Anglican Church in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, and it is so beautiful (and cute). I just started to ring bells last month, so I am happy to hear of a saint who constructed bell towers!

  24. SharonDianne Foster Pattison's Gravatar SharonDianne Foster Pattison
    March 6, 2020 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    I already posted on Facebook my thoughts o. These two very deserving saints! I am a very proud English, Irish, Anglican handicap woman of 77 years young! I chose to become an Anglican to wed the love of my life June 29/63, we have 4 adult children, 9 grandchildren and 1 great grandson! Life has not been an easy road for me, both hips and knees total replacement And 3 brain bleeds Aneursyms, but I am that bunny that just keeps in goingwe have two 16 year old identical a twin girls who are OCD and spinal problems, who not only ride therapist horses, but like their grandma are volunteers with the therapeutic riding in their home town! I have been a volunteer for most of my life, but, by the Grace of God, I am still,here, HE may have had me paralyzed on the R side, but, HE never took my voice or MY will power to soldier on!
    My vote is for Simon Gibbons also someone with a handicap of his birth rights in Canada and push forward regardless of what those i. Charge thought of him!

  25. March 6, 2020 - 9:17 am | Permalink

    Though Margaret’s life was sad
    and her parents mean and bad
    God granted that she live
    To serve the poor and give
    She lived to 33
    and now it’s plain to see
    that Margaret was a saint
    If she doesn’t win we’ll faint.

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      March 6, 2020 - 10:51 am | Permalink

      Your poetry is droll;
      Easter’s bunny will not leave you coal.
      Doubtless your own parents are very good
      and never make you chop wood.
      You seem to be safe from vertigo
      as so far the vote favors Costello.

  26. Pastor Rick's Gravatar Pastor Rick
    March 6, 2020 - 9:20 am | Permalink

    The most difficult choice for me of the first round. I want to vote for both. I give God glory and praise his Son for each of them. How comfortable my life and my service have been.

  27. Christine Walton's Gravatar Christine Walton
    March 6, 2020 - 9:24 am | Permalink

    Both Margaret and Simon touch my heart so beautifully and
    tenderly today. They both had fortitude while overcoming severe isolation and ignorant rejection of their times, Yet, while they were both being pursued by God. Each of them found their stepping stones forward precariously it would seem for Simon to jump from ice flo to ice flow to pursue Gods love…wow!…how many of us would be willing? If I saw an ice flow would I think to myself oh look here, God in his abundance has sent an ice flow? Or would I just see ice? Or Margaret to trust and find enough to not just survive physically but find enough in Gods overflowing abundance for herself and the many children and the vulnerable she served. There are so many metaphors here its awesome. I am voting for Margaret of Castello today because as a child she represents the vulnerability of all of us. I see her today as what I am needing most….Gods all inclusive love for all his children in need. We are all vulnerable in each breath we take and in desperate need of His caring eye on us to protect us. We are all Gods children. Margaret seemed to embrace Gods mercy with such child like faith. Like a robe wrapped around her.In her weakness God gave her the strength she needed.

  28. Suzanne Connelly's Gravatar Suzanne Connelly
    March 6, 2020 - 9:24 am | Permalink

    Hello: This is my first season of taking part in the March Madness project. I am curious about something written today re: Margaret of Castello. The material says she was born blind. However, she taught children to read. I am wondering about that. Is there an explanation?

  29. Lisa Keppeler's Gravatar Lisa Keppeler
    March 6, 2020 - 9:33 am | Permalink

    Simon sounds fascinating, but Margaret’s great gift of knowing, despite parental rejection, that she was beloved of God, and that God had plans for her to serve others and make a difference — priceless.

  30. Mark+'s Gravatar Mark+
    March 6, 2020 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    I’ve lit my votive flames in the Qulliq today. Why do tears come to my eyes when chopping onions with my Ulu?

    • March 6, 2020 - 11:10 am | Permalink

      Mark, you really made me do my research to figure out what in the heck you were talking about. But I’ve got it now. I have added two Inuit words to my vocabulary today!

      • Mark +'s Gravatar Mark +
        March 6, 2020 - 9:02 pm | Permalink

        I love the Inuit people; great adventures with them in Alaska, Labrador, Greenland. 🙂 They can seem shy or distant, but once you get to know them they have GREAT sense of humor and hospitality that is rarely matched anywhere, and not exceeded.

        • Carol Tyrrell's Gravatar Carol Tyrrell
          March 6, 2020 - 9:34 pm | Permalink

          Me too! I nursed in the communities of Nunavut and loved it!

  31. Mary C.'s Gravatar Mary C.
    March 6, 2020 - 9:40 am | Permalink

    A fine and admirable man, but who could out-saint that little blind girl?

  32. Beth Owen's Gravatar Beth Owen
    March 6, 2020 - 9:42 am | Permalink

    Margaret for the win!

  33. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    March 6, 2020 - 9:45 am | Permalink

    We’ll vote for Simon, and hope he’ll get the last laugh today!

    • Emily McFarlan Miller's Gravatar Emily McFarlan Miller
      March 6, 2020 - 2:48 pm | Permalink


  34. March 6, 2020 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    St Margaret, an inspiration through her personal suffering How strong , brave, lovingI My vote – Margaret!

  35. St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
    March 6, 2020 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    Margaret was a dwarf. Simon had “Eskimo physique.” I found it difficult to choose between these two figures. I recently saw a play, a “Regency rom com,” in which the heroine was played by a dwarf. All the furniture on the set had to be lowered for her, and the leading man had to get on his knees to talk with her. Try as I might, I was unable to suspend disbelief for the duration of the play; I simply couldn’t see her as a romantic heroine. Her head was so much bigger than the other cast members’ and her physical mobility was painfully constrained. It made my eyes hurt to watch her waddle across the stage when the dancer in the cast floated effortlessly in and out and exited each time with a graceful kitri leap. So in reading Margaret’s story, I was able to imagine how the parents and the nuns of the convent she originally entered found it difficult if not impossible to enlarge their vision to embrace her. Perhaps her parents didn’t try. “In the day” there was no leg-straightening surgery, and even today there is no cure for dwarfism. Perhaps some would argue it is a condition that needs no cure, but that is a rarefied position to take given the fact of people whose physical mobility is so terribly limited. On the other hand, Simon seemed to have his own limitations. I was hesitant at the description of the stories, the lore, “he encouraged” about himself: born on an ice floe (crossing the Ohio river jumping from ice floe to ice floe wearing a red neckerchief and carrying his five-year-old son Harry while the hounds chased him! escaping from slavery! go Eliza!). Was this guy a smiling grifter, like the reverend hypocrites laying hands on their chosen one, the moral dwarf in the oval office? In the end, though I admired Margaret’s childcare service, I went with Canada’s mixed-race priest. Perhaps I had Anne of Green Gables in mind as I thought of those tiny white churches with their Rhenish helms. And I had sympathy for the circuit riders, those clergy who travel to far flung parishes to minister and serve the eucharist.

    • March 6, 2020 - 12:18 pm | Permalink

      That was some roller coaster, Celia. I couldn’t tell where you were going to end up until it was time to get off. Thanks for the ride!

    • March 6, 2020 - 2:18 pm | Permalink

      For me, the best thing you said was about the moral dwarf in the oval office. I also voted for Simon, though it was a hard decision. But as a mixed race missionary child of missionaries I had to go with him, even though I loved Margaret’s perseverance and overcoming disability.

    • Janet's Gravatar Janet
      March 6, 2020 - 6:23 pm | Permalink

      loved the moral dwarf comment

    • Lucy's Gravatar Lucy
      March 7, 2020 - 10:36 am | Permalink

      So my close friend is a dwarf, as is her son. She is the former President of the Little People of America and a disability rights activist. Celia, your use of the term moral dwarf is offensive. My friend and her son are people of great character and faith who both work for the better in their communities. Dwarfism is a genetic condition and yes, there are medical complications. But it is not something to be “cured.” And that type of reasoning is concerning to me as it brings to mind ways in which people with disabilities are made to feel less than, denied agency by others, and historically, maltreated by eugenicists.

      • Julia's Gravatar Julia
        March 9, 2020 - 7:39 am | Permalink

        Thank you, Lucy, for voicing those important issues..

  36. March 6, 2020 - 10:00 am | Permalink

    IF Margaret blind, how did she teach children to read?

    • Mary C.'s Gravatar Mary C.
      March 6, 2020 - 10:07 am | Permalink

      I wondered about the same thing. Maybe one more miraculous bit of sainthood?

    • Anne Lane's Gravatar Anne Lane
      March 6, 2020 - 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Blind doesn’t have to mean totally blind. Extremely near-sighted, tunnel vision, centre vision blocked… I have a friend who is blind, even has a dog guide. He can read print held right up to his face.

  37. Linda S's Gravatar Linda S
    March 6, 2020 - 10:08 am | Permalink

    I enjoyed learning about two new saints today. Well, I actually didn’t like hearing about Margaret’s terrible circumstances!
    I voted for Simon, the hearty soul running around the north woods and ice floes of Canada building churches and living his life of faith. Canada’s first Inuit priest? Perhaps he’s the world’s first Inuit priest?
    He began life in an orphanage and grew to be what all accounts say was a fun and sturdy cleric. Very cool!

  38. Patricia Gordon's Gravatar Patricia Gordon
    March 6, 2020 - 10:13 am | Permalink

    Still smarting from the defeat of St. Patrick yesterday – how can that be???? My father said Patrick was invincible! Truly Lent Madness. 🙂
    As for today, I voted for Simon and hope he pulls out a surprise finish. (I know, I know – not likely.) Loved that he was Inuit, that he was received by Queen Victoria and that he was a truly energetic and dedicated “church planter.” I also detected a sense of humor in his supposed encouragement of the stories about his efforts. Plus I hate dealing with winter weather and I am in awe of his ability to do so under extreme circumstances!!!

    • March 6, 2020 - 3:39 pm | Permalink

      Patricia, the Washington Post reported that the first person in the history of Ireland was bitten by a venomous snake yesterday. There are no snakes in the fossil record since the last Ice Age. There are no laws prohibiting the importation if snakes as pets.

  39. Sarah P's Gravatar Sarah P
    March 6, 2020 - 10:19 am | Permalink

    I have a 25-year-old friend who has been up to 80 percent disabled since she was 16. Her pain is apparent, and yet she cheerfully soldiers on. Thankfully, she is loved by her family and all who know her, and she knows the power of prayer (although she is of a totally different faith that borders on Christianity). So, my vote goes to Margaret.

  40. March 6, 2020 - 10:23 am | Permalink

    Abandoned by her parents and forced to learn how to beg, but made the best of things?! This is an easy choice for me. Plus, my great-aunt is a Dominican sister.

  41. March 6, 2020 - 10:36 am | Permalink

    As the parent of a 34-year-old who is developmentally disabled, I had to go with Margaret!

  42. Rebecca's Gravatar Rebecca
    March 6, 2020 - 10:36 am | Permalink

    It was Margaret for me since she overcame so much adversity.

  43. Bill 80 year old priest's Gravatar Bill 80 year old priest
    March 6, 2020 - 10:36 am | Permalink

    I was torn today, both suffered, but Margaret’s parents abandoning her borders on unforgettable. So I voted for her”

  44. Elaine Culver's Gravatar Elaine Culver
    March 6, 2020 - 10:42 am | Permalink

    As usual, all honor to both. I voted for Margaret because of grace, hers in loving and giving to others when she was getting no love or support from her parents, and the grace of all others who loved and cared for her when her parents should have been doing so. The source of grace, of course, is God, to Whom thanks be in all such cases.

  45. +Ann's Gravatar +Ann
    March 6, 2020 - 10:46 am | Permalink

    Surveys show that Canadians – Inuit or otherwise- seldom win. Don’t know what that means and, being a stereotypically polite Canadian, l hesitate to speculate!

  46. Deborah Kaufman's Gravatar Deborah Kaufman
    March 6, 2020 - 10:53 am | Permalink

    Simon Gibbons has my LentMadness vote today: Canada’s first Inuit priest and Anglican missionary who constructed a number of churches in Nova Scotia. He’s memorialized by an Inukshuk sculpture and interpretive panel, nearby to one of the churches he built, in Diligent River. To read an article on this memorial site, and to see images of the sculpture and one shot of his descendants (!) check out this article via this LINK:

    • March 6, 2020 - 11:15 am | Permalink

      Very interesting. Thank you.

    • Emily McFarlan Miller's Gravatar Emily McFarlan Miller
      March 6, 2020 - 3:01 pm | Permalink

      Yes! This was one of the articles I read as I was writing up Simon Gibbon’s bio. I was really hoping to include it in the next round of write-ups, but it’s not looking good for us. I’m glad I got to know more about this saint, though — one of the delights of my Lent Madness experience!

  47. Joyce's Gravatar Joyce
    March 6, 2020 - 10:53 am | Permalink

    Eary in my childhood I learned what beauty existed in someone crippled of body but not of spirit. My Grandmother, totally deaf at 42 and confined to a wheelchair in her early 60’s because of rheumatoid arthritis, taught me compassion and respect for those disabled. Now, at a much older age, I have issues that make me walk with a cane or walker. Never will I underestimatet the disabled. Margaret gets my vote.

  48. March 6, 2020 - 10:54 am | Permalink

    Two very worthy saints named in today’s match up, of course, but who I really want to vote for are that anonymous maid and her ‘downstairs’ c0-workers, and those beggars, who helped shine the Light so Margaret could live and grow.

    Also, what’s with the side-eye on Simon’s stories? Seems to me that he made a “constructive” response (literally) to a hard life circumstance.

  49. Sally Foerster's Gravatar Sally Foerster
    March 6, 2020 - 10:55 am | Permalink

    How did Margaret teach children to READ if she herself was born blind?

  50. Conny Santana's Gravatar Conny Santana
    March 6, 2020 - 10:55 am | Permalink

    Margaret’s “story” was just too unbelievable for me and it comes from a period of time in which hyperbole ruled. What’s not to love in a poor Inuit boy who likely grew up in one of those terrible Indian orphanages, became a priest, and was so committed to the people he would go through freezing conditions to assure they had Christ for Christmas? Definitey Simon for me.

  51. Christina Joy's Gravatar Christina Joy
    March 6, 2020 - 11:04 am | Permalink

    I wear glasses. With out glasses I can see 3 inches in front of me. The world beyond is a blur of colors. If I were to be born in her time I would be considered blind.

  52. March 6, 2020 - 11:17 am | Permalink

    The grit of some of the folks I know who have disabilities humbles me. That someone who is blind could teach someone else how to read does not mystify me at all. I am privileged to know blind associates who do computer programing and play ‘beeper ball’ (baseball with a beeper in the ball)! While Simon has his attraction (Inuit, church builder, priest) and I love all things Canadian Maritimes, I still had to vote Margaret.

  53. Adelaide Kent's Gravatar Adelaide Kent
    March 6, 2020 - 11:24 am | Permalink

    Margaret for me. She may have been partly sighted, all you doubting Thomases!
    Her quiet persistence with her disabilities should be an inspiration to those of us with physical disabilities.

  54. Diane's Gravatar Diane
    March 6, 2020 - 11:34 am | Permalink

    My husband lives with constant, debilitating pain due to several degenerating discs throughout his spine. Voting for Margaret.

  55. March 6, 2020 - 11:54 am | Permalink

    This was a hard one, as a former Early Childhood Educator a big part of me was rooting for Margaret.
    However, being from Newfoundland and Labrador, I had to vote for Forteau’s son. (and as a former minister in Labrador, just had to vote for the Labradorian/ Newfoundlander.

    • March 6, 2020 - 12:47 pm | Permalink

      As I wrote below, before I read your comment, I lived 25 years in Newfoundland and Labrador, in Labrador City for 5 years and 6 winters, as my husband always puts it, and 20 years in Corner Brook. I have visited the Lower North Shore, and Forteau, many times. A beautiful area, quite different from the rest of the province, which is also beautiful but in a different way. I also voted for Simon.

      • March 6, 2020 - 1:09 pm | Permalink

        I lived in Lab City for 4 years and 5 years in Corner Brook, also 4 in Happy Valley- Goose Bay.
        I truly get your husband’s comment on the winters.

  56. Kristy's Gravatar Kristy
    March 6, 2020 - 11:54 am | Permalink

    My grandmother was crippled with polio. She ran a preschool for children who were limited in their ability to learn. She was a great baby sitter and although she couldn’t chase after the children in her care, she told my brothers & me not to go anyplace we could not see her. I find Margaret just as credible as Simon. Sorry I could not vote for each.

  57. JoAnn Lumley's Gravatar JoAnn Lumley
    March 6, 2020 - 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I had to vote for Simon as he and my maternal great grandmother were most likely contemporaries. GGM was a much beloved faith healer in eastern Nova Scotia. even the local footpads gave her respect and honor often protecting her from harm.

  58. Lucy Porter's Gravatar Lucy Porter
    March 6, 2020 - 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I wear contact lenses, which correct my dim vision better than glasses ever do. By the grace of God, I have been able to be a singer, music teacher, editor/writer, and finally United Methodist clergy, serving churches and then as a hospital chaplain. I suspect that Margaret was able to see, even with difficulty, and she surely had a gift for teaching and caring for children. When I was a teacher, I had a colleague who was blind, and she taught public-school children to read music! Such things are possible. So I gladly vote for Margaret.

  59. Kim's Gravatar Kim
    March 6, 2020 - 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Margaret, because she persisted.

  60. Lorin's Gravatar Lorin
    March 6, 2020 - 12:25 pm | Permalink

    The lead in text called her Margaret of Costello so I was all set to vote for another Irish saint but the rest of the write up (correctly) called her of Castello and I realized my mistake. So, instead, since I’m an architect, I’m voting for Simon – he had excellent taste in bell towers!

  61. March 6, 2020 - 12:41 pm | Permalink

    I figured Margaret would win but voted for Simon anyway. Although my ancestry in the USA goes back hundreds of years, and I am back in the USA again, I have lived the largest chunk of my adult life (25 years) in Newfoundland and Labrador, so I wanted to vote for the Inuit priest. I have tried for years to get Dr Wilfred Grenfell, who gave his entire life to Labrador and the northern peninsula of the island of Newfoundland, into the Lent Madness bracket. I suppose he’ll never make it, even though he has a feast day in the Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Episcopal Church USA. Anyway, this vote is for Canada and its native people.

    • March 6, 2020 - 4:38 pm | Permalink

      I second the nomination for Grenfell! I read two of his books about his ministry. Inspiring. I’ve only visited Newfoundland, but my mother’s ancestors were from there.

  62. Verdery Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery Kassebaum
    March 6, 2020 - 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Voted for Simon–indigenous priest, builder of churches–with bell towers! I have a hunch he could spin a yarn as well.
    But it’s OK with me if Margaret wins, since my sister Margaret has taught music to children for many years.

  63. TJ's Gravatar TJ
    March 6, 2020 - 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I love the story of the intrepid Inuit priest but Margaret gets my vote today for demonstrating that our disabilities don’t need to be “fixed” in order for us to be beloved by God.

  64. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    March 6, 2020 - 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I learned something new today. Interesting reading about these two worthy Saints. Margaret gets my vote.

  65. KarenR's Gravatar KarenR
    March 6, 2020 - 1:36 pm | Permalink

    This will be my first vote for a loser, it appears. I love the story of Simon, he sounds like a man to spend an evening with, along with suitable adult libations. My two dearest female friends are Margarets, but my beloved teller of tall tales, a man I lost only three weeks ago, was a definite Simon, though named “Bobby Lee” . Simon it is.

  66. AC's Gravatar AC
    March 6, 2020 - 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Margaret. As for wondering how a blind woman could teach children to read, there seem to be many aspects of our faith secularists find hard to believe. Such as: the loaves and fishes, Jesus walking on water, Jesus and his disciples curing the blind and raising the dead, and the greatest mystery of all, the death and resurrection of Christ. I don’t take all of the stories about the saints literally, just points to illuminate the holiness of their lives. There is enough there aside from the more fanciful stories to admire them for their work in the world. Margaret managed to survive cruel parental neglect and a disability that would doom her to a lonely life in the shadows. That’s enough for me.

    • Shelly's Gravatar Shelly
      March 7, 2020 - 1:32 am | Permalink

      Yes! This!

  67. March 6, 2020 - 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear. Margaret’s story shows how God’s love shared through a community can shower the whole community with gifts. However, coming from Canada, I have a love for what Simon did, esp. as he not only ministered among the Inuit but also shared his story across cultures and the Atlantic. Oh dear — this might be the first choice I lose out on – but, O, Canada!

  68. Annie D's Gravatar Annie D
    March 6, 2020 - 2:04 pm | Permalink

    With mild, late-onset scoliosis, and my dearest friend sliding into disability with ALS, I must vote for Margaret. At the moment our disabilities are slight, yet make a tremendous change in our lives … my friend especially has great faith, however, and I respect her so very much! And she still does good service, humbly caring for others and loving God, never blaming or giving up because of her current condition and future prospects. She reminds me of Margaret in many ways.

  69. March 6, 2020 - 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Patrick lost yesterday. This is why I hate Lent Madness.

  70. Sharon's Gravatar Sharon
    March 6, 2020 - 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I am amazed that so many of the comments focus mainly on Margaret’s disability rather than her gifts. (Remember, Beethoven was deaf and wrote beautiful music.) Often people who have visual challenges use other senses to compensate. In addition, Margaret was taught about the Christian faith by the parish priest, which probably included Bible stories and prayers. Because visually she was not distracted by what was going on around her, she probably had memorized many of the stories and verses. At the time she lived, there were not a plethora of translations — Latin Vulgate was pretty much it. So as the children began to “read,” she could help with pronunciations of words that she had memorized. And as for watching the children, it would not be hard to figure out who was doing what or who decided to disappear just by using the sounds of their voices.

    There were aspects in both commentaries on these saints that might be a tad bit hard to believe. But God is in charge and provides anyone who is willing to say “yes” to him with whatever is needed to fulfill their purpose.

  71. Gail's Gravatar Gail
    March 6, 2020 - 3:09 pm | Permalink

    I agree that Margaret may not have been totally blind. If she was taught to read, using large letters, she could in turn teach others. Both saints were wonderful, but I had to go with Margaret, for her perseverance.

  72. March 6, 2020 - 3:34 pm | Permalink

    My older sister was born with cerebral palsy and wheelchair bound for her entire life. She couldn’t speak or read, but boy, did she sure teach people about love and generosity of spirit. She had both in spades. Today was an easy choice for me.

  73. Mary M. H.'s Gravatar Mary M. H.
    March 6, 2020 - 4:51 pm | Permalink

    I feel for sweet Margaret…must have my vote as my name is Margaret also

  74. Cheryl Colby's Gravatar Cheryl Colby
    March 6, 2020 - 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Wow ! This is a hard one,My mother is French Canadian. We have relatives that are Newfoundlanders
    Wonderful people those Newfoundlanders. I taught Special education for 15 out of my 20 years teaching. I have seen a variety of disabilities.whether they are physical or emotional or mental. I also have seen the results of children having abandonment issues.Hopping on and off ice floes?Teaching children to read even though the person is blind? Seems far fetched to me,however,that is why they have been chosen as saints and that is why we need to take things on faith. All the comments and memes and poems are wonderful and the comments enlightening. So in that vein I vote for Margaret.

  75. March 6, 2020 - 5:04 pm | Permalink

    I have a son with a disability in a world that is more
    Tolerant but it can still be difficult for him
    And those raising him.
    I vote for Margaret who endured and helped
    Others in a world that had given her very little.

  76. March 6, 2020 - 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Lovely Margaret, who was blind and physically disfigured, however the bio describes her in vision-oriented language, so what is “real” here?
    She was born blind with a severe curvature of the spine that inhibited walking.
    Despite her parents locking her in a back room and forbidding her to see anyone, …
    She made her way by teaching the street children to read and learn different prayers.
    She also watched the children while their parents worked,

    In any case, her lot in life was stupendously lacking in positives and yet she rejoiced in it and served others with all she had. She is my choice for the day!

  77. March 6, 2020 - 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Imagine my surprise to see that the Dictionary of Canadian Biography (, where I work as the supervisory editor, is quoted in today’s match-up! I guess you know who got my vote! BTW, bravo to all your excellent writers and editors at Lent Madness.

  78. Charles Stuart's Gravatar Charles Stuart
    March 6, 2020 - 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Margaret of Castillo’s story is affecting, but I have to support fellow Canuck Simon Gibbons.

  79. LA's Gravatar LA
    March 6, 2020 - 9:43 pm | Permalink

    I was had at “Margaret was born disabled and lived a life that showed Christ’s love in a disabled body”… wow, is this ever so important for so many of us! It’s hard to see the emphasis on healings and miracles when so little teaches us how to be faithful and hopeful while disabled and/or chronically ill.

    As someone with 4 diagnosed chronic illnesses (possibly soon to be 5, per my doctor) who is essentially homebound, jobless, broke, likely soon to be without a proper home and who feels like she’s barely hanging on to life and hope, Margaret encourages me greatly.

    • Mary C.'s Gravatar Mary C.
      March 6, 2020 - 10:25 pm | Permalink

      LA, I just added you to my prayer list.

      • LA's Gravatar LA
        March 9, 2020 - 3:49 pm | Permalink

        Thank you.

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      March 7, 2020 - 12:02 am | Permalink

      Your avi is very expressive. Sending you a prayer for healing.

      • LA's Gravatar LA
        March 9, 2020 - 3:55 pm | Permalink

        Thank you. Avi is a photo from back when I was still able to mime. I’d nearly forgotten it was attached to my WordPress account which was somehow automatically triggered when I added my name and email. Back in the day I even did mime pieces on Martin Luther, Bonhoeffer, Ezekiel and others—had considered a solo show called “Portraits” which never materialized due to my deteriorating health—oh! and all these saints I’m now meeting… imagine showing some of their faith and lives through that art form if I were still able!

      • LA's Gravatar LA
        March 9, 2020 - 4:43 pm | Permalink

        (And then when I make my reply and for whatever reason auto-fill on my computer adds an extra letter to my email address and it doesn’t pull my photo!)

  80. Virginia Nagel's Gravatar Virginia Nagel
    March 6, 2020 - 10:24 pm | Permalink

    I had a hard time deciding between today’s two candidates. I lost my hearing at age 6 from meningitis…during WWII there was little of the (then) new drug, pencillin, and most of it went to the troops, not civilians. And as an adult, I married a deaf man who had lost his hearing to polio. We have 3 children, one of whom had brain injury at birth, and consequently had cerebral palsy and mental retardation. We now have 5 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. My husband is a chemist and a vocational counsellor. I hold a degree in biochemistry and later went to seminary and was ordained as the first deaf woman priest in the Episcopal Church. You see why I was pulled in both durections! Last fall I celebrated my 80th birthday and my husband and I celebrated our 60th anniversary. He is now paralyzed waist down. I still do occasional supply services, ut mostly stay home and look after my husband.

    • Karen Sculley's Gravatar Karen Sculley
      March 7, 2020 - 7:53 am | Permalink

      Thank you for sharing your story, Virginia! What a beautiful testimony you and your husband have, lives well lived and given in service to others – may God bless, strengthen, and encourage you both (and your huge tribe)

  81. Brenda McHenry's Gravatar Brenda McHenry
    March 6, 2020 - 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Both worthy choices, but my ancestors are from Nova Scotia and my grandfather built an Anglican church there in the 1890’s. So Simon it was!

  82. Amy's Gravatar Amy
    March 6, 2020 - 11:13 pm | Permalink

    I live in Arizona, so I admire Simon’s ability to get around in ice and snow, and be an effective missionary in harsh conditions. Simon gets my vote today.

  83. Liz Massey's Gravatar Liz Massey
    March 7, 2020 - 9:37 am | Permalink

    Hurray for the saint of the Maritime Provinces! My father was born and raised in Nova Scotia in the tiny town of Freeport on Long Island, off the Digby peninsula. I remember fondly the times when we visited my Aunt Mary who lived in Parrsboro. My father’s family was Baptist, not much given to talking about churchly things, so I never heard about Samuel Gibbons. Now I wish I had! And now I must vote for him.

  84. Robert Coates's Gravatar Robert Coates
    March 7, 2020 - 7:08 pm | Permalink

    I have always had a great interest in the Inuit people of northern Canada. They have been very poorly treated and have suffered a lot. I was surprised that an Inuit was recognized by the Canadian church. I voted for Simon

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