Elizabeth Fry vs. Joseph

Who will face Harriet Tubman for the coveted 2020 Golden Halo? That's the question we'll answer today as Elizabeth Fry faces Joseph, following Harriet's victory over Hildegard of Bingen 58% to 42%.

To make it to the Faithful Four, Elizabeth Fry defeated Florian, Clare of Assisi, and Margaret of Castello, while Joseph took down Joshua, Elizabeth, and Joanna the Myyrhbearer. (again, click on the defeated saint's name to read the previous write-ups). We're grateful to Celebrity Bloggers Amber Belldene (Elizabeth Fry) and Neva Rae Fox (Joseph) for shepherding their respective saints all the way to the Faithful Four.

Then, once the final matchup is settled, the Championship round will take place tomorrow on Spy Wednesday, with the winner announced at 8:00 am on Maundy Thursday.

But we still have a ways to go yet. So read, watch yesterday's last in-season episode of Monday Madness, and then vote! Though not necessarily in that order.

Elizabeth Fry

Two qualities make a person a saint.

The first is the ability and courage to see as Jesus taught us see--through the sinful illusions of this world that make us complacent, judgmental, and exclusionary. He refused to condemn outcasts, welcomed prostitutes and pilfering tax collectors, and crossed boundaries to touch and heal the diseased and unloved. By setting this example for us, he turned the world upside down and taught us the way to defeat corrupt powers is with nonviolent love. He had an excellent example of this in his own earthly father Joseph (a faithful four finalist), who had the courage to defy cultural norms to marry his unexpectedly pregnant betrothed.

Elizabeth Fry also exemplifies this quality. She was a woman of wealth and privilege who had no need to see beyond her own good fortune.  Yet, as a devout Quaker, she recognized the divine light in every person and believed that no one needs the good news of God’s love more than those the world does not love. Rather than writing off the women of her era who’d been imprisoned as criminals, she analyzed the social structures that contributed to their incarceration—poverty and lack of education--and changed them. In the same way that people were astonished that Jesus ate with criminals, polite Victorian society was astounded that respectable Betsy Fry went into the prisons, but go she did. She spoke out against appalling conditions and helped others to see the injustices that had been invisible to them before.

The second quality of a saint is, having seen through the veil of sin and corruption, working to bring about God’s justice and peace. We know from Elizabeth’s own words how tirelessly she strived for prison reform and other just causes such as abolition. “Oh Lord, may I be directed what to do and what to leave undone.” By educating and advocating for women in Newgate prison, she restored their dignity and brought them comfort, sometimes all the way to the noose. She achieved results that surprised prison wardens: women transformed by love.

Sainthood is not a single act of courage, but a lifetime of sacrificial love that transforms the lives of the oppressed and heals the world. Betsy’s lasting legacy changed the penal system for the better, improving sanitation, safety, and dignity. Although there is still need of major reform, thanks to Fry’s efforts, prisoners in many countries are given educational and employment opportunities. She showed us that a person is not either a bad apple or a good one. Her work continues to inspire countless others, especially through the Elizabeth Fry societies addressing current women’s issues such as human trafficking.

It is April 2020, and the world is in the midst of a pandemic unlike anything we have ever seen. I am sitting in a place of privilege like Betsy Fry once did, still employed and able to work from home. I look to her as my saintly example. May she show me and all of us how to industriously and courageously restore health, employment, and dignity to a suffering world.

--Amber Belldene


St. Joseph has been called a saint for all times, but there is no doubt that he is truly a saint for today. The world needs St. Joseph as we find ourselves in a pandemic that places us in a crossroads.

At this crossroads, together with the spirit of St. Joseph, we must choose faith, just as St. Joseph chose throughout his life.  He chose faith, trust, hope, and service to the Almighty.

Many Americans are experiencing at least a twinge of anxiety as the pandemic spreads, as we hear of friends, colleagues, and even those whom we don’t know test positive or succumb to COVID-19. Nonetheless, when I think of St. Joseph, a calmness blankets me. He faced so many obstacles on his life’s journey, but he remained calm and hopeful, devout in his beliefs, and loving in his care.

In this time of need, St. Joseph pray for us.

By tradition, he would have been within his rights to terminate his betrothal to Mary, but he chose not to. He could have ignored the angel who told him to take Mary and her child to Egypt, but he chose not to. He could have stayed in Egypt, despite the angel informing him it was okay to return to his homeland, but he chose not to. In each case, he trusted the messages of the angels, steadfast in his certainty in God, and followed instructions without question.

His life is the epitome of humility, obedience, tradition, silent witness, hope, and faith in the face of insurmountable obstacles. He never complained.

In this time of need, St. Joseph pray for us.

St. Joseph walks with so many – fathers, stepfathers, foster-fathers, and father-figures; carpenters and crafters; parents, stepparents and foster parents; the unemployed; realtors; workers and laborers; travelers; immigrants; home-sellers and home-buyers; numerous cities and nations.

Our current time calls for prayers to St. Joseph – prayers for those in doubt, in harm’s way, in need of protection, in trouble, and for those who desire a peaceful death.

In this time of need, St. Joseph pray for us.

St. Joseph flourished with faith, as we need to be today. He was flexible in his life, as we need to be today. St. Joseph was humble and obedient; he showed integrity and faith; he placed his hope in the hands of the Almighty, as we need to do today.

As we maneuver through this current crossroads, let us model St. Joseph. Let us allow thoughts of St. Joseph to blanket us with calmness, hope, and trust. When we trust in St. Joseph, we reaffirm our beliefs in the Almighty.

In this time of need, St. Joseph pray for us.


--Neva Rae Fox

Elizabeth Fry vs. Joseph

  • Joseph (59%, 4,101 Votes)
  • Elizabeth Fry (41%, 2,880 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,981

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George Richmond chromolithograph, 1913 or before (1843) NPG D38442 © National Portrait Gallery, London


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117 comments on “Elizabeth Fry vs. Joseph”

  1. This has been my first experience with Lenten Madness and I must say that I have looked forward eagerly each day to read about the saints and see what the rest of you have written. I hope to take part in this again next year. Today I went with Elizabeth for many of the same reasons already noted. Thank you to all who made this possible.

  2. Lent Madness has been especially important to me, also, this year. I read, study, and learn so much. I am so grateful to Tim and Scott. Sometimes a person who comments rubs me the wrong way, but they have every right to their thoughts. I just skip over them . I miss Oliver. I wonder where he is. God be with us all through these times. Until next year my dear friends in Christ.....

  3. I just don't read most of the comments.
    I try to stick to the info given about the courageous people we vote for

  4. First of all, I will admit to my bias. My dad was Joseph (Patrick, but that is another story!) who did the best he could for his family. He went were his job sent him, and changed his job when yet another one tried to move him and his family somewhere that Dad thought wasn’t beneficial for all. My mother, Mary, counted on his help to raise us to become productive members of our society. And we did.

    Most of us work without any fanfare in our lives, doing what we are guided to do by the angels in our lives. We may not have the resources to perform the charity works that others do, and that is fine. But we can support the efforts of people who quietly strive to provide for their family, whether a birth family, chosen family, or family of friends. St. Joseph shows us by example how to do this.

  5. Just read your meditation to my husband, Michael. We share each Lent Madness daily and then I vote! (joint decision, of course!) I didn't expect to weep, but I did. Your words touch our hearts minds and spirits. Thank you! Today we chose Betsy, her strong advocacy for women and accomplishments were too many to deny in this contest. However, I can see that St. Joseph leads the votes, so we bow to those who chose his strong legacy of humble obedience over Betsy's forthright, determined actions for others. We hate to see LM end, but, with you, we will continue to celebrate the empty tomb and Risen Christ, because there's no contest when it comes to His redemptive and saving Presence in our lives!

  6. I will miss Lent Madness so much! Love learning about saintly people I'd never before heard of. Today's bloggers made the choice even more difficult. Went with Joseph in the end, but am glad Elizabeth made it to the inner circle.

  7. I'm a little confused. A few people said they voted for Elizabeth because Joseph is "already a saint." Isn't everyone in Lent Madness already a saint?

  8. It appears that Elizabeth is Fry-ed, but she still got my vote. Even though she will not get the 2020 Golden Halo, I hope many will be inspired to continue the work she began, for there is still much to do in the area of prison and criminal justice reform, including the abolition of the death penalty.

    Also, I will vote for Harriet tomorrow, because Joseph got to literally witness the Incarnation and was most likely the first to see Jesus, unless Mary was some sort of contortionist, therefore Joseph has already received a reward worth more than any Golden Halo. Additionally, Joseph of course knew the one Saint who is permanently disqualified from Lent Madness .

  9. Sorry Amber - I missed voting yesterday and it would have been Fry for her necessary and so Christian message about humane treatment of people who are incarcerated. I give clothes to charity, I take care of sick people, but I have never in my pretty long life so far visited anyone in prison. I am at baby steps stage of listening to advocates about conditions.