For the Golden Halo: Harriet Tubman vs. Joseph

It’s hard to believe our Lent Madness journey is nearing its inevitable end. We kicked things off over five weeks ago on “Ash Thursday” with 32 saintly souls (which somehow seems a lot longer than that this year). With your help, the field has now been whittled down to just two: Harriet Tubman and Joseph. Who will be awarded the coveted 2020 Golden Halo? That, friends, is up to you.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, we’ve met some truly remarkable holy people along the way. Perhaps you learned about some folks you’d never heard of or maybe you renewed acquaintances with saints who have long offered inspiration. Of course the entire notion of placing saints in a bracket is absurd — each “contestant” has already earned a crown of righteousness in addition to a “golden halo.” But at the heart of Lent Madness is the abiding conviction that encountering those who have come before us in the faith enriches and enlivens our own walk with the risen Christ.

In the process of this whimsical Lenten devotion we’ve all made some new online friends, encountered a community of believers who take their faith but not themselves too seriously, learned some things, were inspired by saintly witnesses, and hopefully had some fun along the way.

Of course we literally couldn’t have done this without our amazing Celebrity Bloggers to whom we offer sincere gratitude: Amber Belldene, Laurie Brock, Megan Castellan, Anna Fitch Courie, David Creech, Miguel Escobar, Neva Rae Fox, David Hansen, Carol Howard Merritt, Emily McFarlan Miller, Sandra Montes, and David Sibley. Thanks to Bracket Czar Adam Thomas for his stellar behind-the-scenes work in keeping the bracket updated daily. You all rock!

A special shout-out to Sister Diana Doncaster, of the Society of the Transfiguration, who kept us humming our favorite hymns throughout the season with her brilliant daily musical offerings based on the saintly pairings.

Thank you to everyone at Forward Movement for putting up with our shenanigans and producing a terrific Saintly Scorecard this year.

2019 Golden Halo Winner Martha of Bethany prepares to hand over the 2020 crown.

Finally, thanks to all of you who participated by voting, commenting, drinking coffee out of Lent Madness mugs, filling in brackets, talking about saints with friends, liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter, and allowing us to play a small role in your Lenten journey. We’ve loved having each one of you along for the “madness” and on behalf of the Supreme Executive Committee we wish you a blessed Holy Week and a joyous Easter.

Before we invite you to cast this final vote, we should note that Sandra Montes has ably shepherded Harriet Tubman through the bracket, while Neva Rae Fox has done the same for Joseph. We’ve asked them for a single image and one quote either by or about their saint. We’ve already heard a lot about Harriet and Joseph — click the Bracket tab and scroll down to view their previous match-ups if you want to refresh your memory. And then, it’s time to make your choice.

The polls will be open for 24 hours and the winner will be announced at 8:00 am Eastern time on Maundy Thursday. Now go cast your vote — the 2020 Lent Madness Golden Halo hangs in the balance!

Harriet Tubman

“God’s time [Emancipation] is always near. He set the North Star in the heavens; He gave me the strength in my limbs;  He meant I should be free.”

-- Harriet Tubman


Go, then to Joseph, and do all that he shall say to you;
Go to Joseph, and obey him as Jesus and Mary obeyed him;
Go to Joseph, and speak to him as they spoke to him;
Go to Joseph, and consult him as they consulted him;
Go to Joseph, and honour him as they honoured him;
Go to Joseph, and be grateful to him as they were grateful to him;
Go to Joseph, and love him, as they love him still.

-- St. Alphonsus Liguori

Harriet Tubman vs. Joseph

  • Harriet Tubman (56%, 4,430 Votes)
  • Joseph (44%, 3,504 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,934

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160 comments on “For the Golden Halo: Harriet Tubman vs. Joseph”

  1. A conductor of the underground railroad or the Messiah’s foster father. The final vote could be a close race to watch!

    I posted this link Monday and yesterday in the Lent Madness comments. I received feedback from people that they found it helpful, so I am posting it again today. On Palm Sunday, the impact of virtual Holy Week hit me pretty hard. Writing this gave me great comfort. I hope it provides you the same.

      1. Well deserved Harriet, but as a Sister of St Joseph I’m gutted. Even though Hildegard’s was my golden halo pick. Great fun. Thank you. I’ll join again next year.

    1. I read your wonderful message the first day you posted it - today's meme made me laugh out loud. Good thing I wasn't drinking coffee at the time! Thanks, Michael.

    2. Your meditation is beautiful and very moving. And today's meme is spot on! Almost time for Lent Madness withdrawal to set in...

    3. A toss up since both of them are important to our lives. Thank you for another great Lent Madness. Will you be doing the 50 days readings(Senior Moment as to what they are called) like have been done in the past. HAPPY EASTER to everyone.

      Stay healthy and safe.

    4. Thank you, Michael, for your beautiful meditation on this virtual season. As a 70-year-old with several health issues, I have been deeply grateful for the help of friends who have been dedicated to making it possible for me to stay at home for the last three weeks, and to the archdiocese of Chicago for making the hard, sad decision to cancel Mass and Holy Week And even Easter - And to the local ABC station that has
      televised Sunday Mass from Holy Name Cathedral. It’s truly not the same, but there is a sense of wonder in what can be shared as we stand together while staying apart.
      Your meditation reminds us that God shares His grace amid our pain and disappointment, and reminds us that Easter is always part of our life.
      Mary Beth

    5. Your meditation is so wonderful, Michael. I’ve reflected on it several times and plan to keep it. Also the daily memes have been a real highlight! I looked at your profile to see if I could “follow” you but it only led me to a friend request. I’m not stalking, just love what you write. My new favorite phrase in the world: “Episco-failian, trying to be good Episcopalian”!

    6. What a moving and passionate piece in this, the time of the greatest Passion. Thank you for writing it and for sharing it.

    7. Brilliant meme, Michael. Thank you for your memes and comments. Have a blessed Triduum!

  2. Voting for Harriet. Our Lord's step father is well known for his goodness and raising our Lord since the time the Gospels were written. While Harriet is not know to many people for her accomplishments in bravery and freeing enslaved period.

    1. I respectfully disagree with you, Brother Thanasi. We know so little about St. Joseph, because the information about him in the Gospels is so sketchy. What we learn from that is that he was an honourable, compassionate, devout man. Anyone who lives in North America at least and hasn't heard of Harriet Tubman is either under the age of six or just not paying attention. She is greatly admired and revered for her bravery, her tenacity, her commitment to her cause.

    2. I agree with Br. Thanasi, and am also voting for Harriet. For me, it’s not necessarily a question of whom is more saintly, but of how highlighting an oft-overlooked heroine blesses us all. I recently learned that Harriet Tubman also served during the Civil War as a nurse, scout, spy and cook for the Union (multiple sources).

  3. Why am I so sad to see Lent Madness come to an end, even sadder than I am every year? Perhaps because it's been a part of my life for so many years, and, this year, it has been one of the few activities that has given me a sense of normalcy. Thank you for being a part of my life this Lenten season. Thanks to all of you who have brought us Lent Madness this year.

      1. I was having a hard time deciding but have remembered this: one tear during our churches Christmas Live Nativity we asked a young man from our neighborhood if he wanted to be Joseph. He said "Who's Joseph?" And we got to tell him as we dressed him in the Joseph costume. On the 2nd run through Joseph was portrayed by a young man with intellectual disabilities. Afterwards he called his mom and excitedly told her,"I got to be Joseph!" We called the evening the miracle of Joseph. So today I will vote for Joseph for the Golden Halo!

    1. I agree with you and will miss the daily messages. It. Was an uplifting to help me cope with my isolation

    2. Thanks for your check moment. You took the words out of my mouth. This holy and —dare I say—happy exercise of Lent Madness has brought light and learning and a little levity to the sad and, for sone even harrowing experience of the Coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to the SEC, the Celebrity Bloggers and everyone else who participated to make it happen. On to the Golden Hali!

  4. THANK YOU to Scott and Tim for an amazing Lenten devotional. You have bequeathed a wonderful gift to Christendom. I know it must take an extraordinary amount of work, and every year I wonder whether it will last. And every year it returns, so very welcome during Lent. And especially this year, so long and dismal, when we will all still be in the tomb for Easter. We (I) needed this so much. To the bloggers, you are all incredible. You brought your passion, your heart, your sincerity, and your courage to the daily meditations. Thank you so much. To my fellow pilgrims, you are the salt and yeast (and possibly toilet paper) of the earth (and you know how precious yeast and toilet paper are right now!). Thank you for coming on this journey. Today we enter through the gates of Canterbury. I approach this pilgrimage through the lens of Chaucer; many of you bring very different lenses. Thank you all for sharing. Stay well. Come back next year; you are all important parts of this little body. And remember to stay on the path of good and right; follow the north star; come back to rescue even more. Go, Harriet, for the golden halo. You are the right witness for today.

    1. I second everything you said. I could never put it down on paper as well as you did. It certainly has been a blessing to have Lent Madness in our lives, especially this year. Harriet for the Golden Halo this year.

    2. Thank you, St. Celia, for your thoughtful posts, which are both spirit-building and witty (the salt, yeast and toilet paper). Like you, I was especially grateful for Lent Madness this year and its opportunity for learning, worshiping, gathering, and organizing our days (at least it did mine!). Reading different perspectives before I cast my vote sometimes changed that vote; it seemed that this year there were no true cliffhangers,but plenty of matchups that made it difficult to "choose" a saint. Today - Harriet led those on a journey -- a dangerous journey with uncertain outcomes. Her faith led her and helped others to follow a path to freedom. We need her this year. It's Harriet for me.

      1. Ah, Harriet who led us on a journey, a dangerous journey to boot.
        This country is on a journey, it's more like a roller coaster ride, with it's ups and downs. I will miss our daily romp into madness of Lent. Thank you all for your input.

    3. Thank you for expressing thanks to the team so beautifully! And for your own posts, which are always interesting. Lent Madness has been even more of a boost during these crazy times.

    4. Amen,Celia!!! I couldn't have said it better. I am so grateful for the SEC, Lent Madness, for ALL of you, my fellow Christian travelers on this somber Lenten journey. Even though we cannot be with our friends and church family in person this year, knowing we are together in spirit helps sustain the LIGHT within. Thank you and Blessed Easter to you all!

  5. Expected to vote for Joseph, the quote from Harriet swayed me. God's time is always near.

    Thank you all for another joyful Lent Madness. I am so grateful for all I have learned, for all you have shared. In these strange times, it has been so good to be a part of this wonderful community.

  6. "There is one World of Nature and one Life;
    Sin fractures the Vision, not the Fact; for
    The Exceptional is always usual
    And the Usual exceptional.
    To choose what is difficult all one's days
    As if were easy, that is faith. Joseph, praise."
    --W.H. Auden

    1. That did it for me! Auden’s take on Joseph is so very sympathetic and real in “For the Time Being.” Thank you, Mary. SEC, this was a tough one!

    2. Hi, Mary! Thinking of you out here on the banks of the mighty Columbia, where blooming azalea and rhododendron are gladdening our hearts from the World of Nature ... hoping your mud season is soon over and our Easter the world over gives us hope. Love, Annie

  7. R.I.P. John Prine. In his song, "When I get to heaven", John refers to seeing his father. I suspect Jesus, 'tho he cried out to his Heavenly Father, also had that firm hope he would see the Carpenter Dad, Joseph.
    Here's John's Song on Youtube:

    Whew this has been the toughest Lent. First, working with TWO calendars is worse than commute across time zones. Just when I think Easter is coming this Sunday, it's only Palm Sunday. And, I 98% followed the Pope's request to not troll during Lent. However, since I'm on the Pope's Calendar, I plan to resume trolling next Monday on an un-Orthodox schedule.

    1. Say hello to Francis. Best of luck with that Vatican Bank reform. Oh, and happy Easter happy Easter.

    2. Oh yes, oh yes. We lost a great one when John Prine left us yesterday. We were just talking last night about what Jesus would say to him about “Jesus, The Misding Years”. So much truth in his work.

      Thank you to all who made another Lent Madness season so fulfilling.

      1. Thank you for this video insert - I was sad to hear of his death, and this makes me smile!

      2. Thanks for introducing me to another of God's saints. I was not familiar with this artist. Oh, the things we still can learn in our old age.

    3. Thanks for sharing John Prine's video, Mark. I, too, am sad. As John says, God's heaven does not rely on earthly time at all. Joseph and Harriet know this. Whoever wins today knows faith and love win in the end. Thank you, Mary Pratt. You cemented my vote. Hope I end up getting me a pair of roller skates.

      1. I agree! Very very tough choice today, but I voted for Joseph because of the prayer, Auden poem, and in honor of the workers(and their families) who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Michael, thank you for the meme today.

    1. Sadly, I think there are many even here in North America who don't know about Harriet Tubman. I don't know if history isn't being taught, or if people just aren't paying attention. It's astounding how ignorant of our history many people are. What I do know is that I'm sad to see Lent Madness come to an end. It's been a small spot of normalcy and light heartedness during this bleak time. Happy Easter and good health to all.

  8. The "Moses" of her people gets my vote on this day when Passover begins! (I was inclined to vote or her anyway, but the synchronicity sealed it.) Thank you, SEC, for bringing me and my fourth grade religion students joy in this troubled time.

  9. I always hate to see Lent Madness come to an end, but especially so this year. The daily columns have given me something to anticipate eagerly in this time of sheltering in place. No matter who wins, we are all the better for having been involved. While I will miss it more than usual, I will rejoice that we've had this time together (h/t to Carol Burnett).

  10. So many times this Lent I have thought “ok, maybe my guy/gal won’t win this round, but that’s ok”. This round is no different! I voted for Harriet but could as easily voted for Joseph. It seemed like a match up between a fairly recent historical figure whose concrete acts of bravery and compassion are known, and a 2000 year old legendary figure of the Bible swathed in mystery. Right now, during the Corona virus pandemic, we need the inspiration to be led out of the slavery and fear and grief over the way of life we have cherished into the freedom of something better. And so, for our times, Harriet it is!

  11. This wasn't as difficult a choice for me as I thought it would have been. I voted for St. Joseph.

  12. From the instant I saw Harriett Tubman’s name among the 32 I knew she was my choice for the golden halo. She put her life on the the line for those she led to freedom. Now, many are putting their lives on the line for us and for the sick. God bless and keep all those precious souls. May he bless and keep us in this time of coronavirus. And may Easter come bright and glorious reminding us, again, that he is risen from the dead, because of love for each of us. And thank you Lent Madness and all who work or vote within for helping to keep us sane and focused on the important things during this time. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  13. Yet, where would any of us be without Joseph! His willingness to step out in faith brought us the blessed Jesus. While Harriet did such brave and noble works in freeing us from slavery, she did so following Joseph's example. He had no clue what a change he would bring to mankind! Either is worthy of the Golden Crown, but I went with the "first" father.

  14. Harriet battled the evil of slavery. Something we can only imagine and read about
    What theses brave people endured we can’t comprehend in modern time.
    Harriet Tubman is the winner.

  15. Ahhh... it finally has come to the end, for this Lent anyway. This year was special, of course, because of the crisis which impacted all of us. In New York City, my home, we sadly had a record number of deaths yesterday, just when I thought things were going better. But we can't give up; each of us has people who depend on us. As Harriet said, "Keep going!" As Joseph trusted in God and Mary at a time when an adulteress would be stoned, I strive to trust God and the good will of my neighbors. We are a Resurrection people. Just as Jesus's return enlightened the gloom that had struck his people, I trust that our future will take us out of this darkness. "My soul longs for you, Loving God--my soul waits, and in your word I place my trust. My soul longs for you, Loving God, more than sentinels long for the dawn, more than sentinels long for the dawn." Psalm 130 extract.
    I voted today. Does it matter for whom? Have a wonderful Easter everyone. Be reborn! See you next Lent.

    1. Thank you, Richard. As you say, keep going. Stay well, you and your fellow New Yorkers. We are a Resurrection people. See you next year.
      So many names, there
      is barely room on
      the walls of the heart.

    2. Thank you Richard! I always enjoy your posts especially (maybe it's the jaunty tilt of your halo). Have a wonderful Easter and we'll all meet again next year.

  16. This is a tough choice. Joseph, being the father of the "son of man" - what could be more important than that? But, as the 1st note on Joseph admits, we really don't know very much about him. Harriet Tubman was born black and as a slave which means she came into this life with 2 strikes against her. She was abused, mistreated and she still managed to devote her life to helping the downtrodden throughout her life. That takes unimaginable resolve and I find her example worthy of my vote.

    1. Black, a slave, and a woman -- but she made it to home in spite of 3 strikes!

  17. In these times when everything feels surreal, who would've guessed that Madness would help keep us sane. The saintly smackdown is the first message I open every morning, before all the scary pandemic news. Thanks to the celebrity bloggers and everyone in this online community who started my day with your insights, grace and humor.

  18. This was fun and I learned a lot about Saints I never knew and others I have known and loved. I wish we could have both Harriet and Joseph this year.

  19. Thank you ever so much to everyone who has been a part of Lent Madness this year. Thanks for the jokes, the limericks, the memes, the links to art and music and more in-depth information, the heartfelt stories and testimony. Thanks to all in this community. I am heartbroken at the thought of not having our interaction to start off these grim days of death and disruption. I fear I am not cut out well for disaster, so I look to Harriet as an example of one who made it through near-constant threat of death and disruption. I had hoped to see Elizabeth Fry and Harriet in the final matchup. Wouldn’t that have caused wailing and gnashing of teeth! Good-bye, my Lenten friends. Please stay safe and be of good courage.

    1. "I fear I am not cut out well for disaster" -- Amen, sister! Especially THIS disaster, in which I am told the best way I can help my fellow humans is to stay at home. Not a satisfying way to serve, and not on the list of actions Jesus enumerated when he talked about sheep and goats in Matthew ch. 25.

        1. Yes. We know that quote. Not necessary to continually be “educating”us with literary/music references we know. Sometimes it comes across quite condescending. You likely don’t mean for it to.

  20. Neither is superior to the other, both winners. Harriet lived a life of heroic dimensions and great courage. Joseph as far as we know was confined to a supporting role of near anonymity except in Jesus' childhood, overshadowed in Scripture and story by his son(s) and wife. Both are role models. It's a tie.

  21. This my only second year of this Madness, I have found myself, never really been tested with my knowledge or lack of, but, never too old to learn and walk the walk of my Faith! Last year was a eye opening moving after 51 years in home and one area of our city—into a Condo life in an area of the city that we never know of! I have had many medical ups and downs, but when I was kicked down in Hawaii with the first of three brain bleeds And had 6 days of being conscience with no memory of those 6 days, that was where my journey really started! I had been on a journey to find ‘where was I)? When we moved we went back to the Church we were married at in 1963 and a minister asked me why is it so important where I was in those 6 days, — ‘isn’t it more important where you are now?’ That is when I found this Lenton Madness, and so grateful I did! It has lead me back to our daily Bible readings and lessons! I feel ‘reborn’ with knowledge and I will be 77 EASTER Sunday so I am not an infant by my calendar, but, I am learning what IS IMPORTANT in this life I have re-entered! My vote is for the lesser know Harriett Tubman, we Canadians already knew of her ordeals, and this is what LentonMadness is about to,learn of those out ‘there’ what they have done with no trophy’s, maybe. golden Halo! Everyone have a Joyous Easter, you never know when it will be your last!

  22. What great FUN Lent Madness is! The very Idea of saints in a smash down boggles the mind! Perhaps saints Might have certain Disagreements of theology.
    Be that as it may, all the saints surely agree that Jesus Christ is Lord, the Son of the great I Am.

    In Lent Madness, the big question is: what exactly is a saint?
    So, we participants struggle to answer this question in each contest. Some factors to consider historical time verses present moment; hermit vs. Bishop; and many others.
    Thanks, Fr. Tim and Fr. Scott and C.B. for the opportunity !

  23. I admire Harriet Tubman more than words can express. Her bravery astonishes me and her love must have been boundless. Dear Joseph, who loved Jesus, is the timeless example of perfect fatherhood. The most important thing a dad can do for his child is love and respect the child’s mother. In memory of my precious Daddy who died loving my mother perfectly and completely, I cast my final vote this year for Joseph.

  24. All honor to Harriet Tubman, but when it comes down to the wire, nobody trumps Joseph.
    We're all going to miss Lent Madness. I think what I'm going to miss the most is reading about the humanity of the saints. Holy people that they were, they were still people, not figures in stained glass windows until much later. Furthermore, as we sing in the hymn "I
    Sing a Song of the Saints of God," "They lived not only in ages past." I'll keep an eye out for holiness in people I meet and read about throughout the rest of the year. Many thanks for another great season of Lent Madness.

  25. I see that Harriet Tubman is ahead, but this might be a close round. No matter. Either one richly deserves the Golden Halo, and Joseph already has his. Harriet, I'm sure, has one in heaven as well. The Executive Committee, Celebrity Bloggers, and followers of Lent Madness are always winners every year. Thanks for a Happy and Holy Lent!