Tarcisius vs. Egeria

Welcome to the one and only Saturday vote of Lent Madness 2021. After today, your weekends will be free from difficult and heart-wrenching electoral/sanctoral decisions. Today, though, it’s Tarcisius vs. Egeria

Yesterday, Constantine dominated Miguel Pro 62% to 38% in a controversial matchup that left some voters abstaining, but every voter thinking, contemplating, and learning. Which is precisely the point!

Enjoy the Lord’s Day tomorrow and we’ll see you bright and early on Monday morning as we begin the first full week of Lent Madness 2021, with the Battle of the Greats as Leo the Great takes on Albert the Great. Thanks for joining us on this journey. We are truly grateful you’ve made Lent Madness part of your Lenten devotions this year.

Very little is known about the young boy martyr, Tarcisius. Our earliest reference to him comes from Pope Damasus in the late fourth century ce. In a poem honoring martyrs, Pope Damasus writes of Tarcisius, “When an insane gang pressed saintly Tarcisius, who was carrying the sacraments of Christ, to display them to the profane, he preferred to be killed and give up his life rather than betray to rabid dogs the heavenly body.” Tarcisius then, like Stephen, is a Christian witness who fell victim to mob violence.

Later stories fill in what might have transpired. According to those stories, during the reign of Valerian (253-259 ce), Tarcisius was a young altar server. Many Christians had been rounded up and put into jail for their belief. After the host had been consecrated in clandestine worship services, it was delivered to those who were imprisoned. Priests were easily recognized and targeted for harassment and arrest, so they would send others to deliver the consecrated host. One Sunday, young Tarcisius volunteered to deliver the eucharist to those in prison.

On his way to deliver the host, he passed a group of young friends who invited him to play a game. They were perplexed when he declined and began to jostle and tease him in good fun. They noticed he was clutching something to his chest, and they began to try to pry it from him. He knew the value of this treasure and the importance of his mission, and he held the host ever closer to his chest. The scrum, playful at first, grew more violent. In the tussle, one of the attackers saw a fish etched into the box holding the host. The playful abuse turned to violent assault as the boys began to pummel him for being a Christian.

A Roman soldier saw the disturbance and rushed over to rescue Tarcisius from the cruel gang. The Roman soldier revealed himself to be a Christian before little Tarcisius died in his arms. In some accounts, as he died, Tarcisius begged the soldier to finish his errand for him, and the soldier obliged. In other accounts, as he lay dying in the soldier’s arms, the host simply disappeared.

Tarcisius is the patron saint of altar servers and first communicants. His feast day is August 15.

Collect for Tarcisius
Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Tarcisius triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death: Grant us, who now remember him in thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 —David Creech


Egeria was a fourth-century woman who traveled to the Holy Land and wrote about her experiences, leaving the world an invaluable record of the development of language, liturgy, and Christianity.

We don’t know all that much about Egeria, the person. From her writing, it would appear that she had some status—the ability to travel from Europe to Palestine in the late 300s was not common. We also know she was a woman of deep faith, in that she undertook such a journey.

Her extant writing consists of a lengthy letter, now in two fragments, that she sent back to her community in Europe. Scholars are divided as to whether this community was based in Spain or perhaps France. She addresses them as “her sisters,” which could signify a monastic community, but this was early enough that all Christians tended to address fellow believers with sibling nomenclature.

One fragment of her letter describes her approach from Mount Sinai to Constantinople, and the other fragment describes, in great detail, the liturgical practices of the church in Jerusalem and Galilee over a year. Egeria, it would seem, spent at least three years in Palestine, making notes and observations. This provides us with invaluable information about the liturgical life of the early church and how various reforms and ideas moved throughout the Christian world. Her letter, for example, gives us the first record of such familiar rituals as the Palm Sunday procession, the Easter Vigil, and the Good Friday remembrance.

Her letter also offers an important insight into the development of Romance languages. Because it’s written in a casual form of post-classical Latin, it forms a bridge between what was classical Latin and what would become the Romance languages. (In fact, Egeria’s letters feature some of the first known uses of the definite article.)

Egeria’s bravery and creativity enabled the entire Western world to access the liturgical life we now enjoy, as well as the language we use every day.

Collect for Egeria
Almighty God, whose will it is to be glorified in your saints and who raised up your servant Egeria 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.

—Megan Castellan


Tarcisius vs. Egeria

  • Egeria (61%, 4,596 Votes)
  • Tarcisius (39%, 2,917 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,513

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Tarcisius: Böhringer Friedrich / CC BY-SA 3.0 AT (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/at/deed.en)
Egeria: Unknown

197 Comments to "Tarcisius vs. Egeria"

  1. Martha's Gravatar Martha
    February 20, 2021 - 8:05 am | Permalink

    The match-ups in this bracket have been very thought provoking! I am so sad for each saint who doesn’t move on. Thank you for highlighting so many who are new to me!

    • Sue Granger's Gravatar Sue Granger
      February 20, 2021 - 8:27 am | Permalink

      Achingly True!!!!!

    • February 20, 2021 - 11:32 am | Permalink

      These first three match-ups have really been difficult. I want to vote for all of them. Guess that is why I so look forward to Lent Madness each year. Tim and Scott have really pushed the envelope this year!

    • JoAnn's Gravatar JoAnn
      February 20, 2021 - 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Agree the match-ups have been difficult to choose from. Todays is no different but I voted for Tarcisius. In his limited lifetime his faith was so deep rooted. We can only speculate to what extent his contributions could have attained.

  2. Michael Fedewa's Gravatar Michael Fedewa
    February 20, 2021 - 8:09 am | Permalink

    In second, many years ago we did a skit about Tarcisius. In skit, I was one of the bullies. As a sign of my contrition. I cast my vote for the patron saint of acolytes.

    • Irene's Gravatar Irene
      February 20, 2021 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    • Susanne's Gravatar Susanne
      February 20, 2021 - 9:45 am | Permalink

    • Jennifer Addington's Gravatar Jennifer Addington
      February 20, 2021 - 11:42 am | Permalink

      I was the acolyte mom in our church for over 20 years. Started out with 8 acolytes a service, finally settled on 4. I miss those days and those kids!

      February 20, 2021 - 9:59 pm | Permalink

      Until this came up I forgot that I had played Tarcisius in a skit in grade school many years ago. How nice to be reminded of that time with a pleasant memory. I voted for him. I was going to vote for Egeria as I like hearing stories of female saints. Too often we focus on the Apostles and miss the women at the foot of the cross.

  3. Cath's Gravatar Cath
    February 20, 2021 - 8:14 am | Permalink

    I voted for Egeria because she has historical substance – Tarcisius probably was a real martyr, he was obviously known as such, but there is no concrete evidence for him.
    This is one of the contests where I would probably abstain, as I wait to be convinced of the reasons for either to deserve the Golden Halo!

    • Lorien's Gravatar Lorien
      February 20, 2021 - 9:05 am | Permalink

      I had exactly these same thoughts.

    • Vickie Gottlob's Gravatar Vickie Gottlob
      February 20, 2021 - 11:58 am | Permalink

      As a (temporarily) unemployed Eucharistic Visitor, I should vote for Tarcisius. As a retired teacher of Latin and French, I’d like to honor Egeria. What to do???

      • Pamela Payne's Gravatar Pamela Payne
        February 20, 2021 - 2:22 pm | Permalink

        My exact conundrum! Wish I could vote for both!

      • MKP's Gravatar MKP
        February 20, 2021 - 3:07 pm | Permalink

        When in doubt, always vote compensatory representation for women, I say.

        • Janis's Gravatar Janis
          February 20, 2021 - 3:48 pm | Permalink

          It’s a good default, but not all women work to dismantle systems that silence the voices of women. I’d say all voices deserve scrutiny, really intent listening, and engagement.

        • Tessa's Gravatar Tessa
          February 20, 2021 - 4:36 pm | Permalink

          I would prefer to cast a vote based on what the person did, not their gender or other characteristic outside their control. Our current society is the result of many centuries of choosing leaders based on gender, color, creed, et al, and we have a long way to go to achieve true equality among all people.

          Still considering the actions and what we know of the lives of these two.

      • Susan's Gravatar Susan
        February 20, 2021 - 5:02 pm | Permalink

        Exactly my seesaw

    • Lynda Tooth's Gravatar Lynda Tooth
      February 20, 2021 - 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Yes Egeria was my choices for the same reason … there is historical evidence of her life )that and the definite article!)

  4. Betsy H's Gravatar Betsy H
    February 20, 2021 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    In non COVID times I take communion to those who are unable to attend church.
    Tarcisius gets my vote! (Fortunately I have never had adventures like this on lay Eucharistic visits!)

    • Joan Dragolic's Gravatar Joan Dragolic
      February 20, 2021 - 9:02 am | Permalink

      Me too!

    • Amy J's Gravatar Amy J
      February 20, 2021 - 12:09 pm | Permalink

      My husband is a deacon in the Orthodox church and works extensively with the acolytes. So he is my obvious choice. Also, I have a tendency to choose against the privileged whenever I have the chance.

  5. Margaret S.'s Gravatar Margaret S.
    February 20, 2021 - 8:19 am | Permalink

    Hard to beat a child martyr! Although Egeria showed bravery, faithfulness, intellectual curiosity, and created an important legacy of language and liturgy, in the end my heart chose the child.

    • Margaret Wooldridge's Gravatar Margaret Wooldridge
      February 20, 2021 - 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for expressing my thoughts on this. My granddaughter, age 8, has faced some ridicule for being Christian.

  6. Irene's Gravatar Irene
    February 20, 2021 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    I was leaning Tarcisius because I actually knew an altar boy killed by a gang of teens (not because he was an altar boy though, it was kids from a rival school). But I voted for Egeria because of her concrete contribution to our understanding of our faith and because I like women explorers.

    • Phil's Gravatar Phil
      February 20, 2021 - 9:39 am | Permalink

      I work in an elementary school, so had to vote for the kid!

  7. NK Dunkerley's Gravatar NK Dunkerley
    February 20, 2021 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    I voted for Egeria out of respect for the debt we owe to her letter’s contribution to our understanding of liturgy, both then and now.

  8. Laurie Eiserloh's Gravatar Laurie Eiserloh
    February 20, 2021 - 8:36 am | Permalink

    Voting for the altar servers on this one, having been an acolyte and having been the mother of two encouraging many more to serve.

  9. February 20, 2021 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    Tarcisius, killed by an “insane gang” (poem by Damasus) immediately brought to mind the capital attack on January 6th. Egeria’s letters are incredibility important with a new translation and commentary provided in a book by the Alcuin Club (Amazon $23.49). Both saints are new to me and again I am so grateful to learn of both. Egeria easily won my heart and vote.

    • Catherine Linberg's Gravatar Catherine Linberg
      February 20, 2021 - 9:17 am | Permalink

      Voting for youth, upon whom the weight of the world disproportionately falls.

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      February 20, 2021 - 10:13 am | Permalink

      marx attacked capital; the insane gang attacked the capitol. i am writing this all in lower case so as not to get confused.

    • Lucy Martin's Gravatar Lucy Martin
      February 20, 2021 - 10:42 am | Permalink

      I immediately thought of the young African American student carrying the paper bag who was arrested beaten given Ketamine and died of a heart attack. An innocent senselessly murdered for walking home while black.

      • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
        February 20, 2021 - 11:19 am | Permalink

        Elijah McClain. The police officer told him: “Don’t tense up.”

    • Mary Larson's Gravatar Mary Larson
      February 20, 2021 - 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for the book recommendation

  10. Ellen L's Gravatar Ellen L
    February 20, 2021 - 8:41 am | Permalink

    I’m a historian by education and inclination, so when someone like Egeria leaves us such documents I have to vote for her. But boy, those who serve on the altar do tremendous work and today our Lay Eucharist Ministers are a vital part of our church. So, Tarcisius deserves considerable respect. So far, Lent Madness is not making the choices easy.

  11. Elizabeth Cimini's Gravatar Elizabeth Cimini
    February 20, 2021 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    Always remember hearing about Tarcisius when I was in elementary school. I’ve had no problems bringing communion to the local nursing home, but I feel a weird connection with him.

  12. Mama J's Gravatar Mama J
    February 20, 2021 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    As a child in school I had heard of Tarcisius, as a model of reverence of the sacred; a steadfast courier of Christ. As a MUCH older adult I come to realize that we are ALL ‘couriers’ who bear a responsibility to protect the sacred in our lives , from the Body of Christ to the sacred gift of life itself in all its forms!

    • Lucia's Gravatar Lucia
      February 20, 2021 - 9:01 am | Permalink


    • NormaJane's Gravatar NormaJane
      February 20, 2021 - 9:08 am | Permalink

      This is such a smart observation; it makes young Tarcisius not only a saint, but a parable. Lovely.

    • Carole Seeley's Gravatar Carole Seeley
      February 20, 2021 - 12:06 pm | Permalink

      Lent Madness has, through the years, become more than just a way of broadening my knowledge about the saints and has become a tool to promote meditation. Your insight about all of us being a carrier of the word of God is a beautiful gateway to my deeper understanding of living into the fruits of the Spirit. And *that’s* a perfect example of what Lent Madness has come to mean for me. Because of those rich a-ha moments of clarity, my vote goes to Tarcisius.

    • Carole's Gravatar Carole
      February 20, 2021 - 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Tarcisius – a child protecting something sacred. A lesson for all of our hearts.

  13. Gillian's Gravatar Gillian
    February 20, 2021 - 8:58 am | Permalink

    This was so hard today! The child martyr with the host clutched to his chest or the educated woman who’s letters help us understand languages like Italian. I’m a very proud Italian, I was also an acolyte as a child. But in the end, the strong, educated woman won out for me.

  14. Mary O'Donnell's Gravatar Mary O'Donnell
    February 20, 2021 - 8:59 am | Permalink

    A woman traveling and promoting language in those times is amazing.

  15. Lyn Fuson's Gravatar Lyn Fuson
    February 20, 2021 - 9:06 am | Permalink

    I agree, this was hard. I was new to both. Tarcisius showed such devotion. Egeria has given us a true view of the early Christians. Took a long time, but I chose Egeria, and I am glad to know of Tarcisius.

  16. Laurel's Gravatar Laurel
    February 20, 2021 - 9:08 am | Permalink

    As an archivist I have to admire Egeria’s travels for research and the letters she left documenting the practices of the early church and the development of language. It’s not an easy choice though; I admire the faithfulness and courage of the young martyr. Egeria got my vote.

  17. Carol's Gravatar Carol
    February 20, 2021 - 9:08 am | Permalink

    I am voting for Tarcisius today.As a Mom of 3 acolytes and a dil who is an Eucharistic minister,
    I know the love and dedication they have in serving the Lord .What an amazing young man Tarcisius was.

  18. Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
    February 20, 2021 - 9:12 am | Permalink

    Tarcisius said Here I am, and he meant it. He probably won’t get the halo, but today he gets my vote. His story is the story of many who live their yes when it would be so much easier to give in to the brutality and betray what they hold sacred.

  19. Linda M Williams's Gravatar Linda M Williams
    February 20, 2021 - 9:15 am | Permalink

    A story of bravery in stepping forward to serve in times of known danger would be enough…but to the prisoners! Standing up to bullies! And not abandoning the mission even when dying…definitely Tarcisius!!

  20. Beth's Gravatar Beth
    February 20, 2021 - 9:18 am | Permalink

    How to choose? all my children were acolytes and I serve on the Altar Guild. My daughter is a high school history teacher and would adore Egeria’s primary sources

  21. Vicar Mollie's Gravatar Vicar Mollie
    February 20, 2021 - 9:19 am | Permalink

    I had never known Tarcisius, and his story, legendary as it may be, is so heart-rending! But Egeria is an old friend, a wonder in her time. I had to vote for her.

  22. David C.'s Gravatar David C.
    February 20, 2021 - 9:20 am | Permalink

    I’m torn between the two, both deserving in their own way. If I were still the active layperson I was and carrying the sacrament to others after church, Tarcisuis would get my vote. But having studied Egeria’s writings in seminary and now serving as priest in the Episcopal Church (planning & presiding at liturgies preserved in her journaling), I cast my vote for Egeria.

  23. Tom's Gravatar Tom
    February 20, 2021 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    I always confuse Egeria with Helena, mother of emperor Constantine. Helena brought back something else from the Holy Land — remnants of the true cross. Voted for Egeria as most helpful for historians.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      February 20, 2021 - 11:53 am | Permalink

      I confuse them, too!

    • amy's Gravatar amy
      February 20, 2021 - 5:50 pm | Permalink

      I do, too! Maybe when Helena is up later in the bracket we can figure out why we are confusing the two.

  24. Pailet (age 9)'s Gravatar Pailet (age 9)
    February 20, 2021 - 9:26 am | Permalink

    Tarcisius! His courage inspires me to be brave.

    • Pamela Payne's Gravatar Pamela Payne
      February 20, 2021 - 2:29 pm | Permalink

      Well said, Pailet. We all need to be brave these days, and he is an example we can look to for strength.

    • Kathy's Gravatar Kathy
      February 20, 2021 - 2:50 pm | Permalink

      Good for you, Pailet! It makes sense to me too, to have the courage to be brave, even to the end. Easier said than done, I am sure. Tarcisius it is,!

  25. Michael Cudney's Gravatar Michael Cudney
    February 20, 2021 - 9:30 am | Permalink

    This was tough. But as an acolyte for more years than I can remember, I had to with Tarcisius. But it was definitely a tough match-up today!

  26. Katherine Grimes's Gravatar Katherine Grimes
    February 20, 2021 - 9:31 am | Permalink

    The story of Tarcisius reminds me of Albus Dumbledore’s praising Neville Longbottom, saying something like “it’s hard to stand up to one’s enemies, but even harder to stand up to one’s friends.”
    This match-up was hard for me, too; my sons have been acolytes, and I am an educator.

    • Kim Gray's Gravatar Kim Gray
      February 20, 2021 - 1:01 pm | Permalink

      The Gray Household

      Katherine – we agree! A3 (age 12) painted the Tarcisius peg doll, so the house was leaning that direction already, but you sealed the deal with that well place quote! Excellent reasoning.

    • Donna K.'s Gravatar Donna K.
      February 20, 2021 - 4:08 pm | Permalink

      Ok. This one made my decision for me! Always love a good Harry Potter reference!

    • Laura's Gravatar Laura
      February 20, 2021 - 5:10 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for the Potter quote which helped me cast my vote. Tarcisius it is. A tough decision today.

  27. Joyce's Gravatar Joyce
    February 20, 2021 - 9:34 am | Permalink

    Easter Vigil is the queen of liturgies! Thanks be to God for Egeria who took notes all those years ago and preserved for us this rich Easter celebration. She has my vote!

    • Ethellman's Gravatar Ethellman
      February 20, 2021 - 9:50 am | Permalink


    • Lisa Keppeler's Gravatar Lisa Keppeler
      February 20, 2021 - 11:55 am | Permalink

      Exactly! That sealed it for this Easter Vigil junkie!

  28. Francis Hubbard's Gravatar Francis Hubbard
    February 20, 2021 - 9:45 am | Permalink

    Egeria is historically important for Christians, especially liturgical Christians. We can thank her for spreading the word about how the Church in Jerusalem practiced Holy Week, including liturgical customs we may now find routine — spread to the rest of the Church by a very observant, thoughtful, devout woman of the 4th Century who could travel and write well, and knew that neither ability was given her just for herself.

    • Donna Devlin's Gravatar Donna Devlin
      February 20, 2021 - 9:59 am | Permalink

      Couldn’t have said it better, Frank.

    • Jack Zamboni's Gravatar Jack Zamboni
      February 20, 2021 - 10:20 am | Permalink

      Beat me to it, Frank! Sad that we will be able to celebrate these liturgies only in some attenuated form this year. Looking forward, Deo Volente, to the full observance in 2022

  29. February 20, 2021 - 9:45 am | Permalink

    A former journalist and current teacher and – when possible – traveler, I’m for Egeria!

  30. Claire Abraham's Gravatar Claire Abraham
    February 20, 2021 - 9:47 am | Permalink

    I am a Sunday School teacher and a daycare administrator. I had never heard of Tarcisus, so this was my immediate reaction… What on earth were those church fathers THINKING? They said he was too young to go? Obviously, this was correct! Holy communion is NOT more important than the life of a child, and this just makes me mad at all the adults who allowed him to get into harm’s way. Stupid, pointless loss of life. What a shame. And such a fine, brave little boy. Egeria, on the other hand, appears to have been a productive adult who produced something lasting and worthwhile from her ministry. This is a great story about a scholar who teaches us something new and valuable. I want to read her book now. I vote for Egeria.

    • Alethea's Gravatar Alethea
      February 20, 2021 - 12:28 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for writing my thoughts.

  31. Sarah P's Gravatar Sarah P
    February 20, 2021 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    Sometimes, voting your heart, knowing that the other candidate (who one admires) will probably win, is the way to go for me. As a rewired (not retired) educator, I am glad Egeria is ahead, but as someone’s mother, I voted for the child Tarcisius.

  32. Penny Young's Gravatar Penny Young
    February 20, 2021 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    Thought provoking, as always! Since the biography says Egeria was one of THE first to use THE definite article, I finally voted for her in honor of THE word THE, which I seem to use a lot of THE time . . .

  33. Celia Cole's Gravatar Celia Cole
    February 20, 2021 - 10:00 am | Permalink

    As is so often the case, these are difficult votes. The altar boy was brave, indeed! And died for his cause.

    Interestingly.,though, upon reflection, I found myself challenged by Egeria’s witness. May I faithfully share my journey with Christ with those who may not know Him without my testimony.

  34. Kitty Whitman's Gravatar Kitty Whitman
    February 20, 2021 - 10:03 am | Permalink

    For a youth to respond, “Here I am, send me”,” is a true martyr’s witness to daily live the call in all circumstances of life. The child Tarcisius gets my vote.

  35. St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
    February 20, 2021 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    How could I not vote for the woman “[whose] letters feature some of the first known uses of the definite article”? If Egeria wins today, it will be in honor of the definite article! As Wallace Stevens wrote so profoundly: “the the”! And we all remember God’s words to Moses on Sinai: “I am the THE.” Nevertheless, I voted for Tarcisius on behalf of all everywhere who have ever been bullied. I object strongly to the wording that Tarcisius was “teased” “in good fun.” Bullying is never in good fun, and when the victim dies from it, it’s a crime. Cruelty, power, and brutality are not “fun.” I simply think of a little boy who was trying earnestly to carry out a task and was killed for it. I think of the toddlers washed up onto the shores of the Mediterranean as their parents try to migrate and of the babies locked up in cages on the US border, and I am voting on behalf of protection for all children everywhere. May our economic and political systems be forced to change to place priority on the needs of children and families. That should be a definite article in American domestic and foreign policy!

    • Jennifer Deegan's Gravatar Jennifer Deegan
      February 20, 2021 - 11:17 am | Permalink


    • Elizabeth Byrd's Gravatar Elizabeth Byrd
      February 20, 2021 - 12:07 pm | Permalink

      You helped me decide. My daughter was a victim of bullying. Its awful even when you don’t die!

    • Amy J's Gravatar Amy J
      February 20, 2021 - 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Amen, Amen, Amen.

    • John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
      February 20, 2021 - 1:51 pm | Permalink

      “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”
      — John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

    • Linda Kisker's Gravatar Linda Kisker
      February 20, 2021 - 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Very well said. You are right that teasing is never fun; it’s cruel and destructive. Those who dissed Constantine, please note the torture and killing of Christians was pre-Constantine. His legacy is complicated, but some facts exist.

  36. February 20, 2021 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    As a liturgist at heart, I had to vote for Egeria!

    I had not heard of Tarcisius, tho I wonder if his story informed some of the adults who taught me. As the patron of first communicants, I was given Blessed Imelda, who deeply longed for the Eucharist as a young girl before she was old enough to receive, spent hours in prayer before the sacrament, & was found one night by the priest in the chapel with a vision of a host hovering over her. The priest decided Our Lord must *really want* Imelda to receive him, gave her communion, & left her to her joyful prayer… and in the morning, they found her still kneeling there, having died of joy sometime in the night.

    I’m disturbed by how *really, really gendered* these two stories are when taken as a pair. Yikes!

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      February 20, 2021 - 10:17 am | Permalink

      “Having died of joy.” Oh, those fourteenth-century Italians; I cry Bologna!

  37. Renee's Gravatar Renee
    February 20, 2021 - 10:09 am | Permalink

    In our church for a long time we had no young people to be acolytes, so I was one for about 15 years. And our priest said that while I was on the altar anyway, I might as well be a second chalicist. So I voted for Tarcisius.

  38. Kate Luckett's Gravatar Kate Luckett
    February 20, 2021 - 10:09 am | Permalink

    This is a tough one, y’all. Each day provides a new mind bending conflict for consideration. As an educator, I am drawn toward Egeria and her gifts to us. However, Tarcisius is a model of bravery — and his feast day is my husband’s birthday. The little courageous martyr gets my vote.

  39. Charles Stuart's Gravatar Charles Stuart
    February 20, 2021 - 10:14 am | Permalink

    In a complete reversal of the principles that led me to cast my vote for Miguel Po yesterday, today my vote goes to Egeria. Her personal intrepidity and her importance for our understanding of the early Church and evolution of the Romance languages won me over. Sorry, Tarcisius.

  40. Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
    February 20, 2021 - 10:21 am | Permalink

    I have been missing being an acolyte at Evensong and other special liturgies this last year, so the young man (he was 12 per Wikipedia dates of birth and death) who volunteered to take Holy Communion (something else I have been missing much) to those who were prevented from gathering together to worship got my vote.

  41. Ralph's Gravatar Ralph
    February 20, 2021 - 10:25 am | Permalink

    Either of these two saints would have beaten either of yesterdays choices. Isn’t bracket seeding usually done by putting the favorite against the least favorite? I voted Tarcisius today.

  42. Marcia's Gravatar Marcia
    February 20, 2021 - 10:25 am | Permalink

    Egeria sounds like an amazing woman with an incredible life journey, I’d love to know more about her., But as an original early Alter Girl, Tarcisius won my vote. I have to thank him for bringing fond 50-year-old memories to mind.

  43. Marie's Gravatar Marie
    February 20, 2021 - 10:32 am | Permalink

    I can’t believe this is even a contest.
    How does a legend about an altar boy compare with the historical documents from a courageous woman?

  44. Betty lane's Gravatar Betty lane
    February 20, 2021 - 10:33 am | Permalink

    Yesterday I did not want to vote for either on although I did vote against Constantine. Today I wanted to vote for both of them but voted for the lesser known alter boy.

  45. February 20, 2021 - 10:38 am | Permalink

    I had never heard of either saint. My heart reaches out to Tarcisios and how committed he was in fulfilling his holy task. I admire his strength. Egeria gets my vote for being the primary source of our knowledge of the early Christian lethargy.

    • Jean's Gravatar Jean
      February 20, 2021 - 9:56 pm | Permalink

      And she was anything but lethargic.

  46. February 20, 2021 - 10:39 am | Permalink

    I had expected to vote for Egeria, however I am moved by the story of Tarcisius. The plight of children and their roles in conflict and persecution is difficult to acknowledge or bear and yet both are needful. Egeria is no less important and no less honored by my vote, something I have slowly come to learn about the saints in Lent Madness. 🙂

  47. EllieT's Gravatar EllieT
    February 20, 2021 - 10:43 am | Permalink

    As an editor, traveler, and writer (and another over-user of “the”) I’m glad Egeria is moving on, but I’m voting for Tarcisius for my little brother the altar boy (50+ years ago) and for all the Good Kids that get beat up on the playground. 🙂

  48. Ruth Douglas Miller's Gravatar Ruth Douglas Miller
    February 20, 2021 - 10:46 am | Permalink

    Let’s support anti-bullying campaigns, and minorities whether by skin colour, language, religion or whatever, and vote for Tarcisius. But maybe I’ll go find Egeria’s letter sometime, too; both tales are completely new to me.

  49. February 20, 2021 - 10:46 am | Permalink

    Egeria is the patron saint of liturgy geeks (like me)! I own three translations of her fragmented diary: by Gingras (in Ancient Christian Writers series); Wilkerson (which includes drawings of churches in Jerusalem); and the most recent translation by McGowen and Bradshaw (Liturgical Press, 2018). I am pulling for her to win the Golden Halo!

  50. Tiffany's Gravatar Tiffany
    February 20, 2021 - 10:50 am | Permalink

    I’m fascinated by Egeria! Perhaps she would make a good subject for a historical novel. (I have to vote for the brave boy, though.)

  51. Rene Jamieson's Gravatar Rene Jamieson
    February 20, 2021 - 10:55 am | Permalink

    Tough one today! The story of Tarcisius dying in his champion’s arms, still shielding the sacrament from rude gaze is touching, to be sure, but the story of Egeria and her legacy touched me even more. In my long life, I have always enjoyed the study of church history, liturgy, and languages, and to learn about Egeria, hitherto unknown to me (as was Tarcinius) is a gift. My vote goes to Egeria for her scholarship and for the fact that it took great faith and courage for a woman to take such a journey in her time.

  52. Jennifer Seaver's Gravatar Jennifer Seaver
    February 20, 2021 - 10:56 am | Permalink

    As a woman writer who one day hopes to visit the Holy Land, I vote for Egeria.

  53. Lois Strait's Gravatar Lois Strait
    February 20, 2021 - 10:59 am | Permalink

    Hard today, First thought was the story of Tarcisius real or just a summary of all hose who carried the host to others during that time. but it must have been a dangerous job. but had to vote for Egeria. as she is known as a real person and I was a great traveler in my time and always wrote about my memories of what I had encountered

  54. madamesenora's Gravatar madamesenora
    February 20, 2021 - 11:00 am | Permalink

    An altar guild member in my former parish, I would prepare kits used by clergy and laity to deliver Holy Eucharist to the shut in, but I am a language teacher, so I had to vote for Egeria and her use of the developing Romance languages.

  55. Robert R Chapman's Gravatar Robert R Chapman
    February 20, 2021 - 11:02 am | Permalink

    Are they now taxing the use of capital letters?

    While I was surprised at “eucharist” instead of “Eucharist,” the use of lower case is a modern trend for several years. The Prayer Book, after all, uses “unchristian” in the stage directions for funerals.

    The use of “ce” is downright perplexing to me. Rather than speeding my reading, it causes me to struggle. I keep stopping, trying to figure out the misspelled word. I figure it out fast, but is an unnecessary blip.

    Please, use standard capitalization.

    • Barbara Brooks's Gravatar Barbara Brooks
      February 20, 2021 - 1:33 pm | Permalink

      First rule of writing: don’t make the reader stop and go “Huh?” I agree. Use standard capitalization and punctuation. If you’re confused, see “Elements of Style” by Strunk and White.

  56. Beth Parkhurst's Gravatar Beth Parkhurst
    February 20, 2021 - 11:03 am | Permalink

    Giving your life for Christ trumps writing letters. Being a little boy helps. I’m going with Tarcisius, even though as a historian I’m grateful to and intrigued by Egeria.

  57. Catherine Rangel's Gravatar Catherine Rangel
    February 20, 2021 - 11:04 am | Permalink

    Tarcisius, a precious child of God, paid the ultimate price. It would have been easy for Tarcisius to join the boys in a game of fun, but he (Tarcisius) did not let peer pressure persuade him to abandon his mission, even when the jostling became violent and deadly. My vote is for this brave child.

  58. Tom Brown's Gravatar Tom Brown
    February 20, 2021 - 11:07 am | Permalink

    As the secretary for my church’s board of directors, I appreciate the value of detailed church records, both ancient and modern, so I voted for Egeria. But I admire the reputed valor of young Tarcisius, so I wish there could be co-winners. The Madness guys are tossing apples-and-oranges at us.

  59. February 20, 2021 - 11:08 am | Permalink

    I heard many stories like that of Tarcisius in Catholic grade school. Though I came to think they were fanciful, the stories planted the seeds of a life of being devoted to something. Today the deaths of children seem less fanciful. And I receive communion when a devoted somebody delivers it. Tarcisius Gets my vote today.

  60. Roberta Hirstius's Gravatar Roberta Hirstius
    February 20, 2021 - 11:08 am | Permalink

    As a historian, Egeria gets my vote for gifting us with priceless primary source material on the early Church.

  61. TJMannion's Gravatar TJMannion
    February 20, 2021 - 11:14 am | Permalink

    The first agonizing decision of the current season. But in a year when “facts” must outweigh “legend”, I am compelled to cast my ballot (via email, imagine that!) For Egeria. We owe her a debt. Also, having gone nearly a year without partaking of a communion host, I’ve survived. At least we have a zoom liturgy, with or without in-person attendance in my diocese. Imagine if Egeria had had the ability to do a Facebook Live or instagram or TikTok from her travels. Who would we love more? The essential worker (Tarcisius, the bread delivery guy), or social media influencer (Egeria, the witness to liturgical reform)??

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      February 20, 2021 - 11:26 am | Permalink

      What an interesting modern “take” you have constructed from this match-up. *chef’s kiss*

  62. Gena Gilliam's Gravatar Gena Gilliam
    February 20, 2021 - 11:16 am | Permalink

    I voted for Tarcisus because my son is making his first communion this year! I didn’t know about this Saint and now I can share him with my children. Thanks and many blessings to you!

  63. Laura Schick's Gravatar Laura Schick
    February 20, 2021 - 11:19 am | Permalink

    Egeria considered all her journeys through life a Light in the darkness. I believe this is what all Christians are called to do. Her recording her life were probably the same thing my journaling does. I call mine my Letters to God.

  64. Kathleen Connell's Gravatar Kathleen Connell
    February 20, 2021 - 11:22 am | Permalink

    As I was not allowed to be an altar server because of my gender, I’ll be darned if I’d vote for their patron saint, pious as he was. I also think Egeria’s contribution to the church’s understanding of worship in the early church is a greater contribution. And finally, as a retired Spanish teacher, I have to vote for the one who knew how to speak what was the beginning of the Romance languages I love: Spanish and French.

  65. Ron C.'s Gravatar Ron C.
    February 20, 2021 - 11:25 am | Permalink

    Hard choices. Impossible to compare using any empirical approach. What do we say, “Comparing apples and whatever.” What they have in common is allegiance to the church and willingness to make a contribution. Like yesterday, how do you compare a personal sacrifice to a massive contribution to Christianity? So, like Mary we ponder in our heart. As a professor, I go with Egeria. As a former alter boy, I go with Tarcisius. My heart says Tarcisus. Thanks for this opportunity to learn and to think.

  66. Emily F's Gravatar Emily F
    February 20, 2021 - 11:26 am | Permalink

    I remember learning about Tarcisus in grade school.
    Even then, I just sat in awe thinking of such bravery and love of God in a child!❤️

  67. Kathleen Sheehy's Gravatar Kathleen Sheehy
    February 20, 2021 - 11:28 am | Permalink

    As a lover of liturgy and an actor who has played Wilde’s Miss Prism a few times, I had to vote for Egeria, to whom Dr. Chasuble compares the aspiring writer Prism.

  68. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    February 20, 2021 - 11:30 am | Permalink

    Learn something new every day! Egeria is my girl.

  69. Janet's Gravatar Janet
    February 20, 2021 - 11:48 am | Permalink

    Is Egeria a saint? I could not find anything definitive, but I thought all contestants are saints.

  70. John Michalski's Gravatar John Michalski
    February 20, 2021 - 11:52 am | Permalink

    As a long-standing Liturgy Nerd, I have to support Egeria. Her little text has played a huge role in my spiritual life. And I second the motion that someone write an historical novel about her travels. It could contain a ton of information about the “Springtime” of the Church.

  71. Pat's Gravatar Pat
    February 20, 2021 - 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Tarcisus — there may not be concrete facts but for many of the saints there are not concrete facts. My husband was an acolyte, all three of our children have been acolytes, I was an acolyte mistress. That he protected the bread — the Body of Christ — grabs my heart. I am a chalice bearer and a lay Eucharistic visitor. There is something in serving that blessed bread to others as I also partake. And have been a member of the altar guild. There is a special reverence and quiet worship in participating in these activites. Scott and Tim made this one difficult. But thank you for this opportunity to learn more about our saints.

  72. Mamie's Gravatar Mamie
    February 20, 2021 - 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I’m preparing second graders for first Holy Eucharist, so it’s probably obvious who my allegiance is to today 🙂

  73. Verdery Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery Kassebaum
    February 20, 2021 - 12:10 pm | Permalink

    After reading the bios, I was all set to vote for Egeria. I’m somewhat of a liturgy enthusiast as well as a big fan of language in general–where words come from, how grammar holds them together.
    But after reading the comments, I had to go for Tarcisius, the teenage boy who stayed true to his faith and his mission even in the midst of a riot.
    Maybe Egeria nest year?

  74. Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
    February 20, 2021 - 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I treasure my time as an acolyte; I think it was part of the journey that led me to seminary. But it is seminary that encourages me to vote for Egeria. I grew up Methodist, and when I went to Candler, I took a liturgy course from Don Saliers, and I learned for the first time about the Triduum and the fabulous Easter Vigil. It was my introduction to Egeria as well. The realization that we are today recreating what was done by the early church gave me chills. (Is this part of Tim’s and Scott’s promised “thrills and spills”?). I am so grateful to Egeria.

  75. Lisa Keppeler's Gravatar Lisa Keppeler
    February 20, 2021 - 12:18 pm | Permalink

    The more I think about it, the more I picture a heartbroken Jesus embracing young Tarcisius at the heavenly gates, weeping copious tears for the loss of young life … saying, “No! No, my child — it was YOU and all of my people who are My Body sent out to bring me to others; YOU who were the Sacrament showing forth life in Me to the world!” The history of the Church is the history of mortals trying to get their priorities straight, walking a thin line between idolatry and valuing people over holy vessels, trappings, and traditions. Being the Church during the current pandemic has challenged us anew to discern What Really Matters. I pray we are learning.

  76. Penne Sandbeck's Gravatar Penne Sandbeck
    February 20, 2021 - 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Looks like everyone had as tough of a time as I did. As a former acolyte and someone who’s dealt with bullies, Tarcisius rang a lot of bells for me but I still went with Egeria because I couldn’t imagine not voting for someone of faith who so advanced our knowledge of early Christianity. Do you ever bring back early candidates for a “Miss Congeniality” round? Re Janet’s above comment, we’ve voted for what I guess you would call secular saints before–Harriet Tubman comes to mind.

    • Janet's Gravatar Janet
      February 22, 2021 - 6:32 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the mention – I was hoping somebody would respond! Yes I understand there are various ‘calendar of saints’ for different religions – RC, Lutheran, Anglican, and so on – it was just that I googled Egeria and never saw a mention of her as a saint; my search was hardly exhaustive though! She is in the matchups so a saint she must be. Thanks again!

  77. Amy Leeson's Gravatar Amy Leeson
    February 20, 2021 - 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Egeria, for breadth of impact. (Although I know my limited mortal understanding may be missing complete perception of the impact of Tarcisius the martyr.)

  78. Josh Nixon's Gravatar Josh Nixon
    February 20, 2021 - 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Please try to calm your hysteria
    For pilgrim and writer Egeria;
    She journaled trends clergical
    And also liturgical,
    While roaming the Holy Land area.

    * I was waiting for the original Lent Madness poet, but as it’s mid-day, I thought I’d go ahead and drop one of my own.

    • Cindy Page's Gravatar Cindy Page
      February 20, 2021 - 12:46 pm | Permalink

      Thank you! I just wrote that I am missing those limericks. This is wonderful. Well done. Egeria it is.

    • John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
      February 20, 2021 - 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Sorry for the delayed drop, Josh; I was otherwise occupied and clearly missed deadline. You can find it below at http://www.lentmadness.org/2021/02/tarcisius-vs-egeria/#comment-76198.

      Much obliged for the moniker “original Lent Madness poet”, but many others precede me in that department. It appears, however, that our minds work alike: I also incorporated the rhyme “Holy Land area”, as I could find no evidence that Egeria got to Samaria — a pity.

    • Kate Cabot's Gravatar Kate Cabot
      February 20, 2021 - 2:29 pm | Permalink

      It appears you and John Cabot were both backing the same saint today!

  79. Cindy Page's Gravatar Cindy Page
    February 20, 2021 - 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Hard to make this choice without the limericks! (Where are they?? I miss you!) But actually, I have set up my preferences ahead of time, and will stick to first impressions… maybe. Here I voted for Egeria. She is a pilgrim, a historian, and a committed member of a sisterhood who speaks to me over seventeen centuries, a remarkable and important feat.

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      February 20, 2021 - 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Tim and Scott dare to pose us hard choices
      and make us declare our votes with our voices
      should we choose the bruised kid?
      or for the dauntless journalist bid?
      one way or the other we have to get off our toishes!

      • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
        February 20, 2021 - 6:12 pm | Permalink


      • Kathy O.'s Gravatar Kathy O.
        February 21, 2021 - 3:36 pm | Permalink

        Oh my, two limericks to choose from (see John Cabot below)…

  80. February 20, 2021 - 12:51 pm | Permalink

    As a journalist and journalism teacher, I voted for Egeria. But as a woman who navigated the perils of a newspaper newsroom before it was politically correct to be nice to women and as a mother I know about bullying and wish I could have voted for Tarcisius too.

  81. Mary Larson's Gravatar Mary Larson
    February 20, 2021 - 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Question…..As a newbie I’ve been amused by the oblique connections to each days contenders. However I’m struggling to see today’s connection. They are both on a journey? They are both all about church traditions? They are both ……I don’t know…..

  82. Bill Geiger's Gravatar Bill Geiger
    February 20, 2021 - 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Egeria’s writings have been a great treasure to the Church. But in honor of our acolytes, my vote goes to Tarcisius.

  83. Anita's Gravatar Anita
    February 20, 2021 - 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I believed Tarcisius died for his cause.

  84. James N. Lodwick's Gravatar James N. Lodwick
    February 20, 2021 - 1:15 pm | Permalink

    As a lover of liturgy and also of language and etymology, I had to vote for Egeria. The first time I read the diary of her pilgrimage, it made a great impression on me. I also appreciate the boldness of a woman of her day–no matter how well-connected she may have been–who undertook such long and arduous journey.
    And Egeria really existed! The story of Tarcisius is a touching one, but it is probably mostly fantasy. I think the saints we commemorate ought to have some claim to actually having lived.

    February 20, 2021 - 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I worked on a doctorate in liturgics. I have been my church’s acolyte master for over a decade, and have also served as acolyte master for diocesan convention. Tough choice. Tarcisius is new to me. But he got my vote!

  86. John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
    February 20, 2021 - 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Let us walk with the pilgrim Egeria
    On her trip to the Holy Land area.
    Scholars too should take note
    Of the journal she wrote:
    A gem among itineraria.

    • Josh Nixon's Gravatar Josh Nixon
      February 20, 2021 - 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Itineraria… impressive rhyme.

    • Lynda Tooth's Gravatar Lynda Tooth
      February 20, 2021 - 3:39 pm | Permalink

      Wonderful rhyming … thank you

    • Kathy O.'s Gravatar Kathy O.
      February 21, 2021 - 3:32 pm | Permalink

      The limericks master is Back! My joy is complete.

  87. Melanie Sokhey's Gravatar Melanie Sokhey
    February 20, 2021 - 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I cast my vote for Miguel Pro yesterday, and today I voted for Tarcisius- if martyrdom for the faith doesn’t entitle one to a Golden Halo, what would?

    • Sharen K Cornils's Gravatar Sharen K Cornils
      February 20, 2021 - 2:00 pm | Permalink

      I did the same thing. I guess this year I am moved more by those who gave all for thier Faith. Tarcisius and Miguel Pro were everyday people, Saints of God as the hymn says.
      Scholarly writing’s are laudable. Actually living ones Faith in the world seems critical right now.

  88. Betsy Simpson's Gravatar Betsy Simpson
    February 20, 2021 - 1:27 pm | Permalink

    At first blush, I was inclined to vote for Tarsus. However, Egeria used her Gog-given talents to do lasting good. I wonder if she was aware of the significance of her translation at the time. Or if it was simply a gap that she could fill. That’s a powerful lesson for me. When we use our gifts and do what we can, we live in our holiness.

  89. Luis Rodriguez's Gravatar Luis Rodriguez
    February 20, 2021 - 1:42 pm | Permalink

    I love Egeria and know that much of how we observe Holy Week today would be impossible without her writings, but I think our Church right now needs the message of Tarcisius and his absolute reverence for the blessed sacrament. Tough choice but the patron of acolytes got my vote.

  90. Kathy Puffer's Gravatar Kathy Puffer
    February 20, 2021 - 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Egeria. A woman writer who recorded what she found interesting in a moment in time, in the 4th century. And that information continues to capture our interest today.

  91. JustMeJo's Gravatar JustMeJo
    February 20, 2021 - 1:50 pm | Permalink

    This was certainly NOT an easy choice to make! I was, for a time a teacher of both French and Spanish, and I have loved learning new languages, and I am also something of a liturgy geek and lover of the Easter Vigil. OTOH, I am a Chalicist and Ehcharistic Visitor, and I cherish these responsibilities! After prayerful consideration, I chose to go with the valiant Tarcisius. But it was not an easy choice!

  92. JoJo's Gravatar JoJo
    February 20, 2021 - 1:55 pm | Permalink

    I did read all the comments before I cast my vote today. I had not heard of either saint before and I usually vote for the woman as a default. I joined The Episcopal Church because of the liturgical services so I must thank Egeria for that but I’m also a Lay Eucharistic Minister and understand getting the host out in a timely manner.
    So we’re tied. However….
    We have here in the Roanoke Valley and surrounding areas a dedicated 12 year old minister Elijah Lee who has been organizing programs and marches dealing with Child Abuse issues. He is such an inspiration and positive influence that I voted for Tarcisius in his honor

    • Barbara A.K. Franklin, PhD's Gravatar Barbara A.K. Franklin, PhD
      February 20, 2021 - 2:11 pm | Permalink

      Yes. We must see this vote in the light of violence against children!

  93. Michele B Hall's Gravatar Michele B Hall
    February 20, 2021 - 2:06 pm | Permalink

    My vote goes to Tarcisius. His love of our Lord’s presence in the Eucharist is admirable. I would like to think that I would have reacted the same way.

  94. Barbara A.K. Franklin, PhD's Gravatar Barbara A.K. Franklin, PhD
    February 20, 2021 - 2:10 pm | Permalink

    No, no, no! Egeria already gets enough credit. I vote for this little kid who was beaten up because he represents many children victims of prejudice and violence!

  95. Gail's Gravatar Gail
    February 20, 2021 - 2:25 pm | Permalink

    From my reading a very young boy died having in his possession the body of Christ which was meant for prisoners. Overwhelming.

    • Michele Hall's Gravatar Michele Hall
      February 20, 2021 - 2:46 pm | Permalink

      I so totally agree. Egeria was awesome in what she did, and deserves accolades, but she didn’t suffer for the cause. Tarcisius stood up for the precious Body of Christ. That is a true definition of a saint.

  96. Patricia Gordon's Gravatar Patricia Gordon
    February 20, 2021 - 2:59 pm | Permalink

    No lengthy soul-searching for me today – Egeria to the Golden Halo!!!One of my most cherished possessions is A Commentary on Holy Week prepared by the then-rector of a church in which I was a parishioner. He used Egeria’s writings about her trip to the Holy Land as a touchstone. It is wonderfully informative and inspiring and immediate. I wanted to meet her! We owe so much to her for thoughtful observations and detailed descriptions. I am so glad she was included. Great bio too.

  97. Cynthia Schulte's Gravatar Cynthia Schulte
    February 20, 2021 - 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Is THE vote count correct? I question it because Tarcisius’ name is in bold with less percentage of votes. In THE other results THE other person leading is in bold.
    I voted for Tarcisius because he suffered at the hands of bullies and that does seem to follow what seems to be happening in current events.

  98. Pamela D.'s Gravatar Pamela D.
    February 20, 2021 - 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Egeria…we know she truly existed. The travel she undertook was dangerous at that time, and exceedingly so for a woman. I think our lack of understanding of the risks women in the past lived with often colors our appreciation of what many women have accomplished. Tarcicius, even if nt true, still is a wonderful example of sacrifice….but since I have to choose I go with the ancient bravery of a woman that we know truly happened…..Sadly, there were a lot of tales spread in the early church and the middle ages that simply didn’t happen so I can’t bring my self to vote for Tarcicius. However, i will add all the children martyrs to my prayers tonight – God truly knows who they are.

  99. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    February 20, 2021 - 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been waiting to vote for Egeria again since she last appeared in the bracket. Whilst I am grateful to learn about Tarcisius I wonder about the priests who allowed him to do such a dangerous task. I also wonder if Jesus would rather have seen the host spilled on the street than the child bearing God’s image in the world brutally murdered. Egeria has given us a gift that still thrills me every year, and I am profoundly grateful for her courage, scholarship and writing.

  100. Judy Fleener's Gravatar Judy Fleener
    February 20, 2021 - 3:31 pm | Permalink


  101. Jane Bucci's Gravatar Jane Bucci
    February 20, 2021 - 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Well, I’m voting late in the day, and true to my intent to change my “MO” when it came to determining choice, I read the comments first. I eventually chose Tarcisius, and it surprised me. My heart won over my head today, but the brutal, unnecessary death of a child for his beliefs won the day.

  102. Kate Cabot's Gravatar Kate Cabot
    February 20, 2021 - 3:34 pm | Permalink

    When I finally get to take part in another Great Vigil of Easter, I will be thinking fondly of Egeria. And now I want to read her writings! Can anyone recommend an English language source?

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      February 20, 2021 - 6:02 pm | Permalink
      • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
        February 21, 2021 - 12:19 am | Permalink

        I also found:

        The Pilgrimage of Egeria: A New Translation of the Itinerarium Egeriae with Introduction and Commentary

        “This new version of the late fourth-century diary of journeys in and around the Holy Land known as the Itinerarium Egeriae provides a more literal translation of the Latin text than earlier English renderings, with the aim of revealing more of the female traveler’s personality. The substantial introduction to the book covers both early pilgrimage as a whole, especially travel by women, and the many liturgical rites of Jerusalem that Egeria describes. Both this and the verse-by-verse commentary alongside the translated text draw on the most recent scholarship, making this essential reading for pilgrims, students, and scholars seeking insight into life and piety during one of Christianity’s most formative periods.”

        • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
          February 21, 2021 - 11:20 am | Permalink

          Shoutout for Powell’s Books! Yes, always support an independent bookseller whenever possible.

  103. Judy Fleener's Gravatar Judy Fleener
    February 20, 2021 - 3:34 pm | Permalink

    I am voting for egeria, I am still mad that I could not be an acolyte as a child plus having to sing in a lesser girls choir while the boys shined.

    • Janis's Gravatar Janis
      February 20, 2021 - 4:03 pm | Permalink

      Sing it, Judy!

  104. Lynda Tooth's Gravatar Lynda Tooth
    February 20, 2021 - 3:51 pm | Permalink

    My voting criteria
    Proof that the saint existed ✅
    The saint’s life made a positive contribution to the Christian faithful ✅
    Resonates in someway with my journey ✅✅✅

    ➡️A sure vote for Egeria.

  105. Eleni Barber's Gravatar Eleni Barber
    February 20, 2021 - 4:17 pm | Permalink

    1st year for Lent Madness for me and already learning about new Saints and want to learn even more. Voting based on what the Quakers call speaking to your condition. I vote for Tarcisius. He treasured the Eucharist in ways that make me consider how we can take it for granted. The seriousness of bullying and non violent response speaks to many, and it seems at last, it is not being accepted. Will do a deep dive in Egeria’s writings and thanks SEC for letting me know about her.

  106. J A Reyes's Gravatar J A Reyes
    February 20, 2021 - 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Pre-pandemic, I served as an acolyte and eucharistic minister, so I voted for Tarcisius.

  107. Barbara Gay's Gravatar Barbara Gay
    February 20, 2021 - 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Loving languages, liturgy, history, and travel, have to go with Egeria. There are some very obscure people in this year’s group of saints, it will be so fascinating learning about them.

  108. Diane's Gravatar Diane
    February 20, 2021 - 5:18 pm | Permalink

    This is one of the toughest decisions. As a librarian and history lover, I am drawn to Egeria. As an acolyte and one who grew up at a time when girls weren’t allowed to serve, my heart, and vote, go to Tarcisius.

  109. Gail Adams's Gravatar Gail Adams
    February 20, 2021 - 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Did that faithful acolyte really exist? I don’t know. There is not enough evidence. Egeria, however, really did. In an age when such a trip would have been difficult she nevertheless traveled to the Holy Land. She bequeathed to us valuable information. As one who majored in History, I have to vote for her.

  110. Joseph's Gravatar Joseph
    February 20, 2021 - 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Matthew 25 – “We are called to lift up the most vulnerable among us.”
    “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” – Mahatma Ghandi
    I vote to lift up Tarcisius!

  111. Carol Tyrrell's Gravatar Carol Tyrrell
    February 20, 2021 - 5:50 pm | Permalink

    I voted before reading other’s thoughts and, following a pattern I have of voting for those who do not travel to the next round, voted for the lad! Christian kids need to know about this boy, he is a true witness!

  112. Robert's Gravatar Robert
    February 20, 2021 - 5:59 pm | Permalink

    I go for the guy that was a martyr

  113. Brad Dow's Gravatar Brad Dow
    February 20, 2021 - 6:03 pm | Permalink

    As an previous altar server (altar boy in my day) I have to admire the bravery and dedication
    of Tarcisius.

  114. Linda Davis Nichols's Gravatar Linda Davis Nichols
    February 20, 2021 - 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Tarcisius, because I serve at the altar,

  115. Sue Underwood's Gravatar Sue Underwood
    February 20, 2021 - 6:59 pm | Permalink

    I am voting for Tarcisius as my first born was an acolyte and my second is a crucifer, so I will vote in honor of their service.

  116. MARY ROSA's Gravatar MARY ROSA
    February 20, 2021 - 8:11 pm | Permalink


  117. Rita's Gravatar Rita
    February 20, 2021 - 8:24 pm | Permalink

    I work wonderful young students on the rez.
    Tarcisius gets my vote

  118. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    February 20, 2021 - 9:37 pm | Permalink

    Tarcisius’ is a beautiful and compelling story; but, apart from his age, he doesn’t really stand out among the white-robed army of martyrs. Egeria gave us a unique treasure and gets my vote for that. I like to think that a man with the same legacy would be equally deserving.

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      February 20, 2021 - 9:48 pm | Permalink

      I am happy that Egeria is advancing and would like to read her travel diary. Plus what’s not to celebrate in “the”? Happy to see you , Davis. Or is it “the Davis”?

  119. Sandi's Gravatar Sandi
    February 20, 2021 - 9:43 pm | Permalink

    I seem to remember Egeria was the lineup in a former Lenten Madness. Does anyone else remember her?

    • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
      February 21, 2021 - 12:33 am | Permalink

      I remember her. She beat out Hildegard of Bingen and Thomas Ken only to be denied a spot in the 2015 Faithful Four by Fredrick Douglass.


      Additionally, Megan Castellan has been Egeria’s celebrity blogger both times.

      I probably voted for Egeria at sometime in 2015, but today I cast my vote for my fellow acolyte who gave his life for his faith.

  120. Terrie Wallace's Gravatar Terrie Wallace
    February 20, 2021 - 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Had to vote for Tarcisius after the steadfast faithfulness, and bravery of the child despite all the cruel bullying he endured clear to the point of death despite a Roman Soldier coming to intervene and rescue him.

  121. Sandy's Gravatar Sandy
    February 20, 2021 - 11:47 pm | Permalink

    Not happy with “ce”…….Really??

    Vote for Tarcisius. No matter his young age, he volunteered to risk his life taking the Elements to the prison, protecting them with his life, ultimately losing his life. Great was his belief.

  122. Linda Burnett's Gravatar Linda Burnett
    February 21, 2021 - 7:37 am | Permalink

    Anyone who dies protecting the Eucharist has my voted hands down!

  123. Richard Harvey's Gravatar Richard Harvey
    February 21, 2021 - 9:09 am | Permalink

    I had to vote for Tarcisius having been a life long acolyte.

  124. Roger Mattes Jr.'s Gravatar Roger Mattes Jr.
    February 21, 2021 - 10:21 am | Permalink

    The acolytes have a patron saint. Who knew? Seeing how this tournament is taking the place of our youth group/acolytes meeting in person, I have no choice but to vote for for Tarcisius!

  125. Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
    February 21, 2021 - 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Supreme Executive Committee:
    Re “ce” for Common Era, I believe some of the confusion evinced in the comments may be because you didn’t capitalize it. Professionally I’m an editor, and personally I read grammar and punctuation guides for fun, and I’ve never seen “ce” instead of “CE,” just like I’ve never see “ad” instead of “AD” or “bc” instead of BC. Standard usage guides such as the Chicago Manual of Style, MLA Handbook, and Merriam-Webster Dictionary all use capitalization. AP (Associated Press) style still uses B.C. and A.D. exclusively, but even their style employs capitalization.

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      February 21, 2021 - 4:00 pm | Permalink

      For all who are exercised over the lower-case “ce” in the bio above, I refer you to the print edition, “The Definitive Guide to Lent Madness: Saintly Scorecard 2021,” page 48. You will discover that CE is indeed capitalized but in a smaller font. This is true as well for Constantine, p 29; Evagrius the Solitary, p 33; Matthias, p 43; Nino of Georgia, p 46; and Theodora the Empress, p 50. I suspect that in being ported from the text version (the slugs of type being carefully, prayerfully, and accurately positioned on the lead sticks by monks devoted exclusively to the printing press and to preserving the secrecy of the recipe to their centuries-old liqueur) to the creaking html platform of WordPress, whose wondrous quirks (i.e. irritating deficiencies–such as no “like” button) are by now familiar to us, the font distinctions are lost, reducing CE to a generic lower-case ce. Good scholars always consult the original text. And good Christians reserve their rancor for the kitsch round, at which you can KRANK it up for the bobble-head, glow-in-the-dark, dashboard saints; or better yet, call out the grifting false prophets who preach passivity to power and pass the plate in maskless churches, fleecing their flock even as they place those little ones at risk of illness and death.

  126. Adelaide Kent's Gravatar Adelaide Kent
    February 21, 2021 - 1:35 pm | Permalink

    As an acolyte and chalice bearer, I lean toward Tarcisius, and am glad we have a patron saint!
    However Egeria gets my vote as a gutsy woman travelling in a dangerous time, and the wonderful letters she wrote that are such a valuable source on the early church.

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