Benedict the Moor vs. Ives of Kermartin

Welcome to the Faithful Four! From an initial field of 32 saints, we have sliced the field down to four saints. Only one of whom will be crowned with the 2021 Golden Halo. It's all comes down to Benedict the Moor, who faces Ives of Kermartin today and Catherine of Genoa, who squares off against Absalom Jones tomorrow. Then on Spy Wednesday, the two remaining titans of faith will compete for the ultimate prize, with the winner being announced at 8:00 am Eastern time on Maundy Thursday.

To get to this round, Benedict defeated Nino of Georgia, Euphrosyne, and Camillus de Lellis. While Ives took down Jacapone da Todi, Dunstan, and Arnulf of Metz.

After learning about our saintly heroes via basic bios, quirks and quotes, and even kitsch, in this round, we let our remaining Celebrity Bloggers loose as they answer the question “Why should Saint XX win the Golden Halo?” In other words, they’ve been charged with letting us know why their particular saint is so awesome. We have also invited them to share their two favorite images of their saints.

Let's get this Faithful Four party started!

Benedict the Moor

When it came time to choose who I would advocate for this year, Benedict of Palermo (Benedict the Moor / African) practically jumped off the page.

Here was a man of African descent, raised in a European community as a racial and ethnic minority. A man who endured hardship, mocking, and discrimination because he did not look like the people around him.

And yet, Benedict found his way.

He found a way to be more than an exception or an outlier. He became a valued member and leader in his community. Benedict was elevated to Superior of his community and served admirably as a leader. In other seasons, he took his place alongside his brothers as equals. He found a way in which he was able to participate in the beloved community – not a token or a curiosity, but valued for the practical talents and spiritual gifts he brought.

Benedict found his way as he turned away from resentment and toward service. Whether cooking for his brothers or healing a traveler or consoling a widow, Benedict’s gifts made every community he participated in better. His life of prayer stirred him to compassion for all who suffered. In our world today, we need more of Benedict’s way of compassion and service.

Benedict found a way to use his heart and his hands – his faith and his action – to give witness to what the life of discipleship looks like. Meditating in the hermitage and cooking for visitors, praying in the room and healing from the bushes. In our world today we need Benedict’s way of active contemplation and contemplative action.

And then, Benedict found a way to remind us of humanity. As the world debated the humanity and belovedness of persons of African descent, Benedict’s legacy shone brightly as a refuation of those who would deny the humanity of enslaved Africans. Here stood Benedict – intelligent and compassionate, capable and insightful – the opposite of every 19th century white/European depiction of Africans. In our world today we need Benedict’s way to remind us of the folly and error of denying the full humanity of our siblings.

Following a pandemic and numerous Civil Rights moments; following generations of quietism and the separation of our faith from our public lives; following a vile heritage of enslavement, Jim Crow, redlining, and mass incarceration, we need to find our way. Let us look to Benedict and his way of service, humility, prayer, and dignity.

One more legacy of Benedict remains. Jutting out into the Mediterranean, the island of Sicily is a natural landing place for immigrants. There, in the middle of a global crisis of migration, the town of Palermo has become a place of welcome, refuge, and safety for African migrants. Towering over the soccer fields in Palermo where the children of immigrants play, a giant mural of Benedict the African smiles and offers his blessing.

--David Hansen

Ives of Kermartin

Throughout this Lent Madness season, I learned a lot about St. Ives. I had a passing familiarity with him through the St. Ives celebration honoring legal professionals sponsored by the Diocese of New York.

My research into St. Ives proved the impact of his service to society over the past 700 years. As I delved into his life, ministry and contributions, I was impressed with his quiet leadership, his refusal to give up, his arms ever extended to the poor and downtrodden, his deep devotion to living his faith, his lifelong perseverance and temerity.

He was a priest. He was a lawyer.  He was exemplary in both.

He is the patron saint and a guiding star to the legal profession, which honors him worldwide.

I was touched by his dedication to helping the disadvantaged, defending the poor, never turning his back on the needy and destitute, and his commitment to representing the underprivileged, in both civil courts and in church courts.

He braved new frontiers in his legal endeavors. As the “bishop’s judge,” he took this role seriously.

His was not a glossy life.  Ives never sought the spotlight. He donated all his earnings to help the poor.

In a time when it was common to take bribes, Ives refused.

In a time when much of the populace was poor and downtrodden, Ives defended them, often pro bono.

I was struck with the words of Pope John Paul II in 2003, calling Ives “a figure who was able to combine a social role and an ecclesial mission, drawing from his spiritual life the strength for action and for the unification of his being.”

The pope aptly saw Ives as “someone who devoted his whole life to serving Christ in serving the poor, as a magistrate, lawyer, and priest. St. Ivo was involved in defending the principles of justice and equity.”

An image of Ives says it all. He is often depicted with a money bag, representing his donations to the poor, and a scroll, signifying the law.

In this world of so much strife, so much discourse, we can look to St. Ives as a role model for today.  Ives is an example of a life well-lived in the spirit of Christ. He is an example of a life that transcends the ages.

I learned a lot about St. Ives during this Lent Madness season. And I am thankful for his enduring example of fairness and faith.

--Neva Rae Fox

Benedict the Moor vs. Ives of Kermartin

  • Benedict the Moor (69%, 4,303 Votes)
  • Ives of Kermartin (31%, 1,898 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,201

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79 comments on “Benedict the Moor vs. Ives of Kermartin”

  1. Still sticking with Ives in honor of my attorney daughter. How great it would be to see a saintly lawyer with a golden halo! I also promised my daughter a mug if St. Ives won. Thanks to all who make Lent Madness a fun, informative Lenten journey.

  2. Impressive write-ups for both! Both were concerned about and worked for others, each in his own sphere. Instead of flipping a coin, I looked at "who's ahead". Benedict was well in front, so I voted for Ives.
    And, as the illustrious members of the SEC remind us, each of these "contestants" has already gotten their Golden Halo.

  3. I have really appreciated Lenten Madness this year. I have learned so much and identified new saints that have inspired me to learn more about their Christian journeys. As a postulant to the Diaconate, I have learned about so many lives to admire and emulate. I wish I could go back and buy the "booklet" for each year of Lenten Madness!! Could such a thing be possible?
    At least I am going to print out the images of these inspiring saints and slip them into my Saint book. 🙂

    A HUGE THANK YOU to the celebrity bloggers, who faced such a difficult challenge in this year of 2021. Many hearts have been peeled open by the sufferings of 2020, so I pray fervently that our open hearts may be filled with the healing love and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, especially through the example of these Spirit-filled lives from the great cloud of Witnesses.

    1. Melissa -- a booklet for each year's write-ups would be a wonderful addition to the Lentorium!

  4. Benedict for me. I predict the halo will go to Benedict or Absalom, and that will be the hardest vote I ever cast in Lent Madness!

  5. Agony! Two very worthy candidates, two very thoughtful reflections extolling their gifts and graces.
    Want to echo the appreciation for the bloggers' creativity and dedication to illuminating this experience. May their reward be great (if not their pay).

  6. The way my parish plays we choose the entire bracket by Ash Wednesday and support our candidate for the Golden Halo throughout. I chose Ives of Kermartin to win it all but it looks like he’s going down to Benedict the Moor today, who is also a great Saint. I chose Ives because we still struggle with, “how much justice can you afford “ syndrome. The difference between OJ Simpson and George Floyd, ex. On a rare occasion the “little guy” will win but it’s rare that the rich and powerful loose. We need a whole lot more Ives of Kermartin. Go Ives!

  7. Such a wonderful thing is Lent Madness. The SEC, bloggers,and commenters have meant so much to a 78 year old semi forced shut-in this year. I am ready to return to my church for the first time in over aa year on Good Friday. You will all be in my prayers during this next year. "See" you all again then.

  8. For lawyers and judges, I give thanks. So often in the past four years it has been the courts that saved us from one societal horror to the next. I will never forget the sight of volunteer lawyers lined up at the airport gates to protect immigrants from deportation when the Muslim travel ban was enacted. It made my heart soar! I am grateful as well to judges who overturned so many harmful and backward lawsuits in this time we’re slogging through. Thank God for those whose passion is justice! What would Jesus do indeed.

    Still... as I reflect on this new acronym we’ve learned this year—BIPOC—I am also reflecting every day on my white privilege and all the ways I benefit in society but usually never notice. This weighs heavily on me, and although it won’t assuage my guilt, I am voting for Benedict for his courage in swimming upstream, and his determination to follow God’s call no matter where it took him.

    1. One door that such a sense of "guilt" (a "conviction of sin") opens, it seems to me, is a new opportunity for the church to reflect together on what it means to be the "body of Christ," what that entails in terms of "corporate" worship and "corporate" responsibility--and what blessings that might open for us as "the people of God." How can we imagine ourselves, together, as a new (renewed) whole, including all manner of brethren, species, matter, and media?

  9. Out of many worthy saints, I am surprised and pleased to see a lawyer in the Faithful Four. Lawyers have such a bad reputation that it's refreshing to see one so honored. My late husband was a lawyer; he was a man who was not motivated by money but by justice. In his memory and honor, I could not but vote for Ives

  10. As a Benedictine oblate, I was impressed with what David Hansen wrote about Benedict the Moor. Benedict epitomizes the virtues of a Benedictine monk. He cooks, consoles, and heals those who are in need. Benedict the Moor for the Golden Halo!

  11. There is a hint of patronizing racism in giving Benedict the tile "The Moor." (Sometimes called "the Black" or "The African") Ives was a lawyer from Bretagne. We do not call him "Ives the Breton," a minority ethnic/linguistic group in France, or "Ives the White." St. Martin de Porres, a person of color, is not called "The Mixed-Race." St. Kateri Tekakwitha is not called "The Mohawk" or "The Indian." The fascination with Benedict's racial identity detracts from his kindness and quiet holiness. Why not call him "Benedict the Comforter" or, like Ives, for his hometown, "Benedict of San Fratello" or "Benedict of Palermo"? Must we also not recognize that Ives's holiness was from his work as a lawyer? I vote for "Ives the Lawyer," f.k.a. "Ives of Kermartin."

  12. Kudos to the celebrity bloggers! I am wrestling with my vote today as a result of your fine writing. No easy choice, this one.

  13. Benedict had me at “...overcoming resentments at being marginalized” this saint for all Saints made the best of his life by devotion to a True Christian walk. Benedict deserves a triple golden halo.

  14. I voted for St. Ives as I did before, although Benedict is commendable. Yes, I did try to place them in today'e situations and how to express myself. I can only concur with others who have done it so well. Ives it is.

  15. Black skinned holiness
    Ever helping those in
    Eternal Optimism, ever praying
    Devoted to God
    In all things courageous
    Cooking with angels
    Ta Da!

    (Friends & Members of St. Marks ABQ, with inspiration from Kate Cabot)

  16. The only one in this round who I voted for in the first round was Benedict. Sticking with the one I came with to the party.

  17. There do not seem to be any credits as to where the images came from. Are they public domain? Who is the artist of the painting of Ives of Kermartin? Google comes up pretty empty for any info on it.

    For the statue of Benedict of Palermo, FranciscanMedia dot org tells me it is at the "Church of Our Lady of the Rosary and Saint Benedict, Cuiabá, Mato Grosso, Brazil." And while I didn't really find anything about the icon of Benedict that's in that mural in Palermo that David Hansen writes about, I did find a couple of other cool icons of him, one if which features him holding a whole bunch of loaves of bread in his arms.

    Now back to Ives of Kermartin. The statue of him that is pictured is one of many statues on the Charles Bridge ("Karluv Most" in Czech) in Prague, Czech Republic.

    And if you want to explore all the statues on that bridge . . . (you should see an embedded Google Maps image below . . . if not, just look up "Karluv Most" in Prague on Google Maps and drop penman down on one end of the bridge and click your way across the river) . . .


  18. The Gray Household, composed and written by A4 (age 9)
    we voted for Ives
    it was almost a tie
    they both did strive
    but Benedict had more