Camillus de Lellis vs. Benedict the Moor

And then, believe it or not, there were eight! Today, and for the rest of the week, we will work our way through the Elate Eight, aka the Round of Saintly Kitsch. Not long from now, one of these saintly souls will be crowned with the 2021 Golden Halo: Camillus de Lellis, Benedict the Moor, Absalom Jones, Catherine Booth, Ives of Kermartin, Arnulf of Metz, Albert the Great, or Catherine of Genoa (who snagged the last spot yesterday by easily dispatching Isidora the Simple 74% to 26%).

The round's first matchup sees Camillus de Lellis take on Benedict the Moor. To get here, Camillus bested Matthias and Melangell, while Benedict took down Nino of Georgia and Euphrosyne. Don't forget, you can always pull up more...relevant information about the saints in this round by visiting the Bracket Tab and scrolling down to click on their previous encounters.

What exactly is saintly kitsch? You might say it's in the eye of the beholder. Or that you know it when you see it. If you need even more insights, check out yesterday's thrill-a-minute episode of Monday Madness. But, in the end, we hope this round brings out some levity, even as we continue our inspiring Lenten journey.

Camillus de Lellis

Camillus began his life as a soldier and a gambler, hardly the raw ingredients for a man who would become a saint. But God had different plans for Camillus. His journey to sainthood began in earnest when Camillus developed a leg wound that simply would not heal. Too bad he didn’t have any of these nifty Jesus bandages to help.

Alas, adhesive and plastic hadn’t been invented yet, so our rapscallion Camillus ended up in a hospital, but his attitude was as nasty as his leg wound, so he was bounced out of a hospital run by a religious order. He tried to get into another religious order, but his temper and his…well, you don’t need me to tell you his story. You can read it for yourself in this cleverly titled book, A Gamble for God. With a title like that, you know the contents are pure literary poetry.

While you’re reading the book, you’ll probably want to lie back and relax as you discover the amazing details of Camillus’ life. Guess what? There’s a Camillus pillow just for you! It comes complete with a quote that may or may not be something he actually said.

So often, we limit our saints to a flat persona, someone who did holy things for God while missing the fullness of their lives, especially the rough edges that aren’t always so elegant. Well, just in case, you can own this carved statue of Camillus - rough and edgy, just like him!

Camillus is a saint because of the amazing work he did offering care and prayers to the sick and dying. He was a holy hospital administrator, priest, and ran an entire order of lay and ordained who cared for the sick. That takes some admirable organization skills. You, too, can emulate Camillus’ exceptional organizational skills with your very own personalized planner.

Camillus, with his sinner to saint story, reminds us all that we are capable of astonishing things when we give ourselves to God’s love and grace. Camillus founded an order that wears a red cross as a sign of their vows to care for and serve those who are sick. In this time of pandemic, we can all do what we need to do to keep each other as safe as possible - wear a mask, keep physical distance, and get the vaccine. When we do that, we can all be SuperPeople and get a nifty red cross shirt to wear.

--Laurie Brock

Benedict the Moor

After a year of working from home, let’s all take a little trip to celebrate Saint Benedict of Palermo (Benedict the Moor/African, 1526-1589).

We begin in Savannah, Georgia, home to one of many historically Black churches in the United States named for Benedict. Here in the heart of the old South, formerly enslaved persons and their descendants have gathered for almost 150 years. In this place, the community gathered both to share their faith and to provide education for all.

Continuing further south we find ourselves in Venezuela, where different regions of the country hold festivals in honor of San Benedict in December and January. Each of these festivals is a confluence of cultures – where indigenous South American meets Spanish meets African. The fiestas de San Benito provide a touchpoint for Afro-Venezuelans to celebrate their heritage and contributions to society.

Next we take the long trip across the Atlantic, arriving in Palermo, Italy – the home of Saint Benedict’s ministry. Here we can eat at the many local restaurants, remembering Benedict’s gift in the kitchen. We can hike the nearby hills, recalling his time in a hermitage. There, overlooking Palermo, we can spend time reflecting on the example of Benedict while sitting under a 500 year old cypress tree, said to have been planted by the Saint during his life.

And of course, we can visit Benedict himself – he is one of many “incorruptible” saints, his body being discovered preserved when it was exhumed three years after his death.

--David Hansen

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84 comments on “Camillus de Lellis vs. Benedict the Moor”

  1. This ex-soldier, no stranger to drill,
    Told his brothers to care for the ill.
    So together they healed
    Those who fell on the field —
    And today they are healing them still.

    1. As always, nicely done, John!
      I'm all-in for Benedict the Moor, born of African slaves, who endured racial taunts; known for his charity, patience, tolerance. Especially in a world that is increasingly divided, he is an enduring symbol of hope. Like this:
      “We are one family, united in faith.”
      -St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church, Savannah GA [statement on their website]

  2. Struggling to decide having voted for both in previous rounds, I opted to splash in the shallows. Based purely on the kitsch alone, I voted for Camillus. Who wouldn't want a rough and edgy statue of Camillus gazing at you with resigned disappointment as you go about your day? 😀

  3. On the day I am scheduled for my first Covid-19 vaccination, Camillus is my man. And thank you John Cabot for putting a lilt in the start of my day.

    1. You're welcome. We both got our first dose yesterday, which means we'll have substantial protection by Easter Monday: a pleasant thought.

      Once again, go out of your way to thank a healer today.

    2. So happy for you! We say, tongue firmly in cheek, that 2 weeks after our second shot, we achieved immortality! Actually, we became significantly less vulnerable and extremely thankful. After working for several years in laboratories and hospitals and knowing people doing basic research, I voted for Camillus. Now to Google Jesus bandaids. There's no telling what we'll find out there. I do love saintly kitsch and your limericks!

    3. My appointment is today also. That didn't influence my vote. But this past year probably did.

    4. Indeed, I have to vote for Camillus. As an RN there is no other choice for me. (In spite of the amazing Benedict the Moor)

      1. I believe Christopher is referring to Tucci's wonderful series of shows on CNN Sunday nights where he goes to different parts of Italy and samples the cuisine and culture. In the last episode, he was in Palermo, and I've got to say Palermo is gorgeous. Just added it to my bucket list. St. Benedict is another good reason to go to Palermo. He's got my vote, too.

  4. I voted for Camillis the rough-edged healer, in honor of my father in law, a real-life House character.

  5. Camillus. Because wear those masks, stay safe, and schedule that vaccination. (I've gotten my first shot.)

  6. I vote for Benedict the Moor, who came out of slavery, who had a lifelong commitment to God, who rose above racial barriers to be canonized, who had the gift of healing, and who was a divine cook. To top it off, today's episode featured St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church, of Savannah, GA, the city in which I was born and lived for the first 13 years of my life. Predictably, my young white mind, was unaware of the church,

  7. This is SO hard. Camillus certainly had quite the conversion, and used his strength for those who desperately needed it. Benedict served God in the kitchen, and welcomed sisters and brothers in a time of hunger, accepting them as they were at the moment they showed up hungry. I've got to vote for Benedict as he overcame a legacy of slavery to serve God. Yep, pretty sure...

  8. This is Professor X (Camilus: busted leg, old and cranky, thinks he's still the boss of everyone while coming off as a do-gooder) vs. Magneto (and I quote from opening round: "Benedict became known as a healer with the ability to read minds. So many people came for healing that Benedict got in trouble; he continued his ministry but hid in the bushes and healed visitors before they got into the monastery").
    Everyone knows Magneto is more powerful and awesome than Professor X. Vote for Benedict, not the whimpering old white man.

  9. I went back and read about both Camillus and Benedict and only then did i realize that BOTH were engaged in ministries of healing.

    I have decided to go with Benedict the Moor (African) even though I expect Camillus will win

  10. This is a really hard contest with both Saints being very inspirational.
    I must say that I adore Camillus, with his rough and prickly exterior, but the way that he pushes through his quarrelsome names to become a Saint. His Kitsch is amazing (our RC siblings seem to love him!) and if you google his quotes you can see many of them on many different plaques, cards, and pillows. (He is a little fixated on getting to Heaven in my opinion but that may have been due to the pain of his injured leg.)
    In the end I voted for Benedict, because I think now is the right time for us to raise our voices on behalf of our Saints of African descent.
    I think both of these Saints have brought blessings into our lives today.

  11. All honor to St. Benedict. Nevertheless, after spending several years working in hospitals and labs, my vote goes to St. Camillus. I have to say, the Jesus bandaids raise kitsch to a new level.

  12. What loyal church member can not relate to the sentiment of the Camillus pillow? Stewardship calls! Piles of dirty dishes! Reminds me of the old chestnut hymn, the “Saints of God”:
    “You can meet them at school, or in lanes, or at sea, in church, or in trains, or in shops or at tea, for the saints of God are folk just like me, and I mean to be one too”

    1. I dunno. My Camillus Pillow doesn’t do it for me. The My Pillow guy has made it hard for me to think of pillows without thinking of whacked-out, conspiracy-theorizing, fanatical, “Christian” supporters of disgraced former presidents (not to put too fine a point on it). I’m sure is a great guy but I will sleep Moor soundly if I vote for Benedict.

  13. Camillus for a dear sister who has dedicated her life to working with the Red Cross.

  14. I'm voting for St. Benedict, in spite of Camillus's incredible kitsch. I've been calling on his angels to help me in the kitchen, and while I'm still dropping things, I think I'm better humored about it.

  15. Camillus. For being a very rough diamond whom God loved--as we should remember to find the diamond (somewhere) in our un-lovable brothers and sisters. For that quotation, which I am going to cling to. (if it wasn't by Camillus, it was said by another guy with the same name, as they say of authorship of Shakespeare). And yes, vaccine, mask, wash hands, social distance. But I wish Benedict could be runner-up at the end.

  16. I voted Moor because we need more like him. Haha. Albeit we could learn and benefit certainly no doubt from Camillus. They are both speaking to my heart.....I am glad God gives us all different gifts to use to his is such a beautiful thing. Lent Madness is also something I need "Moor" of each year. And, Thank you Lent Madness creators & community and may Lent Madness be for you a part of an enriching Lenten journey. Peace.

  17. Oh, my! Too close to call at this hour. Camillus had THE BEST kitsch!! Benedict is more likeable and I loved the travelogue showing how universal he is. Here’s to both in this heated contest. (I decided to go with Camillus because of the amazing kitsch but it was a tough decision.)

  18. My money is on Camillus! My 2nd nursing assignment was St Camillus Hall in. Baltimore, MD.

  19. I cannot possibly vote based on today's summaries....very odd. 🙂
    Luckily we have past stories of these saints to go on. I have been so impressed with everything written about Benedict. Consistently good and gentle throughout his life. My utmost respect and admiration goes to those who never have the need to overcome the rough edges.

  20. Tough choice today as I've supported both so far. But based on kitsch alone I voted for Camillus. I wonder what the free prize is in the Jesus bandaids?

  21. It was a hard choice (and they are only a few votes apart is I type this), but I voted for Benedict of Palermo (nice that his write up mentioned him by that name).

    As Judith Davita-Rauch wrote above, "Benedict served God in the kitchen, and welcomed sisters and brothers in a time of hunger, accepting them as they were at the moment they showed hungry." At the parish to which I belong we have an emergency food program that for two hours a day six days a week, even in the midst of the pandemic, offers food to anyone who comes to the cathedral doors, as often as they come. We don't ask for ID or income information or immigration status. So for the volunteers who have been able to keep that ministry going, I vote for Benedict.

    And if you are interested in learning more about our hunger ministries . . . see

  22. I also have voted for both of these saints since the first round. I was pretty convinced that Benedict would win, so I went ahead and voted for Camillus for the kitsch -- so well done, Laurie Brock. But as of now (10:30) the voting is too close to call! I would like to note that as well as setting aside 24 saints to await another chance at the Golden Halo (but not next year!), 7 of the 12 Celebrity Bloggers are done for the year. I really admire the work the CB's put in so that we can all learn so much and be so inspired, especially this year with the bracket full of heretofore unheard of saints (e.g., Tarcisius). And congratulations to David Hansen for still having all three of his saints in the Elate Eight! That's a lot of kitsch research there, David.

  23. I lift up Benedict to be followed as inspiration. Suffering as an innocent rather than as a result of going to war, He did not retort to taunts but worked to fulfill basic human needs of others, showing a right spirit.

  24. Benedict is a worthy opponent, a healer of the sick. However, in the year of COVID how can you not vote for Camillus who cared for the sick and dying.

  25. Wow what a squeaker so far. 27 vote difference at this writing. I had to go with Camillus, because that pillow spoke to me!

  26. Another difficult choice, though if it was strictly on the quality of the kitsch it would certainly be Camillus.
    And on an unrelated note, thank you all who are rolling up their sleeves in the pursuit of public health. My state hasn't yet got to my group (50-64, not in priority occupations nor with serious health conditions) and so it will be a while before I get my Fauci ouchie.

    1. Fauci ouchie = perfect! Let's nominate Anthony Fauci for LM 2022. (Getting my #2 this Saturday, hurray!!)

      1. Tessa, people have to have been dead for a while (I don't know the exact number of years) before they can be even nominated for sainthood. Every once in a while, someone proposes Fred Rogers for Lent Madness and is told to wait.

        1. I wasn't nominating Dr. Fauci, though many of the key figures in the COVID fight may well be worthy of consideration in the distant future. The minimum period between death and the beginning of the sainthood process is 5 years though this can be waived by the Pope, and then there's the waiting for miracles attributed to the candidate to be substantiated since the miracles are usually healing from serious illness.
          And the requirement for the SEC to consider a nomination is that the person has to be on one of the calendars of saints, I believe, though not necessarily the Catholic Church. Frances Perkins and Dietrich Bonhoeffer are two modern saints who have been voted worthy of the Golden Halo in the last few years.