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

Camillus de Lellis vs. Benedict the Moor

  • Benedict the Moor (52%, 3,136 Votes)
  • Camillus de Lellis (48%, 2,898 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,034

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

  1. The prospect of and the acknowledgement of redemption are very important to me. Though I have voted for Benedict twice and acknowledge his goodness, it's the self-acknowledged sinner who turned his life around who gets my vote today.

  2. Wow. Both Franciscans, both committed to caring for those in need. Sure we can't vote for both?!?!?!?!
    Anyway, I voted for Camillus as he is the patron saint of hospitals, nurses and doctors - who have deserved every bit of praise and support (and MORE) during this time of pandemic.

  3. Being rough and edgy myself I voted for Camillus and I WANT A STATUE! Great kitsch!

  4. I love how Camillus changed so much to become a healer and hospital (or equivalent thereof) administrator -- energetic uses for his soldier nature and prickly personality. Given that he was a soldier, who's to say his "difficult" nature didn't result from the kind of head injury that can lead to difficult/violent behavior or from some other war injury. Was he a vet with what we would now identify as PTSD?

    Benedict the African was also a healer and overcame all that comes with being born into slavery. Given that we are still coming to terms with our nation's slave-owning past, and all the evils that that is still bringing us, and that I have been thinking about same while reading Isabel Wilkerson's insightful, thought-provoking, and eloquent Caste, I'm voting for Benedict.

    But I find both of today's saints so inspiring. It's a tough choice.

  5. It was a toss up, I love them both. In this time of racial violence and Rex Treme hate being applauded I had to go with St Benedict.

  6. Well done, bloggers! I voted for Camillus for the kitsch. Bonus points for "Alas, adhesive and plastic hadn't been invented yet." Actually, "adhesive" just means "sticky stuff," and while india rubber hadn't arrived in Europe yet and wouldn't until the 18th century, our medievals did have "glue" starting in the 14th century from casein, and lime for their mortar (don't leave your leg bandages out in the rain!); and of course icon writers had been using egg yolk since "forever" to hold pigments to backings. And maybe other things for us who have the miracle of an entire repository of digital factoids at our fingertips! I have to say I'm grossed out at the mummy of St. Benedict in its glass case. That was a tricky card to play, David Hansen, but you played it to win. It is at least not as horrifying a mummy as St. Catherine of Bologna on her throne. Every enclosed monastic in the middle ages must have known that he or she might end up on display at the end of his or her life on earth, and one can only imagine the rivalries that might have stirred up in the hearts of the less spiritually advanced among the communities. It's only now that I comprehend the dismay and shame that Alyosha felt in The Brothers Karamozov when his saintly mentor Father Zosima died and stank after three days; everyone had been convinced that he too would be an "incorruptible." Perhaps Dostoyevsky should be required reading of all monks and nuns so that these poor cadavers can finally be decently put to rest. In any case, I am not sufficiently otherworldly not to note that if Benedict does advance, and if Absalom Jones manages (by some miracle!) to edge past Catherine Booth, we will have two black saints in the final round, and since "representation matters," that would be a symbolic moment indeed in Lent Madness. But please, let's not put mummified corpses on the swag mugs. Some traditions should be left in the dustbin of history.

    1. Wow, great blues! Very moving montage, I feel the bleakness and the poverty pulling at my heart.
      I have been agonizing between the two healing saints, but this poignant reminder of the Black experience here in the US is sending me toward voting for Benedict the Moor.

      1. YouTube Blues. Way down South, we’d call that old SOUL music.
        Moving, impactful, and full of emotions. You are with that musician in the kitchen,
        either as a participant or observer, you feel the experience.

  7. I voted for St. Camillus because he accomplished so much while being crotchety at times. I find that hopeful in my imperfect life.
    It was extraordinarily difficult and I would have voted for St Benedict to honor his sainthood and all of African descent had another choice been available.
    I am appalled at Christians denouncing other Christians. Only God knows what is in our hearts, but denouncing any Christian seems very UN-Christian to me.

  8. I must say, today has been the most fun and uplifting so far in the comments arena! Like almost everyone so far, I had voted for both of these worthy saints all along, so I knew the choice was going to be difficult, but at the moment of selecting which button to push, I chose for the one who put food on empty tables, as that is where I am focusing nearly all of my donations these days.

  9. It’s going to be a buzzer-beater today, whoever gets the last votes wins.
    Both are saints fort our time of pandemic & recognizing systemic racism.
    I admire Camillus for his organizational skills, but Benedict had me in Savannah.
    Also I attended a Black Church Sunday to hear an old colleague & friend preach,
    what an amazing, wonderful & uplifting experience it was!!

  10. Got my second Covid vaccine today! They didn’t have any Jesus bandaids, though.

    1. That was very cool. The photographs were fantastic! Now I need to go in my kitchen. No rain yet, but I’m way overdue for lunch!

    2. Haha! Maybe I’ll replace their bandaid with a Jesus bandaid for my second Covid shot. I actually have some!

  11. Totally great kitsch! Kudos to Laurie and David for their hard work and dedication to their saints. It gets so much harder as we move into the final rounds, especially when I voted for both contestants previously. Pandemic sick care wins today, but feeding the hungry is like unto it.

  12. What to do? What to do? After reading and re-reading all the write ups about Camillus and Benedict, I finally, and with great difficulty, voted for Camillus. Why? Because Benedict with his forgiving nature and gentle ways had a head start on Camillus when it came to sainthood. Camillus, rough hewn as he was, had a great deal of self to overcome to become a committed servant of God.

  13. I like both these guys, but I voted for Benedict. I really want to see him and Absalom Jones vying for the Golden Halo.

  14. I've been looking forward to the levity of the Kitsch Round even more this year. By this time, the decision making has become increasingly difficult, so I am basing my Kitsch Round votes entirely on the kitsch. It made it much easier to decide today: Camillus.

    1. Those Jesus bandaids are sooo cool! I just ordered some to give several to all my families in my church school. Go Camillus!

  15. Seems more like the author of Camillus was selling an image rather than emphasizing his virtues. Benedict Moor’s dedication to the marginalized races is both virtuous and inspiring. Moor has my vote.

  16. Had to go with Camillus...loved the pillow with the quote about commitment. As someone who loves to commit and then grouses about it when the time comes to follow through, I could relate!

  17. This decision was so difficult, I didn't vote in the morning as usual, but waited so that I could read what others contributed. Geesh! That didn't really help as now I'm more undecided than ever on these two.
    Reading others' comments about mummies reminded me of a souvenir shop on the waterfront in Seattle that featured a mummy named Sylvester in a glass case...gross indeed.
    So, as someone who has two artificial knees and bad feet, my sympathies tend toward cranky Camillus and his swag.

  18. My vote is for Camillus because his order is still doing good work with Aids orphans in Southern India today - and in other parts of the world I am sure. He was my favorite for the Golden Halo because we surely need feisty healers right now. But alas, I fear he is doomed unless a whole lot of early morning support comes his way. So sad!