Marianne Cope vs. Absalom Jones

Welcome to another day in this long and winding saintly road that is Lent Madness. Today we get Marianne Cope taking on Absalom Jones with the prize being a date in the Elate Eight with Catherine Booth.

Yesterday, in the greatest margin of victory thus far in our fair little Lenten bracket, Benedict the Moor trounced Euphrosyne 85% to 15%.

Before rushing into the voting booth, please take a moment to give thanks to this year’s Celebrity Bloggers. These folks work for peanuts (well, free mugs) to illuminate the lives of our 32 saints. We give them very few words in which to accomplish this and, beyond the first round, very little time. With most of our writers intensely busy during this season (comes with the ecclesiastical territory), and a rabid crowd of Lent Madness adherents analyzing their every jot and tittle, it’s not always an enviable task.

One of the reasons we love the comment section is that the lives of the competing saints are often illuminated in ways that space constraints do not allow. Plus, the unique perspectives of the Lent Madness community paint a much fuller picture than any one writer can offer. Thank you for continuing with us on this journey, and please join us in gratitude for our wonderfully faithful and talented stable of writers.

Marianne Cope

Marianne Cope (builder of schools, hospitals, and general accomplisher of all things) is only the second American woman to be beatified by the Vatican.

She founded St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, New York, which was one of the first 50 general hospitals in the United States. Marianne and her order purchased a saloon and dance hall and converted it into a hospital. It is also still there, but I wouldn’t advise paying an impromptu visit—we’re in a pandemic.

After Marianne established several hospitals and schools in Central New York (which we deeply appreciate), she took several of her order to Hawai’i, at the invitation of the king, who required someone to care for the lepers’ colony on the island.

She said: “I am hungry for the work and I wish with all my heart to be one of the chosen Ones, whose privilege it will be, to sacrifice themselves for the salvation of the souls of the poor Islanders… I am not afraid of any disease, hence it would be my greatest delight even to minister to the abandoned ‘lepers.’”

When Marianne arrived in November of 1883, she was sent to the hospital in O’hau, and put in charge of triage—the more severe cases were to be sent to Fr. Damien (former Lent Madness star) on Molokai, and everyone else was to stay put on O’hau. Having set that up successfully, Marianne went off to set up another general hospital on Maui.

Soon, however, she had to come back to O’hau when she received word that the governmental administrator there was abusing patients. She informed the king that either the administrator was fired or she, and all of her hospital-building and-running nuns, would head back to Syracuse. The administrator was fired, and Marianne was awarded the running of the hospital.

One of the aspects of care that Sr. Marianne emphasized in her schools and in her hospitals was joy. She insisted that patients have access to gardens, music, games, and brightly colored garments while in the hospitals in O’hau and Maui, believing that happiness and laughter aided recovery just as much as cleanliness and medicine. Joy, to her mind, was an integral part of God’s will for us, and to neglect it was to neglect part of what it means to be human.

–Megan Castellan

Absalom Jones
Finding and maintaining accurate information about our African American ancestors isn’t easy, even if they’re the first African American priest in The Episcopal Church. Since the Saintly Scorecard was published, Absalom Jones’s biography is updated with errors corrected. So that you’re fully informed:

  • Absalom Jones’s owner did not sell him to a store owner. His original owner’s son moved to Philadelphia and took Jones with him, selling the plantation, including Jones’ mother, sister, and five brothers.
  • Absalom Jones did not purchase his freedom in 1784. After refusing to allow Jones to buy himself, his owner granted him a manumission in 1784. Yes, I said buy himself. Imagine having to save money to purchase yourself.
  • The Free African Society was organized in 1787 before the African American members of St. George Methodist Episcopal church walked out after fundraising for the gallery, where white church leaders then forced them to sit. So when they left, the Free African Society was already in place.

The updated biography includes an autobiographical sketch. Here, Jones talks about his love of learning and reading.

“I was small, when my master took me from the field to wait and attend on him in the house; and being very fond of learning, I was careful to save the pennies that were given to me by the ladies and gentlemen from time to time. I soon bought myself a primer, and begged to be taught by any body that I found able and willing to give me the least instruction. Soon after this, I was able to purchase a spelling book; for as my money increased, I supplied myself with books, among others, a Testament. For, fondness for books, gave me little or no time for the amusements that took up the leisure hours of my companions. By this course I became singular, and escaped many evils, and also saved my money.”

In a panel discussion called Absalom Jones and the Essential Worker: Yellow Fever 1793 to COVID 2019, moderator Dr. Nell Braxton Gibson said: “[Absalom Jones] was more than the first African American priest. He was also a community organizer, essential worker, teacher, and founder of social justice organizations.”

When the Yellow Fever outbreak hit Philadelphia, Jones and Allen organized people to help. When faced with negative press, Jones and Allen wrote A Narrative of the Proceedings of the Black People During the Late Awful Calamity in Philadelphia, in the Year 1793: and a Refutation of some Censures, thrown upon them in some late Publications. 

“We set out to see where we could be useful. We visited upwards of twenty families that day – they were scenes of woe indeed! The Lord was pleased to strengthen us, and remove all fear from us, and disposed our hearts to be as useful as possible.”

Absalom Jones and Richard Allen gave us an incredible gift with this small manuscript: they told the story. When you read it, you’ll discover stories of courage, heartbreak, faithfulness, and continued inequities, such as stories of black people who helped the sick with no compensation. When they got sick and died, no one helped their families. Jones and Allen remind us that no matter how we’ve been harmed, we must remember that God calls us to forgive. We have so much to learn from our brother Absalom.

–Miriam McKenney

Marianne Cope vs. Absalom Jones

  • Absalom Jones (52%, 3,436 Votes)
  • Marianne Cope (48%, 3,161 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,597

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Absalom Jones: Raphaelle Peale, Wikipedia

115 Comments to "Marianne Cope vs. Absalom Jones"

  1. John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
    March 18, 2021 - 8:07 am | Permalink

    Not all history’s simple, you see:
    As white colonists cried “Liberty!”
    This enslaved man paid cash
    To spare his wife the lash
    And to manumit his family.

    • Shelly's Gravatar Shelly
      March 18, 2021 - 4:01 pm | Permalink

      I learned a new word. Thank you!

    • March 18, 2021 - 5:06 pm | Permalink

      She should be the first female Pope
      Marianne brought such joy, and such hope!
      And If I say nope
      I’ll feel such a dope
      But with Absalom Jones, I can’t Cope.

  2. Ann's Gravatar Ann
    March 18, 2021 - 8:07 am | Permalink

    I really wanted to vote for Marianne Cope, but Absalom Jones deserves The Golden Halo, if anyone does. So, I voted for Absalom Jones! My bracket says: he’s going ALL THE WAY to The Halo!

    • Gwen's Gravatar Gwen
      March 18, 2021 - 8:15 am | Permalink


      • Sue's Gravatar Sue
        March 18, 2021 - 8:22 am | Permalink

        Me too

    • Denise LeGendre's Gravatar Denise LeGendre
      March 18, 2021 - 8:26 am | Permalink

      Same here. It was tough to choose but I finally went with Father Absalom for his wonderful generosity and courage.

    • Patricia's Gravatar Patricia
      March 18, 2021 - 8:36 am | Permalink

      How can you vote Mariann off the island?

      • Christina Richardson's Gravatar Christina Richardson
        March 18, 2021 - 9:49 am | Permalink

        I had to go with joy!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Anne Crawford's Gravatar Anne Crawford
          March 18, 2021 - 3:51 pm | Permalink

          Me too! I had to go with joy.

      • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
        March 18, 2021 - 12:48 pm | Permalink

        Wins the comments section! Hahahaha!

      • Patricia Watson's Gravatar Patricia Watson
        March 18, 2021 - 6:33 pm | Permalink

        It was not easy…next round will be a nail biter

    • Kate Cabot's Gravatar Kate Cabot
      March 18, 2021 - 8:55 am | Permalink

      Absalom Jones is my choice for the Golden Halo this year.

    • Katrina S Soto's Gravatar Katrina S Soto
      March 18, 2021 - 10:45 am | Permalink

      Exactly my thoughts. Marianne is still a revered saint.

      • Marie's Gravatar Marie
        March 18, 2021 - 4:57 pm | Permalink

        This was a very tough choice I think they both deserve to go on for the golden halo!

    • Catherine Ambos's Gravatar Catherine Ambos
      March 18, 2021 - 11:22 am | Permalink

      You and me both. Hoping Absalom Jones fares better than the rest of my (now pretty much busted) bracket has done.

    • tully monster's Gravatar tully monster
      March 18, 2021 - 1:27 pm | Permalink

      I don’t usually fill in all the brackets, but this year I’m predicting that Absalom Jones will win. His time has come.

    • Patricia Gordon's Gravatar Patricia Gordon
      March 18, 2021 - 1:44 pm | Permalink

      My bracket doesn’t say it but I believe as you do – Absalom Jones for the Golden Halo this year!! Thanks, Ann!

      • Ann's Gravatar Ann
        March 18, 2021 - 4:18 pm | Permalink

        Absalom is slowly (very slowly) eking out a win. #GoAbsalom!

  3. Mary Winston's Gravatar Mary Winston
    March 18, 2021 - 8:17 am | Permalink

    Since I graduated from one of the Schools that Mother Marianne founded in Syracuse, I must vote for her!

  4. Michelle C's Gravatar Michelle C
    March 18, 2021 - 8:26 am | Permalink

    This is so hard today. On the one hand “Jones and Allen remind us that no matter how we’ve been harmed, we must remember that God calls us to forgive. ” On the other hand “One of the aspects of care that Sr. Marianne emphasized in her schools and in her hospitals was joy. She insisted that patients have access to gardens, music, games, and brightly colored garments while in the hospitals in O’hau and Maui, believing that happiness and laughter aided recovery just as much as cleanliness and medicine. Joy, to her mind, was an integral part of God’s will for us, and to neglect it was to neglect part of what it means to be human.” I’m going to have to think about this one for a while.

    • March 18, 2021 - 8:50 am | Permalink

      It is the joy that won me over. This was definitely a tough choice, but I ended up voting for Marianne this time.

    • Barbara Ross's Gravatar Barbara Ross
      March 18, 2021 - 9:01 am | Permalink

      My thoughts exactly! This year’s toughest match for sure. Many thanks to the Celebrity Bloggers; your writing is especially insightful today.

    • Yvonne's Gravatar Yvonne
      March 18, 2021 - 10:40 am | Permalink

      This is exactly what I thought! Two most worthy saints. Hard to turn my back on joy, but the relevance of Absalom is really striking in this moment. I think I may have to go with him.

      • Pamela D's Gravatar Pamela D
        March 18, 2021 - 11:02 am | Permalink

        Yvonne this was my hardest choice – I hate it actually ;-). But the as much as i want to go with joy I have to pick Absalom Jones….his story, given the ongoing racism we still live in, made me weep…..Blessings!

    • Ralph's Gravatar Ralph
      March 18, 2021 - 11:06 am | Permalink

      Another nearly impossible choice. The next round as well, whoever wins today will leave me with a tough choice! I’m sorry to see so many of my favorites having to go down the earlier rounds. Thanks for the great blogs and comments. I really admire Marianne and she gets my vote today.

  5. Sheila's Gravatar Sheila
    March 18, 2021 - 8:30 am | Permalink

    This is the most difficult choice thus far. It’s a shame these two inspiring saints are in the same bracket!

    • Sandy's Gravatar Sandy
      March 18, 2021 - 9:18 am | Permalink

      I agree with Sheila

    • Tessa's Gravatar Tessa
      March 18, 2021 - 12:04 pm | Permalink

      They’d face each other sooner or later, and since they’re both in the Mostly Modern quadrant it was going to happen this round or next. I agree that this is a very difficult choice. Both are extremely worthy candidates.

    • KarenR's Gravatar KarenR
      March 18, 2021 - 7:28 pm | Permalink

      Exactly right. I am going to vote for Absalom Jones tonight but oh, dear, both are so worthy.

  6. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    March 18, 2021 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    How do you decide between two wonderful saints, both equally deserving of the golden halo? My vote went to Absolom Jones because as a small child I too saved up money to buy books.
    And thank you so much to the celebrity bloggers for informing, challenging, and bringing joy into this season.

    • Patricia Gordon's Gravatar Patricia Gordon
      March 18, 2021 - 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Love your comment, Fiona! In addition to all the other significant reasons for choosing Absalom Jones, I love that he loved books and saw them as a boost to a better life. I hope, hope, hope he wins the Golden Halo this year.

  7. Susan C.'s Gravatar Susan C.
    March 18, 2021 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    These candidates are so similar in their work and saintliness. I wish I could vote for both, but in this era of increasing awareness of racial inequities, I’m going with Absalom Jones.

    • Elizabeth Byrd's Gravatar Elizabeth Byrd
      March 18, 2021 - 9:07 am | Permalink

      Me too.

      And great thanks to the writers!

  8. Sue Goodman's Gravatar Sue Goodman
    March 18, 2021 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    These choices are getting more difficult! After a lot of pondering I went with Absalom (as a librarian I couldn’t not support the little lad with a “fondness for books”).

    • Heidi Trevisan's Gravatar Heidi Trevisan
      March 18, 2021 - 10:31 am | Permalink

      I’m a librarian too! Tough choices this morning, but Absalom gets my vote.

  9. Carol's Gravatar Carol
    March 18, 2021 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    Had to go with Absalom Jones, tough decision to make today!

  10. Jerry Doty's Gravatar Jerry Doty
    March 18, 2021 - 8:48 am | Permalink

    This bracket needs a “Both” button.

  11. Deacon Mildred's Gravatar Deacon Mildred
    March 18, 2021 - 8:48 am | Permalink

    I agree that this is an extremely difficult choice. Both served others beautifully. Both served under difficult circumstances. Both were not valued by society as they deserved. I loved the joy emphasized by Cope. Nonetheless, I will go with Jones. He has been nominated before and deserves the Golden Halo this year. I hope Cope will be nominated again.

    • Verdery Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery Kassebaum
      March 18, 2021 - 12:41 pm | Permalink

      I’m with you, Deacon Mildred! Since both “contestants” were concerned about the health of others, voting for Absalom doesn’t ignore that aspect of worthiness. I remember his being a part of an earlier Lent Madness and am glad to have a chance to vote for him once more.
      Besides, the tallies were REALLY close when I voted.

  12. Patricia's Gravatar Patricia
    March 18, 2021 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    Difficult choice.
    Tangentially, in terms of percentage of their peoples, those selected (banished) to Moloka’i (Mission of Fr. Damien and Mother Marianne) were Native Hawai’ian, Chinese and Japanese while Haole – people of European ancestry – were treated in O’hau.
    “The isolation of “lepers” to Kalaupapa peninsula occurred at the same time that White business interests were steadily taking over the Hawaiian government, culminating in the overthrow of Queen Lili‘uokalani in 1893. An analysis of historical materials concerning leprosy during this time reveals the intertwining of leprosy policies and colonization.” -R D K Herman, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Out of Power: Leprosy, Race, and Colonization in Hawai’i”
    Besides providing hospice and healing, nurture of body and soul, Mother Marianne in her own way also pressed against racial prejudice and profiling. (Bounty money was awarded to people who would turn in Hawai’ians and Chinese suspected of Hansen’s disease.)
    Much that I admire Absalom Jones, in appreciation from my Chinese Hawai’ian roots and considering in multiple ways colonization has been achieved, today to cast my lot to Mother Marianne.

    • Amy C's Gravatar Amy C
      March 18, 2021 - 11:04 am | Permalink

      Thank you for sharing this insight from history I was never taught. My eyes are being opened.

  13. Kim Wagley's Gravatar Kim Wagley
    March 18, 2021 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals over the years and have seen first hand how much better it is when the place is cheerful. In gratitude to the Child Life department at Riley Children’s Hospital, a group of wonderful people working hard to lighten the lives of the children who have to stay there, my vote goes to Cope.

  14. Tom B.'s Gravatar Tom B.
    March 18, 2021 - 8:51 am | Permalink

    Converting a saloon into a hospital? As an SU alumnus, I must vote for this sister and her steely determination.

  15. Bridgett's Gravatar Bridgett
    March 18, 2021 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    Pray for me, for I am a sinner. My founding fathers of this great country were imperfect. Yet, they had a vision that established a great republican democracy never before imagined in history. Their wisdom, fortitude and fundamental core beliefs resulted in a Constitution and form of government that ultimately allows greater freedom for all, regardless of race, religion or gender. Was change one of instantaneous gratification? No, but their ideas changed the world. Were they perfect? No, but nor am I, far from it! Pray for me for I am a sinner.

    • Helen-Louise Boling's Gravatar Helen-Louise Boling
      March 18, 2021 - 10:44 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Bridgett.

  16. LA's Gravatar LA
    March 18, 2021 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    Difficult choice indeed! And fascinating to me that both (if I’m recalling correctly on Allen) worked with fellow saints we’ve seen in previous years.

    But I’m falling in with Marianne today. In part due to my love of Hawaii, more due to her presented perspective of patient value and care (and joy) which, as a very chronically ill person who has been written off and/or medically gas-lighted, I appreciate on a deep level that I cannot adequately word.

    It also helps that my dear friend named Mariann has lent me the use of her spare PAPR unit which means this gal with MCS/MCAS can still get out for important things like today’s dental procedure that I would not otherwise have access to!

  17. Rich's Gravatar Rich
    March 18, 2021 - 8:53 am | Permalink

    On a side note, one of our Lent Madness Saints, Egeria (, was mentioned by James Kiefer in today’s commemoration for Morning Prayer at Mission St. Clare: . He says, “We have a detailed account of Holy Week observances in Jerusalem in the fourth century, thanks to a a Spanish nun named Egeria who made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and kept a journal which is a historian’s delight.”

    • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
      March 18, 2021 - 1:12 pm | Permalink

      And today at Morning Prayer via” we commemorated today’s Saint, Bishop Cyril of Jerusalem whose time overlapped with Saint Egeria’s time there. I wonder if the two of them ever met.

  18. Joyce's Gravatar Joyce
    March 18, 2021 - 8:53 am | Permalink

    Tough decision today. I want to vote for both.

  19. Mary O'Donnell's Gravatar Mary O'Donnell
    March 18, 2021 - 9:06 am | Permalink

    Marianne built hospitals. Amazing considering how pious she was combined with her strength of charter. To fight against abuse of patients while building and encouraging joy.

  20. Linda Birchall's Gravatar Linda Birchall
    March 18, 2021 - 9:10 am | Permalink

    I always love all the blogs, but today, I felt he need to comment. I do believe Oahu has been misspelled a goodly number of times in Marianne’s bio…Having lived there, and having not only visited the Hansen’s Disease (a/k/a leper) colony but also having had friends there, I feel I must chime in for their sake.

    • Michael Hartney's Gravatar Michael Hartney
      March 18, 2021 - 9:26 am | Permalink

      From Wikipedia: Oahu (/oʊˈɑːhuː/) (Hawaiian: Oʻahu (pronounced [oˈʔɐhu])), also known as “The Gathering Place”, is the third-largest of the Hawaiian Islands.

    • Katrina S Soto's Gravatar Katrina S Soto
      March 18, 2021 - 10:49 am | Permalink

      Thank you. That was bugging me, too. I kept thinking, “Hmm – have I been saying it wrong all this time?” My mom lived in Hawaii for many years (on Maui) but I was familiar with the names of the other islands.

    • JillianIBC's Gravatar JillianIBC
      March 18, 2021 - 11:48 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Linda! I searched through these comments to see if anyone else noticed the transposition of “a” and ‘h”. Uncertain that the error wasn’t mine, I went so far as to consult both Wikipedia and the Hawaiian Dictionaries website ( to verify there isn’t a spelling history I missed. I found myself gratified to find that the island is in fact spelled, and always has been, O’ahu rather than O’hau.
      Though I haven’t completely finished reading the entries I believe that I, too, shall join the Sister Marianne fan colony ;). Blessings, grace and peace to you and all our fellow Lent Madness groupies :o)

  21. Jennifer Seaver's Gravatar Jennifer Seaver
    March 18, 2021 - 9:17 am | Permalink

    As a former resident of Oahu, Hawaii (who has also been to Molokai to pull our invasive plants) and now living in the Diocese of PA, I am sorely torn between these two. But St. Marianne gets my vote today.

  22. Roxanne Klingensmith's Gravatar Roxanne Klingensmith
    March 18, 2021 - 9:23 am | Permalink

    I agree! Absalom Jones for the Golden Halo!!!

  23. Cath Fenton's Gravatar Cath Fenton
    March 18, 2021 - 9:31 am | Permalink

    This is a difficult one, especially as there’s not so much information about Absalom Jones’ ministry this round, and more on Marianne Cope.
    Ultimately, it was “joy” that persuaded me to vote for Marianne.

  24. Emily's Gravatar Emily
    March 18, 2021 - 9:31 am | Permalink

    Maybe there will be a tie. 2 Golden Halos this year??

  25. Leamarie's Gravatar Leamarie
    March 18, 2021 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    I so agree with all the above comments. And kudos to the Celebrity Bloggers for their write-ups. I hope Absalom Jones will win the golden halo, but I must give Sister Marianne her due today. Joy in all things is necessary to life, but especially for the sick who are also outcast is vital. Marianne today, A. Jones for the Golden Halo.

  26. Evelyn Wheeler's Gravatar Evelyn Wheeler
    March 18, 2021 - 9:40 am | Permalink

    Definitely a tough, tough choice. I went with Fr Jones, but Sr Marianne won my heart with her call to Joy.

  27. Rich's Gravatar Rich
    March 18, 2021 - 9:42 am | Permalink

    I voted for Absalom Jones. He is such an important figure in the struggle for the rights of African Americans in this country. The church that he founded, St. Thomas, is still very active in Philadelphia, particularly in the struggle against racism. See in general and for more about Absalom Jones :

  28. simple village priest's Gravatar simple village priest
    March 18, 2021 - 9:48 am | Permalink

    Oh wow! This former Hawai’i girl and copy editor/proofreader can’t take it anymore! Happy to see the o’kino (glottal stops) placed in Hawai’i, O’ahu, and sometimes Moloka’i — but oh how the copied misspelling of O’ahu — not O’hau!!! — jars me!
    I’m Moloka’i-born and O’ahu-raised, and I have great admiration for Marianne, and really wanted Damien for the Golden Halo and hope he’ll reappear in the brackets.
    But I’m living and serving in the Diocese of PA these days, and it is clear to me that Absalom Jones stands out this year and deserves the Golden Halo. So apologies and me ke aloha ku’u home o Hawai’i, but Absalom has my vote today.

    • Linda Birchall's Gravatar Linda Birchall
      March 18, 2021 - 10:36 am | Permalink

      I had the same reaction! I lived in Hawai’i and really couldn’t take the “O’hau” – yikes! I was friends with Richard and Gloria Marks, who ran Damien Tours in Kalaupapa. Moloka’i no ka oe!

      • simple village priest's Gravatar simple village priest
        March 18, 2021 - 12:46 pm | Permalink

        Linda, Richard Marks perhaps should be in a bracket someday for all of his teaching and advocacy about Kalaupapa and Hansen’s disease. Did you ride a mule down? I did — many years ago!

  29. Joyce's Gravatar Joyce
    March 18, 2021 - 9:49 am | Permalink

    Well-written commentaries on both saints. Much appreciated.

  30. Mary's Gravatar Mary
    March 18, 2021 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    Love the thought of joy in hospitals.
    Had to go with Marianne.

  31. Linda Cook MacDonald's Gravatar Linda Cook MacDonald
    March 18, 2021 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    How did these two end up facing off against each other? Terrible to have to make a choice between them. But I have. Lord have mercy!

  32. Rene Jamieson's Gravatar Rene Jamieson
    March 18, 2021 - 10:10 am | Permalink

    The choices get tougher and tougher. Her emphasis on joy almost cinched it for Marianne, but it was Absalom’s call to forgiveness that won my vote. At a time when North America is coming to grips with systemic racism, Absalom is a beacon of love and hope (which is joy!).

  33. Claudia Jean McKee's Gravatar Claudia Jean McKee
    March 18, 2021 - 10:11 am | Permalink

    The matches are getting tougher by the day, I think.  I really admire both of today’s candidates. I think Marianne Cope won me over with her emphasis on joy in the form of gardens, music, games, and brightly colored garments. So important when ill (or even when well, come to think of it). And I can only imagine what that joy meant to the lepers she served.

  34. Peter De Franco's Gravatar Peter De Franco
    March 18, 2021 - 10:25 am | Permalink

    As if there was a choice here, of course I voted to Father Absalom Jones. Considering BLM in our country was there a choice?

  35. Donice Gilliland's Gravatar Donice Gilliland
    March 18, 2021 - 10:37 am | Permalink

    Toughest contest yet for me. They both deserve the Halo in my opinion. I voted for Absalom Jones, only because I had to make a choice but I will cheer on all the way to the end either of these wonderful people.

  36. Kathy in Nicaragua's Gravatar Kathy in Nicaragua
    March 18, 2021 - 10:46 am | Permalink

    Although I was fairly sure Absalom Jones would win today, I had to vote for joy. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have the final round between Benedict the African and Absalom Jones? Has it ever happened before in LM that the two finalists were both Black?

  37. Henry R Cooper Jr's Gravatar Henry R Cooper Jr
    March 18, 2021 - 10:53 am | Permalink

    The toughest choice for me, too. They are both saints in my book, and they are both relevant for our time–time of plague and time of racism. As the plague (hopefully) fades, racism is still very much with us, so I voted finally for Absalom Jones, whose faithfulness in the face of adversity is a model for us all.

  38. Laura S.'s Gravatar Laura S.
    March 18, 2021 - 10:58 am | Permalink

    Megan Castellan you are a gifted writer. I am grateful for your knowledge.

  39. Elizabeth Marian Maxwell Chace's Gravatar Elizabeth Marian Maxwell Chace
    March 18, 2021 - 10:59 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much to the Celebrity Bloggers! You help deepen and bring smiles to Lenten seasons year after year!

  40. Lucy Bixby's Gravatar Lucy Bixby
    March 18, 2021 - 11:02 am | Permalink

    THIS was the most difficult choice of all!!
    Oh how I envisioned a tie …
    Many, many thanks to the editors and research team, updating diligently, and enlightening us with newly discovered facts each year!

  41. Donald MacLeod's Gravatar Donald MacLeod
    March 18, 2021 - 11:06 am | Permalink

    I agree with all those who would like to vote “both”. It would be presumptuous for me to judge who is more worthy, when both gave so much to God and their brothers and sisters. I have to give thought to their contributions and, again, both have had a lasting impact on people who suffer and are oppressed. I don’t think I have to apologize for thinking that, this year particularly, the golden halo will and should go to an African-American saint. The Black Lives Matter movement arose from outrage because Black deaths matter and Black people are being murdered systematically and systemically. We need to recognize that Black lives matter as well as the vicious deaths of so many. Mother Cope and her sisters will always be remembered for bringing comfort, joy and a colorful life to those who were sick and oppressed, This year, in particular, Absalom Jones will be remembered as a symbol and a champion of people who are Black and of colour around the world and who eventually have a better life because of him and his colleagues.

  42. Pamela D's Gravatar Pamela D
    March 18, 2021 - 11:09 am | Permalink

    This was a tough choice – I went with Absolom Jones! I want to thank our celebrity bloggers but also our Supreme Executive Committee who are CLEARLY making these match ups hard so we will have to truly think about the saints lives and what we value, Thank s to everyone involved in this endeavor.

  43. St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
    March 18, 2021 - 11:20 am | Permalink

    GRATITUDE AND RESPECT, bloggers, from the “rabid crowd.” Ouch. The SEC is pulling out its Gunns. That’s almost as bad as “you brood of vipers.” Well, even if we daren’t receive a sign, other than OH, BEHAVE, we still have before us two awesome choices, well presented as always, by busy bloggers sharing welcome witness. Thank you.

  44. Carol Buckalew's Gravatar Carol Buckalew
    March 18, 2021 - 11:35 am | Permalink

    The quality write-ups today make this a really tough choice. But I guess I’ll have to make one…
    Thank you Celebrity Bloggers! (All of you, not just todays)

  45. TJMannion's Gravatar TJMannion
    March 18, 2021 - 11:48 am | Permalink

    This one a squeaker! 51-49. Like the Senate! I went with Sr. Cope, because she struck me a bit more.

  46. St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
    March 18, 2021 - 11:55 am | Permalink

    Today’s vote, for me, is between joy and love, and that’s not a choice. Joy or love? Yes! Megan brilliantly ended on joy: Mother Cope’s choice to emphasize joy in hospitals, joy and bright colours and laughter. I honor Absalom Jones’s contributions to the Episcopal church and suspect he will win the Golden Halo as the first African-American priest in the Episcopal church. And I recognize the unfairness of his need to battle the Tucker Carlsons and Ron Johnsons of his day, determined to blame Black Lives Matter and antifa for yellow fever. His story sounds very much like Frederick Douglass’ story: teaching himself to read and write. I cannot help but be drawn to a love of reading and writing. And learning. So as a “singular” person myself, I respond to Jones’s “singular” witness. But today I went with joy, and women’s healthcare, and children. And laughter.

  47. Brixham Beth's Gravatar Brixham Beth
    March 18, 2021 - 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Marianne Cope for me, my Grandfather worked with lepers in Malaya in the late 1800s and introduced them to positive occupations including horticulture which is still an important trade in the area where they lived in Kuala Lumpur

  48. Barbara Roark's Gravatar Barbara Roark
    March 18, 2021 - 12:08 pm | Permalink

    I began my life long calling as a nurse at St Joseph’s Hospital in Baltimore as a candy striper at 16. It was a tough call, but I have to vote for Marianne.

  49. Tessa's Gravatar Tessa
    March 18, 2021 - 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Thank you to all the bloggers who present their cases for the various saints, and who have to work fast when their candidates are voted on to the next round. (And, as confirmed earlier this week, have to go looking for quirks and quotes in the second round and tchotchkes in the third, depending on the voting.) We appreciate your work! And thanks also to the SEC for continuing this learning experience.

  50. St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
    March 18, 2021 - 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of joy, I am hoping Lisa Keppeler is out there and will gift this small company with a limerick. March 18 is the feast day of . . . I don’t know, fellowship and creativity?

  51. March 18, 2021 - 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, bloggers, for making this choice so difficult. Thanks, also, for the willingness to correct your mistakes about Absalom so openly, Miriam. We shouldn’t be afraid, although we often are, of appearing imperfect. It is a burden we all share, and yet God still loves us. Once again, I have found Lent Madness to be a valuable addition to my life. So many wonderful people involved, so many interesting people to learn about. That is my goal in this, to learn about the great variety of saints out there. Whatever challenges they faced on earth, I am pleased to know that all of them are enjoying their rewards in heaven. Maybe I’ll get a chance to thank Absalom and Miriam in person for their wonderful work here on earth. May they inspire us all to treat each other a little better.

  52. A Jennifer's Gravatar A Jennifer
    March 18, 2021 - 12:46 pm | Permalink

    My heart says Cope but my other heart says Jones is going to need some momentum to survive as the sun tracks west . The vote is currently very close, so I voted for him. I do think this could/should be Jones’ year for the halo. Bracket concerns aside, tracing the power dynamics I felt a repentant ally vote from a place of privilege was better placed with empowering Jones directly than honouring another ally. In a tough choice that is what tipped the balance. Oh but I so admire Cope’s successful bttw challenge of institutional evil!
    No losers today.

    • Shelly's Gravatar Shelly
      March 18, 2021 - 6:44 pm | Permalink

      The minute I saw the bracket, I figured Absalom Jones would win the Golden Halo for sure. I figured he’d be way ahead today, and I was planning to vote for Marianne Cope to help even things out a bit. I’m surprised that it seems to be close, and I had forgotten about the east-west issue. Now I don’t know who to vote for!

  53. Samantha in DioSoVA's Gravatar Samantha in DioSoVA
    March 18, 2021 - 1:01 pm | Permalink

    After a year of the pandemic I started taking art classes because I needed joy (and bright colors and flowers) in my own life, and it has been wonderful and centering. Absalom is very worthy, but I’m going with Marianne and joy – small graces that we all need to get through life and to remind us of the goodness of God.

  54. The Rev'd W. Richard Hamlin, Ph.D.'s Gravatar The Rev'd W. Richard Hamlin, Ph.D.
    March 18, 2021 - 1:20 pm | Permalink

    A very difficult choice today. Not are both most worthy of our votes, but the write-ups were also compelling. So, do I vote for the woman who founded the hospital where I was born, or for my fellow Episcopal priest? . . .

  55. Molly from Dio ATL's Gravatar Molly from Dio ATL
    March 18, 2021 - 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Today I am grateful for all the Lent Madness writers. Your writing gives me a daily dose of joy and good humor. Bravo! I love getting to know saints that I was unfamiliar with and wondering about how their lives might inform my spiritual journey and practices. Today’s vote was hard. Like Marianne Cope, I believe in the healing power of joy, art, music, and brightly colored clothing, but being from the Diocese of Atlanta, I must vote for Absalom Jones, for the work he started and for the work that continues in his name at our Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing. Thank you Lent Madness also for correcting the errors to his bio.

  56. JoJo's Gravatar JoJo
    March 18, 2021 - 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Wow! This is going to be a barn-burner today w/whoever wins possibly getting the gold. I can’t fault Marianne for leaving NY for Hawaii even for the unparadise parts.
    However the times here favor our trail blazing finally Episcopalian priest.
    O Absalom, O Absalom would that the Golden Halo go to thee.

  57. Tiffany's Gravatar Tiffany
    March 18, 2021 - 1:40 pm | Permalink

    I want to vote for both!

    I’m going to vote for Absalom Jones because I live near Philly and because he’s Episcopalian – on top of being worthy. Rallying his community – regular folks, not people whose vocation was nursing – to risk health and life in order to care for and bury Yellow Fever victims is most impressive. If I recall correctly, white families would often put their own ill relatives outside their door out of fear of catching the disease. It was thought that those of African descent were immune, which was not true, and I think the blacks knew this but helped anyway. Many years ago now, I read the novel Fever 1793 to my kids, and then read a non-fiction book about this Yellow Fever epidemic recommended at the end of the novel. Good novel and very interesting history. Awful disease.

    I also remember visiting the first President’s House – pre-White House – in Philadelphia . Just the framework is laid out, with some excavation below ground visible. There are plaques and recorded messages telling the story of the enslaved persons who served President Washington and his wife. There, I learned that Absalom Jones and Richard Allen seized upon Washington’s freeing of his enslaved servants at his death, passionately attempting to persuade all white slaveowners to follow the great President Washington’s example by freeing their enslaved persons right away.

  58. Eric Metzler's Gravatar Eric Metzler
    March 18, 2021 - 1:53 pm | Permalink

    I got a kick out of the consistent misspelling of O’ahu. It looked like an Irish saint. B’gosh and G’gorrah, it’s St. O’hau. LOL

    • A Jennifer's Gravatar A Jennifer
      March 18, 2021 - 2:08 pm | Permalink

      Agree – like a crypto-st-patricks-day thing, a day late? Has LM invented a new saint for the day after the night before — St. O’hau, Patron of Overcelebration? Often appears to followers in a bleary-eyed vision, holding an aspirin in each palm like stigmata. Frequently accompanied by beloved animal companion, a dog with one hair on it.

  59. Jean's Gravatar Jean
    March 18, 2021 - 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Both my sons were born at St. Joseph’s hospital in Syracuse. Have to go for Marianne.

  60. Laura Graf's Gravatar Laura Graf
    March 18, 2021 - 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I lived in Syracuse from 1975-1977. It is one of the cloudiest – some would say gloomiest – cities in the United States. Sister Marianne brought joy to the patients at St. Joseph Hospital: for that blessing, I must vote for her. (

  61. Linda Johnson's Gravatar Linda Johnson
    March 18, 2021 - 2:01 pm | Permalink

    First off…it’s O’ahu, not O’hau…
    And second, Sister Cope did so much more for the lepers than stated here. She spent a lot of time on Molokai Island as well, working with the outcasts there. She is remembered fondly for her tireless work, and lived to an old age, never catching the disease herself. Definitely worthy of a halo. P.S. a trip to Kalaupapa Settlement can be a life changing event. There are only 11 Hansen’s Disease patients alive still. The colony is a National Park.

  62. Adelaide Kent's Gravatar Adelaide Kent
    March 18, 2021 - 2:14 pm | Permalink

    My heart yearns for Absalom, but in this time of pandemic, I have to choose Marianne.

  63. Hazel's Gravatar Hazel
    March 18, 2021 - 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Sister Cope gets my vote today! Three of our children were born at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse. The nuns came to our room and said prayers for us each day (for Catholic and non-Catholics) patients.

  64. Patricia Gordon's Gravatar Patricia Gordon
    March 18, 2021 - 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Miriam McKenney, for today’s commentary on Absalom Jones – I found this part – a collect, really, I think – of your piece especially moving:

    “Absalom Jones and Richard Allen gave us an incredible gift with this small manuscript: they told the story. When you read it, you’ll discover stories of courage, heartbreak, faithfulness, and continued inequities, such as stories of black people who helped the sick with no compensation. When they got sick and died, no one helped their families. Jones and Allen remind us that no matter how we’ve been harmed, we must remember that God calls us to forgive. We have so much to learn from our brother Absalom.”

    Thank you again for that ending. I had decided already to vote for Fr. Jones but your beautiful ending was an affirmation of the power of love and hope.

  65. MARY ROSA's Gravatar MARY ROSA
    March 18, 2021 - 3:43 pm | Permalink


  66. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    March 18, 2021 - 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Once again two worthy contenders. I had to go with Absalom Jones. He loved books and tended to the sick during the yellow fever crisis. Both caring and learned.

  67. March 18, 2021 - 5:03 pm | Permalink

    She should be the first female Pope
    Marianne brought such joy, and such hope!
    And If I say nope
    I’ll feel such a dope
    But with Absalom Jones, I can’t Cope.

  68. Diane's Gravatar Diane
    March 18, 2021 - 5:19 pm | Permalink

    In this time of COVID, I vote for Marianne to honor our health care and front line workers who cared for their contagious patients with compassion and dedication. Also, thinking of the joy brought to so many in hospitals and nursing homes by therapy dogs. Dogs deserve sainthood, too!

  69. paula's Gravatar paula
    March 18, 2021 - 6:31 pm | Permalink

    I was hoping my gr gr gr aunt would make it to the finals, but probably not. Glad to see she got some notice for her selfless work. She is surely and example to us all in these times especially.

  70. Sue Webb's Gravatar Sue Webb
    March 18, 2021 - 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Thank you to the wonderful stable of Lentmadness writers! You are truly appreciated!

  71. Leslie Kintner's Gravatar Leslie Kintner
    March 18, 2021 - 6:58 pm | Permalink

    This match up was difficult!!!!! It’s “joy” all the way. I could have voted for both.

  72. reopa's Gravatar reopa
    March 19, 2021 - 2:05 am | Permalink

    just a little correction. Marianne cope is not the second woman to be gratified or canonized by the Catholic church.

    • reopa's Gravatar reopa
      March 19, 2021 - 2:06 am | Permalink


  73. Amy Leeson's Gravatar Amy Leeson
    March 19, 2021 - 1:15 pm | Permalink

    I join in saying “Thank you very much!” to the celebrity bloggers, who make Lent Madness colorful and fun, while teaching us about the lives of the saints.

  74. Martha's Gravatar Martha
    March 19, 2021 - 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Great piece of historical fiction about the Hawaiian Leper Colony is MOLOKAI by Alan Brennert. We read this book for our church book group years ago and now this author has a sequel DAUGHTER OF MOLOKAI. I’m going to pick up this second book for my summer reading 2021! But I voted for Absolom Jones because I want the Golden Halo to go to someone NOT already given Sainthood!

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