Nino of Georgia vs. Benedict the Moor

We conclude a rough-and-tumble week of saintly contests with Nino of Georgia vs. Benedict the Moor.

Yesterday, Isadora the Simple made Simeon the Holy Fool look foolish 54% to 46% to advance to the Saintly Sixteen. And, don’t forget that one of the joys of this Lenten pop-up community may be found in the comment section on each post. You’ll find limericks and camaraderie and heartache and joy and more information about the saints of the day. People may not always agree, but comments are always shared in the context of this collective journey towards the risen Christ.

Enjoy the weekend everyone, and we’ll see you bright and early Monday morning as Henriette Delille takes on Absalom Jones.

Nino of Georgia
Born in 296, Nino (sometimes called Nina or Nune), is believed to be from a well-established and influential Christian family in the Roman province of Cappodocia.

She had a vision of the Virgin Mary, who told her to go to Caucasian Georgia, then known as Iberia, to preach the gospel. Legend held that Christ’s tunic had been taken to Georgia for safekeeping. In her appearance, Mary gave Nino a cross made of grapevines, with down-slanting arms. This is now a symbol of Georgian Orthodox Christianity—a fitting homage since Georgia is the site of the oldest wine-making tradition in the world.

Nino made a treacherous journey through Armenia and narrowly escaped death to arrive in Georgia. In the Armenian tradition, she is the sole survivor of thirty-five Christian virgins slaughtered by a hostile king. Roman Catholic hagiography holds that Nino arrived in the mission field as a slave.

In Georgia, Nino ministered to the royal household of King Mirian and Queen Nana, teaching and performing healing miracles. First, Nana converted, then her attendants, including the Jewish Sidonia, and lastly, Nana’s reluctant husband, who prayed to Nino’s God after he was struck blind. King Mirian named Christianity the official religion of his country in 326, making Georgia the second state, after Armenia, to formally adopt the young religion.

At Mirian’s request, Emperor Constantine sent clergy to Georgia to continue Nino’s teaching and spread of the gospel. In Mtskheta, Mirian began construction on the first Christian church in his country. The UNESCO World heritage site Svetitskhoveli Cathedral now sits on that site. In Georgian tradition, Christ’s seamless tunic is buried there.

Nino retired to Bodbe in eastern Georgia. She died soon after, around 338, and a monastery was immediately built in her name. It has survived the tumultuous history of the region in many forms and is now once again a monastery. In the late twentieth century, another monastery dedicated to Saint Nino was established in Phoka. A third, the Sacred Monastery of St. Nina, stands in Union Bridge, Maryland. It’s easy to see in the ministry of these devout Georgian women the strength, bravery, and industry of the saint they revere and emulate.

Collect for Nino of Georgia
Almighty God, who called your servant Nino to be your apostle to the people of Georgia, to bring those wandering in darkness to the true light and knowledge of you; Grant us so to walk in that light, that we may come at last to the light of your everlasting day; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

—Amber Belldene


Benedict the Moor
If ever there were an appropriate champion of Lent, it would certainly be Benedict the Moor, ofm (1526-1589). Also known as Benedict the African and Benedict the Ethiopian, he observed seven “Lents” every year throughout his life—a total of 280 days of the year spent in fasting and repentance.

Italians brought Benedict’s parents as slaves from Africa to Sicily, where he was born. Because of his parents’ obedient servitude, Benedict was granted his freedom at birth. As a young adult, Benedict joined a community of Franciscan hermits living in the hills of Sicily. He quickly grew in reputation, becoming one of the community’s leaders.

When Pius IV disbanded the communities of hermits, Benedict went with other monks to a nearby Franciscan monastery. There, his first work was as a cook, and his food was otherworldly! Angels were seen assisting Benedict in the kitchen as the food was multiplied to provide not only for the Franciscans but also for any visitors.

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. The Franciscans admired Benedict’s humility and spiritual discipline, and they elevated the uneducated and unordained monk first to the position of master of novices and then guardian of the community, both positions usually reserved for priests at that time.

At the end of his life, Benedict accurately predicted the day and hour of his death. He was so respected and beloved that the people of Palermo declared Benedict the patron saint of the city shortly after his death. King Philip III financed the construction of an elaborate tomb for the simple monk.

Even in his death, Benedict served as a beacon of the Franciscan ideals of caring for those in need. He was formally beatified by the Vatican in 1743 and canonized in 1807. It can be no accident that at the height of the African slave trade—when African children were being bought and sold as chattel—the Roman Catholic Church chose to canonize a faithful Black European saint. That act made him the first person of African descent canonized by the Vatican.

Collect for Benedict the Moor
O God, you have brought us near to an innumerable company of angels, and to the spirits of just men made perfect: Grant us during our earthly pilgrimage to abide in their fellowship, and in our heavenly country to become partakers of their joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

—David Hansen


Nino of Georgia vs. Benedict the Moor

  • Benedict the Moor (68%, 4,620 Votes)
  • Nino of Georgia (32%, 2,132 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,752

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Nino of Georgia: guro gabashvili / CC BY-SA (
Benedict the Moor: Eugenio Hansen, OFS / CC BY-SA (

110 Comments to "Nino of Georgia vs. Benedict the Moor"

  1. Derek's Gravatar Derek
    March 5, 2021 - 8:10 am | Permalink

    Who wouldn’t vote for someone who hid in bushes to hide people? Go Benedict!

    • Derek's Gravatar Derek
      March 5, 2021 - 8:10 am | Permalink

      I meant to heal people.

      • Marie's Gravatar Marie
        March 5, 2021 - 9:42 pm | Permalink

        For Sure!

  2. John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
    March 5, 2021 - 8:17 am | Permalink

    In this time when we’re all penitents
    Voting Benedict in makes good sense:
    Matchless meals he prepared,
    For the stricken he cared,
    And each year he observed seven Lents!

    • Ren's Gravatar Ren
      March 5, 2021 - 8:32 am | Permalink

      I enjoy reading your limericks as much as I do learning about the saints. Thank you for sharing them.

      • Kate's Gravatar Kate
        March 5, 2021 - 8:58 am | Permalink

        I agree. I read through the biographies of the saints so I can get to John’s limericks. This is my first year in Lent Madness, and it is an experience of education and joy for me.

        • Bonnie G.'s Gravatar Bonnie G.
          March 5, 2021 - 12:30 pm | Permalink

          What wonderful learning experiences you have in your future at Lent Madness. Even if we do not always see a clear path to vote, we always are better for this experience.

      • Linda S's Gravatar Linda S
        March 5, 2021 - 10:20 am | Permalink

        Today’s pairing is a puzzle as we chose between a couple ordinary and yet extraordinary people. Nino, a slave herself apparently, evangelized a uber-macho, tough as nails nation. Benedict, a really nice guy with exceptional organizational and people skills, who also knew his way around the kitchen.
        I voted for Nino, because she deserves the honor but Glad for Benedict.

        • Mark Waddell's Gravatar Mark Waddell
          March 5, 2021 - 12:07 pm | Permalink

          I agree! I found Nino a new and exciting story! I will definitely have to learn more about her.

        • Linda Cook MacDonald's Gravatar Linda Cook MacDonald
          March 5, 2021 - 12:09 pm | Permalink

          Same here. Anyone who begins life enslaved has much to tell us about the meaning of life.

    • Chris Rhoads's Gravatar Chris Rhoads
      March 5, 2021 - 9:08 am | Permalink

      Your limericks John are delightful.
      In the midst of so much that is frightful,
      I pop open my screen. Your thoughts shared so keen
      that I laugh away peril and become mindful.

      • Emily McFarlan Miller's Gravatar Emily McFarlan Miller
        March 5, 2021 - 10:31 am | Permalink

        The limericks — and now the limericks about the limericks — make my whole dang day. You guys are the best!

    • Sally Clark's Gravatar Sally Clark
      March 5, 2021 - 9:35 am | Permalink

      I very much enjoy your limericks—thank you!

      • Janet Norman's Gravatar Janet Norman
        March 5, 2021 - 9:42 am | Permalink

        Thank you Sally Clark for introducing me to Lent Madness!

      • Patricia Gordon's Gravatar Patricia Gordon
        March 5, 2021 - 6:24 pm | Permalink

        Sally Clark, are you the same dear person I met through my sister, Sharon? From Fairhope? I hope it is you because it’s another fun thing we share besides opera!


    • Marty's Gravatar Marty
      March 5, 2021 - 9:38 am | Permalink

      Yes, I logged on too early today for the limerick, so I had to remember to come back before voting!!

    • Katie Thomson's Gravatar Katie Thomson
      March 5, 2021 - 10:49 am | Permalink

      Love this!!!! #limericks

    • Ellen F.'s Gravatar Ellen F.
      March 5, 2021 - 3:11 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for your limericks!

  3. Susan C.'s Gravatar Susan C.
    March 5, 2021 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    The most miraculous aspect of Benedict’s life is that he was a great chef, but had the saintly willpower to not partake of his own food through all his days of fasting. Being a healer is “icing on the cake”. Perhaps I can vote for Nino in another Lent Madness.

  4. Mary O'Donnell's Gravatar Mary O'Donnell
    March 5, 2021 - 8:44 am | Permalink

    The healer of course.
    I digress, I feel that hermits and cloistered people that are very religious people are wonderful Christians but that kind of life is for themselves and not to make the world a better place to live. I do not consider those Christian’s worthy of the saintly.

    • Elaine's Gravatar Elaine
      March 5, 2021 - 10:08 am | Permalink

      I really don’t see that as a life for themselves. I see it as a life for the world. Most of their time is spent in prayer, both praising God and for mercy the whole world. I consider prayer an action. There are others that do the actual physical doing, but the action of prayer is the basis of the doing. Just my view and not meant to be contrary.

    • Kathleen Martin's Gravatar Kathleen Martin
      March 5, 2021 - 10:47 am | Permalink

      Mary, i have to disagree. Hermits and cloistered religious spend their lives praying for the world and for individuals who petition them for help. (Today, many carry out fruitful spiritual correspondence with people around the world.) God calls each of us to a different ministry. To answer a call to leave the world and dedicate your life to praying for others requires strength and faith and is not, in my opinion, purely self serving,

    • Joanie Cahill's Gravatar Joanie Cahill
      March 5, 2021 - 12:59 pm | Permalink

      In the times they lived in, many of them thought that they were dedicating their lives to the betterment of the world through their penitence and prayer. They were spending their lives making up for the sins of the rest of us, so that more of us could reach salvation

      • John S.'s Gravatar John S.
        March 5, 2021 - 3:09 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for your interpretation!

    • Jayne Abrams's Gravatar Jayne Abrams
      March 5, 2021 - 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Oh, I totally agree with you!!!!

  5. Lee Greenawalt's Gravatar Lee Greenawalt
    March 5, 2021 - 8:48 am | Permalink

    Although Nino’s going out in faith and establishing Christianity in a whole nation is noteworthy, I vote for Benedict, unordained by the establishment, but blessed in the kitchen and in the bush outside the walls of organization. Benedict the Moor is a significant symbol for our present social/political situation.

  6. Vicar Mollie's Gravatar Vicar Mollie
    March 5, 2021 - 8:50 am | Permalink

    This is the toughest choice yet for me. Both real people, both exemplary in their respective journeys, both dealing with the poisonous tendrils of slavery and prejudice. I’m going to have to wait a while and come back for guidance from my fellow pilgrims.

  7. March 5, 2021 - 8:55 am | Permalink

    So maybe Benedict was the first saint of African descent canonized by the ROMAN Catholic Church but certainly there were many, many saints of African and Middle Eastern descent made by tradtion and the early church?

    • Melanie's Gravatar Melanie
      March 5, 2021 - 9:49 am | Permalink

      Didn’t we already have a couple of Egyptian female monks in LM this year? Alexandria is in Africa, last I checked.

      • Verdery Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery Kassebaum
        March 5, 2021 - 11:22 am | Permalink

        I don’t see anything in today’s write-ups about Alexandria. Benedict’s refers to Sicily and Nino’s to Armenia.

        • Tessa's Gravatar Tessa
          March 5, 2021 - 1:41 pm | Permalink

          Verdery, you are correct. I believe Melanie’s referring to previous days. Theodora of Alexandria was in an earlier matchup this year. Euphrosyne/Smaragdus was also from Alexandria.

      • Gail Adams's Gravatar Gail Adams
        March 5, 2021 - 2:34 pm | Permalink

        Good for you. Lots of people forget what continent Egypt belongs to.

  8. March 5, 2021 - 8:58 am | Permalink

    Very close call today with a nod to Benedict.

  9. Emily Correll's Gravatar Emily Correll
    March 5, 2021 - 8:59 am | Permalink

    As the Soviet Union was in the process of dissolving, our family was living in Atlanta and became part of a “Georgia to Georgia” exchange sponsored by the Friendship Force. The visiting Georgians told us about St. Nino. I had to vote for her for Natia and Givi. However, if not for them, I probably would be voting for Benedict the Moor.

  10. Anna Barton's Gravatar Anna Barton
    March 5, 2021 - 9:02 am | Permalink

    While Benedict is the clear choice in many ways, I am a Nana from Maryland! So, Nino/Nina/Nuno who converted Queen Anna gets my vote today!

  11. Michelle C's Gravatar Michelle C
    March 5, 2021 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    This year it seems that either I would like to vote for both saints or neither of them. Today is a “both saints” day. Both of these saints spoke to me for similar reasons. However, the collect for Nino swayed my vote this morning.

  12. Carol's Gravatar Carol
    March 5, 2021 - 9:05 am | Permalink

    I hadn’t heard of St. Nino before visiting Georgia in 2019. I was impressed by the Georgians love of their saint, their bringer of Christian salvation. She is known as the “Enlightener of All Georgia”. Everywhere in the country, there are stories of her life and works. One of the small stories is that of a time when Nino went into the mountains to pray. Through her prayers, a healing spring appeared at the foot of a rock. Near the rock a tree grew up and all the animals and people who ate its leaves or seeds were healed.
    St. Nino is one of those saints I wish we were all more aware of. She gets my vote today!

    • Marty's Gravatar Marty
      March 5, 2021 - 9:45 am | Permalink

      Thank you for all this insight!

  13. Charles Ellis's Gravatar Charles Ellis
    March 5, 2021 - 9:07 am | Permalink

    You always want to stay on the good side of the cooks and the nurses. I gotta go with Benedict this time.

  14. RoseAnn Evans's Gravatar RoseAnn Evans
    March 5, 2021 - 9:12 am | Permalink

    Seeing as Benedict of Nursia is my prayer partner, I voted for Benedict the Moor. However, it was really hard today. This has been the most difficult year of Lent Madness since its second year. I’m thoroughly enjoying learning about new saints who may also join me in my prayers! And I love all the limericks!

  15. JoJo's Gravatar JoJo
    March 5, 2021 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    This is ridiculous, who DOES these brackets? Neither saint yesterday deserved a win then today both deserve to win. Benedict is certainly a timely saint I should vote for but the lady Nina is just as appropriate. Perhaps I should roll some dice to decide— Ah! yes, like casting lots for Jesus’s robe, Nina of Ga. it is!!

    • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
      March 5, 2021 - 10:10 am | Permalink

      They do call it Lent Madness for a reason.

      • Mary-Beth Esser's Gravatar Mary-Beth Esser
        March 5, 2021 - 11:38 am | Permalink

        Excellent observation. Lent “Madness” indeed. And so thought provoking, leading to such fascinating exchanges.

    • Cindy's Gravatar Cindy
      March 5, 2021 - 5:20 pm | Permalink

      I agree! A very difficult choice today.

    • Shelly's Gravatar Shelly
      March 5, 2021 - 9:30 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s kind of nice not to have such lopsided contests in the first round.

  16. Ellen L's Gravatar Ellen L
    March 5, 2021 - 9:17 am | Permalink

    After enduring an tumultuous last year, where so many have died and it has in some ways felt like Lent every day, I’m going with Benedict. And hid was so called to heal that he even hid in bushes to help.

    • JustMeJo's Gravatar JustMeJo
      March 5, 2021 - 4:25 pm | Permalink

      My feelings exactly, Ellen! It saddened me rather, that people seeking healing were viewed by some of the brotherhood as an inconvenience, thus driving poor Benedict into the bushes.

  17. March 5, 2021 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    Voting for Benedict. I wonder if I can borrow those Angels to help in my kitchen. I do all right, although certainly I would not call my output heavenly. However, I am constantly dropping things so I would appreciate their help in catching what goes flying off the cutting board before it hits the floor.

    • Marti K's Gravatar Marti K
      March 5, 2021 - 11:02 am | Permalink

      As I read “dropping things” I heard a glass shattering in the kitchen. Hubby swears it just fell over. What will happen next? I must go search the bushes.

  18. Andria's Gravatar Andria
    March 5, 2021 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    A slave girl converts an entire NATION? Now that’s impressive.

  19. Melissa's Gravatar Melissa
    March 5, 2021 - 9:24 am | Permalink

    I haven’t decided yet between the two saints, who both led inspirational lives! I lean toward both of them for their own reasons!

    I had to comment, because of the community in the name of St. Nina in Maryland (near me!)
    The possibility of a field trip is always exciting (even if we just drive past and look at the sheep).
    They have a gift store!! Yay “saintly kitsch”! ie an opportunity to support the sisters who live there by buying some handfelted soap, lanolin, coffee! icons, crosses, books including the life of Nina, or even a CD of their music!

    I hope and pray that we are all blessed today and over the weekend by the contemplation of the saints’ stories we have heard this week, even or especially because some of their stories have been hard to hear.

    learn + pray + turn + go + rest + worship + bless

    • Nina Nicholson's Gravatar Nina Nicholson
      March 5, 2021 - 9:53 am | Permalink

      Melissa – Thanks for this! I just told my husband, “Guess what! There’s a St. Nina’s Monastery and they have a gift shop!”
      Husband to me: “How much did you spend?

    • Tiffany's Gravatar Tiffany
      March 5, 2021 - 6:54 pm | Permalink

      It’s not that far from my son’s college (McDaniel College)! But since he graduated in May, I don’t have a reason to be in that area any longer.

      The nuns seem pretty active in earning money to support their monastery! Thanks for the link.

  20. Jennifer B-C Seaver's Gravatar Jennifer B-C Seaver
    March 5, 2021 - 9:27 am | Permalink

    I have learned that a part of Georgia was known as Iberia. I only knew that name as the peninsula which is close to France, i.e., Spain and Portugal. It’s fun to pick up these obscure facts while learning about equally obscure saints.

    • Tiffany's Gravatar Tiffany
      March 5, 2021 - 2:24 pm | Permalink

      I also learned this about Georgia.

  21. Beth M Parkhurst's Gravatar Beth M Parkhurst
    March 5, 2021 - 9:31 am | Permalink

    Nino willingly risked her life and lost her freedom to convert a nation.

  22. St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
    March 5, 2021 - 9:35 am | Permalink

    I almost voted for Nino just for her gorgeous Orthodox fresco, but I feel that she and those thirty-five virgins have the Georgian wine industry pretty well branded. I hope she will make her way here; plenty of Caucasian Georgians in the US need to hear the gospel, just sayin’. I voted for Benedict, who seems to have his own ewer of water behind him, which he can turn to wine at any time. I do quibble with David Hansen’s statement that Benedict was “the first person of African descent canonized by the Vatican.” Augustine of Hippo was from Africa; surely he was canonized? Not all who are from Africa are “black.” Surely David Hansen means first black African canonized? I feel the expulsion of the Moors from Spain was a great wound in European history and a stain on the church. And even if Benedict’s story sounds a little bit too “Like Water for Chocolate-y,” his ability to read minds and heal people from the bushes would be useful; he too could come here and help stop voter suppression efforts aimed at his contemporary brethren and sistren. It’s unclear to me why Pius IV banned hermitages; I wonder if he feared that solitary monks would be susceptible to Protestant influence. He was a Medici, after all, accustomed to power, and the Council of Trent was designed precisely to combat Protestantism. In the lamentable earthly history of the universal church, the conflation of politics with spirituality is a chronic sin, and yet politics is a fact of human existence that even Jesus did not deny, so if voting for a black saint is a political gesture, then so be it. I vote for Benedict the Moor and pray that white supremacy may be extirpated in the US, from the Proud hearts of Boys and from the power structures of the nation’s capitol.

    • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
      March 5, 2021 - 10:18 am | Permalink


    • Deborah Felder's Gravatar Deborah Felder
      March 5, 2021 - 10:47 am | Permalink

      I was disappointed that we get to vote for someone whose alternate name is Benedict the African. Why can’t he be Benedict the Franciscan or Benedict the Healer? No one else gets called St. Mary the Irish or St. Mary the White. But we just get to vote. We don’t get to name. Sigh.

      • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
        March 5, 2021 - 11:03 am | Permalink

        I imagine the name is historical, and there must be “about a billion” Benedicts in the history of monasticism. Your comment reminds me of a story I heard about Puerto Rican families, among whom the children all have nicknames, because there are so many Marias. The nicknames respond to physical features, and one little girl in the neighborhood was called “Maria la Fea” by all the other kids (Maria the Ugly), and the nickname stuck. Even her mother called her that. One day the mother could be heard calling down the street for the child to come to dinner: “Fea! Fea! Fea!” I’d rather be called Benedict the Moor if it comes to that; there cannot have been very many black men in the monastery at the time, and for all we know there were a Benedict the Lame and a Benedict the Drunk among the others.

        • Rene Jamieson's Gravatar Rene Jamieson
          March 5, 2021 - 8:45 pm | Permalink

          Your comment reminded me one critic’s review of ‘West Side Story’ which included this line , “A guy goes through a Puerto Rican neighbourhood in New York calling out “Maria!” and only one girl sticks her head out of the window? What are the odds?”

          • Richard Rutherford's Gravatar Richard Rutherford
            March 6, 2021 - 11:53 am | Permalink

            In a similar vein, my very young nephew named Patrick/Paddy arrived for the first time at Dublin Airport with his parents, and they got into a taxi. Paddy asked the taxi driver his name. “Paddy,” replied the driver.
            My nephew excitedly turned to his father, and said, “Daddy, Daddy….there are TWO Paddy’s in Ireland!”

    • March 5, 2021 - 11:08 am | Permalink

      I did a little checking up on the Augustine situation — it turns out he was “canonised by popular acclaim” rather than by papal authority, and that seems to have been common for quite some time. So it could be that the first saint of African descent who was actually canonised by the Holy See in its official processes (which only originated in or soon after the renaissance, it looks like) is indeed Benedict….

      • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
        March 5, 2021 - 11:26 am | Permalink


    • Kathleen A Munroe's Gravatar Kathleen A Munroe
      March 5, 2021 - 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Amen!! I too voted for Benedict as both stories were full of miracles, but I just felt more drawn to him

    • Gaen's Gravatar Gaen
      March 5, 2021 - 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Yes! to everything you’ve said here.

  23. Tonya Eza's Gravatar Tonya Eza
    March 5, 2021 - 9:48 am | Permalink

    I have a good friend who has been to Georgia and seen St. Nino’s burial site and the convent named for her. I’ve strongly encouraged him to cast his vote today. And I have also cast my vote for Nino, although it looks like Benedict is going to win it. And he’s a good one, too.

  24. Jane Bucci's Gravatar Jane Bucci
    March 5, 2021 - 9:52 am | Permalink

    Realizing Benedict the Moor has no connection to this train of thought, I nonetheless started travelling down the path of Benedictine hospitality, and the precious times I have spent while on retreat at Holy Cross Monastery in West Park New York. The Guest House has been closed since last year, and sadly remains so, but the healing combined with angelic nourishment was just reminiscent enough to guide my vote.

  25. Anne Madden's Gravatar Anne Madden
    March 5, 2021 - 9:56 am | Permalink

    I just want to thank all of you for your comments. Reading them each morning gives me strength and joy to know I am in the company of such friends!!

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      March 5, 2021 - 10:07 am | Permalink

      What she said!!! ^^^

    • Tiffany's Gravatar Tiffany
      March 5, 2021 - 2:21 pm | Permalink

      I also very much enjoy the comments.

  26. March 5, 2021 - 10:09 am | Permalink

    Sometimes I base my choices not so much on the biographies of lives lived, but rather on how the collects speak to my heart. Today’s one of the latter: I’ll be offering Amber’s collect for Nino throughout today and adding it to my personal prayer collection.

    • Ralph's Gravatar Ralph
      March 5, 2021 - 11:59 am | Permalink

      AMEN to that! Thank you Amber.

    • March 5, 2021 - 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Your comment made me go back and reread the collect. I agree, Amber’s collect for Nino is beautiful. I shall have to add that to my collection of favorite prayers! Grazie!

  27. Donice Gilliland's Gravatar Donice Gilliland
    March 5, 2021 - 10:11 am | Permalink

    This is one of the most inspirational match-ups to date, for me. What interesting people they both are. And I will be returning to both of these collects again. I voted for Benedict but loved learning more about both.

  28. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    March 5, 2021 - 10:27 am | Permalink

    Though both are worthy, the vote in our house goes to Nino of Georgia, in honor of fond times working with my former coworker Irakli, the first Georgian I had ever known who fled what was then Soviet Georgia for his freedom and education.

  29. Susan McFeatters's Gravatar Susan McFeatters
    March 5, 2021 - 10:34 am | Permalink

    I wonder if Benedict’s fellow monks thought seven Lents in one year was a form of Lent Madness. There’s a lot to be said for Nino but Benedict got my vote.

  30. Kitty's Gravatar Kitty
    March 5, 2021 - 10:43 am | Permalink

    Cooking with Angels, that is beautiful to envision. His parents goodness was passed down to Benedict and his kindness to future generations. Both these saints are very worthy of my vote but Benedict struck a cord in my heart.

  31. Cathleen's Gravatar Cathleen
    March 5, 2021 - 10:57 am | Permalink

    I was reading today’s post when my husband brought me homemade beignets and coffee in bed. Just because it’s unimportant doesn’t mean it’s not a sign. I voted for Benedict on the spot.

  32. Nelson Smith's Gravatar Nelson Smith
    March 5, 2021 - 10:58 am | Permalink

    I voted for Benedict because of his caring, healing and feeding. Sounds like a later version of loaves and fishes. I guess the angels who danced over the food preparation are a predecessor of today’s crock pot or insta pot. Benedict’s commitment to healing and feeding were a true labor of love.

  33. Betsy T's Gravatar Betsy T
    March 5, 2021 - 11:10 am | Permalink

    First, a thank you to my priest, Fr Josh, for putting me onto Lent Madness. I am really enjoying the whole experience! The limericks and shared thoughts are the highlight of my day. Thank you all for making this Lent one of the most thought provoking and, dare I say, fun of my life!

  34. sue's Gravatar sue
    March 5, 2021 - 11:22 am | Permalink

    I had to vote for St. Nina in honor of my friend Givi, whose daughter is named Nina in the saint’s honor. He is so proud of his Georgian homeland and dedicated to his Georgian Orthodox Church. And he has introduced me to Georgian wine, another great tradition of which I was formerly unaware. Go, Georgia!!

  35. Carol Kelbaugh's Gravatar Carol Kelbaugh
    March 5, 2021 - 11:23 am | Permalink

    Love the limericks and learning so much each day .. Benedict gets my vote today!

  36. Verdery Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery Kassebaum
    March 5, 2021 - 11:30 am | Permalink

    I don’t see anything in today’s write-ups about Alexandria. Benedict’s refers to Sicily and Nino’s to Armenia.

  37. Claudia McKee's Gravatar Claudia McKee
    March 5, 2021 - 11:36 am | Permalink

    I went with Benedict today – my uncle was a gourmet cook, and when he was in seminary at Nashotah House in Wisconsin, during Epiphany he was horrified when the seminarians were presented with an all-white meal of something along the lines of fish, white rice, and cauliflower. He promptly offered to take over the kitchen, and became an even better cook learning to use what was available in their pantry.

  38. Laura Mahaney's Gravatar Laura Mahaney
    March 5, 2021 - 12:11 pm | Permalink

    I’m fascinated by this little fact thrown out there that the Pope disbanded the hermits. I can’t find more except references to hermitages being abolished. No explanations. Can someone elucidate?

  39. Jan's Gravatar Jan
    March 5, 2021 - 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Was anyone else reminded of “The Lilies of the Field”? At the end of the book we learn that the chapel built by itinerant black laborer Homer Smith was named for St. Benedict the Moor, and that the picture of the saint hanging in the chapel was modeled on Smith.

  40. Connie Keller's Gravatar Connie Keller
    March 5, 2021 - 12:52 pm | Permalink

    I am in awe of your ability to continue to find more saints for us to ponder after so many years. I do not know where you find them but please keep it up.

  41. Sunderland Em's Gravatar Sunderland Em
    March 5, 2021 - 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Nino/Nina was also known simply as The Christian in Georgia/Iberia for her missionary work. In France, she was known as La Chrétienne, and in the early 1800s an order of religious sisters was formed who chose her as their patron. They exist to this day, teaching and working in the U.S, Canada, Europe and Africa. They have been included in the Righteous Among the Nations for hiding and saving Jewish children during the Holocaust.
    I’m an Episcopalian today, but Nino gets my vote in thanksgiving for 12 wonderful years of schooling from the Sisters of Ste Chrétienne.

  42. Donald MacLeod's Gravatar Donald MacLeod
    March 5, 2021 - 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Lent Madness score: 13 out of 13 so far!
    Most of the choices have been obvious to me up to now. The next round will be more difficult.
    There are reasons why the majority made the choices in the matchups. I think there are three broad categories of criteria for the choices, although elimination can depend on which other saint each is matched with.
    Not reason enough:
    There are many qualities which may have been enough for beatification and canonization but are not reason enough for these choices:
    Martyrdom There are many saints who are martyrs, which can get them into the canon but may not make them better choices than others.
    Miracles These may be qualifications for sainthood but are very difficult to verify.
    Mysticism and magic Also hard to verify and not necessarily relevant in history or today.
    Monasticism A way of life which may help the saint but not always or necessarily others.
    Definite reasons for rejection:
    Murder and mayhem. Physicians take an oath first to do no harm. Many church leaders through history have been celebrated and even led movements, despite advocating war, murder, torture, excommunication, exclusion and other harms but they will not be on my list, unless there is repentance and rectification, as with Saint Paul.
    Positive reasons for choice:
    Service – to God, to humanity and to all of creation. This is the biggest reason for choice. It can apply to the time of the saint, to the course of history and particularly to today. It may be in the realm of spirituality and contributions to the church, in science and knowledge or in any organized endeavour to benefit others.
    Sacrifice – not mindless self-harm but putting God and others ahead of oneself in all that is done.
    Sanctity – genuine devotion to God and to others. It may be in obvious piety but may be in the everyday aspects of reverence.
    Redemption – Showing signs of living out blessings and sanctification. – What we might describe as holiness.
    Relevance – Meaning as much today as it might have in the saint’s own time and throughout history.
    The above criteria are not mutually exclusive but do provide guidelines to making defensible choices in any of the matchups. (Judging others could disqualify a person for inclusion in the list, so I guess I would be out)

    • Laura Graf's Gravatar Laura Graf
      March 8, 2021 - 10:40 am | Permalink

      I perceive a matrix here. Your typology makes me wonder in which scientific field you were trained.

  43. MaryLynn's Gravatar MaryLynn
    March 5, 2021 - 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Both slaves. Both loved God. Different genders and nationality. One gave up all living selflessly. One served people. I’m going with service to others.

  44. Tiffany's Gravatar Tiffany
    March 5, 2021 - 2:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m voting for Nino for her choice to leave a comfortable life to follow a vision, traveling far from home (a dangerous and traumatic journey, as it turned out that she saw many other women killed before she arrived at her destination), and surviving, as a slave, to bring Christianity to an entire nation.

    I agree that Benedict is also a worthy contender, and I particularly liked that the RC church canonized a black African in the early 19th century.

  45. Claire from Quincy, MA's Gravatar Claire from Quincy, MA
    March 5, 2021 - 2:36 pm | Permalink

    I’m grateful for the Nina’s story. But as I Standout weekly for Black Lives at my UU church, I have to go vote Benedict. The bio describes how much he was loved during his lifetime; still I can’t help imagining that he must’ve experienced racism frequently. He persevered because of his love of Jesus.

  46. Joyce's Gravatar Joyce
    March 5, 2021 - 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I came prepared to vote for Benedict the Moor this morning but learned so much about Nino and her impact on Georgia that I voted for her instead. I love the idea that Jesus’ seamless garment lies buried beneath the Cathedral–another “thin place” in our spacious world. I’ll look for some Georgian wine next time I’m out.

  47. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    March 5, 2021 - 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Two saints new to me today. Both are inspiring, but my vote goes to Benedict, for the cooking and for lurking in bushes in order to heal people. We have a prayer in the Iona community, take us outside holiness, and Benedict reminds me of this.

  48. gretchen d's Gravatar gretchen d
    March 5, 2021 - 4:39 pm | Permalink

    The Virgin told Nino to bind the 2 grapevine branches together with strands of her hair. In her shrine, a lovely icon shows her long black hair. I bought a simple silver cross there, many years ago …. curved branches, bound by silver strands – still hanging around my neck!

  49. Amy Cook's Gravatar Amy Cook
    March 5, 2021 - 5:01 pm | Permalink

    What a difficult choice!!!! Both very worthy and I want to see the loser of this match up next year!!! I voted for Nino because her faithfulness changed an entire nation. But Benedict is certainly worthy as well! I kind of like that the standout in the community at first is his divine cooking. This truly is a way to make friends and influence people.

  50. Ruth Douglas Miller's Gravatar Ruth Douglas Miller
    March 5, 2021 - 5:11 pm | Permalink

    When both options are inspiring, it seems to me, the best choice is to wait until someone spills the beans and comments which saint is ahead, and vote for the other one. I restrict myself from looking at the votes until after I vote, but if you wait long enough (it’s after 5 here) someone is bound to mention the standings. Both wonderful people, thank you for introducing me to them!

  51. Candace's Gravatar Candace
    March 5, 2021 - 5:21 pm | Permalink

    I felt compelled to vote for Benedict (my father’s middle name!) but also because he healed people from the bushes, refusing to bow to the religious spirit of his time!

  52. Gloriamarie Amalfitano's Gravatar Gloriamarie Amalfitano
    March 5, 2021 - 6:16 pm | Permalink

    I would love to have Benedict’s recipes.

    • Tessa's Gravatar Tessa
      March 7, 2021 - 8:34 pm | Permalink

      I wish the SEC would resume the practice of previous years of including “Saintly Sprinkles” recipes in the Saintly Scorecard. Something that Benedict might have prepared would have been worth cooking!

  53. Gaen's Gravatar Gaen
    March 5, 2021 - 7:03 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Benedict and for the healing witness of Black freedom fighters and spiritual leaders in America. I was really moved by the accounts of Benedict healing. In Paul Sabatier’s pivotal biography of Francis of Assisi (written in the late 19th c), he suggests that Francis especially was noted for healing “nervous dispositions” and demons. To Sabatier that suggested that Francis’s deeply calming influence and deep spiritual peace helped folks we would understood had epilepsy or diseases exacerbated by stress or anxiety find calmness and heal. That’s how I’m seeing Benedict, a later Franciscan.

    Wanting to learn more about Benedict and try to decipher the various epithets assigned to him, I found this wonderful church art in Chicago celebrating African Americans: The home page shows their crucifix; scroll down and click to see more of their sacred art. I like their calling him “Benedict the African.” It seems more accurate.

    Looking around on the internet, it seems that while the Italians of his own day might have called him a Moor or “moro” for “dark” (so says my Italian-speaking husband), it sounds as though his parents were from Ethiopia and that they were enslaved because they were black Africans, captured as part of the slave trade of that era. So for us, “Benedict the Moor” seems misleading, as he wasn’t part of the various Muslim groups that had earlier conquered north Africa and much of the Iberian peninsula. Maybe someone else knows more about his history?

    • March 6, 2021 - 12:11 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the link – I love that crucifix and their Benedict Stained glass.

      You are correct — “moor” would have been used to mean dark ‘ African

  54. Katherine's Gravatar Katherine
    March 5, 2021 - 7:18 pm | Permalink

    I’ve sung songs to Saint Nino! Georgian has one of the oldest polyphonic music traditions in the world. Georgian ensemble Zedashe sings Tsminda Ninos Kondaki: However, I voted for the hiding-in-the-bushes cook.

  55. Rene Jamieson's Gravatar Rene Jamieson
    March 5, 2021 - 8:55 pm | Permalink

    This one was a tough one, and I pondered long and hard, and, yes, prayed, before casting my vote. I ended up letting my heart rule my head, and voted for Benedict. I did so not because Nino/Nina/Nune was less worthy than he but for purely personal reasons: 1) my mother was a chef, and I learned early from her to enjoy cooking (although there’s a noticeable lack of angels in my kitchen!); 2) my daughter (in-law) is black and displays many saintly qualities; 3) I come from a family of nurses and doctors, so I respect the healer side of Benedict.

  56. Sharon Davis's Gravatar Sharon Davis
    March 7, 2021 - 7:16 am | Permalink

    Black History! Benedict it is

  57. John Hitzeroth's Gravatar John Hitzeroth
    March 7, 2021 - 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Regarding this week’s matchup between the Catherines:
    “Cold Cut Capers!

  58. Temmo Korisheli's Gravatar Temmo Korisheli
    March 8, 2021 - 2:04 am | Permalink

    Georgian pride! Go, St. Nino! (or in Georgian, ნინოწმინდა = Ninotsminda).

  59. MARY ROSA's Gravatar MARY ROSA
    March 9, 2021 - 10:57 am | Permalink


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