Emma of Hawai’i vs. Hugh of Lincoln

We're back for another full week of saintly thrills and spills! Today, Emma of Hawaii takes on Hugh of Lincoln. With just three battles left in the First Round, we'll be on to the Saintly Sixteen on Thursday. Seriously.

On Friday, Juliana of Liege defeated Blaise 60% to 40% (insert joke about Juliana being cut throat).

Check back later today as Tim and Scott will surely bring you another madcap, yet subtly informative, episode of Monday Madness. In the meantime, go vote!

Emma of Hawai’i

In Hawaiian, aloha means many things. It is the spirit of welcome, the spirit of the islands, the spirit of love. Aloha is what we share between each other. Aloha is all that God calls us to be to each other in our Christian lives. Queen Emma shares the spirit of aloha in her life.

Queen Emalani Kalanikaumakaʻamano Kaleleonālani Naʻea Rooke was born to High Chief George Na’ea and High Chieftess Fanny Kekelaokalani (members of the royal family of Hawai’i) on January 2, 1836, in Honolulu. In the tradition of the time, Emalani was adopted by her aunt and uncle and raised in a cross-cultural family. She was a gifted vocalist, equestrian, and scholar. On June 19, 1856, Emalani married Prince Alexander Liholiho, who would later be crowned King Kamehameha IV.

Queen Emalani and Kamehameha IV were greatly in love. Due to their cross-cultural upbringing, both had been influenced by the Church of England. Emalani petitioned the Church of England to establish the Church of Hawai’i in 1860, and Anglicanism formally arrived on the islands. Emalani and Kamehameha were baptized into the church, and Emalani changed her name to Emma in reverence.

Emma and Kamehameha had one child together, Prince Albert, whose godmother was Queen Victoria of England. However, Prince Albert died of a brain fever at the age of four. A year later, Kamehameha IV also died, and Emma was left childless and a widow. In her grief, Emma called on the spirit of aloha to guide her on. Through fundraising, humanitarian efforts, and philanthropy, Emma established St. Andrew’s Cathedral, St. Andrew’s Priory for Girls, the Iolani School for Boys, and the Queen’s Hospital, all of which still exist today and provide world-class care and education for the people of the islands. At its founding, St. Andrew’s Priory for Girls was committed to offering the same quality of education for girls as for boys, a rarity in that time.

The Episcopal Church recognizes Emma as a saint for her works of aloha for the people of Hawai’i. She passed away on April 25, 1885, and her estate was left to establish the Queen Emma Foundation for scholarships for the people of Hawai’i and to maintain the Queen’s Hospital. Her feast day (along with her husband) is November 28.

Collect for Emma of Hawai’i

O God, who called your servant Emma to an earthly throne that she might advance your heavenly kingdom, and gave her zeal for your church and love for your people: Mercifully grant that we also may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Anna Fitch Courie

Hugh of Lincoln

Seemingly few bishops are remembered first and foremost for their deep anchor in solitude, silence, and stillness, which is why Hugh of Lincoln holds a fitting place in the church’s calendar of saints.

In 1180, King Henry II of England had a problem. He famously, and later to his deep regret, was responsible for the martyrdom of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. In penance, Henry decided to establish England’s first house for the Carthusian monastic order in Witham, Somerset. The road was rocky—the first two priors had little success. At the recommendation of a French noble, Henry II sent a legate to the principal Carthusian monastery; he asked for Hugh, a 40-year-old man of noble and wealthy birth turned to a life of silent and prayerful contemplation, to head the new monastery at Witham.

Upon arrival at Witham, Hugh found not only a lack of monastic buildings but also a lack of compensation for the people to be evicted from their lands in order to build the monastery. Hugh refused to take up his charge until the people were fully compensated.

Hugh’s quiet humility and lack of self-regard enabled him to be a tireless champion for the church and the people under its care—and gave him the political capital to intercede with three kings for the church, Henry II, Richard I, and John, all while maintaining good relations.

Hugh was elected and appointed as bishop of Lincoln in 1186, filling a see that had been vacant for nearly eighteen years. He undertook major reforms that restored pious discipline among the clergy. Hugh is remembered for inciting others to divine love while being full of gentle talk and fun. He was, according to one account, a particular fan of puns and wordplay. He is remembered for his forceful advocacy for those in his care. He provided a personal and spirited defense of Jews in his diocese during a period of persecution; he stood for his people over and against greed of royal foresters, and he refused to raise money for the king’s wars. Yet his personal humility and charity of spirit prevailed for the people of God. Richard I said of him that, “If all bishops were like my Lord of Lincoln, not a prince among us could lift his head against them.”

Collect for Hugh of Lincoln

Holy God, who endowed your servant Hugh of Lincoln with wise and cheerful boldness, and taught him to commend
the discipline of holy life to kings and princes: Grant that we also, rejoicing in the Good News of your mercy, and fearing nothing but the loss of you, may be bold to speak the truth in love, in the name of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

David Sibley


Emma of Hawai’i: Mathew Brady, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Hugh of Lincoln: Art Institute of Chicago, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


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105 comments on “Emma of Hawai’i vs. Hugh of Lincoln”

  1. Though I can’t claim I’m kama’aina,
    On this day I’m an Emma campaina —
    Though to rhyme all those vowels
    Without prompting your howls
    Is a great way to get a migraina.

    1. Though Hugh gets a shout-out today as well, being "a particular fan of puns and wordplay".

  2. And it's 8:06 AM and the dropdown for Lent Madness features the likenesses of Edith Cavell and… Edith Cavell!

    Tough choice there.

    1. > John Cabot
      Thanks for clarifying who that photo placeholder is! Edith Cavell
      (The powers that be need to tell us why they chose her 🙂
      Does seem to happen frequently that the proper photos don't appear on the main page until later in day of the "battle" . . . I'm guessing a "refresh/update" is needed on the administrative end, but at least now I can stop wondering who that mystery person is!

  3. Having worshipped at St Andrew's Cathedral in Honolulu multiple times, I am always in awe of the 'Anglican experience' of Aloha. How could I not vote for Queen Emma!

  4. Whilst I admire Emma greatly, my vote goes to Hugh. His commitment to justice, his defense of the oppressed, his political skills, his championing of the poor, and his humour are sorely needed today.

  5. Having been to the Island of Oahu and visiting her Summer Home and hearing the story of Queen Emma, I vote Emma. Yes, she like the last Queen of Hawaii had the Spirit of Aloha in her and faith.

  6. I voted for Hugh of Lincoln, because he refused to raise money for wars, and he defended the Jews during a period of persecution. We need more peace keepers like him, now more than ever.

  7. Enthusiastically voting for Emma, but I want to know what's up with Hugh's pet crane. Something to do with his love of puns and wordplay?

    1. I believe that is not a crane, but a swan with an artistically elongated neck. Hugh is the patron saint of swans.

      1. Apparently a swan in the monastery gardens became deeply attached to Hugh and would follow him about. Hugh fed it by hand, although the swan wasn't happy when anyone else came near Hugh.

        1. I imagine Hugh walked alone in the garden fairly frequently then. Swans can be formidable. One wonders if Hugh took advantage of his guardian swan when he wanted some uninterrupted time.

  8. Oh there is so much more to Hugh of Lincoln! Having lived in Lincoln uk I know they remain proud of how he protected the poor and fought for their rights to hunt in the forest in order to avoid starvation.
    Lincoln cathedral is also magnificent and well worth visiting.
    Also, there is the swan that Hugh is always depicted with - what of that?

    1. I'm sure the writers are saving the "rest of the story" for if he continues forward in the competition as they have to keep providing further details on the saint-to-be.

  9. A most difficult choice, but I chose Emma be a she chose charity and action over paralyzing grief. It must have been very hard for her. Hugh is also a very worthy and inspiring figure.

  10. Hugh of Lincoln spoke truth to power, a dangerous enterprise. Forcing the powers that be to compensate those displaced by the monastery and defending Jews during a time of high persecution required considerable courage.

  11. A saint who liked puns? Hugh gets my vote.

    A Higgs boson walked into Hugh's cathedral. Hugh greeted the particle with "What are you doing in my church?"
    To which the Higgs boson replied, "You can't have mass without me."

  12. My vote today goes to Hugh who sought justice for displaced people. Maybe the people whose land was appropriated to build the monastery didn't suffer as much as those fleeing wars in their homelands, or those seeking reparation for stolen lands here in the Americas, but I see a connection.
    When one considers the actions of the two saints pitted against each other today, Hugh's principles strike me as flying in the face of those of most people of privilege in his time and place more so than Emma's.

    1. It should be mentioned that the Queen's Hospital was founded by Emma as a public hospital open to all regardless of ability to pay -- a novel idea in the 19th century -- and remains so today.

  13. How could I not vote for a humble, funny, compassionate, fair, antiwar wise man who respects Jews in a time of antisemitism? Hugh of Lincoln may become my favorite Saint.

  14. I voted for Queen Emma to honor her good works and saintliness. Also, I keep ever mindful of the shameful way the Kingdom of Hawai'i was overthrown and replaced by a sham "republic" and then degraded to a mere colony. Down with imperialism!

  15. I was going to vote for Emma until I read about King Henry II having regrets about killing Becket and calling Hugh of Lincoln. The play, Murder in the Cathedral, has been in my mind lately so it seemed only right to vote for the man called to help Henry atone for his actions.

  16. Another coin toss. Both worthy people. All honor to Hugh for standing up to monarchs and refusing to raise money for wars. I voted for Emma because she and the king became Anglicans. Favoritism? Maybe, but I had to decide between two deserving people. May they both keep us in their prayers.

  17. Two very compelling candidates. Both exhibited great care for those in their charge. Aargh. Emma.

  18. Growing up in Hawai’i, Queen Emma was always an example to her people and those of us who came to call Hawai’i home. Aloha.

  19. This was a hard choice. Both are worthy. I have dear ones who share both names. Both used their power for the benefit of others. I chose Hugh because anyone who could hold to his principles and maintain good relations with three such different, strong, and difficult characters as Henry, Richard, and John must have been a remarkable man.

  20. Emma's devotion and marshalling of be resources on behalf of her people win it for me. Hugh sounds amazing too, but he just did the job he was asked to do. Emma didn't have to do any of this work, but choose to do so. Sorry, Hugh.

  21. I knew Queen Emma would run away with the vote today, but what an amazing saint Hugh of Lincoln was. I had never heard of him before. But although he had been called to a position of power and authority as head of an order, he refused to take up that power and authority until the people being displaced were compensated for their land. Wow! And inspiring personal piety. And standing up for the Jews. And confronting kings while still staying in their good graces. He has my vote.

    1. I agree 100%! I also had never heard of Hugh but am now inspired to learn much more about him.

  22. I have voted for Emma before, and did so again. However, it was a hard decision today, because Hugh of Lincoln was a compelling wonder.

  23. I know Emma will be the rightful favorite of our current age, but I can’t help but respect Hugh’s refusal to take the job until the people displaced received full compensation, and his refusal to raise money for England’s wars. Those were no small things.