Congratulations! You survived the first battle of Lent Madness 2023. Of course, the same cannot be said for Hippolytus of Rome who was trounced by Augustine of Hippo 80% to 20%, to become the first saint to punch his ticket to the Saintly Sixteen.
Today in Lent Madness action it's Florence Li Tim-Oi, the first woman to be ordained a priest in the Anglican Communion, facing off against Nicolaus von Zinzendorf, a Moravian whose name is just too fun to say.
And don't forget, tomorrow is the ONE AND ONLY Saturday matchup of Lent Madness, as Olga of Kiev takes on Bertha of Kent.
Finally, if you want to find out when your favorite saint will be up in the bracket, click (and maybe even print out) this year's Matchup Calendar.
Now go vote!
Florence Li Tim-Oi
Florence Li Tim-Oi (last name Li, given name Tim-Oi, chosen name Florence) was the first woman priest ordained in the Anglican Communion. When she was born in Hong Kong in 1907, people generally preferred sons over daughters, but her parents gave her a name meaning “much-beloved daughter.” Li Tim-Oi joined the Anglican church and chose the name Florence at her baptism in honor of Florence Nightingale. Like her namesake, Florence Li Tim-Oi provided care and healing to many through her ministry.
Florence studied at Union Theological College in what is now known as Guangzhou, China. While attending an English woman’s ordination as a deaconess, Florence felt a call and prayed to God that she also be ordained. Ordained a deaconess in 1941, Florence was sent to an Anglican church in Macau, a Portuguese territory with many Chinese refugees from the second Sino-Japanese war. Although she was not allowed to celebrate the eucharist, she ministered to the surrounding community in every other way: performing marriages, baptisms, and funerals, feeding the hungry, counseling the lost, and offering encouragement and hope through their shared faith.
Seeing a situation that called for a radical solution, Hong Kong Bishop Ronald Hall ordained Florence to the priesthood in 1944 in a neutral location in China. Although Bishop Hall is quoted as saying that Florence had developed a man-like charism for the priesthood, the fact remains that he ordained her. As was and is often the case, women get opportunities when men cannot be present. The result is that Florence was an ordained priest 50 years before the Anglican Communion recognized women priests.
After World War II ended and controversy around her ordination ensued, Florence decided not to exercise her priesthood until the Anglican Communion recognized her ordination. When Maoism rose in China, churches closed. Florence was persecuted, forced to cut up her vestments, and sent for “re-education” and work on a farm. Eventually, she was able to leave China and moved to Canada in 1983 to be an honorary assistant at St. John’s Chinese congregation and St. Matthew’s in Toronto. Since the Anglican Church of Canada allowed the ordination of women, Li’s ordination was reinstated in 1984, 40 years after the original date. We celebrate the feast of Florence on January 24, the eve of her ordination.
Collect for Florence Li Tim-Oi
Almighty God, who pours out your Spirit upon your sons and daughters: Grant that we, following the example of your servant Florence Li Tim-Oi, chosen priest in your church, may with faithfulness, patience, and tenacity proclaim your holy gospel to all the nations, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Nicolaus von Zinzendorf
While his name may not roll off the lips of American Protestants, Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf is a key religious figure who engaged in strong missionary work to the enslaved, Indigenous peoples, and German-speaking emigrants. Nicolaus was an author, a leader in the ecumenical movement, and a prolific hymnist, with many of his 2,000 hymns translated into other languages and still sung today. He is a renewer of the Moravian Church, which is in full communion with the Episcopal Church.
Nicolaus was born May 26, 1700, in Dresden, Germany, to a titled and wealthy life. His spirituality was apparent early on; as a youngster, he wrote letters to Jesus. In 1716, while studying law at the University of Wittenberg, Zinzendorf was inspired by Domenico Feti’s painting Ecce Homo, depicting Christ crucified. “I have loved him for a long time, but I have never actually done anything for him,” he expressed. “From now on I will do whatever he leads me to do.”
Nicolaus was ordained in the Lutheran church but always strove for an ecumenical, Protestant movement. During this time, the Moravian Church, Unitas Fratrum (United Brethren), experienced a rebirth among the exiled community, and Nicolaus began his leadership of the church. By 1732, his Moravian settlement had grown to more than 600 members.
Throughout his life, Nicolaus promoted personal relationships with God and believed that all tasks, no matter how routine or dull, are a form of worship. “All of life becomes a liturgy,” Nicolaus said. Under Nicolaus, the Moravians focused on missionary work, starting in the Caribbean and then Africa, Asia, and South America. In 1739, he joined the missionaries in the Caribbean. From there, he traveled to the United States, meeting with Benjamin Franklin and leaders of the Delaware, Shawnee, Iroquois, and Mohican nations, the only European nobleman known to expressly meet with Indigenous chiefs.
In 1741, Nicolaus visited Pennsylvania, arriving on Christmas Day, inspiring the group to name the area “Bethlehem.” After years of dedicated missionary work, Nicolaus returned to Germany in 1749. He died on May 9, 1760. His feast day is May 9 in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Collect for Nicolaus von Zinzendorf
Almighty God, whose will it is to be glorified in your saints, and who raised up your servant Nicolas to be a light in the world: Shine, we pray, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may show forth your praise, who called us out of darkness into your marvelous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Florence Li Tim-Oi: Wikimedia Commons
Nicolaus von Zinzendorf: Balthasar Denner, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons