Well, friends, we've come nearly to the end of Lent Madness 2023. It's hard to believe we kicked things off over five weeks ago on “Ash Thursday” with 32 saintly souls. With your help, the field has been whittled down to just two: Joanna the Myrrhbearer and Jonathan Daniels. Who will receive the coveted 2023 Golden Halo? Only the next 24 hours and your (single) will tell.
Regardless of the ultimate outcome, we’ve met some truly remarkable holy people along the way. Perhaps you learned about some folks you’d never heard of before or maybe you renewed acquaintances with saints who have long offered inspiration. Of course the entire notion of placing saints in a bracket is absurd — each “contestant” has already earned a crown of righteousness in addition to a “golden halo.” But at the heart of Lent Madness is the abiding conviction that encountering those who have come before us in the faith enriches and enlivens our own walk with the risen Christ.
In the process of this whimsical Lenten devotion we’ve all made some new online friends, encountered a community of believers who take their faith but not themselves too seriously, learned some things, were inspired by saintly witnesses, and hopefully had some fun along the way.
Of course we literally couldn’t have done this without our amazing Celebrity Bloggers, to whom we offer sincere gratitude: Laurie Brock, Megan Castellan, Anna Fitch Courie, David Creech, Neva Rae Fox, Heidi Haverkamp, Miriam McKenney, Emily McFarlan Miller, David Sibley, and Eva Suarez. Thanks to Bracket Czar Adam Thomas for his stellar behind-the-scenes work in keeping the bracket updated daily. You all rock!
Thank you to Richelle Thompson and everyone at Forward Movement for putting up with our shenanigans and producing a terrific Saintly Scorecard this year. Special gratitude goes to Ashley Graham-Wilcox for helping get words and images into the website each day.
Finally, thanks to all of you who participated by voting, commenting, drinking coffee out of Lent Madness mugs, filling in brackets, talking about saints with friends, liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter, and allowing us to play a small role in your Lenten journey. We’ve loved having each one of you along for the “madness” and on behalf of the Supreme Executive Committee we wish you a blessed Holy Week and a joyous Easter.
Before we invite you to cast this final vote, we should note that Emily MacFarlan Miller has ably shepherded Joanna the Myrrhbearer through the bracket, while Eva Suarez has done the same for Jonathan Daniels. We’ve asked them for a single image and one quote either by or about their saint. We’ve already heard a lot about Joanna and Jonathan, so now it's time to make your final choice. If you want to refresh your memory, you can click the Bracket tab and scroll down to view the previous write-ups.
The polls will be open for 24 hours and the winner will be announced at 8:00 am Eastern time on Maundy Thursday. Now go cast your vote — the 2023 Lent Madness Golden Halo hangs in the balance!
"As Judy and I said the daily offices day by day, we became more and more aware of the living reality of the invisible "communion of saints”– of the beloved community in Cambridge who were saying the offices too, and of the ones gathered around a near-distant throne in heaven – who blend with theirs our faltering songs of prayer and praise. With them, with black men and white men, with all of life, in Him Whose Name is above all the names that the races and nations shout, whose Name is Itself the Song Which fulfills and "ends" all songs, we are indelibly, unspeakably One."
— Jonathan Daniels, written shortly before his death
Joanna the Myrrhbearer
"Joanna is not just an illustration of the fact that Jesus attracted followers from the social elite as well as from the ordinary people and the poor. In deciding not only to support Jesus, but also to take part in his ministry by traveling with him and his itinerant disciples, Joanna may well have been motivated initially by the healing she had experienced, but it was a radical step right outside the Herodian establishment to which she had belonged and into the life of the ordinary people of Galilee and of the marginalized and rejected of society whom Jesus often attracted and sought out."
— Richard Bauckham, Gospel Women
NOTE: At 9:09 p.m. EDT, we removed 1,051 votes from Joanna the Myrrhbearer because of bulk voting from nine different IP addresses. Please vote just once, not several hundred times!