For the Golden Halo: Joanna the Myrrhbearer vs. Jonathan Daniels

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!

Jonathan Daniels

"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!




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106 comments on “For the Golden Halo: Joanna the Myrrhbearer vs. Jonathan Daniels”

  1. So wonderful this “Madness”. So difficult the choices. Congratulations to all who contributed. My heart was with Jonathan. (Wondering all the time if my faith could be that strong.)

      1. Doubtful. The vote last year was so close, and so many were passionate about the runner-up, Teresa of Avila, that if they didn't award it then, they won't award it now.

        Anyway, if they did award a silver halo mug this year -- and I agree that there should be one, in general -- then they'd have to do some retroactively. I'd be among those who'd clamor for a silver halo mug for Teresa. For example.

  2. Thank you so much to everyone involved in Lent Madness. It has been a joy and a privilege to share this season with you. I am not sure how we are supposed to choose between these two wonderful saints, but voting is the point of Lent Madness, so I have to cast my one vote for someone. I came intending to vote for Joanna, expecting her to be behind, but I was so moved by the words of Jonathan Daniels that I changed my mind. His vision of the living reality of the invisible communion of saints is deeply moving. I hope that I can in some small way, follow in the steps of both.

  3. Joanna represents all the anonymous apostles and disciples who were a major part of the Jesus movement but who remain unknown because they were women. She may have funded the movement. If she doesn't win, I hope she gets a Silver Halo mug. I'll put it next to my Julian of Norwich Silver Halo mug.

    1. I can't agree more. Although I always intended to vote for Jonathan, my affinity for Joanna had only grown throughout these 40 days. She should get a silver halo mug which I would place proudly next to my Brigid of Kildare beer glass. OR should she get the Golden then Jonathan's mug on a glass (reminding us all that he was martyred defending a little girl who was thirsty in the Alabama summer heat).

  4. This was a truly either or vote. Even the faithful four, any of them would be suitable winners. Excellent stories of faith and work this year. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for sharing the link to the interview with Ruby Sales---remarkable insights, faith, etc.

    2. Thank you for sharing this podcast. It gives me insight (and foresight and hindsight) to enlighten this Holy Week.

    3. Thanks so much for sharing this. I am a big fan of Ruby and also of Krista, but I haven't heard her latest podcast, so this is a great gift.

    4. Thanks so much for this interview link - it is an inspiring window into Ruby Sales' loving heart. From an entirely different background, she continues in the same spirit as Jonathan Daniels.

  5. What an excellent finale to this year's Lent Madness! Voting for my NH native son, and looking forward to Joanna's return in a future Lent Madness. Awesome job bloggers. Thank you!

  6. I think that both his family and the woman whose life he saved, Ruby Sales — now a noted civil rights activist and theologian — would be happy to see Jonathan Daniels win the Golden Halo.

  7. I thought I would vote for Jonathan who is beyond admirable and represents also our need to continue to work for social justice. But my heart went with Joanna....stepped way out of her comfort and societal role to stand with Jesus and the marginalized. It was the tee shirt in the kitsch round that sealed it. Joanna and the nameless women she represents as well as for the women whose rights to live out their God given call are still denied in many organizations and places got my vote

    1. Big thumbs down Jim. Does that mean you discount the gift of the life of Ruby Sales, leader and theologian, that Jonathan's martyrdom gave us? St. Jonathan is our saint because in the name of Christ he laid down his life for his (and our) friends. We have had many women winners over the years but I hope not simply because they were women.

  8. Jonathan's moving invocation of the unitive worship of the communion of saints, living and dead moved me deeply, in part because I'm currently in Cambridge, MA, at the SSJE monastery, not far from what was the EDS campus he referenced. Joanna's "radical step right outside the (privileged world) to which she had belonged and into the life of the ordinary people ... and the marginalized and rejected of society whom Jesus often attracted and sought out" speaks to Jesus' invitation to all born to privilege (including me) to follow on the life-giving Way of the cross. How to choose?

  9. I learned about Johnathan back in seminary from my beloved professor Charlie Price of VTS. Johnathan Danials walked the walk while most of us just talk the the talk.

    He inspired us to make reparations for our past sins against all of those with history different from us of white European ancestors

  10. Since 1972 my central activist passion has been safe energy, the issue now known as climate change. With the UAE in charge of the next COP conference even as it pushes forward plans to expand its oil and gas production exponentially, stemming the worst results for our children's future is probably hopeless. As Jonathan probably observes from heaven, commenting to Jesus by his side, "all these years and racism still stains everything in America! It's hopeless." And Jesus says, "I know." So, despite my passion for Joanna, Jonathan is a saint for our time.

  11. "By a perversion of justice he was taken away, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth." These are the words from the first station of the cross for Holy Week. Jonathan gets my faltering praise today. It's not just that the U.S. turned its back on civil rights after Jonathan's murder and Martin King's murder (and Fred Hampton's murder . . . and George Floyd's murder, et cetera ad infinitum), it's that the U.S. has always turned its back on civil rights. It's "never civil rights week" in the U.S. I cast my final vote of Lent Madness 2023 for Jonathan Myrick Daniels and call for the U.S. to commit itself to reparations, which would include domestic investment in free pre-K-16 education and universal healthcare, public transportation, the repeal and expungement of the second amendment, judicial reform, public financing of elections and an end to dark money in politics, a robust Voting Rights Act, a cabinet-level Consumer Rights Secretary, recognition of all Indian tribes and the guaranteed inclusion of a representative from each tribe in the U.S. Congress. And that's just the ante. There's more. The rich need to have their piles of stocks taxed and there are people at the border trying to get in. Let them in. This country will never be free until all are free. Jonathan was denied justice 60 years ago, and this is not "justice" now. But it is a tiny act of memory and recognition, and that counts.

    1. Yes, Jonathan and the priest who was with them and shot (but survived) never received earthly justice. The murderer was found not guilty and lived his life out as though the murder never happened. He was even heard to say if he had it to do over, he would shoot them again.

  12. Silver halo mug! (chanting) I'd get one with either of these beautiful souls on it. One of my toughest votes ever.

  13. I want to thank Tim and Scott and all the bloggers for this Lent Madness experience. That it continues to thrive is a testament to their commitment and dedication. To me this Lenten devotional has become a process of contemporary canon formation; who are our saints? This is the church pondering and deliberating over what constitutes faithfulness, prophetic witness, and "active contemplation." This small band of pilgrims, who meet once a year for a digital trip to Canterbury, tends to skew toward the "woman deacon." And that's a good thing. This group values service and inclusion and committed expressions of faith in the world. As our palfreys tread on the first cobblestones of Canterbury and the cathedral portals are in sight, let us re-commit ourselves to a life of zeal and purpose. I wish you all a blessed Triduum and a joyful Easter. Thanks to everyone for accompanying us on this quirky and amazing Lenten venture. And keep in mind: future dissertations on "Anglican Spirituality in the Early 21st Century" are going to be highly entertaining.

  14. The vote is going as I predicted, and as I have supported both of our candidates through the madness, I am happy with either outcome. Thank you for this part of a holy Lent.

  15. I went with Joanna. Both of these saints and their forms of love are so important and timely. But it struck me how rarely in Christianity we remember to honor the healing work that happens after we stand up to injustice and face the consequences. And I think at this moment in the life of the Church it so needs to do both.

  16. Ugh, this was such a hard choice!!! No matter who wins the golden halo, can we have a silver halo for the runner-up? There was one year in Lent Madness that this happened; please let it happen again!!

  17. I always look forward to this each year. Year 3 for me!! Thank you to everyone that pulls this together. And lets go John Daniels!!!

    1. Oh my God, Tennessee Ernie Ford! We watched him on TV when I was a kid. What a great voice! Thanks for this, Ralph.

  18. If you have the opportunity to attend the pilgrimage to Hayneville to honor Jonathan Daniel’s and the other martyrs of Alabama, I’d encourage you to do so. The most moving part for me is celebrating the Eucharist in the courtroom where Jonathan’s killer was acquitted.

    1. Been there, done that. You are right, it is an incredible experience. It is also in August and in southern Alabama, so dress accordingly.

    2. The Jonathan Daniels Pilgrimage is unforgettable. For me, the most moving part was seeing and kneeling on the porch at the store. It still seems as if Jonathan and Christ were there with me.

  19. I have been participating in Lent Madness since the beginning and I really look forward to it every year. There are so many Saints that were new to me and I have appreciated learning about them every single year. Thank you for the reminder that Lent does not mean giving anything up but taking something on.

  20. I have supported both of these amazing saints throughout this madly rich season. While it is so clearly and painfully Jonathan Myrick Daniels' time this year, and he got my vote, I think a silver halo for Joanna is called for as well, even if the race is not neck and neck. Thank you to all who crafted and participated in this year's learning experience, and Easter joy to all.

  21. I make the pilgrimage every year in honor of Jonathan Daniel to Lowdnes County , Ala. He stood up for what right and just, for all human kind. He protected the life of an innocent child, Ruby and will be forever in our hearts for his sacrifice.

  22. This was a great Lent Madness year! I always am amazed at what I learn about the saints and others you put up for the golden halo. Every year I am reminded of the old Hymn:
    “The Saints of God are just folks like me, and I need to be one too!”
    With God’s help!
    Thank you all for a great year.

  23. I can’t believe it’s over, Lent flew by this year, I swear it used to seem so much longer! I’ve voted for Joanna all the way, she’s my Golden Halo pick, but I think she’s going to give it up to Jonathan Daniels, a younger, more recent, worthy candidate. It’s been fun, Happy Easter after the Tridium, don’t let all the services get you down, Christ did not suffer in vain, we are a resurrection people,

  24. Thank you to everyone for another great year of Lent Madness. The celebrity bloggers have done a wonderful job of introducing us to their saints stories. Thanks to Tim and Scott for starting the Madness and continuing it year after year. Thanks to the bracket czar and all the people at Forward Movement. And thank you to all of you who have shared your comments and you Lent with me. John Cabot, I love your limericks they always make me smile.