Joanna the Myrrhbearer vs. Martin de Porres

Welcome to the Faithful Four! From an initial field of 32 saints, we are down to a holy four: Joanna the Myrrhbearer, Martin de Porres, Jonathan Daniels, and Chief Seattle.

Today it's Joanna vs. Martin. To get to this point, Joan defeated Monica, Augustine, and Blandina, while Martin made it past Maximus the Confessor, Leoba, and JS Bach.

So, what happens in this round? Well, throughout Lent Madness, our saintly heroes have battled via basic bios, quirks and quotes, and even kitsch. In this round, we let our remaining Celebrity Bloggers loose as they answer the question “Why should Saint XX win the Golden Halo?” In other words, they’ve been charged with letting us know why their particular saint is so awesome. We have also invited them to share their two favorite images of their saints.

The Faithful Four continues today and tomorrow and then, on Spy Wednesday, 24 hours of voting begins to determine the winner of the 2023 Golden Halo.

The end is near! Vote now!

Joanna the Myrrhbearer

Sometimes we reporters think our articles will change the world. More often, I find, they change me.

Take, for instance, the article I wrote in 2019, interviewing Jewish New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine about her book “Entering the Passion of Jesus: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Week,” which digs into the stories of the days leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. One story she said she is particularly drawn to is the anointing of Jesus: During dinner, a woman anoints Jesus with expensive perfume, and he says her story will be remembered wherever the Gospel is preached. “I think that’s the new feast that needs to be invented: We have a special dinner at the beginning of Holy Week and we tell stories about all the women who made this mission possible,” Levine told me.

The idea stuck with me, and every year since, several friends and I have gathered during Holy Week for what we call the Feast of the Women.

In true Midwestern fashion, the Feast of the Women is a potluck, and each of us chooses a female disciple alongside a dish to share. We read the story of Jesus’ anointing and then share Scripture, poems, music, artwork, or whatever else we can find about the women who followed Jesus and supported his ministry.

Year after year, we have returned to Joanna’s story.

We often think we don’t know much about Jesus’ female followers, but it occurred to me at last year’s feast, we know perhaps as much about some of The Women as we do some of The Twelve. We learn as much about Joanna in the Gospels as we do, say, Simon the Zealot.

And scholars have gleaned a lot about Joanna from the two passages in which she is named (make that three if you believe she and Junia are the same person): She likely was born into a prominent Jewish family in Galilee and married into Herod’s court. After a healing encounter with Jesus, she left her privilege behind to follow Jesus from one town and village to another, using it instead to benefit his ministry. She was one of three myrrhbearing women who followed Jesus to the tomb, and one of the first to proclaim the Good News he had risen. She may have continued sharing that message as a leader in the early church and as one of Luke’s sources for his Gospel and the Book of Acts.

Joanna has my vote today because her story has challenged me and changed how I read the stories of women in the Gospels. Could I be so courageous in laying aside my own privilege and following Jesus to the margins?

— Emily McFarlan Miller

Martin de Porres

The man spat as Martin passed him in the street. The anger, disdain, and rejection were etched in the creases around his eyes, mouth, and forehead. Martin wasn’t sure what set the man off as he passed, but it was clear that Martin needed to steer a wide berth. As Martin crossed the street to the other side, he whispered a prayer to God that God would soften the man’s heart. That he would be healed of his affliction of anger and distrust, and he prayed silently that others would not feel the sting of rejection Martin felt his whole life.

As he continued on his way, Martin sighed. The world was a hard place. As he saw the beggars in the streets, the children without homes, the stray animals, the widows, the immigrants, the miserable shop keepers, and the unbending priests, he wondered at God’s plans. He felt sad, and alone, seeking to do God’s work, but felt rejected at the monastery as well. He wondered if he would ever be able to take vows and serve God as a full member of the order.

Shaking off his sadness, he thought of the trials of Job and God’s promises to the afflicted, “Yet he rescues the orphan[d] from the sword of their mouth, the needy from the grip of the strong; so, the poor have hope and violence shuts its mouth.” Martin knew God was faithful to God’s promises.

As Martin arrived at the Dominican Convent of the Rosary to serve the brothers, he smiled. He was heartened by God’s promises. His joy came in service to others. As God continued to call his name, his smile grew further. It was in his care of the people who came to the Convent that he felt closest to God. Those that were sick, he could heal. Those that were lonely, he could comfort. Those that were forsaken, he could understand. Those that were confused and drawn by material things, he could teach. Those that were abandoned, he could offer shelter. Martin knew that simply by reaching to others in their moment of need, he could most live like Christ.

Martin arrived in the chapel for prayer. As he prayed, he asked God to show him all the ways he could act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. He realized with these three things, he had all he needed. The scorn of others, easily washed away with the love he felt from God. He only wished to share that love with others.

Anna Fitch Courie



​​Αλκιβιάδης ΠαππάςVasiliou at Greek Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 GR, via Wikimedia Commons

Myrrhbearers by Fr. Ted Bobosh, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr

St Martin de Porres and St Martin de Porres by Lawrence Lew, OP, via Flickr


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70 comments on “Joanna the Myrrhbearer vs. Martin de Porres”

  1. A very tough choice today! Both worthy of advancing, for very different reasons. Thanks to the writers, who both put forth convincing and engaging arguments. I’ll be happy with whichever saint advances.

  2. My deep thanks to all the “authors” this year…as usual. I especially appreciate the write-ups this morning. They both touched me. I need to think a bit.

    1. Me, too, because I expected to vote for Joanna, with the outstanding write up confirmating it. Until...I read Martin's write up. Oh my. I identify with the feast of women that Joanna inspired AND I identify with the perpetual outsider with a heart for service.

  3. What a difficult choice! Two amazing saints. I finally went with Johanna, a faithful woman who followed Jesus to the cross.

  4. I am torn in choosing who to vote for, having supported both throughout. In the end, I voted for Joanna, and for all the women whose stories have been lost.

    1. After reflection I am voting for Joanna because of her courage in going against social norms once she met Jesus. I recall in my visit to the Holy Land being so very impressed with the work being done in Magdalena by and in honor of women in the Bible.
      Nevertheless the image of Martin's face in vegetables is unforgettable!

  5. Telling stories. What a wonderful round this is. Thank you, bloggers. Great job.

  6. Very disappointed that J. S. Bach lost. I cannot help but think of how his wonderful music is and has been a sustaining presence in our lives.

    1. Me too. It was a close race! Bach's music was and is wonderful, and he used his talents for the Church, composing sacred music and serving as cantor. He was a dedicated Christian, but his music lives on!

      1. I agree about Bach. And since it is the “season” for the Passions, I am even more aware of how disappointed I am. Not sure I’m going to vote today-2 worthy candidates, yes, but my heart isn’t in it.

    2. Your comment struck me that even though Bach did not advance, the fact that his music still continues to touch us is evidence that he is indeed a winner.

    3. Obviously the tone deaf stole the election.


      (Headline from "Citizen Kane")

    4. Ditto I seem to have been affected by this loss too. Seems like the beauty of music has been defeated or am I just a sore loser?

  7. Courie's write-up was very compelling. Even though I might normally have voted for one of the women who stuck with Jesus to the end, I can't pass up this opportunity to vote for Matin whose story was told so expertly.

  8. I voted for my namesake, Joanna. Not only was she a witness on Easter morning, she also set an example as a believer and supporter. That may not have been easy, given her ties to Herod’s court, but perhaps she saw her position as an opportunity as well as a danger. I like to think of the women she may have influenced in that setting.

  9. I love both saints' stories but in this time of our country's history, I would really like to see Martin advance. He is the patron saint of all those seeking racial harmony. He is also the patron saint of public health workers, and as we are in year 3 of the pandemic, I remember all the heroes in public health who risked their own health to get us this far.

    1. Yes. I voted similarly but you've added even more reasons I am glad I made the difficult choice I did

  10. After listening to the Passion Gospel yesterday, I am eager to vote for one of the faithful women who stayed to bear witness after all the male disciples had fled.

    (As an aside, I was struck by the awkward, round-about way of not-naming one of those stalwart women as "the mother of the sons of Zebedee.")

  11. Only going back to reading the previous sections about Martin De Porres made me vote for him. I admire a man who suffered from major disrespect in his life and that drove him to take care of those who suffered worse than he did without dwelling on his suffering. Emily’s write up on celebrating a Feast of Women at the start of Lent is such a fantastic idea that the vote truly felt toss up.

  12. Act justly. Love mercy. Act humbly. Though I so much appreciate Joanna and all that she means, it has to be San Martin for me.

    1. I hope Martin’s “Act justly. Love mercy. Act Humbly” can be on the mug if he wins the Golden Halo. Such a good and wise reminder for every single day. Thanks to all the bloggers for their beautiful words and inspiration.

  13. I was reading these and got to the phrase "A Feast of the Women." My vote is with Joanna.

  14. Brilliant write ups for both. Hard decision, but finally chose Joanna because Feast of the Women

    1. I agree, RoseAnn,
      I have a queston. I went to high school with a RoseAnn Evans. Glendale, California tp be exact. Could you possibly be the same one? I know it's a stretch, but maybe you are a relation.

      What a choice to make today!

  15. Once again I had to toss a coin! It was Martin today (with thanks to Annie Fitch Courie for that evocative essay),but it cold just as easily have been Joanna (and thank you Emily McFarlan Miller for telling us about the Feast of the Women - what a great addition to the journey of Holy Week.

    1. Aargh, aged arthritic fingers do not type well early in the morning! That should be "could" not "cold" (nothing cold about either of today's saints!)

  16. Greetings All! Definitely a tough one today!
    Although I was "Team Joanna", when I read about Martin, something tugged my heartstrings. I have felt all the things he felt.
    And still do. Compassion for the lonely, rejected, sick, abandoned and the stray animals. It's Martin for me today.
    Blessings this Holy Week.

    1. Thank you, Maria. You have helped me to decide to go with Martin, despite also being Team Joanna. Both of these blessed people deserve to be emulated, not only during Lent, but always.

  17. Let’s Go Joanna, the sole survivor of any of my Brackets to make the Final Four! A lady of privilege who used it the right way, to help others! If the women had not been able to go anoint the body of Christ, would the disciples have even gone there? Thanks be to the Myrrhbearers, at his birth & resurrection.
    Go, Jo, tell the Hood News first!

  18. Thanks for the wonderful comments! I will have to abstain tomorrow because I was hoping for these two saints to meet in the final.

  19. It's time for the honoring of quiet, consistent, faithful support with a Golden Halo.

  20. We of mixed race who are often finding we fit no particular world, it was tough but will go with Martin today

  21. I'm shocked that Bach got dissed on his birthday! However, though Martin's story and witness is moving, it's Joanna for me.

  22. My hardest choice
    Want Joanna to win the halo but the sentence of St Martin de Porre praying for the hearts of those so riddled with hatred to be softened and filled with love really resonated with me as I struggle to love as Christ does those in our so politically divisive society who are so full of hate towards those that are, or who believe, differently from them

    1. Love the idea of special day for remembering Jesus's Female Disciples. May talk about doing something like that at my church

  23. The link for voting is not appearing! using Firefox, have not had trouble with that before.

  24. This is going to be a difficult week (3 days) I have voted for All four of these faithful from the beginning - not expecting they'd all come up here at once! Well, on the bright side, it will be a win win (win win) no matter who wears the halo this year!!

    1. Ditto. This has never happened to me in Lent Madness to get to the Faithful Four having voted for all of them since the beginning. To keep the Madness theme going, Joanna is my Cinderella. Joanna all the way.

  25. After letting out my irritation that Bach didn’t go forward with a very loud playing of the Toccata and Fugue in D, I then voted for Joanna. The beginning let out the irritation so I could hear the soaring ending while imagining an organist “dancing” the keys with their feet and imagine Joanna dancing and praising Jesus.