Kassia vs. Casimir

Welcome to the ONE AND ONLY weekend matchup of Lent Madness as Kassia takes on Casimir. Every other battle will take place on the weekdays of Lent - straight through until Spy Wednesday during Holy Week.

Yesterday, Hyacinth came up smelling like roses as he roundly defeated Rose of Lima 74% to 26% to advance to the Saintly Sixteen.

While some of the early struggles people had with voting have abated, please check out our (hopefully) helpful Voter Information Guide.

We'll see you bright and early on Monday morning as Canaire takes on Barbara. Time to vote!


Writer, hymnist, poet, composer, and early feminist, Kassia is an important contributor to religious music, and is the only woman to have her works included in the Byzantine liturgy.

Kassia – also known as Cassia, Kassiani, Kasia, Kassiane, Kassiani, Casia, Ikasia, Cassia, Cassiane, Kassiana, Kassianh or Eikasia – was born to a wealthy Greek family sometime between 805 and 810 in Constantinople, now known as Istanbul, in Turkey. At that time, Constantinople was a thriving city of commerce, language, culture, and scholarship. Kassia was educated in the classics, the church, philosophy, and writing, and learned much from the many world-wide visitors frequenting Constantinople for business.

Kassia was known for her beauty. She was chosen to participate in a “Bride Show,” presented for Byzantine Emperor Theophilos to check out women for him to select as a wife. Although she caught his eye, Kassia’s interests and her feminist beliefs were not aligned with the emperor and his views on women. He chose another bride, and Kassia gladly turned to monastic living. She founded a convent in nearby Xerolophos where she served as abbess.

At that time, theological disagreements about religious images and icons placed her and Emperor Theophilos in opposite corners. Because of her beliefs, the same emperor whom she almost married subjected her to lashings and beatings. She was not swayed by his actions and continued to express her feminist views through her writings and music.

Kassia’s works, both music and poetry, focus on women in the gospels. She was the only composer of her time to write about redemption and salvation of women who had sinned.

Her creativity was evidenced in the many musical selections and hymns she wrote, with some still sung in the Byzantine church. Most well-known of her pieces is the “Hymn of Kassial,” also called the “Troparion of Kassiani,” still often chanted on Wednesday during Holy Week in the Orthodox churches. She also authored poems and non-religious literature, of which 261 have survived.

Kassia eventually made her way to the Greek island of Kasos, where she died between 867 and 890 and is buried.

She remains relevant and pops up in today’s culture, with her works performed by modern musicians Frank Turner, soprano Deborah Kayser and bassist/composer Nick Tsiavos and the American string quartet Kronos. Kassia also appeared as a character in the TV series The Vikings.

Her feast day is listed as September 7 in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2022 and the Orthodox Church.

Kassia is the patron saint of feminism and gender justice.

Collect for Kassia
O God of boundless mercy, whose handmaiden Kassiani brought forth poetry and song: Inspire in your church a new song, that following her most excellent example, we may boldly proclaim the truth of your Word; even Jesus Christ, our Savior and Deliverer. Amen. 

— Neva Rae Fox


Prince Casimir Jagiellon, prince of the kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, was born at Wawel Castle in Kraków in October 1458. He was the second son of King Casimir IV, but when his elder brother was elected King of Bohemia, he became the heir apparent.

Throughout his life, he was known for his piety and his devotion to the poor and sick. It’s hard to know how he had time for religious devotion or charitable acts, because he spent a lot of his time learning languages. He was fluent in Lithuanian, Polish, German, and Latin.

As he grew older, Casimir’s reputation for religious piety began to spread. Once when he was awaiting entry at the gate of a church before dawn, he contracted an illness. Another time, he refused physicians’ advice to have sexual relations in order to cure his illness. Perhaps because of his own ill health, Casimir was known for his compassionate care of the sick and the poor.

But it wasn’t all piety and devotion for the prince. Casimir spent much of his life enmeshed in palace intrigue, both in his own realms and those of neighboring areas. When his father attempted to arrange a marriage between Casimir and the daughter of Emperor Ferdinand III, Casimir refused. He said he preferred to remain celibate, perhaps sensing his own imminent death. Soon after, he developed tuberculosis, from which he died in March 1484 at the tender young age of 25.

Casimir was buried at Vilnius Cathedral. Almost immediately after his death, a cult of devotion arose. Complicated delays at the papacy hampered his cause, but Casimir was canonized as a saint in 1583. Among other miracles, he was said to have appeared to the Lithuanian army at the time of a miraculous victory.

You will often see the saint depicted with three hands, or at least two right hands. Some say this is the result of an early convention to depict Casimir’s ability to accomplish so much. How could someone with only two hands do all that?! But there is also a story that the painter of Casimir’s portrait in Vilnius Cathedral tried to move the hand in his painting, but the extra hand miraculously reappeared after being painted over. So if you ever see this saint depicted with the “wrong” hands, it's the result of a mistake, a pious symbol, or a miracle.

Today Casimir is recognized as the patron saint of Poland and Lithuania. He should probably also be the patron saint of errors in portraiture.

Collect for Casimir
O God, who didst preserve thy servant Casimir constant and faithful in thy service amidst the delights of a court, and the attractive allurements of the world, grant, we beseech thee, that by his intercession thy people may despise the transitory things of the world and eagerly pursue things which are eternal: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A. Nonny-Muss


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174 comments on “Kassia vs. Casimir”

  1. Yay! I got to vote today and it was very easy. Thanks to the IT person who fixed the early snags.
    Good for Kassia for being an early feminist, but the poet, musician part is what won me over. I appreciate her focus on women in the NT, and redemption for women.

  2. When I opened the email, it thanked me for my vote!!! This needs to get sorted out — as taking the fun out…..

  3. I could not cast a vote because the website claimed I had voted earlier.

    I was going to vote for Kassia.

  4. This is the hardest year to vote in Lent Madness. It says “thank you for your vote” but I didn’t vote. I wanted to vote for Casimir since my name is Casimir.
    Hopefully this can be fixed.

  5. Now I have just finished reading the bios, only to discover that I am thanked for my ‘vote’. And yet, I hadn’t…voted that is.

  6. It still won't let me vote. I don't know what the problem is, because I have voted for years! Well, at least the ones I would have voted for, yesterday and today, won so I didn't help at all.

  7. I incorrectly stated 2/18/2024 when I meant 2/17/2024, regarding message stating I voted today when I hadn’t yet done so. Sorry!

  8. I want to express my appreciation for the “help” link. After trying a suggested remedy, my status has gone from “thanks for your vote” before voting to “vote not allowed” after voting.
    Clearly I am electronically challenged and am meant to read, ponder, choose - and then wait to see the results.
    I remain a fan of Lent Madness and am content to cheer from the sidelines.
    A hearty thank you to all the writers who call these saints to life through their words.

  9. I was not able to vote. When I got to the bottom of the page with biographies and collects, I saw the voting results instead of an opportunity to vote.

  10. Yay, my vote for Kassia counted! And seriously, for Casimir’s write up to be offered anonymously, hmmmm. I also concur with St. Celia’s comments today. Thanks for the Saintly Limerick, John Cabot! See you all on Monday, Lent Madness friends!

  11. Ummmmmm....you haven't fixed the voting problems. I was thanked for a vote that I didn't cast!

    Please, dear people: fix these bugs in the system. I enjoy playing this game, but to have my vote denied on Day One...and then to have it cast without my consent on Day Three??? What's going on here?

  12. The FB link took me directly to “Thank you for your vote” even though I had not voted. A possible glitch somewhere?

  13. I'll post here again what I wrote yesterday: it appears that the voting problems are limited to those who are using their phones. If you can sign in on a computer instead, try it. I've had zero trouble at any time using my laptop.

    1. Weird. I've always voted on my phone with no issues this year. (Somd probl8last years) I am accessing the link through Twitter and using an Android phone. Not sure if that matters.

  14. Well, I would have voted for Kassia, but when I reached the bottom of the screen to (attempt to) cast my vote, I was thanked for my vote! I guess Lent Madness now allows voting by intention, perhaps because the little buttons so seldom work. Thanks for sparing me the effort!

  15. Vote not allowed! No problem yesterday or Thursday. Please fix this…again. It certainly disrupts the readings, thoughts, emotions.

  16. Having just presented on stress management to B+E+S+T Bishops Executive Secretaries Together, I’m casting my vote to Casimir, the three-handed one, in honor of those who do SO MUCH