For the Golden Halo: Julian of Norwich vs. Albert Schweitzer

The end (of Lent Madness 2024) is near! 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: Albert Schweitzer and Julian of Norwich. Who will receive the coveted 2024 Golden Halo? That, friends, is up to you.

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.

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, Miriam McKenney, Emily McFarlan Miller, Keegan Osinski, and David Sibley. 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 everyone at Forward Movement for putting up with our yearly shenanigans. And special gratitude goes to Ashley Graham-Wilcox for helping get words and images into the website each day. She’s a star.

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 (or X or whatever), 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 Anna Courie has ably shepherded Albert Schweitzer through the bracket, while Laurie Brock has done the same for Julian of Norwich. These two veteran Lent Madness contributors are amazing souls, aside from being terrific writers. We’ve asked them for a single image and one quote either by or about their saint. We’ve already heard a lot about Albert and Julian, so now it's time to make your final choice.

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 2024 Lent Madness Golden Halo hangs in the balance!

Julian of Norwich

"I learned that love was our Lord's meaning.
And I saw for certain, both here and elsewhere,
that before ever he made us, God loved us;
and that his love has never slackened,
nor ever shall."

Laurie Brock




Albert Schweitzer

"Wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in a world all of your own."

Anna Fitch Courie


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130 comments on “For the Golden Halo: Julian of Norwich vs. Albert Schweitzer”

  1. "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."

    "Our beloved Mother Jesus can feed us with himself."

    Julian of Norwich

  2. Much as I love Julian, I want my saints to DO something, something for other people. Going for Schweitzer. And I am not even a cat person.

    1. I have often felt the same and gone for the “doers”. This year, though, having experienced near burnout in the doing department, I have become convinced of my need to be “rooted and grounded in God’s love” before I can act out of love. So Julian of Norwich won my vote.

    2. This seems to be a classic matchup between a saint who was an extrovert and one who was an introvert. Let's not forget that introverts do things for others too, in their own quiet, un-photographed way, undocumented by major news organizations. We don't know how many people Julian may have helped from the window of her little anchorage, providing peace, understanding, a listening ear. And many centuries later, her words are still providing counsel.

      1. And furthermore, Julian was spiritual director to Margery Kemp, a role that must have called up every ounce of patience and fortitude!

    3. Julian revealed the love of God and that there is no wrath in God. Her revelations are earthshaking important.

  3. Julian of Norwich and Albert Schweitzer went toe to toe in 2016, in the Final Four. Julian moved on to the last round and lost to Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It will be interesting to see today's results.

  4. Thank you everyone, it has been a joy to take part in Lent Madness once again. My vote today goes to Julian, and to the women who carefully, quietly preserved her words through the centuries that we might be blessed by Julian's visions today. 'Where do we begin? Begin with the heart.'

  5. It's Julian's time. We need her words right now, more than ever. If she can be considered the patron saint of anything or anyone, it should be those of us who lie awake in the dark hours tormented by despair and existential dread for the world, for our loved ones, for ourselves.

  6. I started Lent Madness hoping Julian would have a chance at the Golden Halo. Her writings are beautiful, challenging, up lifting. Today’s picture and quote were inspired choices. She gets my vote.
    That said, the Albert Schweitzer quote is so timely and inspiring it almost changed my mind.

    Thank you to all the writers for an amazing season of Lent Madness.

  7. For what it’s worth, I thought the kitsch round was not just useless but distracting. It was not done uniformly well and it added nothing to my thoughts and reflections about the 32. To stretch the metaphor, it was as if after the first rounds you switched from top seeded basketball teams to high school level ice hockey.

    1. Don't forget, half the joy in Lent Madness is the ridiculous nature of the entire enterprise. Lighten up! Laetare Sunday was instituted to remind us of joy to come. Same with the kitsch.

    2. High-school hockey is worthy, as is for that matter middle-school hockey. The players who do not go on to play professionally have gained skills, attitudes, and team spirit. In other words, hockey has been part of their formation. Same with Lent Madness: it's part of our formation. Including the kitsch round. I once disdained glow-in-the-dark dashboard madonnas, and I'm not saying I would get one for my car. But I have come to love the kitsch round. There's a place for rollicking fun on pilgrimage, maybe not on the way up to the altar. But I have to imagine that amidst all the foot washing and donkey borrowing at the Passover, there was at least one splash party in which someone got very wet.

    3. And I thought we were going to make it this year without a “kitsch krank,” yet here you are on the last day! You obviously missed that the name of this whole exercise is Lent MADNESS.

      1. Let's keep Lent Madness a space in which people can share their thoughts freely without fear of reprisal. Everyone is entitled to have and express opinions, including those that differ from the majority. There are ways to disagree politely and respectfully without engaging in an ad hominem attack.

    4. I used to find the kitsch round pretty trivial (I've been doing Lent Madness for years and years). But in the last few years, and especially this year, the Celebrity Bloggers found fascinating ways to tie their kitsch to the person of their saint. I felt just as connected to the saints in the kitsch round as I did in the other rounds. But the kitsch round only lasts 4 days. Skip it if you don't like it, and hop back in for the Faithful Four.

    5. But it is fun. Laughter brings us back to our true selves and we make good choices.

    6. I enjoy the kitsch round every year, and this year was no exception. For those who disagree, I suggest you either take a 4-day break or re-read the previous writeups and base your vote on them.

  8. Thank you to everyone for bringing us Lent Madness again. Special thanks who organize all the information into articles we could enjoy and learn from each day. I was especially inspired by Julian of Norwich during covid lockdown and am glad to know more about her. However, I am thrilled to cast my vote for my inspiration since childhood, Albert Schweitzer.

  9. Thought all along i was going to go with Julian; she's a personal shero and i've wanted her to win for years - but the Schweitzer quote is a zinger.
    Both awesome humans, in my heart it's a tie.

    1. I voted just the opposite. Julian came very close once and was in the running 2 or 3 times before. I wanted this year to be her year to wear the Golden Crown.

      1. Actions are strong and often worthy of praise but they can also go astray. Anchoring words show us how to take action. They hold us to the good path. I believe we need anchoring words more than ever at this time. Let’s take our anchoring words from this anchorite and give her the golden halo at last. She is a saint for our time.

  10. I'm happy with both finalists, which makes it very hard to decide. I ended up going with Albert because of today's quote. We need each other and we need kindness in our world.

  11. Hardest yet, I wanted to vote for both! Thank you Tim and Scott, for another fun year of Lent Madness. I see at this moment in time I'm voting for the underdog again. As is usually the case for me, my bracket was busted a long time ago - good thing I don't bet any money on this! - but it's still a great addition to the 40 days of Lent.

    Well done, Anna Fitch Courie and Laurie Brock!

  12. What a humbling and exalting to feeling to vote for only one of these two Saints.

    Well done Lent Madness Team!

  13. For all of this year’s Lent Madness, I’ve said both are worthy, every day. So it is today too. Voting later today.

  14. My favorite Julian quote as adapted into the choral piece "A fair and delectable place"

    Behold and see your Lord, your God, who is your Creator and your endless joy. See your own brother; see your Savior. My child, behold and see what delight and bliss I have in your salvation, and, for my love, rejoice with me. With a kindly countenance our good Lord looked into his side, and he gazed with joy, and with his sweet regard he drew his creature's understanding into his side by the same wound: and there he revealed a fair and delectable place, large enough for all mankind that will be saved, and will rest in peace and love.

    1. Thank you for your quotation. Although I have read Revelations of Divine Love a few times, I don’t recall that passage.

      1. Kelli,

        Check "Fair and Delectable place" on YouTube. You can hear Richard Websters composition of this choral piece.

  15. Go Julian!! She was my pick from the beginning. I beg her intercesion daily. Her showings have had a profound impact on my spiritual life. A Blessed Triduum to everyone. Thank you to everyone who made this year's Lent Madness possible. Can't believe it is over for another year. I'm already looking forward to next year!! God bless

  16. For me, this came down to a choice between someone who absented herself from the world and one who involved himself in the world. Yea, Julian said many things that impact us and I greatly admire her. But I have had mystical revelations within the context of my everyday life. Also, as someone who spent years lobbying for protection of our Earth and all of God's creation, I know the value of working with developers and legislators by speaking truth to them. That generally doesn't happen by them coming to me, but by me going to them.

  17. I hope if Julian wins today that it will help the Church to realize that there are validity and value in those who live a solitary Religious life. It's interesting that Julian is revered hundreds of years after her death - I suspect that most people, even those voting for her, if they saw a similar person today would avert their eyes and say nothing as they passed by. . . at least Julian was tolerated in her own day.

    1. I'd like to know more about this. What did solitary religious people look like that would cause others to avert their eyes?

  18. A very hard choice this year, but I have to go with the spiritual patroness, Julian

  19. Wow! Thank you so much for this journey through the Lenten season. I look forward to joining you again next year.

  20. This has been the hardest one yet, for any year.
    Thank you to all the Lent Madness crew, I have been blessed again this year.

  21. I am so relieved that Julian is leading the vote so far. I feared that our respect for a man who did many practical good deeds would (because he is a man and more recent) overpower our admiration for a woman who, long ago, overcame the enormous barriers of being a woman in what is still a man's world and left us some of our faith's most moving words. I hope Julian will wear the golden halo this year; and that Albert will get a silver one and be her helper her right-hand man, in whatever heavenly duties must accompany this award.

    1. Yes, I have been afraid this would happen. Schweitzer was apparently extremely visible when he was alive; he was practically everywhere. And frankly, his legacy in various postcolonial African nations is . . . complicated, to put it euphemistically. I honestly don't want him to win.

  22. It was a very tough choice today. I went with Albert because I thought his message was especially relevant in today’s world

  23. I am so relieved that Julian is leading the vote so far. I feared that our respect for a man who did many practical good deeds would (because he is a man and lived more recently) overpower our admiration for a woman who, long ago, overcame the enormous barriers of being a woman in what is still a man's world, read and managed to leave some of our faith's most moving words. I hope Julian will wear the golden halo this year; and that Albert will get a silver one and be her helper her right-hand man, in whatever heavenly duties must accompany this award.

  24. I came today sure I would vote for Julian, and that she would win (as seems likely at 9:07 ETD). But Albert's words, "Remember, you don’t live in a world all of your own," speak powerfully to where by grace, I happen to be this Wednesday in Holy Week, so he gets my vote (maybe for the first time).

  25. DAME JULIAN! I very much hope this year will be the year in which a contemplative wins the Halo. When I go to protest, to vote, to act in the world, I do so in the spirit of contemplatives, that quiet action, rooted in deep faith, is the fulcrum of the world.

  26. "GO out to into the world.." "DO unto others." be a servant" "As you DO to the least of these.." Thankfully there are followers such as Albert!