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. Albert Schweitzer believed in action and spent his life working with the poor. He left a secure life to do so… his actions mirror what Christ asked of all of us… leave your recluse life and reach out to help others. He gets my vote for the golden halo.

    1. Honestly, I think all these comparisons suggesting that somehow Schweitzer marching off to impose his (very white, male, European) vision of good works on fragile African communities is somehow superior to Julian's life of contemplation are really unfair. She was ill. She was a woman living in a society ravaged by plague and poverty. She never won any Nobel prizes. She was never on television. She didn't have Bach. She could have withdrawn to a comfortable manor house somewhere to recover from her illness and contemplate the Divine instead of a spartan single cell from which, as an anchoress, she continued to reach out to other suffering people in the outside world. She was hardly a recluse.

      "Doers," for which a lot of commenters here are expressing a strong preference, can be bossy, patronizing, and autocratic--and Schweitzer was one of those sort, unfortunately. His personal conduct, particularly with his Black medical staff, was from some accounts not very Christlike and had overtones of benevolent racism.

  2. Oooooh, those quotes are amazing testaments. Although Dame Julian tells the truth of what I believe, faith alone without action seems meaningless. So, my vote goes to Albert, for reminding us how to put Dame Julian's belief into daily practice. I hope Albert can come from behind, but hey, one person, one vote! See you all next year!

  3. THANK YOU to all the bloggers for their service to this small community during Lent. Every year I count it a small miracle that Lent Madness still exists. I can only imagine the extra burden it represents during a particularly laden segment of the liturgical year. The write-ups have been imaginative and inspiring.
    THANK YOU as well to this small (but select) group, gathering each year to process to Canterbury (via virtual means). Today we enter its gates. There aren't very many groups out there that skew "woman and deacon" as this group does. Already we have a minor history, and I want to remember some participants: Maple Anglican, Richard the Chalice Bearer, Oliver who is no longer nine and is off navigating adolescence. Have a happy life and come back when you're 30!
    To all, you have made Lent a vibrant experience once more. Have a blessed Triduum. Happy Easter.

  4. What a difficult choice! I have been on Team Julian for the Golden Halo this whole season, and today I found myself voting for Albert Schweitzer, as that final quote explains how I try to live my own life. Whoever wins, it has been a blessing to follow these two stories. And if once again, Julian is "always a bridesmaid of God, never a bride," can she get a silver halo?
    Thanks for another year of Lent Madness!

  5. Who ever thought Lent could be fun? Thank you for making it both fun and inspiring every year!

  6. Ughhhh. Why does it always seem so hard at the finale???
    Adding my gratitude to that expressed above. I learn so much from this amazing exercise each Lent Madness round!

  7. Even though i can't vote again , my vote goes to Julian who looks like the winner. If you can't fix your voting system, this may be my last Lent Madness. Blessings on your Holy Days and Easter.

  8. This final vote was impossible. Both are remarkable servants with such loving hearts.

  9. I have been quiet all Lent, because for some reason my comments weren't being posted. I gave up a fortnight ago, thinking for whatever reason my comments wouldn't post. Now suddenly, I am able to post. It has been another fascinating year to observe in silence (maybe that was a good thing). I just want to thank the SEC, the CBs, and all the people behind the scenes who contributed to another year of Lent Madness. I have been running an inhouse contest over the last few years at work, basing our choices as "correct" or "incorrect" on the Lent Madness results. Now I am retiring, and this is my last company bracket contest, but I imagine I will be eagerly studying and voting for the next batch of competitors for the Golden Halo. I will always wear mine proudly.

  10. How do you choose between being an open receiver ofGod's love, and doing something? Twin poles of the Christian life.

    I really want to vote twice.

  11. The chosen statements were wonderful. Thank you, Laurie Brock and Anna Fitch Courie.
    I went with Julian because I thought the selected quotation was perfect for Holy Week

  12. Thank you to all the celebrity bloggers and the SEC (even though some of the match-ups were pure torture)!!! And thank you to all the Lent Madness who community who added so much information and enjoyment in the comments

  13. In a way this is a competition between Martha and Mary. Very fitting. It takes both parts to make a whole Christian. So both are winners because the one complements the other. It seems Julian will wear the crown and it’s well deserved though she is not my vote. I will still cheer for her.

    1. That contest already happened back in 2019...and Martha edged out her sister in the first round and went on to get the Golden Halo.

      This year, a contemplative's turn, it seems.

  14. So it looks like my dear Julian will get her Golden halo (and I my mug!), against a worthy opponent. All shall be well indeed.

    Thank you, Lent Madness creators, sustainers, writers, and participants, for another Lent full of learning, laughter, and loquacious and passionate conversation, both here and around coffee hour tables everywhere, including the table at the parish I serve.

    Easter blessings and joy to all!

  15. Do I detect a bias towards more recent candidates for sainthood against older examples, and certainly in this year's contest even against Apostles? Much as I love Albert I have to hope that Julian prevails. My personal preference would have been that a Thomas or an Andrew faced off for the Halo. Notwithstanding this kvetch, I want to say "Thanks be to God!" to the superb bloggers!

    1. Hard to say. I actually wonder if there's something generational going on here. A lot of commenters here seem to have childhood memories of Schweitzer, and that may be a motivating factor.

    2. You are correct, there is a strong tendency to select modern figures for the Golden Halo. Martha of Bethany and Mary Magdalene are the only two people named in the Gospels who have won it. Recent winners include Absalom Jones, Jose Hernandez, Jonathan Daniels, Harriet Tubman, Anna Alexander, Florence Nightingale, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. St. Francis of Assisi is the medieval period, and George Herbert is from the late 17th century if I remember correctly. Other than those four, all winners seem to have been post-1800.

      And it's not that all 32 candidates each year are modern. There's a fairly good balance, and this year there were 5 from the New Testament and 11 more from the first millennium. Julian will be a break from the usual demographic if she wins.

  16. Julian’s words give us perspective and calm when all around us is frightening or action seems useless. Keeping her showings in mind prods us to be brave.

    Also, I want a Julian mug!!

  17. Many thanks to all in Lent Madness! This particular madness enriches my life throughout the year. Even when I can't read your posts and comments, I know you're out there seeking God and doing God work.

  18. Albert went forth as we all are directed. Yes Julian gave us inspiring words to help all go forth. Albert was hands on. Words are not enough.

    1. And yet, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . .And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."

  19. I finally discovered that, for some reason, my votes did not get counted when I used my PC with Chrome?, BUT we're always counted when I used my Android cell phone. There's some technical stuff hindering Lenten Madness...hmmm?

  20. Lent madness deepens my Lenten experience in both profound and in wonderfully humorous ways. I enjoy learning more about saints familiar and new and love being part of the Lent madness community. Today’s choice is impossible, but I went with Julian who has sustained me for decades with her wisdom. Wishing all who bring us the gift of Lent Madness Easter Joy & peace!

  21. The way I figure it, only 17 more years till we can have a Lent Madness "Tournament of Champions" with 32 Golden Halo winners vying for the Platinum Halo.

  22. Couldn’t this one be a tie? One who has taught so many that Love is as large as the cosmos and as small as a tiny nut. One who day by day served the most needy, surrounded by Bach. One with a frail body who healed the soul. One with a strong body who gave his soul. And they both loved cats.

  23. I make it a point not to read comments until after I've voted, and today I was so torn I *almost* read them first. I'm glad I didn't, because they would have made the vote even harder than it initially appeared. The ultimate decision to be made hinges on the conundrum that has been resounding for centuries: Faith or Works?

    AAARRRGGGHHH!! Greater minds than mine have been and will be cogitating on that eternally.

  24. I don't usually feel the need to say this, but this is a truly hard choice. The last two quotes are our two halves--receiving/accepting that we are loved just as we are and passing on that love to others. Thank you, Lent Madness--from the Supreme Executive Committee, the celebrity bloggers, the people behind the scenes and fellow voters.

  25. This is thrilling! A difficult choice in some respects. But may I say that Schweitzer is VERY deserving of the Silver Halo, which Julian has previously received. She is absolutely worthy of the Golden Halo, and I hope she makes it this year. For one thing, it pleases me as a historian that someone from the beleaguered 14th century can still speak so powerfully to us in the beleaguered 21st. Vote for Julian!

  26. I get the sentiment expressed by some about the importance of action versus the value of inspiring words. I have often voted with that thought in mind myself. However, I would like to point out that a good piece of writing can be good for the soul, and that’s not nothing. I would also like to remind us all that a monastic life is one of prayer for others who live non-cloistered lives in the world, and that’s not nothing, either. I am reading that anchorites also dispensed spiritual counsel. How many despairing souls may have been lifted up by the prayers of Julian, her counsel, and the words she left behind.

    I found this in Wikipedia when I looked up anchorite:
    “In addition to being the physical location wherein the anchorite could embark on a journey toward union with God, the anchorhold also provided a spiritual and geographic focus for people from the wider society seeking spiritual advice and guidance. Though set apart from the community by stone walls and specific spiritual precepts, the anchorite lay at the very centre of the community.”

  27. Thank you for another great year of Lent Madness. I had to vote for Albert today. In most of the rounds where the decision was difficult, my deciding factor was who did the most that affected the greater number of people. I used that criteria in making my choice today. Reflecting and writing is important, but action is critical.