Thomas the Apostle vs. Albert Schweitzer

Welcome to the Saintly Sixteen! With your help, we have successfully whittled our field from 32 saints to 16. For this round, rather than the basic biographical information, we enter the realm of Quirks and Quotes. Our brilliant Celebrity Bloggers will provide unusual information or legends surrounding their saints along with quotes either by or about their saints.

If you need a quick refresher on those first round battles (and want to look at the initial bios), click the Bracket Tab. Just beneath the bracket, you'll find all the previous matchups sorted by round.

Yesterday, Claire of Assisi snagged the last available Saintly Sixteen by defeating Rafqa of Lebanon 59% to 41%.

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Thomas the Apostle

Thomas is remembered as Jesus’ twin. In some texts, like the Gospel of Thomas, Thomas’ twinness is spiritual – he is Jesus’ spiritual twin and as such has special insight. In other texts, Thomas is Jesus’ twin physically. In one comical scene in The Acts of Thomas, Thomas leaves a room and immediately the risen Christ appears in the room and a man confuses him for Thomas.

Although Thomas is remembered for his journey to India to proclaim the gospel, Thomas was initially hesitant to go. After Christ told him, “Fear not” and promised him that his grace was with him, Thomas replied, “Send me where you will – but somewhere else!” 

Christ then appeared to Abban, a man sent by a king in India to secure a carpenter to build his palace (part of Thomas’ twinness included a facility with wood, apparently). Christ informed Abban that he had a slave who was perfect for the job and sold Thomas to him. The next day the Savior led Thomas to Abban and Abban showed Thomas the deed of sale. Thomas acknowledged that Christ was his “lord” and Abban replied that Thomas had been purchased from him. At this, Thomas prayed, “Send me where you will, Lord Jesus – your will be done!”

Once he arrived in India, he was taken to the king who ultimately left him with a mound of cash to build a palace. After the king left on a long journey, Thomas promptly gave all the money away to those who were poor in the city. The king continued to send Thomas money in installments, all of which Thomas continued to give away to those in need. 

Some time later, the king came to check in on the progress of his palace and discovered that Thomas had given all the money away. He locked Thomas up and planned a cruel execution for him. That night, the king’s brother died and was taken to see the magnificent palace in heaven that his brother had unwittingly built with his charity. The brother asked that he be allowed to return and tell his brother of the palace. This was granted and the king set Thomas free when he heard of the glorious abode waiting for him when he died.  

Thomas continued traveling around India, where according to some sources, he baptized the Magi who had come to see the baby Jesus. They then helped him in his missionary activity. 

There are different accounts of Thomas’ death. In one he converted the wife of the cousin of a king after which she “shunned her husband’s bed with horror.” When the king sent his wife to try to convince her to recant, she too was converted and would no longer sleep with the king. 

In a rage, the king arrested Thomas and tried to torture him in various ways, none of which were successful. Finally, in an Elijah-esque duel, Thomas cast a demon out of an idol. At Thomas’ command, the demon then melted the idol “like wax.” The high priest, furious at Thomas, and wishing to avenge his god, impaled him with a sword. Centuries later, Thomas’ remains were returned to Syria. 

David Creech

Albert Schweitzer

If Albert Schweitzer had written “The Quest for the Holy Jesus” as a role-playing game (RPG), then Albert would be a tenth level cleric with healing capabilities (going for the geek vote here). In fact, like any good cleric, Albert was wise and spent his life sharing his knowledge, love, and wisdom of God and life through writing and action. He spent his life in the quest for Jesus.

Like any good cleric, Albert was a fan of bards and cats (going for the cat and music people vote) saying, “There are two means of refuge from the misery of life — music and cats.”  And was an avid member of PETA (if PETA were around then), “We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it.”  But these messages and teachings from Albert, were rooted in a search for what it means to love like Jesus.

In a world of war, disease, and misery, Albert brings a message of kindness and healing to those suffering around him, “Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.”

And Albert knows that the clerics in life are the ones who bring the light to dark places, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us” (y’all gamers know that the cleric always carries the torch).  He calls us to be that light for each other in our Quest to Find Jesus.

But unlike a truly savvy gamer who knows that the secular quest is about rolling better dice and getting critical hits, Albert teaches, and alternate way of living by way of entering the journey, both good and bad and trusting in God: “Eventually all things fall into place. Until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moments, and know EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON.”

Albert knows that the only way to win the game of life is love.  He teaches us that love is the greatest healing potion of them all.  And he knows that we all win the Quest for the Holy Jesus when we choose love. “The only thing of importance, when we depart, will be the traces of love we have left behind.”

Give thanks (and your vote) for the witness of Albert in the world today.  His witness provided a map for all of us to follow in the quest before us.

Anna Courie

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85 comments on “Thomas the Apostle vs. Albert Schweitzer”

  1. With the Round of 32 over, I'll only be posting limericks occasionally now. Go Albert!

  2. I love the story of the palace in heaven that Thomas built for the king. When I'm manipulated into doing a good deed, grudgingly, I think of the palace. Also, I love the Gospel of Thomas with its mysterious sayings. Was it written by this Thomas? I don't know. If so, he gets my vote even more, but only one vote, of course.

  3. this seemed to be a tough one at first, but being sold as a slave from a freeman vs a geek, somehow did not compute, plus I am a dog person. still tough

  4. My vote today goes to Albert Schweitzer, whose deeds we know are real and whom I have admired ever since I learned of him. Thomas is a great choice, too–a close second.

  5. I thought I was going to vote for Jesus’ twin, but then I discovered that Albert Schweitzer is Jesus’ twin as well. Hopefully as we follow a Jesus we too are his twins.

  6. Though SOME may give up writing limericks,
    I write to keep dear Thomas in the mix.
    He is the one who believed,
    His doubt was relieved,
    So make Thomas one of your top picks!

  7. Albert Schweitzer was a very good man,but I best relate to Thomas who honestly expressed his doubts.

  8. Albert Schweitzer was a living saint in my lifetime. His life story and career is extraordinary.

    1. Albert Schweitzer is the only candidate this year who lived in the lifetime of any of the Lent Madness enthusiasts, I think. Unless we have supercentenarians whose lives overlap with Rafqa, died in 1914. The 32 saints skewed ancient this year!

  9. Albert Schweitzer has a more appealing write–up today, but I remember St. Thomas‘ write–up from the last round. From human doubt to martyrdom, Thomas gets my vote.

    I suggest voters review St. Thomas‘ bio from the last round before casting their ballots.

  10. I voted for Albert Schweitzer due to his reverence for life and his devotion to humanitarian ideals. In our modern world, we could definitely try harder to live by these ideals.

  11. Albert got my vote in spite of that horrific phrase “everything happens for a reason”.

  12. Two wonderful write-ups to start off the Saintly Sixteen! Kudos to both Celebrity Bloggers. I can't wait to see what the winner will do in the kitsch round! Although impressed by both saints, I'm voting for Thomas because, although I realize it's extremely unlikely, it would tickle me to see a Golden Halo match of Thomas versus Andrew. Were they among the disciples who were vying to see who was the most important? I guess at this point each one would hope to LOSE that match.

  13. Difficult choice. Our church’s patronal saint vs the patron saint of organists and doctors. This was made even harder by the excellent , and new to me, stories.

  14. "Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.” Real truth here (though I'd like to update the gendered language). "EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON" -- all in caps no less, not so much IMNSHO. (Glad to engage in theological debate on this, though maybe not in the comments section of Lent Madness). "The only thing of importance, when we depart, will be the traces of love we have left behind.” That gets the win for Albert for me.

    1. That quote and "...laugh at the confusion, live for the moments" earned my vote as well. Thanks, Jack.

  15. I've tried in vain to cast my vote for Albert, who as one poster stated is "Jesus' twin," too. I was able only to verify that I wasn't a robot (smile). Ah, technology!

    Thank you so much!

  16. Having visited the shrine of St. Thomas in Chennai, I felt I needed to vote for him despite the silliness of his legends, but then had nearly changed my mind...until the "Everything Happens for a Reason" - one of the insidious heresies (in my Wesleyan view) infiltrating my denomination today. Then there was some sort of computer I don't know whom I voted for! (Still sayin' whom even though ending a sentence with a preposition...)

    1. One of the dictionary publishers (Merriam Webster, I think) recently officially approved of ending sentences with prepositions. We all can stop tying ourselves in verbal knots to follow a rule based on Latin grammar.

  17. I'm busting my own bracket here to vote for Thomas. Sometimes knowing more about each saint leads me in new directions - and that's what happened today.

  18. Althought I love and revere Albert, my vote goes to Thomas, the under-recognized apostle. As a twin myself, and naming my son Thomas, I felt I had to vote for this fully human, doubting and yet very brave and very human apostle.

  19. Okay, okay, I'll vote for Schweitzer. Just no more gamer metaphors, please! And PETA is . . . to put it extremely euphemistically, problematic. Schweitzer would have been horrified by its antics over the decades, as well as its reliance on scientific claims that are at best dubious--and lets not talk about its overuse of euthanasia.

    1. Well-stated! PETA has taken the wrong fork in the road to "...compassion to all living things." They started on that track; but now, they advocate killing domestic animals--our beloved pets, those we sadly surrender to shelters, lose, or abandon to the streets, including TNR of homeless cats, all victims of human irresponsibility. Albert Schweitzer would be ashamed...

      Carole, TNR advocate and caregiver

  20. It's good to have a known person and not one with mythical miracles and distorted history like Thomas' "biography"