Barbara vs. Thomas Ken

It's here, it's here! No, not the final battle of the First Round -- though that's an important milestone in Lent Madness 2015. But  the matchup everyone's been talking about (or at least Tim and Scott) since the inception of the bracket: Barbie vs. Ken! The 3rd century saint vs. the 17th century English bishop and hymn writer. The winner will face Egeria and the matchups for the Saintly Sixteen will be complete. View the complete (and updated daily) bracket here.

Yesterday, South African missionary and martyr Bernard Mizecki was able to accomplish something that a dragon could not: vanquish Margaret of Antioch. With a 57% to 43% margin of victory, Bernard advances to the Saintly Sixteeen where he will square off against Jackson Kemper.

Enjoy this last matchup of the Round of 32 and gird your loins for tomorrow's start of the Saintly Sixteen as Brendan the Navigator faces Thecla.

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Bernard Mizeki vs. Margaret of Antioch

In the penultimate battle of the first round, we have a South African missionary and martyr taking on an early 4th century martyr from Antioch. Courage (and at least one dragon) abounds in this battle between Bernard Mizeki and Margaret of Antioch with the winner to face Jackson Kemper in the Saintly Sixteen.

Yesterday in the Battle of the Greats, Dionysius the Great proved his greatness by defeating Irene the Great, 58% to 42%. Wondering how things are progressing? Check out the updated Bracket.

And in case you missed this week's stirring edition of Monday Madness: Global Edition, Tim and Scott awarded the first ever Lent Madness Medal of Valor. Oh, and they also coined the term "Servermaggedon."

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Dionysius the Great vs. Irene the Great

Remember that passage in the synoptic gospels (Luke 2:24, Matthew 18:1, Mark 9:34) where the disciples start arguing about which one of them is the greatest? Jesus basically tells them to get a life (by losing it). Here at Lent Madness, however, Dionysius and Irene are battling to resolve the question once and for all. In the Battle of the Greats, Dionysius the Great takes on Irene the Great as we crank things back up for another week of saintly action. The winner will take on Brigid of Kildare.

We're glad to have the drama of Friday's server crash behind us and Lent Madness is now being hosted on a shiny new purple server using a company that understands "unlimited bandwidth" to actually mean "unlimited bandwidth." So, vote (once), comment, tell all all your friends to log on at the exact same moment and we should be fine. Thanks for collectively having the patience of a, well, saint. 

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Balthazar vs. Cecilia

In the final battle of a week filled with saintly thrills and spills, Balthazar squares off against Cecilia. And you, yes YOU, get to decide whether to vote against Christmas pageants or against church choirs. So good luck with that. Actually, both saints have inspired many people over the generations -- from those who love frankincense, to those who are allergic to it; from those with melodic voices to the tone deaf.

Yesterday's hotly contested battle between Egeria and Hildegard of Bingen ended with the bracket-busting Egeria edging out Hildegard by the slimmest of margins, 51% to 49%. With almost 6,800 votes cast, Egeria prevailed by less than 140. See, your (single) vote counts!

While we've had our share of nail biters over the years, this ranks up there and was the first truly close battle of Lent Madness 2015. And the comments. The comments! We set a record for most comments ever with nearly 370. Kudos to the commenters!

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Egeria vs. Hildegard

Today it's Egeria vs. Hildegard of Bingen. The world's original "Mystery Worshipper" vs. a 12th century renaissance woman. Both have had a major impact upon the Christianity we have inherited, yet only one will advance to the Saintly Sixteen. We're expecting a flurry of comments on this. Let the agonizing over votes begin!

But first, speaking of comments, sometime during yesterday's battle between Jackson Kemper and Margery Kempe, we passed the 20,000 comment milestone on the Lent Madness website. That's a lot of conversation about holy people, don't you think?

Oh, and Kemper trounced Kempe 74% to 26% meaning he'll face the winner of Bernard Mizecki vs. Margaret of Antioch in the Saintly Sixteen.

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Jackson Kemper vs. Margery Kempe

Kemper vs. Kempe. Sometimes matchups exist solely because the SEC likes the names involved. Sure, there's always prayerful discernment that takes place in the formation of the bracket. But still, how could we not pair these two against one another? Only a single "r" separates Jackson Kemper and Margery Kempe, missionary bishop and 15th century mystic. Who will ride on? Who will be left in a vale of tears? That, dear friends, is up to you.

Yesterday, Brigid of Kildare soundly defeated Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist 68% to 32%. Fortunately, no silver platters were involved.

In case you missed it, we offered everyone a brief peek behind the Purple Curtain of Lent Madness, sharing some insights into how the annual bracket is formulated. A rare glimpse into the mind of the SEC.

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Brigid of Kildare vs. Elizabeth

A choice between two women today, one from 5th century Ireland and the other from Biblical times. Brigid of Kildare, whose theme song, based on her penchant for giving material possessions to the needy, may well be the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Give it Away Now" faces Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, whose theme song would presumably be that early hit known as the Hail Mary.

In yesterday's Madness, Francis of Assisi stormed to victory over John Wycliffe 66% to 34% and will face the winner of Balthazar vs. Cecilia in the next round.

In case you missed yesterday's edition of Monday Madness you can catch it here. Then readjust your Lenten priorities to insure you never again miss Tim and Scott's hard-hitting commentary.

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Francis of Assisi vs. John Wycliffe

Who's ready for another full week of hard-hitting saintly action? Well, clearly YOU are since a) you're reading this and b) you've  been hitting "refresh" on your web browser continually since 7:50 am EST just in case the SEC erred and posted this matchup a few minutes early. 

After an entire weekend experiencing LMW (Lent Madness Withdrawal) symptoms, your balm has been delivered in the form of Francis of Assisi vs. John Wycliffe. Time to pull out the ubiquitous Wycliffe bird bath that likely graces your garden and start reading about these two medieval saints.

Speaking of birds and other creatures great and small, we hope you read the SEC's statement released over the weekend assuring the Lent Madness public that no animals were harmed in the formation of the 2015 bracket.

But enough stalling. The Madness is back. Get to it!

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Dorcas vs. Frederick Douglass

Occasionally the SEC adds matchups based on little more than (deeply prayerful) whim. This isn't such a case, mind you, but we do sometimes get jazzed by things like alliteration. Thus, today it's Dorcas vs. Douglass. That has a certain saintly ring to it, don't you think? The winner faces Juan Diego in the Saintly Sixteen.

Yesterday, Cuthbert sent the Venerable Bede packing with a veritable Bede-down of his medieval contemporary, 63% to 37%. He'll next square off against Molly Brant.

Don't forget that our Bracket Czar updates the online Bracket each day. Scroll down to see the corresponding Matchup Calendar and learn the precise date when your favorite saint will be locking horns (not that saints have horns) with his or her next saintly rival.

After today's competition, we will be exactly halfway through the first round. Remember, no voting takes place over the weekend so the next matchup will be Francis of Assisi vs. John Wycliffe on Monday morning. Now go vote!

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Bede vs. Cuthbert

Sure, almost everything we know about Cuthbert, we learned through the writings of Bede. Had Bede known that he would one day square off against Cuthbert in the saintly smackdown, perhaps he would have written a different tune? Nonetheless, these two face one another in a rare battle of contemporaries. The winner will go up against Molly Brant.

Yesterday we saw one of the greatest routs in Lent Madness history with Kamehameha spanking William Laud 84% to 16%. He'll go on to face David Oakerhater in the Round of the Saintly Sixteen.

Speaking of routs, our bracketologists did a bit of digging to unearth where Kamehameha's victory ranked among the annals of Lent Madness blowouts. In 2013 Florence Li-Tim Oi, the first woman ordained in the Anglican Communion, defeated Chad of Lichfield by the same percentage, 84% to 16%. Talk about your hanging Chad...

But the greatest blowout in Lent Madness history, percentage-wise, came in the very first year this devotional started. In 2010, Francis of Assisi defeated Aelred of Riveaulx 87% to 13% in the Elate Eight. For the record, Francis lost to Julian of Norwich in the Faithful Four that year and is now back in the bracket for the first time since.

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