Martha of Bethany Wins 2019 Golden Halo!

The Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness congratulates Martha of Bethany for winning the 2019 Golden Halo. Martha became the 10th saint to wear the golden crown by defeating the inspiring runner up Pandita Ramabai. She joins previous Golden Halo winners George Herbert (2010), C.S. Lewis (2011), Mary Magdalene (2012), Frances Perkins (2013), Charles Wesley (2014), Francis of Assisi (2015), Dietrich Bonhoeffer (2016), Florence Nightingale (2017), and Anna Alexander (2018).

To help celebrate Martha’s victory, we’ve invited the creative geniuses who have shared their talents throughout this holy season to honor the Golden Halo winner. We’re delighted they answered the call!

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For the Golden Halo: Martha of Bethany vs. Pandita Ramabai

Well, friends, we set out upon this Lent Madness journey over five weeks ago on “Ash Thursday.” With your help we have narrowed the field of 32 saints down to just two: Martha of Bethany and Pandita Ramabai (who defeated Zenaida 61% to 39% yesterday). Who will win the coveted Golden Halo of Lent Madness 2019? Only 24 hours and your voting participation will reveal this holy mystery.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, we’ve met some truly remarkable saintly folks along the way. Perhaps you learned about some saints you’d never heard of 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.

In the process of this whimsical Lenten devotion we’ve all made some new online friends, encountered a community of believers who take their faith but not themselves too seriously, learned a few things, were inspired by saintly witnesses, and had a lot fun along the way.

Of course we literally couldn’t have done this without our stellar Celebrity Bloggers to whom we offer sincere gratitude: Amber Belldene, Laurie Brock, Megan Castellan, Anna Fitch Courie, David Creech, Marcus Halley, David Hansen, Carol Howard Meritt, Emily McFarlan Miller, and David Sibley. Thanks to Bracket Czar Adam Thomas for his unsung behind-the-scenes work in keeping the bracket updated daily — in his inimitable style. You all rock! And we’re all grateful for your good writing, good humor, and adhering to most, if not all, of the SEC-imposed deadlines.

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Free Mug Winners!

Last week, the Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness announced that we would be giving away three free mugs featuring 2013 Golden Halo winner Frances Perkins. These are precious collectors’ items, and it’s possible the winners will sell their mugs for a golden fortune. To enter, people were invited to like and share a post on the Forward Movement Facebook page, and the winner was chosen randomly.

Frances Perkins mugWe are pleased to announce that the three winners are Christine Mills, Michelle Crull, and Susan D. Amussen! Soon they’ll be enjoying their coffee (which some have called “satan’s drink”) or tea out of rare, union-made  mugs.

Speaking of collectors’ items, if you want to get an early start on expanding your own collection, it’s not too early to pre-order your 2019 Golden Halo winner Lent Madness mug. It will feature the winner of this season’s epic competition, the tenth anniversary year and first-ever all-woman Faithful Four. Be the envy of your friends as you enjoy your favorite warm beverage later this spring or early summer, when the all-new mug ships. It will feature Martha, Pandita, or Zenaida.

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Zenaida vs. Pandita Ramabai

Who will face Martha of Bethany for the Golden Halo? That’s the question for today after Martha stung Gobnait 51% to 49% despite a late swarm (and a whiff of overzealous Gobnait supporters) to reach the Lent Madness Championship round.

To get to this point, Zenaida took down Apollonia, Nicholas of Myra, and John Chrysostom, while Pandita defeated Damien of Molokai, Marguerite d’Youville, and William Wilberforce. Whoever wins, the Golden Halo will be decided on Spy Wednesday, with the results announced at 8:00 am Eastern Time on Maundy Thursday. The end is near!

SEC Reminder: We know people get swept up in the fervor of Lent Madness, and sometimes they get so excited they want to vote a few times. Yesterday, we observed quite a few cases of people voting for one saint several times, often 20 or more times. When we catch these, we ban those IP addresses and, assuming we can ascertain with confidence the number of votes, we reverse the votes. Our goal is to make Lent Madness fair and fun for everyone, one person making one vote. We use a combination of manual and automated systems to watch this and yesterday, to try to get these as early as possible, we set our triggers pretty low. So if you find yourself banned, do let us know. And make sure you’re only voting one time per contest! Big Lent is watching…

Oh, and if for some crazy set of circumstances, you missed yesterday’s final in-season episode of Monday Madness featuring our first-ever in studio guest, make sure to catch it here.

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Monday Madness — Faithful Four Edition

SEC Note: We recorded this week’s episode of Monday Madness this morning, before we knew about the devastating fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Our prayers are with Paris, especially emergency responders, and all those in harm’s way.

This week’s Monday Madness featured our very first-ever on-air guest, the social media powerhouse George T. Dog (follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!), named after George Herbert, the very first Golden Halo winner in 2010.

In other news, Lent Madness 2019 continues to make penitential history as the first-ever all-female Faithful Four is under way today and tomorrow. Tim and Scott preview the battles and also share how the final championship match will go down on Spy Wednesday. As of Thursday morning at 8 a.m. Eastern time, this year’s Lent Madness will be in the books. And by “books” we mean the annals of Lenten history. We can’t predict the winner, but we can be sure that this year’s champion will even out the gender line-up of Golden Halo winners, with five men and five women having taken the crown.

Remember to cast your vote (one per person!) and tell your friends to do the same. Later on, in Eastertide, the SEC will open Nominationtide, during which the Lent Madness faithful may nominate saints for the 2020 bracket. Lent Madness never sleeps.

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Martha of Bethany vs. Gobnait

Welcome to the Faithful Four! Over the past few weeks we have whittled down the field from 32 saintly souls to a holy four: Martha of Bethany, Gobnait, Zenaida, and Pandita Ramabai. The spiritual nets have been cut down and one of these four will, in a few short days, be awarded the coveted 2019 Golden Halo.

This marks the first time in Lent Madness history that we have an all-female Faithful Four. This means that at the end of this 10th year of Lent Madness, we will have crowned five male winners and five female winners.

Today it’s Martha of Bethany vs. Gobnait. To make it this deep into our little tournament, Martha got past Mary of Bethany, Nicodemus, and Photini, while Gobnait defeated Hrotsvitha, Paula of Rome, and Ignatius of Loyola.

Tomorrow Zenaida will tangle with Pandita Ramabai and then our respective Faithful Four winners will vie for the 2019 Golden Halo on Spy Wednesday, with the winner being crowned at 8:00 am on Maundy Thursday.

Throughout Lent Madness, our saintly heroes have battled via basic bios, quirks and quotes, and event kitsch. In this round, we let our remaining Celebrity Bloggers loose as they answer the question “Why should Saint XX win the Golden Halo?” In other words, they’ve been charged with letting us know why their particular saint is so awesome. We have also invited them to share their two favorite images of their saints. Away we go!

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John Chrysostom vs. Zenaida

Yesterday in a hotly contested matchup for the third spot in the Faithful Four, Gobnait stung Ignatius of Loyola 51% to 49%. She joins Martha of Bethany and Pandita Ramabai in the rarified air of Lent Madness 2019.

Who will make the Faithful Four the quartet to which it’s called? We’ll find out in the next 24 hours as John Chrysostom faces off against Zenaida for the final spot. To make it this far, John defeated Margaret of Cortona and Marina the Monk, while Zenaida took down Apollonia and Nicholas of Myra.

Then take a deep cleansing breath and get ready for the last three battles of Lent Madness 2019. On Monday and Tuesday it’s the Faithful Four. And then on Spy Wednesday the scene will be set as we collectively crown the Golden Halo winner. The end is near!

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Ignatius of Loyola vs. Gobnait

Yesterday, in a hotly contested matchup, Pandita Ramabai made it past William Wilberforce 55% to 45% to claim the second spot in the Faithful Four. She joins Martha of Bethany and awaits two more companions as we move ever closer to awarding the coveted 2019 Golden Halo.

On tap today we have Ignatius of Loyola vs. Gobnait. To get to this point, Ignatius made it past Tikhon of Zadonsk and Marina the Monk, while Gobnait defeated and Hrotsvitha and Paula of Rome.

Also, in a move of largesse reminiscent of the recently defeated Nichols of Myra, the Supreme Executive Committee has devised a method for giving away (yes, for free!) the last three remaining France Perkins Golden Halo mugs. Rather than donating them to the Lent Museum, they will be given away at random to three lucky winners. Click here for details. And if you gave up Facebook for Lent or for Zuckerberg, add not being eligible to your list of crosses to bear. Alas, it’s Lent.

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Win a FREE mug!

As the Lent Madness global public knows, the Supreme Executive Committee is very concerned about the health and well-being of fans around the globe. In the next few days, a lot happens. Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week, is coming right up. People in the US are facing down an April 15 deadline for tax filing. And your allergies might be going crazy with spring.

Frances Perkins mugThat’s why we are giving away THREE mugs. You can use these for coffee or any other warm beverage, especially coffee (have we mentioned recently that the SEC is fueled by single-origin, fairly traded black coffee?). Rumor has it these mugs work equally well with tea, though scones are sold separately. We have three Frances Perkins mugs available.

As you’ll remember, Frances Perkins won the Golden Halo in 2013. She was a lay leader in the Episcopal Church and also served as Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, the first woman to serve in the US Cabinet. These are literally the last three Frances Perkins Golden Halo mugs in existence and are major collector’s items in the world of Lent Madness tchotchkes.

Here’s how you can win your free mug. Head over to the Facebook page of our sponsor, Forward Movement. In addition to the Lent Madness Facebook page, we hope you like the Forward Movement Facebook page. Anyway, once you get there, you’ll see a post from today (April 10) inviting you to like and share the post, along with a comment, story, or photo about your favorite saint. Do what that post says. Remember, like and share the Facebook post from the Forward Movement Facebook page to enter to win.

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William Wilberforce vs. Pandita Ramabai

Yesterday, on the first day of the Elate Eight, Martha of Bethany left Photini high and dry 58% to 42% to become the first saint to reach the elusive and exclusive Faithful Four.

Today William Wilberforce meets Pandita Ramabai. To reach the Elate Eight, Wilberforce bested Agatha Lin Zhao and Richard Allen, while Ramabai defeated Damien of Molokai and Marguerite d’Youville. For all the previous rounds’ highlights, click the Bracket tab.

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