[Lent Madness] After several weeks of intense voting, Mary Magdalene has won the coveted 2012 Golden Halo.
Lent Madness, the wildly popular online devotion that teaches participants about saints, places 32 holy men and women from across the world into a single-elimination bracket. Throughout the season of Lent, participants vote in each match-up to decide which saint advances.
In defeating Queen Emma of Hawaii to claim her title, Mary became the first female Lent Madness winner. The other saints who made it to the “Faithful Four” were Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Margaret of Scotland.
While there has been much speculation and misinformation about Mary Magdalene over the years, Scripture is clear on her presence at Jesus’ tomb. The Risen Christ first appeared to Mary and entrusted her with the task of telling the disciples she had seen the Lord, earning her the honorific title Apostle to the Apostles.
The creator of Lent Madness, the Rev. Tim Schenck, commented on this year’s competition “It was a wild ride with bracket-busting upsets and Cinderellas pushing their way onto the dance floor. Just like March Madness, the unpredictability is half the fun.”
Lent Madness began in 2010 as the brainchild of Schenck, an Episcopal priest and rector of St. John’s Church in Hingham, Massachusetts. In seeking a fun, engaging way for people to learn about the men and women comprising the Church’s Calendar of Saints, Schenck came up with this unique Lenten devotion. Combining his love of sports with his passion for the lives of the saints, Lent Madness was born on his blog “Clergy Family Confidential.”
This year Schenck partnered with the Rev. Scott Gunn, executive director of Forward Movement, to create a dedicated website www.lentmadness.org and broaden the number of people involved in the selection and writing process. Eight “celebrity bloggers” were tapped to write for the project including Dr. Meredith Gould of Baltimore, MD; the Rev. Penny Nash of Williamsburg, VA; the Rev. Bosco Peters of Christchurch, New Zealand; Canon Heidi Shott of Newcastle, ME; the Rev. Adam Thomas of Cohasset, MA; the Rev. Laura Toepfer of San Francisco, CA; the Rev. Neil Alan Willard of Edina, MN; and the Rev. Chris Yaw of Southfield, MI. Information about each of the celebrity bloggers is available on the Lent Madness website.
This year over 50,000 people have taken part in Lent Madness. Gunn said, “Those numbers might be standard for a sporting event, but it’s virtually unprecedented for a Lenten activity.” Gunn added, “The high visibility and enthusiastic participation in Lent Madness tells us that there’s a hunger for a light-hearted, fun way to engage the Gospel.”
Celebrity blogger Meredith Gould said, “While I’m generally opposed to triumphalism in any form, I’m thrilled that St. Mary Magdalene has won the Golden Halo. I admire her love, her loyalty, and her perseverance.” Gould added, “Dealing with the disciples could not have been easy or pleasant.”
Visit www.lentmadness.org to view this year’s full bracket of saints, learn about the contributors, and view the voting match-ups, results, and participant comments.
Forward Movement has worked since 1935 to bring vitality and spiritual health to the church. Based in Cincinnati, OH, Forward Movement is widely known for Forward Day by Day. Lent Madness is one of many ways that Forward Movement hopes to encourage Christians to live faithfully throughout their lives. Forward Movement is a ministry of The Episcopal Church.