Lent Madness: Hilda of Whitby vs. Francis

It’s Hilda vs. Francis in another intriguing Round of the Saintly Sixteen match-up. Hilda was an important figure in the 7th century conversion of England to Christianity. Francis was a popular early 13th century Italian monk who founded the order that would bear his name: the Franciscans. If this contest was based purely on the number of statues manufactured, Francis would win hands down. But it’s not. This is nun vs. monk going mano-a-mano. 

In recent Lent Madness action, Peter “The Rock” soundly defeated Joseph of Arimathea 57% to 43%. Next up after Hilda vs. Francis is settled will be Joseph vs. George Herbert. In the meantime, here’s the updated tournament bracket: Lent Madness 2010  


This isn’t really fair because all we know about Hilda comes from the writings of the Venerable Bede. Thus there are no direct quotes from Hilda. Advantage Francis in the Quote-Off. 

Francis: “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.” 

Hilda: Well, she hosted the Synod of Whitby in 664 where it was decided to go with the Roman date of Easter rather than the Celtic one. 

Can’t beat the beloved Prayer of St. Francis: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light And where there is sadness, joy. Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled As to console; To be understood, as to understand, To be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive, It is pardoning that we are pardoned, And it is in dying That we are born to eternal life.” 

A Whitby Snake Stone

Hilda: Legend has it that when snakes infested the town of Whitby, Hilda’s prayer turned the snakes into stones. Here’s a verse by Sir Walter Scott commemorating this event: 

When Whitby’s nuns exalting told,
Of thousand snakes, each one
Was changed into a coil of stone,
When Holy Hilda pray’d:
Themselves, without their holy ground,
Their stony folds had often found. 



2 Comments on “Lent Madness: Hilda of Whitby vs. Francis”

  1. Laura says:

    Got to go with the administrator.

  2. Vicki says:

    I have to go with Francis for three reasons: first, of course, for all the animals; second, for the snakes – I love snakes and won’t vote for anyone who turns them to stone; but lastly and bestly, I’ve always figured Francis for the patron saint of streakers!

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