On Wednesday, February 7, students, faculty, and family gathered together to commemorate the birthday of the college’s patron, Saint Thomas More. In the spirit of this witty, erudite, and holy Renaissance man, the evening was one of merrymaking and high spirits.
The College’s cafeteria was turned into a candlelit banqueting hall. According to tradition, those present came dressed in appropriate costume. Knights and damsels, minstrels and peasants: all were present. After a solemn blessing over the food offered by the college’s chaplain, Father Healey, the feasting began in earnest. As in previous years, everyone sat down at long tables to enjoy a delicious medieval-style feast prepared by Chef Pat…and no silverware was allowed.
Following the toast, several groups of student-troubadours provided the evening’s entertainment. Sophomores Brady Adams and Vincent Deardurff incited roars of laughter with their performance of a scene from Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, and a quintet comprised of Molly Lloyd, senior, Cecilia Black, sophomore, and juniors Lux Kamprath and Jonathan Wanner, charmed the room into an appreciative silence with their performance of madrigals by English composers: Thomas Morely’s April is in my Mistress’s Face and John Dowland’s Come Again, Sweet Love. As the merriment increased, the attention of the assembly was turned to Dr. Sara Kitzinger, who gave the annual speech and toast commemorating the virtues of Saint Thomas More. Humorously, both were delivered in rhyming couplets: a fitting tribute to the saint’s own epigrams.
As the tables were cleared, the festivities continued with a broadsword duel between two juniors, both experienced fencers. Following the duel, a hilarious game of musical chairs was played. The winner, a student of St. Gregory’s Academy, was made to sing as a result of his victory, but was bravely supported by his fellow classmates. Finally, to the delight of all present, the evening concluded with several traditional dances, including the Italian Rant and Hole in the Wall.
The College annually hosts several banquets in honor of major saints and other important figures in the Western intellectual tradition. To feast, as Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper points out in his book In Tune with the World, means to affirm the joy of living.
At Thomas More College, communal events such as the Saint Thomas More Banquet or the upcoming Robert Burns Dinner on February 17th find that Pieper’s insight perfectly resonates with the school’s motto, Caritas Congaudet Veritati, Charity Rejoices in the Truth. The Saint Thomas More Banquet is a chance to joyfully remember the truth this courageous man bore witness to, and to strive more firmly in our common dedication to the same.