Gala 2012: ‘La Festa di San Martino’ with Guy Fieri
It is fitting that Saint Martin’s University should host its
hallmark gala celebration just days before November 11, the
feast day of its patron saint, Martin of Tours. In medieval
times — a period when saints’ feast days were occasions for much
merrymaking as well as devotion — Saint Martin’s Day was a gala
in its own right. Local festivals celebrated the fruits of the
harvest and, like our Gala, featured the finest food and wine.
Revelers satisfied their appetites knowing that the day was
their “last hurrah” before winter; shortly after Saint Martin’s
Day began a 40-day period of fasting, called “Quadragesima
Sancti Martini” (“the 40 days of Saint Martin”). This period
leading up to Christmas later became known as “Advent” in the
Saint Martin’s Day is still celebrated today, most notably in
Northern Europe as “Martinmas” or “Martinstag.” This year,
however, we give the saint’s feast day an Italian flavor. And
why not? Saint Martin did, after all, live and work in Italy.
Born in Hungary, Martin moved to northern Italy as a young boy
when his father, an officer in the Roman army, was transferred
to Pavia. Martin followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a
Legend has it that Martin, while a soldier, chanced upon a
shivering beggar clutching his rags about him in the bitter
cold. Martin cut his woolen cavalry cloak in two and gave half
to warm the beggar. (That’s why, on November 11 in Venice and
other Italian cities, bakeries sell the traditional “San Martino
cake,” an iced cake in the shape of a knight on horseback.) Some
time after this encounter, Martin had a vision in which the
beggar revealed himself to be the Lord Jesus Christ. Martin
obtained a discharge from the army and committed himself to
Christianity. He lived in Milan and Genoa before eventually
moving to France, where he served as a missionary and, later,
bishop of Tours.
So, in grand Italian style, we celebrate “La Festa di San
Martino.” We can’t think of a better person to lead our
celebration than special guest chef, Guy Fieri. Whether you
claim Italian heritage or not, Guy's culinary presentation is
sure to elicit shouts of “Buonissimo! Bravo, Maestro!”
Don’t hold back — for this event, we’re all Italian!
And while you’re lifting your glass for a toast, think of
Saint Martin. He is said to have been quite a vintner, and is
even credited with introducing the Chenin Blanc grape varietal.
More importantly, remember Martin’s willingness to share his
cloak with a stranger in need. This spirit of generosity lives
on through us at the Gala, as we open our hearts to support the
students of Saint Martin’s University.
Grazie tanto for being a part of the 2012 Saint
Martin’s University Gala!