By Suki Rowden, Staff Writer
Saint Vincent College enjoyed the German tradition of Oktoberfest on Oct.12 in a historic celebration. The event included haustus, or evening refreshments, beer from Straub Brewery, and a pretzel bar. A collection was also held at the event to promote donation to the Ridni Charitable Fund, which supports Ukrainian children who have been affected by the war.
Oktoberfest is generally thought to be a solely German celebration, but it also has close ties to Saint Vincent’s own history. Originally, Oktoberfest was meant to commemorate the wedding of the Bavarian prince, Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on Oct. 12, 1810. The kingdom of Bavaria was a founding state of the German empire and now comprises the entire southeastern portion of the country. The wedding festivities lasted for five days and later became an annual tradition.
Thirty-six years after Prince Ludwig’s wedding, Saint Vincent was founded with the support of Ludwig, who was now king. King Ludwig I sent artwork, musical instruments, and books to the college to support the Bavarian monk’s mission. These artifacts later became a large part of the German identity present in America.
Attendees of the Oktoberfest celebration were given a remarkable opportunity to view the featured exhibition Royal Patronage: Selections from the King Ludwig I of Bavaria Gift, which explores the history between Saint Vincent and its royal benefactor, as well as a glimpse at many rare books within the college’s collection. Included in the collection were portraits of King Ludwig I and his wife, a collection of articles describing the culture of Munich at the time, as well as Boniface Wimmer’s notebook from 1830.
Andrew Julo, curator of the Verostko Center for the Arts, with his small but skilled team, organized the event to bring the community together.
When asked what his favorite aspect of the exhibit was, Julo said, “Just seeing so many people here, celebrating together in the community […] and free beer!”
Many familiar faces could be seen milling around the second floor of the library from students to monks, to professors, and some unfamiliar faces as members of the community from outside the school enjoyed the celebration as well.
A student, Amanda Pugliano, a senior integrated science major, enjoyed her time at the celebration, delighted in the different beers and delicious pretzels. “I love taking a little break in the middle of the day to connect with people,” Pugliano said.
The celebration of Saint Vincent’s Bavarian roots was a great success with a large turnout, contrary to the library’s quiet reputation. Julo hoped the exhibit would speak to and represent the “immigrating spirits” SVC was founded by. He stated the exhibit told the tale of the Bavarian colony of monks who were likely to never see their home again. King Ludwig I sent his portrait and other pieces that were intended to aid in their learning.
“The portrait was hung in the refractory where the monks would pray to it every day. [That portrait] was important because it brought home to them,” Julo said.