The history behind SMU’s Marty the mascot

Brenna Woslum, Staff Writer

 

Have you ever wondered about the origin of our beloved mascot? Well, settle in, because here at the Belltower, we are in the business of getting answers. Saint Martin’s University was founded in 1895, and until the 1930s, operated as an all-boys’ school, providing the equivalent of a high school education to boys aged from 10 to 20 years old. During the first year of operation, the Saint Martin’s boys’ school had a class of one, a young man who traveled all the way from Shelton to attend classes, supposedly by canoe. In the 1930s, then-Saint Martin’s College gained four-year college accreditation, and by 1974, the high school closed down. The 1940s bore witness to Saint Martin’s University’s first collegiate sports teams, and it was around this time when they earned the nickname of “The Saints.” According to sources at the college, it was not until the early 2000s that the college saw the birth of the mascot in his current form. Prior to this time, the college found itself without a mascot entirely.

To fully understand our dear mascot, it is important to have a little backstory on Saint Martin himself. Saint Martin of Tours was born in the fourth century A.D. He converted to Christianity at the age of 10, against the wishes of his parents. As the son of an officer in the Roman military, Martin entered military service around the age of fifteen. Saint Martin served in the military until his early twenties, when he became the equivalent of a conscientious objector, and refused to bear arms and kill others. Soon after, he was released from military service, but not after a threat of jail for his pacifist beliefs. This brought us the origins of our present-day mascot. “Marty,” who is clad in Roman military garb, is a depiction of Saint Martin during his military service. Apparently, the mascot takes the earlier form of Saint Martin, because the idea of the Saint in his conscientious objector stage was deemed not intimidating enough for a sports team, so we now have our beloved fighting Saint.  

At one time, the college almost had a different, less militant mascot. In the 1990s, a committee began working on a potential redesign of the college logo, and a rebranding of the mascot. The reason behind the potential change has its roots with a tale of Saint Benedict.  Specifically, the story of Saint Benedict and the Raven. According to legend, when a jealous priest attempted to feed Saint Benedict poisoned bread, Saint Benedict shared his bread with a raven, and instructed it to take the poisoned crumbs far away. The raven complied, and then returned to his side. This is believed to be the reason many artistic depictions of Saint Benedict feature a raven. According to sources in the university administration, the committee got so far as to have mock ups of the Raven drawn up, but the idea was eventually put aside. Whatever the reasoning, this rejection paved the way for the introduction of Marty not long after.

At the time of this writing, we could not yet verify who designed Marty in his current form or procure a copy of the mock ups of the Raven. For now, Marty’s origins will have to remain half cloaked in mystery, much like his namesake.

 

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