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Now That’s What I Call a Mascot!

By Mark D. Roberts | Thursday, April 8, 2010

Today as I was driving to work I saw a bus from St. Mary’s University. This highly-regarded university, situated in San Antonio, was founded in 1852 and is the oldest Catholic university in the Southwest.

I’ve been familiar with St. Mary’s ever since I moved to Texas, near San Antonio, two and a half years ago. But, until today, I did not know the name of the St. Mary’s mascot. They are . . . the Rattlers. That’s right, the St. Mary’s Rattlers.

Now I don’t know how that strikes you, but it seems rather ironic that a university named after the mother of Jesus has a rattlesnake as its emblem. Not an angel or a manger, but a fang-bearing rattlesnake.

I wondered how St. Mary’s came to be called the Rattlers, so did a bit of research, and found an explanatory page on the St. Mary’s website. In summary, it explains that the Rattler mascot was named by Brother Charles Kinsky in 1926 after a spirit committee decided to borrow the name of the school newspaper, The Rattler. Legend holds that the name was based on the fact that the school’s football field had to be cleared of rattlesnakes on a regular basis. This seems not to be the case. I can believe, however, that some real rattlers figured into the story somewhere.

Now what I find most interesting here, apart from the odd connection of the Virgin Mary and rattlesnakes, is the theological irony. There is a long, long tradition that associates Mary with snakes. It is based on a passage in Genesis 3, where God cursed the serpent who had tempted Adam and Even to sin:

“Because you have done this,
cursed are you among all animals
and among all wild creatures;
upon your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.”  (3:14-15)

From the early days of the church, Christian theologians interpreted this passage as referring to Mary, whose offspring, Jesus, would “strike the head” of the serpent. Mary and snakes are enemies from almost the dawn of time. But not at St. Mary’s University, apparently.

At least the Rattlers mascot conveys something strong and scary, just the sort of thing you’d want for your athletic teams, unless of course you go to the University of California Santa Cruz, where your mascot is the Banana Slug. No kidding!

Topics: Fun |

One Response to “Now That’s What I Call a Mascot!”

  1. Ray Says:
    April 8th, 2010 at 4:20 am

    Speaking of strong and scary…in Cairo, GA the opponents of the Cairo Syrupmakers must tremble in fear of being boiled into syrup like sorghum.


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