Is it true that Ambrosians bleed blue and white? Perhaps not literally, but traditions run strong through the heart of this university, and those that have worn the colors as students carry that spirit of faith, learning and justice with them throughout their lives.
According to legend, St. Ambrose's father predicted the future Bishop of Milan's eventual eloquence when a swarm of bees was discovered covering the sleeping infant's head. The bees, however, didn't sting the infant. They merely dropped a bit of honey on the future saint's tongue and then flew off. The honey was a foreshadowing of the sweet, soul-strengthening words that this orator-to-be would one day preach.
The bee is a symbol of work, creative activity, cooperation, obedience, orderliness and diligence. Ambrose’s mascot, the Fighting Bee, inspires pride in its athletes and fans, and is the only college mascot of its kind in the world. The Fighting Bee also symbolizes the drive and tenacity that the university athletics teams display in competition.
Ambrose colors are blue and white. Blue is a color attributed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and blue and white are considered a symbol of purity. The "bee-blue" used by Ambrose falls in the color family somewhere between royal and navy.
On the first Friday of each month you don't want to be caught without your "bee-wear" at Ambrose. The Campus Activities Board spearheads the monthly Spirit Day observance, with events ranging from blue egg dyeing at Easter to all-out blue-and-white decorating wars for the coveted "Most Spirited Office" honor during Homecoming Week.
These true-blue students can't be missed, whether they at a sporting event or on campus for Spirit Day. Anyone can join in the fun! And remember, the louder the Swarm “buzzes,” the better!
Patron saints are intercessors and advocate in heaven for a nation, place, craft, activity, class or person. For a place of higher education and lifelong learning, no saint is more befitting than St. Ambrose, the patron saint of learning. Elected as Bishop of Milan, Italy, in 373 A.D., he is often represented with a book and scroll in hand that are symbolic of his desire for truth and justice.
The St. Ambrose campus was established in a grove of oak trees, of which many still grow all over campus. When members of the alumni association wanted a hymn of praise to St. Ambrose College, the music department chose the melody “Finlandia,” by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. They held a campus contest to write lyrics, and in May 1937 William Kerrigan, a senior from Davenport, was declared the winner. Learn more about the alma mater.
Beginning with the first statue of St. Ambrose to stand guard on the front lawn of the campus, an unofficial tradition developed of painting our patron saint green around St. Patrick's Day to get everyone in the Irish spirit. These days students are saved the time and energy, as the statue is sheathed in cloth every year by Ambrose’s Physical Plant to protect it. At least the cloth is green!
When freshmen arrive on campus the first day of classes, they are “clapped in” to the opening convocation by faculty and staff, who gather to wish the new students well on their journey at Ambrose. Coming full circle, on graduation day faculty and staff line up again to clap out the graduating class.
This event began as a celebration of the end of the academic year before going underground for several years as the celebration became larger and zanier. In recent years, Last Blast has been revitalized as a university-sponsored event that now includes live bands, carnival games, SOMDay and a cookout.
While the name is a bit deceiving (the event actually takes place at 10 p.m. the Tuesday of finals week), hundreds of students line up outside the cafeteria for this stress relieving study break. While faculty and staff prepare and serve a breakfast consisting of everything from pancakes and hash browns to omelettes and sausage, students eat and enjoy one another’s company as they take photos and sing karaoke. And yes, pajamas are allowed!
Named in honor of Leo Kilfoy, St. Ambrose football and basketball star, longtime coach and athletics director, and former faculty member and director of intramural sports, this highly coveted award is bestowed every year on the male and female student who has achieved excellence in intramural activities on campus. Ambrose is known for a strong intramural program that includes such novel Wacky Wednesday events as word searches and chicken tosses, along with more traditional competitions, such as flag football and volleyball.
This student-driven event, modeled on the regionally popular Taste of Chicago, ushers in the Homecoming football game. Student clubs and organizations work with Sodexo (food service) to sell a tailgate dish (including local favorites dirt dessert, walking tacos and fried rice). Students, staff, faculty and alumni all head to Brady Street for some great food and company under the tent!
Homecoming is about packing in the traditions, right? Before heading to Taste of Ambrose, more than 400 Ambrosians and community members line up to run or walk this 5K race around the St. Ambrose campus or to cheer on their friends and family. Even the kids get their chance to win a medal as they sprint down Residence Row in the Bumble Rumble.
There’s no homesickness here on Halloween! Students in the residence halls decorate their floors in a campus-wide competition and dress up to pass out candy as faculty and staff members walk their children through the buildings. Which hall has proved most popular in the past? The Davis Hall basement with all its crafts and games!
Mass on Wednesday evenings in the fall and spring are celebrated outdoors in the Marian Grotto, one of the most serene and spiritual places on campus. While the Grotto has been relocated periodically as campus has expanded, this is one tradition that is staying put!
You know what we’re talking about. While you can’t plan to partake in this tradition, you can almost guarantee that you'll be an unwilling participant, usually at 2 a.m. on the coldest, wettest night of the year.