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Sansepolcro Flag Throwers Return to Loyola University New Orleans for One-of-a-Kind Performance

Loyola press release - March 10, 2017

Watch on Tuesday as the world-renowned Sansepolcro Flag Throwers bring colorful, authentic and unique Italian tradition to life at Loyola University New Orleans. Complete with drummers, trumpeters and the famed flag throwers, this medieval masterpiece will feature brave athletics and vibrant professional costumes that rival those of Carnival.

The Sansepolcro Flag Throwers will perform at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 in the Peace Quad located near the Danna Student Center on Loyola’s main campus, 6363 St. Charles Ave. The event is free and open to the public. Free parking is available in the West Road and Freret parking garages.

The Sansepolcro Flag Throwers have been recreating this medieval tradition since 1957, and for more than 30 years, they have shared this tradition with the city of New Orleans. Tuesday’s 20-minute performance will bring Renaissance Italy to the heart of Loyola with the support of the city’s American Italian Cultural Center and Loyola’s Center for International Education, Medieval Studies program.

“This is a great opportunity for the Loyola community to experience a little bit of Italian history and culture without leaving campus,” said Debbie Danna, director of the Center for International Education. “By exposing students to various cultural traditions, like the Sansepolcro Flag Throwers, we hope students are encouraged to explore learning opportunities beyond our campus in one of the 50-plus countries where Loyola offers study abroad programs.”

In Europe during the late Middle Ages, standard-bearing officers led troops into battle with large-bladed weapons. During times of peace, these bearers would meet to practice and improve their weapon-bearing techniques and routines. As time passed, these regular routines became public spectacles, giving birth to the popular flag-throwing tradition.

The art of flag throwing was revived in 1953 in Sansepolcro by the Società dei Balestrieri and the city’s flag throwers became the first flag-waving group formed in Italy. The Sansepolcro Flag Throwers still serves as the oldest group in the world to continue the tradition.

Elizabeth S. Parent, an adjunct theatre professor at Loyola, as well as volunteer lecturer for the American Italian Cultural Center helped to bring Tuesday’s event to campus. Earlier this year, the American Italian Cultural Center named her its 2017 Woman of the Year.

“This incredible and rare live spectacle of agility and talent gives us a glimpse into the Italian Renaissance and centuries of tradition that has shaped and influenced New Orleans,” Parent said, underscoring the city’s strong Italian heritage. “These influences can be seen in New Orleans’ architecture, people and food – Italians even gave us the muffaletta.”

Loyola continues to foster an understanding of the European Middle Age culture through its stellar Medieval Studies Program. Through the program, students have the opportunity to address questions about the Middle Ages and modernity, as they explore themes from gender inequality and antifeminism to war and discrimination.

The Loyola Center for International Education features fall, spring and summer studying opportunities in Italy. The popular Milan program with the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, the largest private catholic university in the world, allows students to learn Italian in the heart of Italy and explore Milan — a center for business, banking and of course fashion.