The Blessing of the Brains is a beloved Siena tradition, and the friars did not let a pandemic get in the way of providing a boost to students before final exams.

Technology was mixed with spirituality so Saints could “get their Bs to get their As.” Rather than welcoming hundreds of students to the MAC, this event was held November 20 at the Grotto; fifty students registered to attend in person, while the blessing was live streamed on the friars’ Facebook page. 

“This has been a difficult and different semester,” said Fr Larry Anderson, O.F.M., Siena’s chaplain. “Any time we can safely connect, to see each other face-to-face, that’s important. That sense of community is one of the strengths of Siena.”

The first and most meaningful “B” – the blessings – were bestowed by the friars, with hands raised to the group rather than placed on the head of each individual student. And no less loved and appreciated by our Saints, the other Bs – a spread of safely wrapped bagels, brownies and bananas – were laid out for an energy fillip for those prepping for exams. (The bacon, alas, will have to wait for another semester.)

During the service, Fr. Larry invoked Psalm 32: “You are my hiding place O Lord; you guard me from all distress,” to encourage students as they crossed the finish line of the one of the most unusual semesters in Siena’s history.

Michael Lounello ’19, Siena’s theater technical manager who manned the Creative Arts department’s technical equipment for the livestream, said online access to the Blessing of the Brains “is probably not going anywhere.”

“This is about reaching as many members of our community as possible, alumni as well,” he said. “Students could livestream it in their rooms on campus, or from home, if they’re unable to make it to the MAC. Although live streaming won’t work for the bacon...”  

"The Blessing of the Brians is a piece of the Siena experience, that during a time of stress provides a much needed feeling of peace and clarity, putting our fears, anxieties, and worries in perspective with the love and strength of God."

Nick Rizzi '23

"Blessing of the Brains is a great reminder for our student body, that no matter what we encounter, no matter where we go, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The event reminds us we must live our lives with passion and we are surrounded by a community here at Siena that will help us own that path to becoming our best selves."

Christopher Estremera '21

"The Blessing of the Brains has been a real grounding event for me in my time thus far at Siena in its reflection of the College's mission and our deep Franciscan roots. It's a great way to take a deep breath, reflect on all I've learned throughout the semester, and put my best foot forward heading into exam week."

Samuel Hearn '23

"It was so nice that we were able to have Blessing of the Brains this semester, despite the different circumstances and a limited amount of students in person. The constant dedication and prayers from the friars for us students means the world. I am so grateful that we were able to get our blessings at the Grotto and continue one of my favorite Siena traditions!"

Meredith McElroy '22