Stole of Gratitude | University of Portland

Stole of Gratitude

Stole of Gratitude

Be a part of this University of Portland tradition by wearing the Stole of Gratitude and presenting it to those who have made a significant difference in your life.

The stole is available for purchase on the Commencement Checklist or when you pick up your cap & gown. At the time of pickup, the purchase of the stole is $30 and only cash or check will be accepted.

The stole can be worn during the commencement ceremony and presented afterwards to someone who provided extraordinary help or support, i.e. parents, relatives, or mentors who have helped with wisdom, words of support, or with financial assistance. The graduate may take the stole from around his/her neck and place it around the neck of the recipient, along with words of thanks. Or, you may choose to present the Stole prior to the ceremony so the recipient may wear it. Recipients will never forget the kindness inherent in the recognition and sentimental feelings connected with being presented the Stole of Gratitude.


Legend of the Stole of Gratitude

In pre-medieval Europe a monk, traveling the countryside on a missionary pilgrimage, found a starving young boy wandering through his burned-out village in a daze, orphaned after the village had been destroyed by a band of marauders. The only thing he carried was a piece of fabric from his mother’s clothes that had torn off in his hand as she was taken away by one of the invaders on horseback.

When he left the monastery he traveled to the royal city and became squire to a knight, who trained him in horsemanship, swordsmanship, and the subtleties of court society. After several years, and no longer a boy, the young man’s talents were brought to the notice of the King, who made him an advisor to the royal court. Delivering him to the monastery, the monk set about teaching him to read and write. He schooled the boy in literature, history, and scientific thought, and trained him in the skills of debate and negotiation. The boy learned much and grew eager to know more of the world.

Contemplating his life’s journey one day, he felt that he must acknowledge the support of his mentors. He took some of the fabric from his mother’s dress, which he had always carried with him, some of the wool from his monastic robes, and some of the silk tunic he now wore. With this he fashioned two cloth stoles, embroidered with the runic symbol of his village, the crest of the knight he had served, and the emblem of the royal court. He then presented these stoles to the monk and the knight, along with letters proclaiming his gratitude. Eventually, he became a widely respected royal ambassador, but he never forgot the kindness and generosity which had enabled him to achieve his success.

It became a tradition that spread throughout the country and beyond. The stole became a symbol of achievement for students in all faculties, with varying colors and emblems symbolizing different levels of study and institutions.