Catholics in England have created an Olympic Cross to help reach out to Olympians and attendees of the 2012 Olympic Games.
“We wanted to create a keepsake that symbolizes everything the games truly represent, something we could then pass on to future Olympic host nations,” explained James Parker, Catholic Executive Coordinator for the 2012 Games.
“As Christians our lives mean nothing without the Cross and so this seemed to be the most suitable object to commission for ourselves and as a future gift to others.”
The cross will stand at the Joshua Camp, an international Catholic Olympic gathering to be held in East London from Aug. 1-13, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales reported. The camp will provide hospitality, organize service projects and create a Catholic presence to foster spiritual growth and evangelization.
Organizers have described the camp as “Olympic World Youth Day.”
Fr. Simon Penhalagan, President of the Sion Community, blessed the cross in the presence of young Joshua Camp volunteers from around the world.
The Olympic cross was specially commissioned for the 2012 London Games. Artist Jon Cornwall, from the Walsingham House retreat center in Essex, designed and created the work.
Cornwall said he used 12 different types of wood from around the world to represent the 12 disciples. The wood making up the three-tiered base of the Cross includes three types chosen to symbolize the virtues of faith, hope and love.
Fr. Penhalagan said there is a “growing affection” for the Olympic Cross among those preparing for the Joshua Camp.
“I am confident that those who will travel across the globe to be with us in London next week will also come to honor this Cross and in so doing will fall more in love with Christ,” he said.
Parker said the Joshua Camp could become a model for how to combine sports and spirituality at future global sporting events.
“This initiative is a powerful response to Pope Benedict’s call to find ways to draw modern hearts and minds to Christ,” he said.
The Olympic Cross will remain at the Joshua Camp throughout the Olympic Games.
After the games, the cross could head to Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games or it could head to Brazil for the 2013 World Youth Day, the 2014 Football World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.