A marathon will link the cities of Jerusalem and Rome between April 23 and May 27, thus coinciding with Pope Benedict XVI’s May 8-15 visit to Israel.
The initiative, organized by the John Paul II Foundation, was presented Wednesday in Rome. The objective is to commemorate the 2000 year anniversary of the birth of St. Paul as part of the Pauline Year.
The race will appropriately follow the steps of St. Paul, running through some of the places where the Apostle to the Gentiles went to preach.
The entire route will cover some 1,300 kilometers through five countries: Israel, Greece, Malta, Italy and Vatican City. The marathon will begin on April 23 in Bethlehem and end at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on May 27.
The last stage, which will be in Rome, will be accompanied by several side events, including a prayer vigil at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls and a greeting by Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s Square.
The John Paul II Foundation for Sports was inspired by the late Pontiff’s love of sports and their formative and spiritual values. For this reason, the marathon will also serve to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the first Jubilee of athletes, which was promoted by John Paul II in April of 1984.