Vatican City, Jan 12, 2019 / 06:01 am
The Vatican announced Thursday the start of the first official sports association inside of the small city-state, including among its membership two young African migrants living in Italy, to show how sport can aid integration.
The migrant members of the Athletica Vaticana sports team, which also consists of Vatican citizens and employees of the Holy See, are guests of the Auxilium cooperative in Castelnuovo di Porto, where Pope Francis celebrated Holy Thursday Mass in 2016.
Under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the group's main sport for the time being is running, and it participates in marathons including Rome's annual "Via Pacis" half-marathon, an inter-religious event which also benefits the poor through the pope's charity office.
To aid in evangelization, the team composed a "Prayer of the Marathoner," which was translated into 37 languages, including Arabic and Swahili, and printed onto an image of a 4th-century fresco of an athlete from one of Rome's catacombs. They distribute the cards at the starting line of competitions. They have also promoted the celebration of Mass before races.