On Sunday, Via della Conciliazione and St. Peter’s Square will be transformed into an impromptu sports track where there will be a “100 metre sprint for faith” before the Angelus prayer, an event organised by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Italian Sports Centre as a Year of Faith initiative. Participants will include families, seminaries and schools along with numerous pilgrims, and will take the form of a relay race.
According to a communique from the Pontifical Council for Culture, the continual passing of the baton recalls how Christian life is, in the image described by St. Paul in his Letter to the Corinthians, a sort of ideal relay race in which faith is transmitted from generation to generation, and in which the Christian competes in order to win “an incorruptible crown”. Also, within the context of the Year of Faith, it is intended to emphasise the importance of sport as a cultural asset of education and spiritual value, and to draw the attention of different components of the Catholic world to the formative role that sport may assume in Christian catechesis.
From 8.30 a.m. until 12 p.m., on a genuine athletics track, the participants in the relay race will runn the 100 metres to arrive in St. Peter’s Square. The event will be televised and will involve the participation of, among others, the tennis player Mary Santangelo; British ex-athlete Jason Gardener, Olympic gold medallist for the 4 x 100 metre relay race in the 2004 Games in Athens; the sexagenarian runner Ulderico Lambertucci; and Andrea Bartali, son of the legendary cyclist Gino Bartali, who won the Giro d’Italia three times and the Tours de France twice. The event will conclude with the Angelus and the Pope’s greeting to participants.
The race will be followed by a second appointment on 21 October, the seminar “Believers in the World of Sports”, which will analyse the relationship between sport and faith, and which will be attended by heads of professional sports and Catholic sporting associations. The seminar will focus on how sport can reveal man to himself, on the value of the human body, with particular reference to disability, and on the value of sport in openness to the absolute.