The Vatican has its eye on the Olympic games. In January of this year, the city-state launched a national track and field team. The athletic team is made up of about 60 members including nuns, priests, Swiss Guards, museum workers, carpenters, and maintenance workers.
The journey to forming the team started with a group that ran together along the Tiber River and at local sports facilities. The dream is “to see the Holy See flag among the delegations at the opening of the Olympic games,” the team’s president, Monsignor Melchor Jose Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, told CNN. With the blessing of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), the Vatican’s track team can become a member of international sports federations. And while Sanchez says that the Olympic games are “a long shot,” the team certainly has God on its side.
In the short-term, the team plans to take part in “non-competitive” events such as benefit races. Ranging in age from 18 to 62, nuns, clergy, radio and newspaper employees, fire department employees, Vatican archivists, and even a milkman who works on the farm at Castel Gandolfo come together to “promote through sport messages of solidarity, (and to) fight against racism and all kinds of violence. Sport cancels the differences,” said Michela Ciprietti, an employee of the Vatican pharmacy who runs for the team. Ms. Ciprietti won the 2018 Vienna half marathon in 1:22:57.
Team members will wear an official Vatican uniform: a royal navy tracksuit with the colors of the Vatican flag, white and yellow, as accents. It’s hard to believe that the Vatican track team won’t have millions of supporters, and prayers, on their side. The term “Godspeed” has a whole new meaning.