VATICAN CITY — The St. Peter’s Cricket Club is travelling to Fatima for an interfaith tournament ahead of 100th anniversary of Marian apparitions, the Vatican announced on Wednesday.
The international tournament — part of the team’s third ‘Light of Faith Tour’ — will include Muslim, Hindu and Jewish teams from Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The four-day tour of the “Vatican XI,” officially known as St. Peter’s Cricket club, comes just ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to Fatima to mark the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions there. The Pope will make a pilgrimage to the site of the apparitions on May 12-13.
The club flew to Lisbon, Portugal, on Wednesday and spent the first day at the Marian shrine, where they consecrated themselves to Our Lady of Fatima.
During their stay, they will be hosted by the municipal council and people of Miranda do Corvo, near the historic university city of Coimbra.
Officials at the Pontifical Council for Culture, which has a section dedicated to sport, set up the first ever Vatican club and tournament in Rome in 2013. The initiative was the idea of Australia’s ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy, an avid cricket fan.
St. Peter’s Cricket Club is made up of Catholic priests and seminarians of different nationalities studying for the priesthood in Rome. Initially, the club was tasked with recruiting players from among the “300 seminarians and priests housed at Catholic colleges and seminaries around Rome,” not therefore citizens of Vatican City.
The most talented players were then invited to join “the Vatican XI” and were recruited primarily from India. A small number of players from England, Sri Lanka and Pakistan were also chosen.
One of the goals of the ‘Vatican’ Cricket Club is to build bridges with other Christians and faith communities. The Club has hosted Anglican and Muslim teams in Rome and has travelled twice (in 2014 and 2016) to England on their ‘Light of Faith’ tours, where they played an historic match against the Church of England in Canterbury (with proceeds going to end human trafficking) as well as a team representing the British Royal Family.