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9 Saints who were athletes

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Meg Hunter-Kilmer - published on 01/11/20

Venerable Teresita Quevedo (1930-1950) was the captain of her high school basketball team and a tennis star. Though tremendously talented on the tennis court, she never managed to win a championship. In her senior year she was favored to win; worried that a victory would inflate her pride, Teresita asked the Blessed Mother not for a victory but for whatever would be most pleasing to Jesus. When she lost, Teresita was able to accept the outcome with such joy that her mother, on seeing Teresita’s face, assumed her daughter must have won.

Pope St. John Paul II (1920-2005) spoke frequently about the power of sports to help in the development of young souls, once saying, “Sports contribute to the love of life, and teach sacrifice, respect and responsibility, leading to the full development of every human person.” This was no mere theory, of course. Pope John Paul was an avid skier, an outdoorsman who loved hiking and fishing, and an athlete for whom staying active was so important, he actually had a swimming pool installed at his summer residence so he could stay fit. When some cardinals questioned the expense, he joked that it was cheaper than another conclave.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901-1925) loved climbing mountains—photographs show him in decidedly precarious positions—riding horses, and skiing. He smoked cigars and short-sheeted beds. He had fistfights with fascists, served the poor, enjoyed the theater, and sneaked out of the house to attend daily Mass. Finally, he died of polio, contracted from those he was serving. 

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