Vatican cricket team arrives in London for UK tour

The Vatican cricket team has arrived in London for its tenth ‘Light of Faith’ tour.

This year’s edition will see the Vatican take on the England Over 60s, St Mary’s University, and, in a highly anticipated match at Windsor Castle, the King’s XI.

Friendship, unity, hope

This is the squad’s tenth ‘Light of Faith’ tour since its formation in 2014; previous destinations have included Portugal, Italy, Argentina, Kenya, Malta, Spain, and the UK.

The aim of this year’s trip is, as always, to promote dialogue and friendship between the Catholic Church and the host country. A post on the team’s social media pages speaks of “spreading the message of friendship, unity, and gospel hope.”

The emphasis is also on the fact that the players, who are all seminarians and priests based in Rome, are ‘ambassadors’ for the Catholic priesthood.

As the team’s director, Fr Eamonn O’Higgins, reminded the team at a meeting in Rome prior to departure, they may well be the only Catholic priests that many of those they interact with will ever meet.

Sport: a bridge in dark times

The Vatican squad – officially The Vatican (St. Peter’s) Cricket Team – is part of Athletica Vaticana, an umbrella organisation bringing together all the Vatican’s athletes.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis thanked Athletica Vaticana for its commitment to “promoting fraternity, inclusion and solidarity”, and for “bearing witness to the Christian faith among sportswomen and men”.

“In the particularly dark historical moment we are living,” the Pope said, “sport can build bridges, break down barriers, and foster peaceful relations.”

The visit

The Vatican team arrived in London at around midday UK time on Friday, June 28.

On Saturday, June 29, they have their first two matches, both against the England Over 60s at Wormsley Estate.

The next fixture will be on Monday, July 1, when the team will travel to Arundel Castle to take on St. Mary’s University, a Catholic institution based in Twickenham.

Then, on Wednesday, they will play against King’s XI—King Charles’ squad—at Windsor Castle, which is one of the British royal family’s residences.

After a tour of Westminster Abbey on Thursday, July 4, the team will return to Rome on June 5.