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Vatican Athletics to compete in European small states championship

Atletica Vaticana will participate in the Championships of the Small States of Europe athletics competition. The relay baton has been blessed and signed by Pope Francis.

Vatican News

On Saturday, June 23, Athletica Vaticana (the Vatican Athletics team) will compete in the Championships of the Small States of Europe.

18 other small countries will compete in the event, which is being held in Gibraltar.

As a symbol of fraternity, they will bring a relay baton blessed and signed by Pope Francis.

The Vatican’s sporting presence in Gibraltar, located on the Mediterranean, is particularly significant: the “Pope’s team” is there to promote the messages of fraternity, inclusion, and peace in an area which the Pope has often described as a ‘cemetery’, due to the high numbers of migrants who die trying to reach Europe.

Participating Nations

Alongside the five Vatican athletes—Emiliano Morbidelli, Carlo Pellegrini, Rien Schuurhuis, Giuseppe Tetto, and Giuseppe Zapparata—athletes from Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Georgia, Gibraltar, Iceland, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, North Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, and San Marino will compete.

Among them are athletes who have participated in Olympic and World Championship finals.

This marks the third time Athletica Vaticana has participated in this European event, following editions in San Marino and Malta, where Sara Carnicelli achieved a “historic” third place in the 5000 meters.

Sports and Fraternity

Athletica Vaticana continues to promote its mission of fraternity on the international sports stage, alongside peoples who—both in and out of sports—do not often have significant exposure.

Their goal is to tangibly demonstrate the “culture of fraternity” and the “culture of encounter,” building bridges of friendship and dialogue with all.

In an international context of tension and war, sports can be an opportunity for mutual understanding, breaking down prejudices and hostilities through dialogue between different cultures and religions.

Pope Francis reiterated this message recently in the preface of his book “Games of Peace: The Soul of the Olympics and Paralympics” (Vatican Publishing House), promoted by Athletica Vaticana.

Engagement with local community

In Gibraltar, following the example set by Pope Francis, the Vatican athletics team—which departed from Rome on the morning of Thursday, June 20—will engage with local social communities.

Specifically, they will offer an Italian dinner to people with intellectual disabilities and their families, part of the “Faith and Light” association.

There will also be a moment of fellowship with the Christian community of Gibraltar, which will host the team.

Accompanying the athletes will be some family members, as well as Vice President Valentina Giacometti, and Claudio Carmosino, who, after 40 years of experience with the Italian financial police’s sports group, now coordinates Athletica Vaticana’s training sessions.

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