Vatican rep at Winter Olympics
Pope Benedict XVI blessed the Olympic flame during his Angelus prayer in St Peter's Square on Sunday, while a Swiss Guard, sporting a tracksuit and sneakers instead of his usual colourful uniform, held the torch aloft.
Catholic News Service reports that the guard had received the flame from a Vatican gendarme, making it the first time Vatican representatives ever participated as Olympic torchbearers.
The XX Olympic Winter Games begin tomorrow in Turin, and will take place over 16 days.
While the Vatican has never sent anyone to compete in the Olympics, the Vatican will have a representative at the games.
For the first time, the head of the Vatican's new sports office, US Fr Kevin Lixey, will be in Turin to network with national Olympic committees and chaplains from other countries. It will be the Legionaries of Christ priest's Olympic debut; the Vatican's church and sport desk was officially unveiled just days before the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.
Parish churches all over Turin and the surrounding mountain villages will have their doors wide open to the public. Three dioceses are hosting concerts, special exhibits and additional Masses in several languages.
While Olympic sponsors will be handing out freebies to spectators and visitors, local Catholic, Waldensian and Orthodox churches will be distributing 50,000 free copies of a special Olympic edition of St. Mark's Gospel.
The Olympics draw some of the world's finest athletes who come together in an atmosphere of peace and brotherhood -- ideals that mesh perfectly with the Christian moral values of love and charity.
As Olympics begin, Catholic involvement seen in Turin, on slopes (Catholic News Service 7/2/06)
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9 Feb 2006