After thousands of runners completed the first ever ‘multireligious’ half-marathon in Rome, Pope Francis praised the initiative, which was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture.
“I greet participants in the ‘Via Pacis’ athletic race, which passed places of worship of the different religious faiths present in Rome,” the pope said on 17th September. “I hope that this cultural and athletic initiative fosters dialogue, coexistence and peace,” he told those gathered for the Angelus prayer in St Peter’s Square, which was near the end of the 13-mile (21 km) course.
Some 2,000 people took part in the half-marathon and almost 4,000 people signed up for the 5k ‘fun run’, according to Mgr Melchor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of pontifical council and head of the office’s section on sport.
Priests, nuns, the differently abled, refugees and parents pushing children in prams were just some of those who took part in the events. Some 200 members of Rome’s grand mosque participated, as well as members of the Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Bahai communities, Mgr Sanchez told SIR, the Italian bishops’ news agency.
About 20 Vatican employees, dubbed ‘the pope’s marathoners’, also took part, with one member of the Swiss Guard completing the half-marathon with an impressive time of 1 hour, 20 minutes, he said.
Picture: A large crowd is seen as Pope Francis leads the Angelus in St Peter’s Square on 17th September at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters).