“Whenever I jump, I jump to infinity”. With these words by Nelson Évora, Portuguese Olympic and World triple jump champion of Cape Verdean descent, Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça blessed the new Athletica Vaticana headquarters in Rome’s Palazzo San Calisto, on Wednesday evening, 20 September.
Athletes and representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See gathered for the moment of prayer led by Cardinal de Mendonça, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, to whom Pope Francis entrusted the care of sports in the Apostolic Constitution, Praedicate Evangelium.
The aim of the newly inaugurated “Vatican sports house” is to be a place of encounter in line with the spirit of the Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti encyclicals, to more effectively give shape to Pope Francis’ vision of sports as a path of fraternity, inclusivity and solidarity.
In his reflection during the event, Cardinal de Mendonça stressed the importance of always looking towards infinity, both in sports and in life. He noted that this is the mission Pope Francis entrusted to “his” team, Athletica Vaticana: to share this gaze towards the infinite with our “travelling companions” in order to make sports not only a physical activity, but a spiritual experience characterized by fraternity.
In this spirit of fraternity, those gathered for the inauguration offered up a number of special prayer intentions, including that the entire sporting community may be an instrument of reconciliation that can foster true peace through concrete actions, namely, building bridges of dialogue and friendship among different cultures and religions. As Cardinal de Mendonça wrote in the guest book of the new Vatican sports house, “Athletica Vaticana is a contemporary page from the Gospel, thank you for this treasure”.