May 10, 2011. (Romereports.com).
Not many people know that inside the Vatican, one can find an Olympics worth of different sports taking place, such as judo, tennis, cycling, clay pigeon shooting and soccer. To get a better idea, the book “Sport in the Vatican” has all the sport trivia from the the world's smallest state. Fr. Kevin Lixey
Church and sport, Pontifical Council for the Laity“It has some historic background about sport inside the Vatican which is a long history when you look at the Vatican itself. It covers everything from our own office for sport in the Vatican but its interested in social aspects of sports played among different people who worked in the Vatican but also the 'Clerics Cup' it was called it for example when the seminarians want it.”
Among it's history is the story of Pio Gaddi, Italy's first judo medalist, who taught self-defense to the Swiss Guards, police and guards of the Vatican Museums.
The golden era of tennis in Vatican City was during the 80's. In 1985, a tournament called the Vatican Open was created that attracted the symbolic presence of Nicola Pietrangeli, winner of two Roland Garros and one of the best Italian players of all time. Nicola Pietrangeli
Former tennis pro“I'm glad you can see all this sporting activity that people normally don't know about. I find it very nice because it's the people that work and make a part of Vatican City.”
Soccer also has a strong following in Vatican City thanks to the famous "Clericus cup," the world championship for seminarians and priests that began in 2004 and is now held every year. Fr. Kevin Lixey
Church and sport, Pontifical Council for the Laity“Sport is something that the Church is interested in, it knows that it's a means or can be a means to help in educating children and also a great recreational tool . It always maintains its goodness, it's an original aspect for that, the reason we are interested in sport not only in the Vatican but all over the world”.
Many popes were also sports fans. Leo XIII described it as “a means of mass communication.”
Benedict XVI said that “sport teaches discipline and rigor and the possibility to win and receive freedom.”
John Paul II was a passionate athlete who met with athletes from around the world and wrote 120 speeches about sports. Fr. Kevin Lixey
Church and sport, Pontifical Council for the Laity“It is said he went skiing quite a bit, when he could. He loved everything and you can see that when he met athletes from all around the world. As a youth I know he played soccer, he was on the defense, he scored goals as a young man. As a priest he went canoeing with people, he loved to go hiking, even as Holy Father, he continued to go on hikes”.
In 2004, this now blessed pope created a department inside the Vatican dedicated to sports and defended it saying the practice would unite “the temperance and education in resignation, and the honesty and humility to recognize one's own limits.”