There are times when our sport can lift us up. On Thursday, some of the world’s finest athletes met one of the world’s most special people, Pope Francis. Pope Francis is a man who transcends organized religion. That the meet organizers gave seats to the poor, and many who are blamed for all of the world’s ills, is bigger than any track meet.
We live in a world where kindness has all but been forgotten by some of the world’s leaders. In a simple track meet on Thursday, in Rome, it is fascinating to me that some of the people enjoying the finest athletes in the world will have, only months before, been searching for a better life, and traveled across the Meditteranean in boats that had quesitonable seaworthiness.
Talk about putting life and sport in perspective.
Pope Francis meets the world’s athletics stars
It was a special morning for seven athletes participating in the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea on Thursday night at the Olympic Stadium. US top stars Christian Coleman, Kyra Jefferson, Jaide Stepter and Dawn Harper-Nelson, together with Italian athletes Filippo Tortu, Marcell Jacobs and Alessia Trost took part in Wednesday’s papal audience to meet Pope Francis. The delegation was led by FIDAL president Alfio Giomi, deputy FIDAL president Vincenzo Parrinello, FIDAL secretary Fabio Pagliara and managers Riccardo Ingallina (technical department) and Roberta Russo (international relations dept.).
During the audience the Italian athletes donated the national team’s official bag and tracksuit to Pope Francis.
At the end of the meeting Pope Francis thanked the Golden Gala organising committee and athletes for inviting poor people and migrants supported by the Office of Papal Charities at the Olympic Stadium tomorrow. Sant’Egidio and Auxilium volunteers will be in charge of assisting the group at the stadium. Archbishop Konrad Krajewski said: “It will be a night of celebration for all”. The Pope’s poor people and migrants comes from Italy, Syria, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mali, Gambia, Senegal, Eritrea, Egypt and Ivory Coast.
Alessia Trost said of the experience: “Today we were received by the Holy Father for the Wednesday Hearing and we had the chance to shake his hand and give him a shirt of the national team. It was a very nice meeting. The Pope is a good personality. It was very moving. We can say that we had an intimate exchange with the Holy Father “
Filippo Tortu added: “The meeting this morning was really emotional for me. I managed to shake hands with the most important person in the world”.