(Source: CD/Vatican News)

In a generous show of solidarity, athletes from all over Italy will be participating in “We Run Together”, a charity fundraising auction on 8 June to provide support for medical personnel in hospitals in the northern cities of Brescia and Bergamo, particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The charity fundraising auction will be hosted by charitystars.com, a fundraising campaign website.

The initiative is organized by Athletica Vaticana (the Vatican’s first sports association), Fiamme Gialle (the sports section of the Italian police force), the Courtyard of the Gentiles (a Vatican platform for open dialogue on faith and culture), and Fidal-Lazio (the Italian federation for light athletics).

Items to be auctioned include objects and awards donated by multi-medal Olympic champions and some articles offered personally by Pope Francis. 

In preparation for the event, Pope Francis met on May 20 in his private library in the Vatican with a small delegation of some of the athletes billed to participate in the charity initiative.

On that occasion, he expressed his joy at the initiative and reminded them of the example of medieval pilgrims who walked “in step with the weakest”.

“We run together”

Speaking in an interview with Vatican News’s Fabio Colagrande, the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, explained the idea behind the charity initiative.

The cardinal said that Pope Francis likened the theme “We Run Together” to the loosely translated Latin phrase simul currebant from the twentieth chapter of the Gospel of John.

He explained that John and Peter, upon hearing that Jesus has risen, ran together to the tomb. However, even though John arrived first, he did not go in.

Rather, he waited for Peter and granted him the privilege of making the first entrance – almost in the spirit of “fair play” in sports.

Pope Francis pointed out that this was a fitting symbol of the charity initiative because the participating Olympic athletes are willing to give some room to others.

Cardinal Ravasi said that “Sports, by their very nature, are a free act”, and are in a sense, similar to art because they are an “expression of a person’s creativity” and therefore, a “basic cultural phenomenon”.

“Sports should be like music… a universal language”, he added.

For this reason, the Vatican team comprises of accomplished athletes like Fabrizio Donato, captain of the Italian national athletic team, but also Sara Vargetto, a wheelchair athlete with a degenerative disease, and Charles Ampofo, a migrant athlete from Ghana.

“Authentic sport is an anthropological, human phenomenon that can be expressed in different forms by everyone, not only by professional athletes”, said Cardinal Ravasi.


Cardinal Ravasi explained that every week from 8 June to 8 August, objects will be auctioned on charitystars.com, a virtual fundraising website.

The auctions will kick off with an item donated by the Pope – a bicycle personalized with the colors of the Holy See that the Holy Father received from world cycling champion, Peter Sagan. Other objects that will be auctioned include competitive equipment and jerseys from several athletes. 

There will also be the possibility of going on a tour on the Luna Rossa, a sailing boat currently docked in the harbor of Cagliari in Sardinia. In addition, some athletes are offering the opportunity of having dinner with some of the winners.

Next on NovenaFrancis’ meeting with athletes in the Vatican:

Pope urges progress in step with the weakest: “We need to go at the pace of the people who have another speed”


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.