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Honours even as Vatican beats Archbishop's XI

Posted on: October 26, 2015 10:14 AM
Nigel Baker, the UK Ambassador to the Holy See, presents the winners' trophy to the Vatican's St Peter's Cricket Club
Photo Credit: Anglican Centre in Rome

[ACNS] Saint Peter’s Cricket Club – the Vatican’s cricket team – beat the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI at an ecumenical match in Rome on Saturday. It is only the second time that the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church have met each other on the cricket ground; and with Archbishop Justin Welby’s side beating the Vatican side in Canterbury last year, it means that honours are now even.

This year’s match was played at the Capannelle Ground in Rome following the conclusion of the Roman Catholic Church’s Synod on the Family

St Peter’s XI batted first, reaching 147 for six – it turned out to be an unassailable target as the Archbishop’s XI, captained by the Revd Steve Gray, chaplain of Bradfield College in Berkshire were all out for 105.

Following the match, the UK Ambassador to the Holy See, presented the Saint Augustine Cup to the St Peter’s Cricket Club, embossed with the words “Ut unum sint” - Latin for “That they may be one.”

Afterwards, the cricketers were joined by the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, at the Vatican for a Papal Mass celebrated by Pope Francis.

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The Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Rt Revd Mark Rylands; the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols; and the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Archbishop David Moxon; with the Archbishop of Canterbury's XI at the Vatican ahead of a Papal Mass. Picture credit: Lambeth Palace

The St Peter’s Cricket Club is made up mainly of seminarians studying in Rome, many of them from India and Pakistan.

There is a long history of clergy cricket in England. The weekly Church Times newspaper sponsors the Church Times Cricket Cup – an annual inter-diocesan competition which, at more than 60 years old, is now the longest running one-day knock-out cricket competition in the world.

But there is no national clergy cricket team; so the Church Times worked with Lambeth Palace and the Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Rt Revd Mark Rylands from the Diocese of Lichfield, to bring together ordinands and young priests to form the Archbishop’s XI.

A film crew from the BBC television programme Songs of Praise followed the cricketers to Rome and a segment will feature in a forthcoming edition.