St Pius X and the Olympic Games
(from the Vatican News Service)
Vatican City, 27 July 2012 (VIS) - It was 1908 when, in the wake of a serious economic crisis, Rome renounced hosting the Olympic Games which were eventually celebrated in London, England. In the same year Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, sought help from the Vatican to support the Games, and Pope St. Pius X in person offered him his support.
More than one hundred years later, the British capital is hosting the Olympic Games for the third time. The event is due to open this evening.
That moment at the beginning of the twentieth century is described in a book entitled "Pio X e lo sport" by Antonella Stelitano. At that time "less than one per cent of the population practised any sporting activity, ... and sport was used only as a form of military training or as a pastime for the upper classes", the author explained in an interview with Vatican Radio.
However "St. Pius X ... was aware of the educational potential of sport". He saw it as a way "to approach young people, and to bring them together while following certain rules and showing respect for adversaries. I believe", the author explained, "that he understood that it was possible to bring people together simply, without any problems of race, religion or differing political ideas".
At that time in history many people did not understand the importance of exercise, said Antonella Stelitano who concluded her interview by recalling an anecdote whereby Pius X told one of his cardinals: "All right, if it is impossible to understand that this can be done, then I myself will do exercise in front of everyone so that they may see that, if the Pope can do it, anyone can do it".
That's funny. I was just reading about Pius X in regard to something else. He was a great guy.
Posted by: Janet | 07/27/2012 at 01:34 PM
Wasn't it he who really put an end to that hardly-ever-receive-communion practice?
Posted by: Mac | 07/27/2012 at 02:18 PM
Posted by: Janet | 07/27/2012 at 02:36 PM
As our pastor reminds us on his feastday (our parish is named for him), he lowered the age at which children could receive Communion to the age of reason, on the grounds that they were then able distinguish between regular bread and the Eucharist.
When my then-5-year-old heard this, she said indignantly, "Well, *I* know the difference! Why can't I receive Communion?"
Posted by: Anne-Marie | 07/28/2012 at 09:46 PM
Smart girl, and you should probably prepare yourself to be challenged frequently.
Posted by: Mac | 07/28/2012 at 11:48 PM
The then-5-year-old is now 15. She still asks good questions, but she's grown more inclined to reflect and ponder than to demand instant answers.
Posted by: Anne-Marie | 07/30/2012 at 08:19 AM
That's good! and I'm inclined to add "lucky you."
Posted by: Mac | 07/30/2012 at 09:29 AM