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October 5, 2011October 5, 2011  0 comments  Events

Combining pilgrimage to the Holy Land and athletics, the Pope John Paul II Games later this month will feature a peace run from Bethlehem to Jerusalem and a soccer game with Italian, Israeli and Palestinian players. Two lucky people can win an all expense paid free trip to the Holy Land in order to participate.


The mission of the trip, organized by the Catholic Josper community in Italy, an entity of Pilgrimage organizer Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, an activity of the Vatican, is to unite people through sports and to encourage dialogue. Star athletes from Italy are expected to join the tour including, from the famous designer Versace family, Giusy Versace, the paralympic athlete who lost both her legs in an accident, and former soccer stars Demetrio Albertini and Damiano Tommasi.


Peace Marathon

Participants in the Peace Marathon, 2009


Some 500 participants will join the tour from Italy and 100 Haitians will also take part, adding a new international flavor this year. Both Israelis and Palestinians will join the soccer game and the run, as they have in recent years.


According to the website, the JPII Games "evangelizes through the instrument of pilgrimages and promotes values that exalt the dignity of man and his being a creature of God."


The JPII Games, October 21 to 25, are not competitive. This year, the organization is offering a free trip to two people who are inspired "peace builders." The tour allows Christians to participate in a pilgrimage that promotes peace while at the same time allows them to experience their Christian roots in the land where it all began.


Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi and Centro Sportivo Italiano, the Italian Sports Association, brings star athletes and pilgrims from Italy to participate in these athletic events with both Palestinians and Israelis.


The peace run begins at Manger Square, outside the Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus. A soccer game will take place at the checkpoint in the middle of the 12-kilometer run. The runners then continue together in from the checkpoint to Notre Dame.


Manger Square plaza outside church of the nativity

Plaza outside Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem; credit Travelujah


Another highlight of the trip will be a visit to the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth and the Mount of Beatitudes.


"In the Holy Land it is likewise hoped that sports, which by their very nature are a vehicle of peace and use a universal language, represent an opportunity for people who normally live with different rhythms and customs to meet and embrace," the sponsoring organization said.


Church of the Annunciation

Bishop Narcuzo inside the Church of the Annunciation Nazareth with Chilean miners earlier this year. Photo: Travelujah


In a homily, Pope John Paul II once said: "Sports have spread to every corner of the world, transcending differences between cultures and nations. Because of the global dimensions this activity has assumed, those involved in sports throughout the world have a great responsibility. They are called to make sports an opportunity for meeting and dialogue, over and above every barrier of language, race or culture. Sports, in fact, can make an effective contribution to peaceful understanding between peoples and to establishing the new civilization of love."


To register to win the all expense paid free Holy Land trip visit this link: http://www.jpiigames.com/en/educational.html



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Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on connecting Christians to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.



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