A prestigious cricket match held at Stonyhurst College between the Stonyhurst Gentlemen’s XI and the Vatican (St Peter’s) Cricket Team, known as the Vatican XI, ended in victory for the visiting side.
Staff and alumni from the college formed a special Stonyhurst Gentlemen’s XI for the occasion which was the first fixture of the Vatican XI’s 4th Light of Faith Tour of England. The Vatican XI comprises priests and seminarians from across the Commonwealth who study and work in Rome and the Vatican.
A substantial crowd gathered at Stonyhurst to watch the match which was evenly balanced throughout, both sides reaching 90 runs for the loss of only one wicket. The Vatican XI batted first, posting a total of 139 runs for three wickets lost. A masterclass of disciplined and at times heroic fielding contained a spirited Stonyhurst run chase, with Stonyhurst reaching 121 runs with three wickets lost at the end of their 20 overs.
John Browne, headmaster at Stonyhurst College, said: “We were honoured that the Vatican Cricket Team chose Stonyhurst for the first fixture on their tour. It was a perfect day for a cricket match, set against the stunning backdrop of the Ribble Valley and with not a cloud in the sky.
“Sport plays an important role in the learning experience here at Stonyhurst; it builds confidence and it encourages our students to strive for their best. It was a closely contested match and we offer our heartfelt congratulations to the Vatican XI on their victory. We also wish them well on the remainder of their visit to the UK.”
Father Sameer Advani LC, of the St Peter’s Cricket team, said: “Our visit to Stonyhurst College was a fantastic way to begin our 4th Light of Faith Tour of England. We were extremely impressed by the strength of character and ability on display at Stonyhurst. We were also astonished and humbled by the richness of the history on display in the Stonyhurst museums and collections, surely one of the most wonderful teaching and learning resources of any school in the world. We will always remember the light of Stonyhurst and hope to one day welcome the team to Rome for a re-match.
“Cricket is the perfect way to bring different communities together, and we’re excited to continue promoting what Pope Francis has called ‘the culture of encounter and dialogue’ as we continue on our tour of the UK.”
The Vatican Cricket Team was officially founded in 2014. The team is under the official patronage of the Pontifical Council for Culture. It was established to raise awareness of the importance of religion for society and promote inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue through cricket, bringing different religious and ethnic-cultural communities together.
St Peter’s spent two days at Stonyhurst. They were given a tour of the Stonyhurst collections and were guests at a formal dinner held in their honour. Jan Graffius, Stonyhurst Curator, prepared an exhibition and after-dinner talk on the history of Stonyhurst Cricket for the occasion. It was the Vatican XI’s only visit to the North West of England as part of the tour.
The team also visited the school’s recently renovated Old Chapel Museum. Opened in 2017, it houses one of the oldest collections in the world, containing artefacts including a First Folio of Shakespeare, prayer books belonging to Mary Queen of Scots, and manuscripts written by poet and Jesuit priest, Gerard Manley Hopkins.
St Peter’s will also take on a Houses of Parliament XI, a Commonwealth XI and the Royal Household Cricket Club during their visit to the UK.