POSTED: July 25th 2013

Rio 2016 gets heavenly blessings from Pope Francis

Pope Francis sprinkles Holy Water to bless both the Games and Paralympics as the leaders look on  / Rio 2016
Pope Francis sprinkles Holy Water to bless both the Games and Paralympics as the leaders look on / Rio 2016

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) Pope Francis took time on his trip to Brazil to give both the Olympics and the Paralympics his heavenly blessings by sprinkling the flags with holy water. He also personally met and greeted some Brazilian athletes giving them well wishes for their sports activities.

A special ceremony was held this morning at Palacio da Cidade and the Pope met with Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Organising Committee’s President, Carlos Arthur Nuzman, the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro city, Eduardo Paes, and the governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Sergio Cabral. 

The Argentine Pope was in Brazil to attend World Youth Day and underline his outreach to the planet's youth.  

Despite the rainy and soggy weather about half a million turned up to hear his message at Copacabana Beach and to get a glimpse of the head of the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis follows a long line of Catholic leaders who have long recognized the power of sport. In particular, Polish Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla himself was an avid sportsman and used to sneak off to ski the Italian mountains. He was also a fan of hiking and kayaking and played soccer when he was younger.

Pope Francis has made an effort to be a part of the people in Brazil and visited a 'favela' slum to bring a message of hope and peace. Then he went on to visit a soccer stadium and greeted football superstar Pele then talked with some of the local coaches who are working with underprivileged youth to lead them into sport.  

The high profile visit of the Pontiff is a good security lesson for Brazilian organizers as the FIFA World Cup kicks off next summer. The Rio Games are only two years away as well.

Keywords · Rio 2016 · Olympics · Pope Francis · Vatican

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