Vatican Ambassador to Israel Monsignor Pietro Sambi thanked the runners for their “small, but meaningful gesture” and for “aspiring together for peace.” He called the peace marathon “an example to the entire Middle East.”

 Bethlehem-Jerusalem peace marathon honors John Paul II 

 

Photo: Sasson Tiram

(Communicated by the Tourism Ministry Spokesman)

Competitors from Italy, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority took part Thursday (14 April) in the second annual Peace Marathon, this year dedicated to the memory of Pope John Paul II. The international event was the first of its kind to commemorate John Paul II.

Vatican Ambassador to Israel Monsignor Pietro Sambi thanked the runners for their “small, but meaningful gesture” and for “aspiring together for peace.” He called the peace marathon “an example to the entire Middle East.” The run follows the late pope’s call to Christians to visit the Holy Land.

Approximately 40 Italian and 20 Palestinian runners began the race at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity. Just outside the city, Palestinian participant George Michel of Bethlehem passed the marathon torch to Israeli Faloro Eyal, who was among the 35 Jewish and Arab Israeli competitors who joined the run at Rosemarine Junction. Israeli schoolchildren showered the marathoners (Italian volleyball champs Andrea Zorzi and Roberto Masciarelli among them) with flowers. Yellow, white, and blue balloons were released into the air. Tourism Minister Avraham Hirchson, Italian government Minister Mario Baccini, and Peace Marathon initiator Monsignor Lieberio Andreatta greeted the runners.

Chanting “Shalom, Salaam, Pace” (peace in Hebrew, Arabic, and Italian), runners ran via Jerusalem’s Hebron Road along the Old City walls, finishing at the Franciscan Ad Cenaculum Church. During the closing ceremony, Tourism Ministry Deputy Director-General Rafi Ben-Hur and Monsignor Pietro Sambi lauded the runners for their contribution to Middle East peace, awarding them with certificates and medallions specially minted for the occasion. In a moving speech, Monsignor Andreatta expressed hope that next year’s marathon would be even more successful.

 Bethlehem-Jerusalem peace marathon honors John Paul II 

Peace Marathon organizer Monsignor Liberio Andreatta runs into
Jerusalem’s Old City with marathoner
Photo: Sasson Tiram