Hundreds of runners – Italian Catholics, Israelis and Palestinians – participated on Sunday (25 April 2010) in the annual Bethlehem-Jerusalem Peace Run, aimed to promote pilgrimage as a bridge for peace.
The following day, hundreds of Italian pilgrims celebrated Mass on wooden sailing boats anchored in the Sea of Galilee and cycled alongside Israelis and Palestinians on the new Gospel Trail along the section from Migdal, the hometown of Mary Magdalena, to Capernaum, the base of Jesus’ ministry in the Galilee.

Sports pilgrimage as a bridge for peace

 

John Paul II peace marathon 2010 (Photo: Sasson Tiram)

(Israel Ministry of Tourism)

Hundreds of runners – Italian Catholics, Israelis and Palestinians – participated on Sunday (25 April 2010) in the annual Bethlehem-Jerusalem Peace Run, thereby opening the Pope John Paul II Games 2010, which are taking place for the seventh time. For the first time since the 2000 intifada, Israeli runners received permission to enter Bethlehem and join the other runners from the starting point. Nearly 1000 Italian Catholic made the pilgrimage to the Holy Land to participate in the sporting events. 

The Bethlehem-Jerusalem run was the first in a series of sporting events in memory of the late Pope John Paul II, designed to continue his legacy and promote pilgrimage and sports as a bridge to peace. The sporting events are a joint initiative led by the official Vatican pilgrimage organization Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, in cooperation with the Italian Olympic Committee, the Israel Ministry of Tourism and other relevant authorities.

On arrival at Rachel’s Crossing, hundreds of participants signed a joint proclamation calling for the faithful around the world to visit the Holy Land and work for peace and coexistence. After enjoying a symbolic women’s volleyball match with teams comprising two Italian, two Palestinian and two Israeli sportswomen, the runners continued the 12 kilometer route to Jerusalem’s Old City. 

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said: "The unique sporting events that took place in Jerusalem contribute to coexistence and constitute a fascinating encounter between Italian Catholics, Israelis and Palestinians which is designed to promote pilgrimage to the Holy Land, peace and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians."

The following day (26 April 2010), hundreds of Italian Catholic pilgrims celebrated Mass on wooden sailing boats anchored in the center of the Sea of Galilee.

Sports pilgrimage as a bridge for peace

Photo: Sasson Tiram

Prior to the Mass, the Italian pilgrims cycled alongside Israelis and Palestinians on the new Gospel Trail along the section from Migdal, the hometown of Mary Magdalena, to Capernaum, the base of Jesus’ ministry in the Galilee.

Sports pilgrimage as a bridge for peace

Photo: Sasson Tiram

On completion, the 70 kilometer modular Gospel Trail, which will be accessible by walking, cycling, driving and even sailing on the Sea of Galilee, will take pilgrims through the landscape and sites of Jesus’ ministry in the Galilee, with signs and explanations of all the major sites.

 

Holyland Pilgrimage – A bridge for peace
(Israel Ministry of Tourism)