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Pope St. Pius X helped arrange 1908 London Olympics, author recalls

Catholic World News - July 27, 2012

On the eve of the 2012 London Olympics, an Italian historian has recalled the involvement of Pope Pius X in helping to arrange the 1908 Olympics in London.

St. Pius X was an advocate of sports at a time when few people participated in any sort of organized sports, Antonella Stelitano told Vatican Radio. The author of Pio X e lo Sport said that in the early 20th century, sports were seen as “only a form of military training or as a pastime for the upper classes.” St. Pius X, who came from humble origins, took a different view, encouraging sports as a means of training young people in important virtues. Stelitano said that the Pontiff saw sports as a way “to bring people together simple, without any problems of race, religion, or different political ideas.”

Rome had originally been the intended site of the 1908 Olympics, but an economic crisis forced the organizers to reconsider. When sponsors sought support from Pope Pius X for an effort to move the games to London, he happily obliged.

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