For the first time ever, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) invited representatives from Vatican City to have “observer roles” during meetings where the policies for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics were conferred. This delegation, headed by Monsignor Melchor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, will also be present for the opening ceremonies this upcoming Friday.
While Vatican City will not have any athletes representing it, there have been saints (and blessed) who would’ve undoubtedly jumped at the chance to either compete or accompany the athletes. Here are five of the saints we would’ve loved seeing at the Winter Olympics.
1. Saint Pope John Paul II – skiing
Beloved Saint Pope John Paul II was known to be quite the athlete. He had a swimming pool added to Castle Gandolfo when he was Pope and rooted for both Liverpool Football Club and Football Club Barcelona. When he was healthy, he was known to have snuck away from the Vatican at least 100 times (what a guy!) to hit the ski slopes. There’s even an annual skiing competition for priests in Poland appropriately named after him. Who wouldn’t have loved to have seen an enthusiastic JP II tearing up on the slopes?
2. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati – skiing
While Blessed Pier Giorgio is most known for his love of mountain climbing and hiking, he was also very fond of skiing. In fact, he even competed in 15-kilometer skiing competition before he went to receive his Heavenly reward at the age of 24. Former Winter Olympian (and devout Catholic) Rebecca Dussault is known to write his names at the tips of her own skis and has been a vocal supporter for the cause of his canonization. Ever the prankster, we can imagine Pier Giorgio pulling the occasional joke to ease the tension most athletes feel during a big competition such as the Olympics.
3. Saint Bernard of Montjoux – snowboarding
This French priest is known as the patron saint of skiers, snowboarders, and mountain travelers. During his lifetime, he started a patrol that kept robbers from mugging people in the mountainous Alps and helped travelers who would get trapped during heavy snowstorms. In fact, the breed of dogs commonly known as Saint Bernard was named after him for this very reason. One can imagine Bernard being one of the coaches for snowboarders and skiers, giving them tips on what dangers to look for as well as praying for their safety.
4. Saint Lydwina of Schiedam – ice skating
This Dutch saint was paralyzed following an ice-skating accident when she was just 16 years old. Having suffered from the complications of her broken ribs for the rest of her life, she relied greatly on her faith and her love of the Eucharist to endure it. One can imagine Lydwina being the perfect coach for figure skaters and speed skaters, ensuring that they had the tools necessary to be free from injuries while praying for them to have successful programs and competitions.
5. Saint Sebastian – any sport
What would a list of athletic saints be without the patron saint of all athletes? Think of a sport and Sebastian, known for his physical endurance, could’ve probably dominated it. As an athlete or a coach, his strength in both physical and spiritual matters would’ve been an invaluable addition to those who participated and witnessed the Olympics.
What others saints would you have loved to have seen at the Winter Olympics?