A closely-run cricket match at Arundel Castle Cricket Ground.

July 4, 2024

The two teams pose with the umpires, Bishop Richard and the Vatican team leader in a bright yellow jacket, in front of the pitch in Arundel. Parked cars and spectators can be seen on the far side of the smooth turf. Both teams are in shades of blue. There is one woman among the St Mary's players.

Arundel Castle Cricket Club played host to a markedly close game of cricket on Monday as part of the Vatican’s tenth "Light of Faith" tour (28 June to 5 July). The Duke of Norfolk welcomed both the Vatican and St Mary’s University, Twickenham, teams to the grounds of Arundel Castle, with the match closely followed by Bishop Richard, Chair of St Mary’s Board of Governors, and umpired by Professor Philip Booth, Director of Catholic Mission at St Mary’s, and Fr Raglan Hay-Will, Parish Priest of Haywards Heath & Burgess Hill and future Moderator of Lewes and Mayfield.

Reflecting on his role as umpire, Fr Rags said:

“Philip Booth attends Mass at my parish and secured me months ago – it’s like all these things, you say ‘yes’ and then, as the day approaches, you realise how little you perhaps know about the laws of cricket!
“The absolute highlight for me is simply being here. I played in the second 11 at school but also, more importantly, for Burpham & Warningcamp Cricket Club based two miles or so from here across the valley; playing there was lovely, and we had about 40 fixtures a year. That said, this has got to be the most beautiful ground in the country without exception.”

The “Light of Faith” initiative, as reported in the L’Osservatore Romano and Vatican News, has previously visited the UK, Portugal, Italy, Argentina, Kenya, Malta and Spain. It aims to “spread the message of friendship, unity and gospel hope” with the Vatican team acting as ambassadors for the Catholic priesthood by “bearing witness to the Christian faith among sports women and men”.

The Vatican team opened the batting, achieving 136 for 5, with St Mary’s ending the match just four runs short of victory with a total of 133 for 5. Speaking shortly after the event, Bishop Richard said:

“The Vatican team was formed to bear witness to the Christian faith among sports women and men and promote dialogue and friendship between the Catholic Church and parts of the world where cricket is popular. Enthusiasm for the game and the wider endeavour was certainly much in evidence during Monday’s closely fought match, with an enjoyable and enriching afternoon experienced by all.”