Marking 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth, St Peter's Cricket Club to play royal team

(Photo: Holy See)Pope Francis poses with St. Peter's Cricket team at the Vatican before the players left for a tour of England on September 12 at which the highlight will be a match against the Archbishop of Canterbury's XI in a Catholic-Anglican match in aid of a joint anti human trafficking charity.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her 90th birthday April 21 and the Royal Household of Windsor Cricket team is arriving in Rome on the same day for a match with the Vatican XI, St. Peter's Cricket Club, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Queen Elizabeth is a person of deep faith who is the titular head of the Church of England, so the Anglican-Catholic encounter has ecumenical significance.

On St. George's Day, April 23 the two teams will play each other in a T20 match at the Capannelle Cricket Ground, starting at 10.30 a.m.

This will be no drawn out five-day encounter pitting wit against wit that cricket is sometimes known for, which may apear genteel but is fiercely competitive and athletic.

T20 is limited to 20 overs for each side and is fast and furious, drawing massive crowds in cricketing nations such as India and Australia.

On April 24, Australian Cardinal George Pell will preside at Sunday Holy Mass at the Venerable English College to which the Royal Household team have been invited, prior to their return to England.

When India hosts a cricket international match at Eden Gardens in Kolkata and Australia does the same at the Melbourne Cricket Ground the grounds can draw more than 100,000 spectators.

But at the Vatican cricket encounter a more genteel-sized crows is expected.

In September 2014 St. Peter's Cricket Club was invited to play the Royal Household at Windsor Castle during the Vatican team's first foreign tour.

The players were invited to attend Evensong in the Church of England's St. George's Chapel, Windsor, during which prayers were offered for Pope Francis and his ministry.

During their visit to Rome, the Royal Household team will visit St. Peter's Basilica on April 22, followed by a tour of the Vatican Museums.

Solemn Vespers, a solemn evening prayer service, for both teams will be held at the International Pontifical College 'Mater Ecclesiae' at 7 p.m., with prayers offered for Queen Elizabeth.

The British Ambassador to the Holy See, Nigel Baker, will attend both Vespers and a dinner during which St. Peter's cricket team will present a gift for the Queen.

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