By Sylvia Defendi
Eleven Italian athletes will bring a message of peace to the youth of Australian in a most unconventional way in the led up to World Youth Day in Sydney.
A peace torch ignited by the Holy Father in Italy will be run from Melbourne to Sydney from July 6 to 14 this year.
The ‘Fiaccola della Pace,’ as it is known in Italian was an initiative
of the 60,000 youth who make an annual pilgrimage from a small Italian
town to Loretto each year.
Supported by the Office of Migrants and the National Youth Association in Italy the torch began its journey to Loretto in 1997.
It was accepted by then Pope John Paul II in 2000, and has since been lit by the Pope before embarking on a journey.
Wanting to unite their operation with the youth of the world, the peace
torch was present at WYDs in Rome, Toronto and Cologne, and will soon
add Sydney to the list.
A festival in Melbourne will welcome the beginning of the journey,
which will see eleven athletes running for approximately an hour each
From Melbourne the peace torch will make its way to Morwell (155km),
followed by Bairnsdale (134km) on the second day, Orbost (90km) on the
third day, Genoa (143km) on the fourth day, Bega (115km) on the fifth
day, Batemans Bay (147km) on the sixth day, Canberra (30km) on the
seventh day, Unanderra (192km) on the eighth day and will arrive in
Sydney (82km) on the ninth day.
Runners are joined by a further 19 others, which make up the rest of
the traveling group and look after media coverage, medical needs and
Indeed, each parish or community which is visited along the way is invited to join the team for festivities.
Any locals who are interested in running the peach torch are also welcomed to join in the initiative.
Each day of the journey begins with the blessing of the torch at 6am
and then departs with one of the runners followed closely by the rest
of the team until it arrives at destination at around 5pm that day.
When the torch arrives at its final destination in Sydney it will mark the beginning of an Italian festival for all WYD youth.
At this festival a statue of Our Lady of Loretto and a Cross of St
Damian will be given to Cardinal George Pell and to the youth of
“Approximatley 10 million youth will come from Italy for WYD and we are
looking forward to uniting them with the Italian youth of Sydney and
all the other youth of the world under the common desire for peace,”
organiser Paulo Cesanelli said.