Pope handed signed cricket bat after Archbishop of Canterburys team take on Vaticans XI

Pope handed signed cricket bat after Archbishop of Canterbury's team take on Vatican's XI

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Pope Francis has received an unusual gift aimed at boosting relations between the Catholic and Anglican churches: A cricket bat signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and his team following their recent rematch with the Vatican's XI on Rome's Campanelle grounds.

Australian Cardinal George Pell, a former rugby player who nevertheless knows cricket, gave Francis the bat Thursday after the St Peter's Cricket Club beat the Church of England's XI by 43 runs in a 20-over match this weekend.

Pope Francis presented with cricket bat from Archbishop of Canterbury cricket team by Cardinal George Pell

Pope Francis presented with cricket bat from Archbishop of Canterbury cricket team by Cardinal George Pell

Francis promptly signed it himself.

The Vatican team includes seminarians and priests studying at Rome's pontifical universities. They are 4-0 this season ahead of an April rematch with the Royal Household.

Australia's Vatican ambassador, John McCarthy, said the Anglicans' visit 'strengthened personal and institutional relations' between the two churches.

Pope Francis (L) added his signature to the cricket bat from the Archbishop of Canterbury team

Pope Francis (L) added his signature to the cricket bat from the Archbishop of Canterbury team

St Peter's Cricket Club beat the Church of England's XI by 43 runs in a 20-over match

St Peter's Cricket Club beat the Church of England's XI by 43 runs in a 20-over match

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