Queen's, Pope's cricket teams to meet at Windsor

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Queen's, Pope's cricket teams to meet at Windsor
Seminarians play cricket on October 22, 2013 at the Vatican.The Vatican launched its own cricket club with the yellow-and-white colours of its flag and the coat of arms of St Peter's as its symbol and challenged the Church of England to a match. Tea and cucumber sanwiches were served up at the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture, as the new board explained that priests and seminarians -- and eventually nuns -- will have a new outlet for their sporting passions. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 03: (NO UK SALES FOR 28 DAYS FROM CREATE DATE) Queen Elizabeth ll exchanges gifts with Pope Francis at The Vatican on April 03, 2014 in Vatican City, Italy. (Photo by Pool/ Anwar Hussein/WireImage)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 03: Queen Elizabeth ll smiles as she exchanges gifts with Pope Francis at The Vatican on April 03, 2014 in Vatican City, Italy. (Photo by Pool/ Anwar Hussein/WireImage)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 03: (NO UK SALES FOR 28 DAYS FROM CREATE DATE) Queen Elizabeth ll meets Pope Francis at The Vatican on April 03, 2014 in Vatican City, Italy. (Photo by Pool/ Anwar Hussein/WireImage)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 03: His Holiness, Pope Francis, leaves after hosting an audience with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in the Pope's study during their one-day visit to Rome on April 3, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. During their brief visit The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will have lunch with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican. The Queen was originally due to travel to Rome in April 2013 but the visit was postponed due to her ill health. The audience with Pope Francis will be the fifth meeting The Queen, who is head of the Church of the England, has held with a Pope in the Vatican. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II waves goodbye through an airplane's window at Ciampino airport, near Rome, after an official visit on April 3, 2014 with the Pope. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II flew to Rome to meet Pope Francis for the first time on a visit that is also the 87-year-old monarch's first foreign trip since 2011. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
Seminarians rest after playing cricket on October 22, 2013 at the Vatican.The Vatican launched its own cricket club with the yellow-and-white colours of its flag and the coat of arms of St Peter's as its symbol and challenged the Church of England to a match. Tea and cucumber sanwiches were served up at the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture, as the new board explained that priests and seminarians -- and eventually nuns -- will have a new outlet for their sporting passions. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
Seminarians play cricket on October 22, 2013 at the Vatican.The Vatican launched its own cricket club with the yellow-and-white colours of its flag and the coat of arms of St Peter's as its symbol and challenged the Church of England to a match. Tea and cucumber sanwiches were served up at the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture, as the new board explained that priests and seminarians -- and eventually nuns -- will have a new outlet for their sporting passions. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
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By Philip Pullella

(Reuters) - Cricket teams representing Queen Elizabeth and Pope Francis will face each other at Windsor Castle, the Vatican said on Monday, stamping its unprecedented venture into a sport rooted in Anglicanism with the royal seal of approval.

The September 17 fixture will pit the Vatican XI against a side of Britain's royal household made up of soldiers, guards and staff. Two days later the Holy See's representatives will play a Church of England team in Canterbury.

It was not clear if the Queen, who visited Pope Francis in April, will attend at Windsor.

"I think Her Majesty and Windsor Castle itself would see this as a golden opportunity for goodwill," said Anglican Archbishop David Moxon, the representative in Rome of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who heads the 80-million-strong worldwide Anglican communion.

The Canterbury match - intended to promote sport as a vehicle for inter-religious dialogue - will be the first top-level sporting event between the two churches that split nearly 500 years ago when England's King Henry VIII broke with Rome.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will attend the 20-overs-per-side charity event - the shortest form of the game and lasting about three hours.

The Vatican formed the St. Peter's Cricket Club, a league composed of teams of priests and seminarians, last October and then challenged the Anglicans.

The Rome-based team will field only one Englishman, Father Tony Currer, a right-handed batsman who is the captain. In keeping with cricket's strong colonial-era heritage, the other players are Catholic seminarians or priests from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka who are studying or working in Rome.

The idea for a Catholic cricket club was the brainchild of John McCarthy, ambassador to the Vatican from Australia - England's oldest and greatest cricket rival.

Whether Pope Francis has since familiarized himself with the sport was unclear.

But he would doubtless appreciate its emphasis on fair play, and his homeland Argentina - whose cricket association celebrated its centenary last year - boasts one of the stronger international teams outside the former British colonies.

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