There are many Catholic churches and chapels in London, so the increased numbers of faithful seeking Mass, Confession or guidance from a priest during the Games, will have enough places to choose from. In addition to the normal round of daily Masses and devotions, though, several special events have also been planned by some of London’s Catholic churches.
The most high profile Catholic event will be a Mass for the Olympics, celebrated by the Archbishop of Westminster in his Cathedral tomorrow, Saturday 28 July, at 2.30pm. This Mass will be offered to ask God’s blessing on the international sporting event, and all are welcome to attend – there might even be the odd Olympic competitor in the congregation! Archbishop Vincent Nichols will be joined by members of the Catholic hierarchy from other nations, as well as the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Mennini. (Be warned, though, as traffic restrictions may make attending this event difficult for those travelling from outside London.)
The main Olympic site also straddles another East London Catholic parish, St Francis of Assisi, Stratford (Diocese of Brentwood). This church also hosted an Olympic-related service of prayer on Wednesday evening, during which a special Peace Icon was welcomed by the congregation. This icon will remain in St Francis' church until the end of the Games.
Both these 'Olympic parishes' will be very busy during the 2012 Games, providing hospitality and spiritual sustenance for athletes, visitors, tourists, and others. Much of the work of welcoming will be done by volunteers, many of them young people, who will be based in these two venues under the direction of the Joshua Camp.
Refreshments will also be offered every afternoon for the duration of the Games by the parishioners of Notre Dame de France, in their church just off Leicester Square. Those visiting London for the Modern Olympics will also find a special welcome at the very popular St Patrick’s in Soho Square.
The Holy Father went on to impart his blessing on the Games with these words: "I send greetings to the organizers, athletes and spectators alike, and I pray that, in the spirit of the Olympic Truce, the good will generated by this international sporting event may bear fruit, promoting Peace and Reconciliation throughout the world. Upon all those attending the London Olympic Games, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God."