Vatican priests will be swapping their cassocks for cricket whites when they come to Brighton for a historic match.

Vatican-based St Peter’s Cricket Club will be playing their Brighton-based cricketing namesakes as part of a tour of England which will also see them challenge teams of royals, military chaplains and writers.

David Corney, chairman of the Preston Park-based St Peter’s Cricket Club, said the match next month will be the “most exciting event” in the club’s 131 year history.

Mr Corney said the match came about after he was shown a newspaper article about the newly formed Vatican XI which shared his team’s name and then contacted the club’s organiser.

The 41-year-old said: “I am not sure if this made a difference but at the end of the email I said that Brighton is the atheist capital of the UK and so it would be a good idea if they came and played us.

“I wasn’t expecting a response but they thanked me for the email and said they would consider it and two weeks later they said yes they would be up for it.”

The club expects hundreds of people to attend the match on Sunday, September 14 which will be free entry.

Sussex County Cricket Club has given its support by donating 500 seats, dug-outs and mascot Sid the Shark for the day.

Mr Corney said he was determined to make it a real event with a full PA system, barbeques and marquees set up.

Prior to the main event at 2.30pm, Catholic schools in the city will compete against each other while the Vatican XI will warm up by saying mass at St Mary’s Church in Surrenden Road and visit to the Royal Pavilion.

During their week-long tour, the Vatican XI will be playing against a Church of England Anglican XI at Canterbury, a team of authors and journalists at Ascott House in Buckinghamshire, the Chaplains of Armed Forces XI at Aldershot and the Royal Household in Windsor.

For more information on the visit or the Vatican XI’s own Facebook site vaticancricketclub.