The First-Ever Hackathon in the Pope’s City

Hackathon in the Vatican

Over the decade, organizations have used hackathons to find code-enabled solutions for everything. It’s now hard to identify a field where a hack day hasn’t been utilized to solve one problem or another. A hackathon is a hacking marathon: a collaborative computer programming event in which a group works under a tight deadline to find software or programming approaches to real-world problems.


Today a group of budding entrepreneurs, developers, and technologists will make hackathon history by participating in the first-ever hackathon in the Vatican City – Vhacks. The hackathon begins today, 8th of March through to 11th March. VHacks is bringing together 120 students for a 36-hour hackathon aimed at finding technological solutions for three global issues the Catholic Church hopes to address: social inclusion, interfaith dialogue, and assistance for migrants and refugees.

Jakub Florkiewicz, co-chairman of VHacks and a student at Harvard Business School said “The Hackathon’s mission is to inspire young people around the world to collaborate across divisions and to use technology to address social issues. We think that technology could improve the scale and efficiency of those organizations which offer support and help to those in need.”

The seed of the idea sprouted last year when Jakub Florkiewicz, a student at Harvard Business School, met the Reverend Eric Salobir, founder of Optic, the first Vatican-affiliated think tank on technology and Monseigneur Lucio Ruiz from the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication. In the past couple of years, the Vatican has been in a period of transformation initiated by Pope Francis, in terms of using digital technologies and digital media. Salobir says. “This is the first hackathon at the Vatican, so it is very symbolic.”

In his tenure, Francis has embraced social media—he has 17 million Twitter followers and more than 5 million devotees on Instagram—and even spoke last year at TED, the conference famous for drawing flocks of thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and technologists.

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