National Spelling Bee Champ: When Nervous, ‘I Said a Prayer to God,’ Held ‘The Cross in My Hand’

Liam Sigler
By Liam Sigler | June 10, 2019 | 5:25 PM EDT

Christopher Serrao. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Thirteen-year-old Christopher Serrao, who shared a trophy and a $50,000 award with seven other contestants in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee, credited his victory to his faith and the “power of prayers.” He added that when the contest got tough and he was nervous, he prayed, held a cross in his hand, and even wore a rosary around his neck.

“When I was nervous, I said a prayer to God and would hold the cross in my hand,” Christopher told The Catholic Spirit, the newspaper of the Diocese of Metuchen, as reported by Crux.

“I also wore a rosary around my neck,” he said.

Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee winners, 2019.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Christopher is a resident of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, and a member of the town’s Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. He said he was inspired by his older sister to devote himself to studying lingual roots and vocabulary for hours upon hours each day, but that his Catholic faith was what ultimately pulled him through.

Serrao said that his pastor “told the congregation that I was in the contest and had everyone pray for me.”

Searrao added that his daily routine on competition days began with Mass at 8:00 a.m., which helped him to prepare for his spelling contests in a calm and spiritual state of mind.

“My win is a reaffirmation of the power of prayers,” said Serrao, as reported by Crux. “When the odds were against me, I knew faith in Jesus and prayers would help me overcome any obstacle.”

His father Dominic Serrao said, “We didn’t expect him to win, even though we knew he would place well. We truly believe that his feat was a miracle that can only be attributed to God. We believe with God all things are possible and this has reaffirmed our faith.”

Christopher’s mother, recollecting the many struggles her family has endured to see her son win a national championship, remarked, “Our faith carried us through. This win has strengthened our faith even more and that our God is the one that makes impossible things possible.”

This year's spelling bee was completed on May 30 in National Harbor, Md. 

h/t Crux

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