Popes have long been tied to the world of soccer. From the longstanding Vatican City league and Clericus Cup to Pope John Paul II playing as a youngster in Poland and Pope Benedict XVI’s fervent support for German power Bayern Munich, the sport has been nearly as much a part of the papacy as white smoke and communion.
With Wednesday’s election of Argentine Jorge Bergoglio as the new pope, football came to the fore again.
See, Bergoglio is a longtime fan of Argentine side San Lorenzo of Argentina's Premier League. And not just a casual fan, as you can see by the picture below (via the team's official Twitter account).
"He says he lives in a permanent state of suffering for San Lorenzo," Oscar Lucchini, an architect and fellow fan who gave Bergoglio his club membership card four years ago, told Reuters.
The former archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio theoretically could have had his choice of good local clubs to follow, including more traditionally successful sides like Boca Juniors and River Plate.
In keeping with the Biblical tenet that “The meek…shall inherit the earth,” (Matthew 5:5), Bergoglio has embraced the struggles that come with supporting a side that finished 11th out of 20 in the Torneo Inicial, currently stands 12th in the league and last won a title in 2007.
Los Santos (the Saints)—ironically one of San Lorenzo’s nicknames—have won 14 first-division titles since their founding in 1908, but that’s just fifth among Argentine sides (behind River Plate, Boca Juniors, Independiente and Racing).
In fact, Los Santos have come dangerously close to relegation in recent years.
So, why San Lorenzo, Pope Francis I?