Brazilian soccer team gives Pope personalized jersey

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 23, 2013 / 02:09 pm (CNA).- After arriving last night by helicopter at Laranjeiras Stadium, the home of the Fluminense Soccer Club, Pope Francis received a personalized jersey and blessed the famous Brazilian soccer team.

The Pope, in Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day and on his way to Guanabara Palace yesterday to meet with President Dilma Rousseff, received the jersey from team vice president Alexey Dantas. A smiling Francis thanked him in Spanish for the gift.

“It’s a great thrill and an honor to greet the Pope here at the home of the Fluminense.  Now more than ever this ground is sacred and blessed,” Dantas said.

Fluminense fans are known for chanting the song “À Benção João de Deus,” or “A Blessing, John of God,” written when Pope John Paul II visited Brazil in 1980. The song has become a trademark for the team during winning games.

World Youth Day will take place in Rio from July 23 – 28, during which Pope Francis will be staying in a modest residency, visiting a slum and traveling without his popemobile.

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