Zagreb, Croatia | In an item from the Italian news agency ANSA concerning an “upcoming European Champions cup for holy brethren,” we were surprised to learn that there is no patron saint for football. Given the Vatican’s known interest in the game (see Dec 2), one might have expected a designee. Players for the Italian side—a blend of priests and Capuchin friars—mention that they pray to Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travelers, to ward off injury. And should one ever have the need, a variety of soccer-playing Christopher medals are available for purchase.
Hosts Croatia won the first version of the Champions Clerum. The second edition opened yesterday with England, Romania, France, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal and Spain as additional competitors. The side from Spain are called “Os Chispas” (The sparks). “He is the Light and we are just sparkles,” says Fr. Luis Pérez, parish priest of Santiago de la Caldas and the coach of the Spanish team. Sensibly, Os Chispas petition the Lord for victory “if we are able and, above all, that we don’t injure ourselves, because on the next day we have Masses and parishes that we must take care of,” says Fr. Tomás.