Football-loving Pope Francis had
representatives of his favourite team, Buenos Aires-based San
Lorenzo, attend his weekly audience on Wednesday.
Breaking from Italian to speak in his native Spanish, the pope publicly thanked them for having come to Rome, along with other pilgrims from Spain, Argentina, Mexico and other Hispanic countries.
Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio and formerly the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, is described on San Lorenzo's website as "an ardent supporter" and a card-carrying member of the club.
San Lorenzo also published a letter to the club's president in which the pope imparts his Apostolic blessing on to the team, and reminisces about his early days as a fan.
"When I was 10, I followed the glorious season of 1946: what a goal by Pontoni!" Francis wrote, referring to the year San Lorenzo won the Argentinian football league.
"Be assured that I won't forget you. And as well as your passion for football, I ask you to cultivate your friendship with Jesus, a true friend who will always be with you, in happy times as well as in times of difficulties," the pope said.
On Easter Sunday, the pontiff was given a San Lorenzo jersey from a group of Argentinian faithful as he toured Saint Peter's Square.
San Lorenzo is currently ranked 10th in the Argentinian 20-team top football league.
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