German soccer fans receive the pope's blessing for their team

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The soccer shirt Pope Francis received following his General Audience was not that of Roman side Lazio, but rather from a distant club with a special connection to recent papacies. 

Around 40 supporters from 1860 Munich made their way to the Eternal City to enjoy the quote “nice” weather and be inspired by the pope, whose words especially impacted one of the most involved fans. 

1860 Munich fan

“I'm very impressed by him as a person, because I think even if he speaks to the whole group, it seems like he really speaks to any person. He's very close to people.”

Schneider's father served as president of 1860 Munich for two years beginning in 2011. Her mother participated in a private encounter with fellow German Benedict XVI during his papacy. Now, the Schneiders' daughter has made her second visit to see Pope Francis. 

The current Holy Father has also taken a special liking to the team and its fans, and supporter Volker Rech assures he knows at least one reason why.

1860 Munich fan

“He likes it because the colors are the same as the pope's. The pope comes from Argentina, so that's the reason. It's great.”

The club nicknamed “The Lions” won the Bundesliga in 1966, but haven't played in the first division since 2004. The team is currently in the fourth level in Germany. 

With an autographed jersey now in Pope Francis' hands, the group hopes his blessing will propel their club back into the top tier of German soccer.

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