Sunderland get Papal approval ahead of derby
Pope Francis received one of his unlikeliest gifts since he was elected in March last Wednesday when the chaplain of struggling English Premier League club Sunderland gave him a team shirt.
The Argentinian pontiff -- who is a passionate supporter of Buenos Aires club San Lorenzo -- received the shirt with 'Papa Francesco' inscribed on the back when Sunderland chaplain Marc Lyden-Smith was part of a group of 60 or so pilgrims from the Sunderland area to attend the Papal audience in St Peter's Square in the Vatican.
It came just days before Sunday's North East derby with Newcastle United, a match in which the 'Black Cats' are in desperate need of a result as they have just one point from eight matches.
"We have 60 pilgrims from the North East in Rome at the moment visiting churches and shrines," Father Lyden-Smith was quoted as saying by the BBC.
"As part of the pilgrimage we took part in the papal audience on Wednesday morning.
"As chaplain, they asked if I could present him with a shirt that had his name on the back - Papa Francesco.
"It was a bit of a miracle really. There were 120,000 people gathered in the square. We managed to get tickets up at the front and the pope was guided towards us."