When card-carrying San Lorenzo supporter Jorge Bergoglio became Pope Francis last year, his beloved club were in the midst of a six-year trophy drought. "He says he lives in a constant state of suffering for San Lorenzo," said the man who gave him his membership card five years ago. But since becoming the pope, that suffering has been replaced by unprecedented success for his beloved club.
In December 2013, San Lorenzo were crowned champions of Argentina for the 15th time in the club's storied history, but the first time since 2007. Upon claiming the title, the team promptly traveled to Vatican City for an audience with their holiest fan. And now, after beating Paraguay's Nacional by an aggregate score of 2-1 in the Copa Libertadores final, San Lorenzo are champions of South America for the first time ever.
This title has been a long time coming for San Lorenzo. They were the first Argentine club to enter the competition in 1960 and the last of the country's big clubs to win it.
Whether you want to call it divine intervention or simply having friends in high places, San Lorenzo have made the most of their connection with the papacy right from the start. Days after the first ever South American pope was named, the club played a match with his image emblazoned on their kit. Naturally, they won 1-0 on an own goal.
Fans attend matches dressed as Pope Francis, halos have started appearing above the club's crest, and a wooden statue of the leader of the Catholic church stood outside the stadium for the second leg of the Libertadores final.
With this first Copa Libertadores title comes the club's first qualification for the Club World Cup later this year, where they could meet Real Madrid in the final. At this rate, betting against San Lorenzo seems unwise. And it might be a mortal sin.
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