The Brazilian soccer team Corinthians received a special blessing from a local priest before traveling to Japan for the 2012 Club World Cup that will take place Dec. 6-16.
The players spent a few moments in silence and listened to an exhortation from Father Marcelo Rossi before praying an Our Father and a Hail Mary.
They met for prayer at the Corinthians Ecumenical Church, where they also gathered last July with Fr. Rossi to pray after their victory over Boca Juniors of Argentina in the Libertadores Cup. The team's coach, Adenor Leonardo Bacchi, who is Catholic, thanked Our Lady of Aparecida, the patroness of Brazil, for the title.
Bacchi was photographed kneeling in a prayer of thanksgiving before a small statue of Our Lady of Aparecida kept on a make-shift altar.
He attends Fr. Rossi's Mass each week and invited the priest to give the team a blessing for their trip to Japan.
Fr. Rossi recently inaugurated the massive Mother of God Shrine in the Diocese of Santo Amaro south of Sao Paulo. Between the shrine and the square outside, it can hold nearly 100,000.