.- A statue of the Child Jesus dressed in the Mexican soccer team’s World Cup uniform has become a magnet for non-practicing Catholics in the Mexico City. Increasingly large numbers of people are visiting the parish of St. Gabriel the Archangel, where the statue is located, in order to pray for the Mexican soccer team.
The statue of the Child Jesus stands near the main altar of the church, and before and after each Mass, dozens approach the statue to pray for the national team.
The “soccer player” Jesus, wearing tennis shoes and Mexico’s official World Cup uniform with the number 12 (each soccer team has 11 players on the field), sits on a throne. A soccer ball rests on his left foot. Parish volunteers said they would break the tradition of changing the statue’s attire each week and leave the Child Jesus dressed in the uniform.
Parish sacristan Pablo Sanchez said the tradition of dressing the statue in the soccer uniform began in 1994 at the suggestion of a parishioner. Then-pastor Father Jose Reyes saw the idea as a chance to attract non-practicing Catholics to return to the faith.