Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Don Bosco, patron Saint of Soccer? Why not!

The following comes from the Salesian News Agency:

The journalist Albert Christian Sellner in the pages of the Austrian daily “Der Standard” has proposed Don Bosco as the patron of football and suggested to the Pope that he should promote this recognition.

In the weekend edition of 3-4 July, Sellner notes that many footballers pray and look up to heaven as they are playing and yet there is no official patron for the profession. In spite of the fact that FIFA had forbidden the use of religious symbols and gestures most of the players don’t seem to take any notice and openly express their religious faith. Maradona, for example, during the World Cup has been seen with some rosary beads as the matches are played.

In fact many professional and social settings have their holy protector; St Isidor of Seville is the patron of the Internet, St Clare of Assisi of the television, St Joseph of Copertino of space travel , the Archangel Gabriel of telecommunications. Although some sports have patrons such as St Sebastian for athletics, football still lacks its holy protector.

National Teams could turn to saints from their own country such as England and St George, France and St Joan of Arc, Italy and the meek St Francis of Assisi, Slovakia and St Martin.

And who could be the patron of football? The reply of Sellner, and others involved is unequivocal: Don Bosco. The reason? The characteristics of football: youth, friendship, artistic skill and celebration are all associated with Don Bosco.

In his article Sellner gives a short biographical sketch of the saint from Turin mentioning how he roamed the streets of the city looking for boys and a suitable place to gather them together, demonstrating all his own personal skills in games, artistry and creativity which helped him in his mission of education. “At his death over 200 thousand youngsters had enjoyed the benefits of his friendship”.

Sellner gets to the point. As John Paul II declared Don Bosco “Father and Teacher of Youth,” “Benedict XVI would have the chance of making a mark in the world of football by proclaiming Don Bosco patron of football.”

It was a Salesian who brought to the attention of the ANS Office the article in the Austrian daily with a liberal slant – Fr Bernahard Maier chaplain to the Austrian Olympic and Para-olympic squads. Sellner’s suggestion recognises the great contribution Don Bosco and his Salesians have made to games and sport as occasions for education and human development, emphasising their value in bringing people together over the competitive.

We hope to see further developments …

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