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Real Madrid, Europe’s best soccer team, offers championship trophy to Virgin of Almudena

Europe's best soccer team, Real Madrid, is pictured with the Champions League trophy the team offered to Mary June 2, 2024, at the Spanish capital's St. Mary the Royal of the Almudena Cathedral. The team visited the cathedral a day after winning its 15th title. (OSV News photo/Josele Martin, courtesy Archdiocese of Madrid) EDITORS: BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE.

By Santiago Tedeschi

MADRID (OSV News) — The archbishop of Madrid received unusual guests June 2 as Europe’s best soccer team, Real Madrid, came to the Spanish capital’s St. Mary the Royal of the Almudena Cathedral to offer its championship trophy to Mary.

The players arrived at the cathedral right after returning from London, where they won the Champions League. Real Madrid sealed its 15th European Cup after a 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund June 1.

“Mary welcomes this cup and makes it a blessing for you, your families, for the people of Madrid and for all those who value the good sport that helps to make the world a better place,” Cardinal José Cobo of Madrid said.

In a cathedral packed with people, the cardinal stressed that the Catholic Church of Madrid “wants to congratulate you heartily for this cup and for what it means for you and for our city.”

The cardinal congratulated both the team’s players and coaches for their effort. “Sport is a means to express one’s talents, but also to build society,” he said.

“Sport, in fact, teaches us the value of fraternity. Because on the field, the origin, language or culture of a person doesn’t matter. What matters is the commitment and the common goal,” he added.

To all of the Real Madrid players, Cardinal Cobo said that “being champions is a privilege … but it is also a personal and social responsibility, as you can see.”

He said the church “places you with great affection under the mantle … of the Virgin of Almudena, patroness of Madrid that you carry in your hearts. She takes care and, as a good mother, intercedes for her children, believers and nonbelievers. Always from here she blesses and welcomes the prayers and hopes of all those who look to her and of those who search deeply for the profound meaning of life.”

The Almudena Cathedral, as it also is known, is a fairly young cathedral by Spanish standards, its construction began in 1883 and finished over a century later, when it was consecrated by St. John Paul II in 1993. The statue itself is much older, however. The Virgin of Almudena (Virgen de la Almudena) is a medieval statue, believed to have been brought from the Holy Land in the year 38 by St. James (Santiago), the apostle and brother of St. John.

“I don’t know which team Jesus, the son of Mary, the one she shows us in her arms, would belong to,” Cardinal Cobo said. “But surely Jesus also wants to be present and thank us for this cup. He helps us to recognize what is truly important in life.”

As the players and coaches presented their trophy in front of the famous statue of Our Lady, the cardinal stressed that they achieved that “great goal” through “discipline and commitment,” which he called a “crucial message of hope, especially for young people.”

At the end of his speech, Cardinal Cobo asked the whole team to continue playing “good soccer for everyone” under the protection of Mary. “Thank you for playing like this,” he said.

The biggest soccer stars of European football were present, dressed in their formal suits and visibly excited as the trophy was presented to the Virgin as well as when Cardinal Cobo held an official sports T-shirt acknowledging the team’s 15th Champions League title.

Santiago Tedeschi is a journalist of Alfa y Omega. OSV News contributed to this report.

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