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As World Cup football fever dies down, the Salesian News Agency has suggested that the sport needs a patron saint:

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.

Not to worry though, the Salesians have someone in mind, who else but the Salesian Society’s founder Saint John Bosco:

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.

The Salesians really maybe on to something though. As this bizarre story from the Guardian (via Heather Wax ) suggests, if you don’t give sports fans a patron saint, they’ll make their own:
Worship of cricket’s “little master”, Sachin Tendulkar, is set to cross a new boundary, as a luxury book publisher brings out a special edition of his autobiography made with the batsman’s blood.

Only for the most dedicated of fans, the “blood edition” of the Tendulkar Opus, which also includes unpublished family pictures and Tendulkar’s thoughts about his career, weighs 37kg, measures half a metre square and stretches to 852 pages edged in gold leaf, costing $75,000(£49,000). Out next February, only 10 copies are being printed and they have all already been pre-ordered.

“The signature page will be mixed with Sachin’s blood – mixed into the paper pulp so it’s a red resin. It is what it is – you will have Sachin’s blood on the page,” said publisher Kraken Media’s chief executive Karl Fowler. “It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s not to everyone’s taste and some may think it’s a bit weird. But the key thing here is that Sachin Tendulkar to millions of people is a religious icon. And we thought how, in a publishing form, can you get as close to your god as possible?”

If cricket fans don’t find a more suitable patron saint they may find that the “Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicket.”

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