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soccer team prayer

Rorandelli Rocco for The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal ran a nice feature  this weekend on the Clericus Cup, ”a [soccer] tournament that pits squads from 16 seminaries against each other in a battle for [Rome’s] Catholic sports bragging rights—with the utmost humility, of course.”

The North American Martyrs—-the team of American seminarians and priests from the Pontifical North American College—-are the defending champions. Seminary rector Monsignor James Checchio explains that the squad took that name back in the 1980s because “we lost every game. But now, we’re winners, as the martyrs are.”

I suspect, though the Journal article doesn’t mention this, that the team name is also intended to recall the group of saints collectively known as the North American Martyrs (the most famous of whom is St. Isaac Jogues). From Fordham University’s capsule explanation :

The North American Martyrs were eight Jesuit missionaries commissioned to work among the Huron Native Americans during the mid-17th century.

By the late 1640’s, these brave missionaries were making progress in their labors with the Huron and they were said to have made thousands of converts during this time. Nevertheless, within Huron communities, these men of faith were not universally trusted . . . .

Between the years of 1642 and 1649, eight members of the Society of Jesus were killed in North America, after extreme torture by members of the Huron and Iroquois tribes.

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