Even as his crows played in their new, unfamiliar stadium, Bergoglio's support for San Lorenzo never waned. He has stayed involved with the club as he climbed the church hierarchy, leading the club's centenary in 2008 and often trekking from his cathedral to the stadium to officiate religious ceremonies in the club's chapel. In 2011, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio took a public bus to the stadium to confirm two young players who now play professionally for San Lorenzo, remarking "I feel enormously happy about celebrating mass while seeing the stadium of San Lorenzo through the window." Having become a card carrying member of the club in 2008, Bergoglio has often been photographed holding a San Lorenzo jersey and, in his office as cardinal, supposedly hung a photo of San Lorenzo's first team alongside more conventional religious imagery.
A zealous champion for the poor, Francis I has also volunteered time in the new stadium's neighboring Villa 1-11-14. Most notably, as part of last year's Easter ceremonies, he travelled to the slum to wash the feet of 12 recovering paco addicts, a reference to Jesus's gesture to his disciples at the last supper meant to symbolize humility and service.
While the chants sung and brawls that occur hyper-frequently at San Lorenzo games seem hardly saintly, the club actually has roots in the Church, making it a fitting choice for a religious leader. The club is named for priest Lorenzo Massa, who, in 1908, convinced a group of boys who would play soccer amid traffic near his church to start attending mass on Sundays -- in exchange for use of the church's backyard.
Like most Argentine soccer fans, Francis I's allegiance derives more from family ties than ideology. Whatever his reasons for supporting the club, fellow San Lorenzo fanatics are thrilled that he does. In a letter to Pope Francis I after his election, San Lorenzo's president and vice president, Marcelo Tinelli, a famous Argentine television personality, wrote cheerfully: "Know that for us you are not just another Pope, nor the first ‘Argentine pope' or Latin American or the first Jesuit pope, you are ‘the Pope of San Lorenzo,' or in soccer-speak, our first ‘Crow Pope.'"