Pope Francis welcomed Celtic at the Vatican today, acknowledging the club’s historic commitment to fighting poverty and its valued legacy in the community.

Brendan Rodgers presented the Pope with a Celtic shirt signed by the team members.

He was also given a Celtic cross, symbolising the club’s connection between Scotland and Ireland, Peter Lawwell said as he gave the head of the Catholic Church the plaque.

The meeting was notable not only for the presence of the players but also for the attendance of Celtic’s board members, including Dermot Desmond, who made a rare appearance for this special occasion.

Pope Francis, in his address, emphasised the importance of self-giving and teamwork in sports, saying: “The most beautiful element of sport is self-giving, the beauty of playing together. Please never lose that amature dimension of sport.”

He then blessed those in attendance: “I pray that you will continue to remember and bear witness to everything that makes sport genuinely good and noble. May Almighty God bless each of you and your families. I wish you a safe journey home to Scotland.”

Celtic stayed overnight in Rome after their match against Lazio so that they could attend this special meeting with the Pope.

The match against Lazio wasn’t to be, with the Hoops losing 2-0 and subsequently crashing out of Europe.


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