The heavens must have backed Poland, the Archbishop of Krakow blogged on Saturday, revealing he prayed for their keeper Przemyslaw Tyton, who made a stunning penalty save in their opening 1-1 draw with Greece at Euro 2012.
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz is an active blogger and has commented extensively on Euro 2012. The 73-year-old is one of the most prominent Catholic figures in deeply devout Poland, and served as private secretary to Polish Pope John Paul II.
Cardinal Dziwisz recalled following Rome football clubs Lazio and AS Roma with Pope John Paul II during his time at the Vatican.
Co-hosts Poland would need “not only strength and valour but probably also divine Providence” in their next Group A game against Russia in Warsaw on Tuesday, the Cardinal wrote.
He had been unable to watch the match against Greece, he said, but was kept informed of events.
“The footballers put us through extremes of emotion... When I heard that Poland had scored a goal the joy was hard to describe... then came word that Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny had to leave the pitch,” he wrote.
Szczesny had been sent off for bringing down Greece substitute Dimitris Salpingidis in the penalty area 20 minutes from time with the score at 1-1.
“A moment later I was told Przemyslaw Tyton had taken his place. With all my heart my prayers were with him and I felt great relief when he saved a penalty kick.”
He also offered encouragement for Poland’s young team, who showed signs of nerves and inexperience against the Greeks.
“Fortunately, the heavens were backing our side and a tie seems to be a just result. Let’s remember that a tie is not a setback.”
Poland’s churches are offering foreign language masses for visitors and welcoming fans. Poland’s bishops have also appealed to the country to show Polish hospitality and good rivalry during matches.
Speaking later on Saturday on behalf of the Cardinal, Father Robert Neczek appealed for God not to be forgotten at the tournament.
“Both players and fans need God. Perhaps proof of that was at Friday’s match where Tyton made the Sign of the Cross and spent a moment in silent meditation before starting to play.”
“We don’t know whether the penalty kick he saved was thanks to God’s grace, but his behaviour showed that God is needed at great sporting events.”