The Brazilian soccer club that was devastated by an airplane crash in the mountains of Colombia last year met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday.
Francis gave Chapecoense a special welcome in his remarks and posed for pictures with the team at the end of his weekly general audience.
When the team’s flight went down in Colombia in November, all but six of the 77 players, officials and journalists on board were killed.
Three players survived the crash and two of them, Jackson Follmann and Alan Ruschel, were among those at the Vatican.
“I feel it was a miracle for what happened in my life,” Ruschel said. “I am very happy to be able to be back and play at a high level, and now I am taking advantage of every minute that I am playing.”
Follmann had part of his right leg amputated from injuries in the crash.
“I asked him to bless my rosary as I will get married soon,” said Follmann, who was the team’s goalkeeper. “He gave the blessing and so this will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Chapecoense faces Roma in a charity match at the Stadio Olimpico on Friday to raise funds for the team.
The redesigned team is in 17th place in the 20-team Brazilian league standings.