A pair of large vases bearing soccer balls stands at the entrance to Mexico‘s first Maradonian church, a tribute to Diego Maradona, where an image of the Argentine soccer star wearing a charro hat welcomes worshippers.
Inside the church, the Catholic Stations of the Cross are recreated with photos of Maradona from his childhood to emblematic meetings with the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Pope Francis.
The church in the city of Puebla, which opened on July 7, 2021, celebrates the “religion” created in Argentina in 1998 by admirers of the late soccer player.
The Maradonian religion has spread to several countries around the world and has more than half a million followers.
“My Mom and Dad, who are Catholics, say it’s crazy,” said Andrea Hernández, a 22-year-old soccer player, during a visit to the Maradonian church adorned with posters of Maradona, who played for clubs in Spain and Italy.
“But for us, those of us who like soccer, it is very nice that Maradona can have such recognition in Mexico.”
Maradona, who died in November 2020 shortly after celebrating his 60th birthday, achieved soccer glory after winning the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, which crowned him one of the best players of all time.
Marcelo Buchet, who opened the church, said it was a place “where we can talk about soccer.”
“It is not like going to another church, sitting down and listening,” said Buchet.
“Here you are part of everything. People have accepted this and they are very happy. I have seen people cry, people throw themselves at his picture, pray. I feel much better that I’m not the only crazy one.”