While a petition worked its way around the Internet last month for Pope Francis to bless Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford’s knees, one local fan was hoping that the pontiff could help out the entire team.
“I’m not gonna say ‘divine intervention' — but it certainly can’t hurt!” said Arthur Manos.
The Folcroft native nailed a sign into the ground on Friday afternoon, one that he hoped would be visible to Francis on his trip to Center City from the airport.
“My intention was to be down there holding the sign, but with what’s going on that was completely out of the question,” Manos said.
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The sign, located next to a telephone pole at an on-ramp from the airport to I-95, states “God Bless Pope Francis! God Bless America! Pope Francis, Bless our E-A-G-L-E-S!”
“When I was mounting it, state troopers came up to me and said that as long as there’s nothing derogatory or wrong, it could stay up,” Manos said.
Manos noted that he came back to the site late Friday night before closures went into effect, and was tempted to move the sign because it’s a lesser-used ramp.
“I wasn’t sure they’d drive by that way,” said Manos. “It’s not a highly trafficked area. It used to be the only on-ramp to 95, but not anymore.”
Workers at stores nearby confirmed that Francis’ motorcade did in fact drive by the sign.
Manos, who says he’s Greek Orthodox but has been excited for the papal visit regardless, was inspired by his meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1979. He was driving near the Girard Point Bridge on I-95, when he approached the papal motorcade on the highway. Back then, the roads were never completely shut down.
Manos says he and a friend were waved ahead by a police officer, and while passing the motorcade, they saw Pope John Paul II in a limo, who blessed the two of them as they drove by at 35 MPH. Manos was hoping Pope Francis could help out the entire city with a blessing for Philadelphia’s football team.
“I put the sign right before the curve where they have to slow down, so he definitely saw it,” the diehard Eagles fan said. “I know soccer is his favorite sport, but I figured someone he’s with would be able to tell him who the team is and why they need help.”
Nevertheless, Manos still expects a victory from the Birds on Sunday.
“You know, honestly, I think they’ll win," he said. "I sure as hell hope they win.”