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Echte Liebe ("true love" or "real love") is the unofficial motto of the German soccer club Borussia Dortmund. It's what the players say they feel for their fans, and the fans love them right back.

In fact, to some people soccer is (like) a religion. It is rare, however, that the love of soccer and established religion clash. One of those rare cases is the story of nine-year-old Jens Pascal, whose dying wish was to have a soccer-themed grave.

Nine-year-old Jens Pascal was a huge fan of defending Bundesliga champion Borussia Dortmund. So passionate was his love for his favorite team that when he found out he was dying of a brain tumor, he told his mother that he wanted the Borussia logo on his gravestone.

His parents promised to fulfill his wish, but six month after Jens' passing, there is still only a provisional wooden marker on his grave. The reason: the Catholic congregation that owns the cemetery refused to approve the gravestone design that Jens' parents submitted.

He was supposed to have a granite stele with a soccer ball on top and emblazoned with the Borussia logo and the motto "True Love." The church council, however, denied the family's request. Congregation representatives decided that the design was unworthy of a Catholic cemetery, and any symbolic depictions should be Christian in nature.

Jens Pascal's parents, determined to grant their little guy's final request, went public, and the church was surprised by the ensuing storm of righteous indignation. A Facebook group in support of the grave formed and has to date more than 100,000 members. Catholic Borussia fans threatened to leave the church. The church council members realized that it was bad PR to deny the dying wish of a young boy and signaled that they were willing to compromise.

In the revised gravestone design, the soccer ball is replaced by a dove, the symbol of peace and the Holy Spirit. The "True Love" motto can stay, as well as the Borussia logo. The latter is only fitting since the team's coach and some of the players visited Jens in the hospital. The articles on the story do not mention whether and how often the priest came.

So six months after his burial, young Jens Pascal will finally get his gravestone. The question is, though, whether it will be noticed among all the soccer paraphernalia with which his friends have covered the grave.

Originally posted to MaikeH on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 10:55 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (13+ / 0-)

    261.A wealthy man can afford anything except a conscience. -Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

    by MaikeH on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 10:55:56 AM PST

  •  That is heartbreaking. Poor little Jens! (3+ / 0-)

    Sounds, however, like the "True Love" motto is well placed.

  •  Toll! Dass es der Familie endlich gelungen ist! (2+ / 0-)

    Vielen Dank, Maike!

    "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's CREATION." _ Jonathan Larson, RENT

    by BeninSC on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 06:49:08 PM PST

  •  Wir sind Borussia (Wir hassen Schalke und Bayern!) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, MaikeH, marsanges

    Yes, football is very big in the current Meisterstadt. Despite my login name, I've been in Dortmund since 2007. I liken Dortmund to Pittsburgh. Both are former mining towns that in the past decades have finally started to escape their past perception as "dirty, depressing coal towns" (the last mines were closed many years ago). For an industrial town, Dortmund (like Pittsburgh, I think, though correct me if I'm wrong) actually has a surprising amount of green (including a forest right in my backyard). Still a lot of unemployment here, but a deep and abiding passion for this place from all its inhabitants. Such devotion is always strongest in former mining towns, where community always played an essential role. What distinguishes Dortmund from other "fancy" towns is the lack of arrogance from the people in all aspects (except for Fussball, of course). We also have the largest Christmas tree in the world. Last year they wanted to put BVB ornaments all over it (since we had just won the German championship), but the city nixed that. Surprisingly, I didn't here about Jens's story before. Thanks for sharing it here. Glad that he got his last wish!

  •  true love (0+ / 0-)

    is between St Pauli and their fans.

    regarding the Borussia I´d be a lot more circumspect. I totally agree with ali-in-nyc

    What distinguishes Dortmund from other "fancy" towns is the lack of arrogance from the people in all aspects

    that is simply true. But for the fans of BVB I am not so sure. Traditionally they had quite a leaning towards hooliganism. That has made them a preferred target for Neonazi infiltration attempts (although I believe that that had only limited success, after all, Ruhrpott people have a deeprooted decency). Recently again, IIRC, there have been troubles with the so called Ultras. So im somewhat torn.

    About the closed mindedness of the catholics, yeah that is so . Catholics usually are better to have around when they are a small minority.

    Ha on that count too, I prefer St Pauli. Let catholics try being catholic up there, on the Reeperbahn :)

    •  I prefer St. Pauli myself (0+ / 0-)

      but the BVB team came through for Jens.

      261.A wealthy man can afford anything except a conscience. -Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

      by MaikeH on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 08:49:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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