The Rundown

13 of the world’s sporting icons meet the Pope

The Rundown

We are wondering how long it will take for the newly installed Pope Francis from Argentina to meet his compatriot and the world's greatest footballer Lionel Messi. It would certainly make for an image for the ages. A bit like some of these captured during the papacies of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict when 'il Papa' greeted some of the most celebrated sportsmen in the world.

1. Pope John Paul II and former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali sign autographs for each other at the end of their meeting at the Vatican, June 5, 1982.

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2. Tennis player Roger Federer (R) of Switzerland is greeted by Pope Benedict XVI at the weekly general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican May 10, 2006.

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3. Ferrari's team manager Jean Todt, Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, Luca Badoer, German Michael Schumacher and Piero Lardi Ferrari show a Ferrari 1:5 scale model as they meet Pope John Paul II in Clementine Hall at the Vatican January 17, 2005.

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4. Members of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team pose with Pope John Paul II, history's most travelled Pontiff, at the end of his weekly general audience November 29, 2000. The Pope was presented with a Globetrotter jersey and made an honorary Harlem Globetrotter.

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5. Inter Milan team captain Javier Zanetti of Argentina presents an Inter Milan jersey to Pope Benedict XVI after a meeting at San Siro stadium in Milan June 2, 2012. The Pope was in Milan for the 2012 World Family Meeting.

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6. Brazilian legend Pele kisses the hand of Pope Benedict during their meeting in Cologne, Germany August 20, 2005.

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7. Brazilian soccer star Pele with Pope John Paul II during their meeting at the Vatican on March 18, 1978. Pele led Brazil to three World Cup titles as a player in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

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8. The Pope speaks with Springboks team manager Morne du Plessis as South African's rugby world champions attend the weekly audience at the Vatican on November 9, 1995.

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9. Pope John Paul II poses with England's World Cup winning rugby team members during his weekly Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican October 27, 2004.

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10. World Cup winner Ronaldo shake hands with the Pope during his private audience at the Vatican May 11. Ronaldo was accompanied by his mother Sonia and presented his Inter Milan shirt and a yellow and green Brazil shirt to the Pope.

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11. Franz Beckenbauer gives a pennant to Pope Benedict XVI after his general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican October 26, 2005.

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12. Spain's Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain offers to Pope John Paul II yellow and pink jerseys and a bicycle as the Pontiff arrives for his weekly general audience at Vatican, October 28. At centre is Miguel's fiancee Marisa.

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13. Pope Benedict XVI is greeted by Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini, president Massimo Moratti, captain Javier Zanetti and Luis Figo after a weekly general audience at the Vatican May 7, 2008.

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