Mount Corcovado is one of Rio de Janeiro’s must-see attractions. The views from the top take the breath away and provide a stunning backdrop for the obligatory photo.
Take a visit to the chapel that sits at the foot of the towering statue of Christ the Redeemer, and you will come across Father Omar Pouso, who takes mass there and blesses the faithful.
“I work right here on Christ the Redeemer, the VIP box of this wonderful city of Rio, the most beautiful place in the world,” said the cleric in conversation with FIFA’s cameraman, who had scaled the mount to find out more about this well-liked man of the cloth.
Mount Corcovado welcomes tourists all year round, but with the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ in town, its summit is busier than ever. Describing its appeal, the clergyman said: “It’s a multicultural meeting point where we come together with thousands of people, and just like the Redeemer, we Brazilians welcome them with open arms.”
The pilgrims visiting the site during the World Cup are a colourful bunch, sporting scarves, wigs and all manner of extravagant outfits, despite the heat.
Aside from taking photos to share with their followers on the social media, all of them come with the same idea in mind, as the smiling priest explained: “Observing other people’s faith is always very interesting. Everyone comes to pray to the Christ. They ask for blessings for their teams, and I’m pretty sure every side has been blessed already.”
A man of faith dedicated to the Word of God, Father Omar nevertheless wears other colours aside from his white cloak.
“It goes without saying that God, faith and religion are the passions of my life,” he said. “But I do have another passion in my heart, one that also moves me, and that’s football and my love for Brazil and Fluminense.”
When he finishes taking mass for the day and blessing his flock at his superbly located place of worship, Father Omar swaps his cassock for Flu’s tricolour jersey and does a little bit of exercise.
A keen footballer who slots in at right back, he discussed his playing style: “I’m a little tubby... I mean strong (laughs). That helps me to defend and I’m not easy to beat. I also hit the ball hard and I can dictate the game too.”
Given his day job, he also tends to exert a positive influence on the pitch: “Everyone knows I’m a priest, so they try not to swear and they don’t shout at me. And if I make a mistake, they always forgive me,” he added with a broad smile.
Addressing A Seleção’s World Cup campaign, the priest of Mount Corcovado is keeping the faith, trusting in the footballing wisdom of Luiz Felipe Scolari and Carlos Alberto Parreira and the natural balance and fighting qualities of the team.
And should the worst come to the worst and the host nation fail to lift the Trophy, Father Omar has another team to whom he can pledge his allegiance: “I’ll be supporting Argentina. They’re the pope’s side after all!”
Don’t miss the video that accompanies this article, featuring the inimitable Father Omar.