Seminary student, bishop from Kansas City present Chiefs jersey to Pope Francis at Vatican

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs will need to make plays to win the AFC Championship this weekend.

A few prayers couldn't hurt either. And Chiefs Kingdom may have a secret weapon stationed at the Vatican in Rome.

Paul Sappington, a native of Peculiar, made his family in the metro proud, after taking part in a Chiefs-themed meeting with Pope Francis this week.

The 27-year-old is studying to be a Catholic priest in Rome, Italy. On Thursday, his loved ones were thrilled to receive photos of Paul meeting with the Holy Father.

He, along with a contingent of Catholic leaders from Kansas City, presented the pope with an autographed jersey from Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Mark and Elizabeth Sappington are two of Paul's five siblings, and Mark works at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Kansas City's Midtown area. Paul, who graduated from Rockhurst University, is a former electrical engineer and now a seminarian at Pontifical North American College in Vatican City.

"What a gift to meet the Pope and to present him with a Pat Mahomes jersey!" Mark exclaimed Friday.

Paul was present at the Vatican when 15 American bishops, including Bishop James Johnston from the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, got an audience with Pope Francis on Thursday. The Sappingtons said they first saw the photos on Twitter.

"We will take the Pope's prayers. We hope he is now a Kansas City Chiefs fan by giving him that jersey, and we know Patrick Mahomes has expressed his faith and gives the glory to God," Elizabeth said.

"You want to bring your best, and it's Pat Mahomes," Mark said. "What a joy!"

Knowing Chiefs Kingdom is represented in the Holy City while a Super Bowl berth is on the horizon for Kansas City is a rich reward. If the Chiefs defeat Tennessee on Sunday at Arrowhead, they'll advance to the franchise's first Super Bowl in 50 years.

"The pope has personal preferences. It's not like once he becomes the pope, and all of a sudden he doesn't," Mark explained. "He's the Chief of the church, right? He's the Royal Pontiff, so why not?"

Paul is midway through a 5-year stretch of study in Vatican City. His siblings said they have faith that his gesture can bring blessings to the Chiefs this weekend. It's not uncommon for the pope to receive sports jerseys as gifts. There's no official word as to what becomes of them afterwards.

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