The Sunderland chaplain who presented a red and white striped shirt to Pope Francis said the pontiff was "delighted to keep it" and took the gift back to the papal apartments.
Father Marc Lyden-Smith said the Pope was aware of the Wearside club's struggles and told him: "They not do too well at the moment."
"I said no, no, Holy Father. They are bottom of the Premier League. We need you to pray."
"Very diplomatically, he said: 'I pray for all footballers that they reach their potential.'"
"I'd like to think that he'll be wearing [the Sunderland shirt] on Sunday afternoon," the chaplain added.
Winless Sunderland face fierce local rivals Newcastle United in Wear-Tyne derby this Sunday.
More top news
Spandau Ballet reunited on stage for the first time in five years as the band performed at the premiere of a film documenting their career.
From tomorrow, tax discs will no longer be needed to show drivers have paid their vehicle tax. Richard Pallot reports on the end of an era.
Cooler, fresher feel with a bit of a breeze forecast for Wednesday