Nine-year old Dortmund fan Jens Pascal (above with Dortmund manager Juergen Klopp last year) had one dying wish as a malignant brain tumor threatened to end his young life much too soon: To have the crest of his beloved team on his gravestone when he eventually succumbed to his illness. After Jens passed away in May, his parents planned to fulfill his wish. The local Catholic church objected, however, stating that non-Christian inscriptions and images are forbidden. It took a Facebook group with 100,000 angry messages to convince the church to finally relent.
Warning: This story is heartbreaking.
Shortly before his death, Jens Pascal had told his mother he wanted a gravestone that reflected his passion – the club which won Germany’s Bundesliga just days before he died in May.
“Mummy, when I die, I would like a gravestone with the club logo,” Pascal’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, told Bild daily.
But the Church of Maria Heimsuchung in Dortmund refused to erect a stone engraved with the club’s logo and a soccer ball on top, arguing that it did not conform to rules which ban non-Christian inscriptions and images.
Dortmund fans and others took to Facebook, the prevailing outlet for social disgust in the modern world, and let the church have it.
“It is outrageous,” read one. “I ask the Church not to be led by regulations, show us your heart!” said another.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of Bayern, Gladbach or wherever. In this case we stand together and will only stop when this child’s last wish is granted!” said another.
Eventually, the church backed down, deciding that a soccer ball and Dortmund logo could be placed on the ground next to the gravestone. It’s not exactly what Jens wanted, but it’s a compromise his parents have seemed to accept.
“It was never the intention of the church to stand in the way of the little boy’s last wish,” it said. “It was about reconciling the interests of the Church community, the cemetery rules and the interests of the parents of the child who died.”
The top entry on the Jens Pascal Facebook page thanked the 140,792 people who had helped the boy get what he wanted. “Now he will get his stone, even if it is a bit different than planned, he will get it and can at last rest in peace.”
Rest in peace young Jens.