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Peruvian national team coach Ricardo Gareca went to the Church of the Nazarenes in the capital and prayed for success at the World Cup before the Lord of Miracles, the most venerated religious image in Peru, the Archdiocese of Lima said.

"I have come to say goodbye to the Lord," the coach told the nuns who are the keepers of the image.

Gareca and his coaching staff went to the shrine on Tuesday, a few hours before the team departed for Austria, where Peru will wrap up its preparations for the World Cup in Russia.

Peru is playing in the World Cup after a 36-year absence.

Gareca visited the Church of the Nazarenes on Oct. 25, a few days before Peru beat New Zealand to qualify for the World Cup.

The Peruvian national team coach told a group of young people last April that he was "Roman Catholic and Apostolic by baptism and by conviction," the archdiocese said.

The image of the Lord of Miracles, according to tradition, was painted around 1651 by an Angolan slave on an adobe wall outside the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru.

When an earthquake destroyed much of the cities of Lima and Callao in 1655, the wall on which the image of Christ was painted was left standing.

As a result, residents began to view the image as capable of performing miracles.

The image was then copied in oil paints on canvas and annual processions began in the fall of each year.

During the rest of the year, the image is kept in the Cloister of the Nazarenes, whose nuns carefully preserve it.