"We do not come to celebrate death, we come to celebrate life, the life that Diego gave us," Rev. Adrian Guedes, a priest who was close to Diego Maradona said in a church in Buenos Aires where the family members of Maradona gathered to commemorate his first death anniversary.
"He is here, we believe our loved ones resurrect, they do not die, he lives on in every action and every good deed that he did, and the bad actions as they talk about everywhere, may God forgive them," Guedes said.
Maradona was born in an impoverished neighborhood outside of Buenos Aires and died of heart failure on November 25, 2020, at the age of 60. He was an icon to many in Argentina and across the world, including Naples, Italy, where a Maradona monument was inaugurated on Thursday.
However, his personal life was marred by controversy, including drug and alcohol binges. He has been accused of raping a Cuban lady with whom he had relationships when she was sixteen and he was forty.
Last year, the hero, widely regarded as one of the greatest soccer players of all time, was laid to rest in Argentina. His family, however, said on Thursday that they had ordered the creation of a tomb for his supporters to "go on pilgrimage."
It would be "an eternal resting place where he may be visited and receive the respect and affection from the millions of people who express it every day," according to a post on Maradona's now-managed Instagram account.
Following the Mass, his sister Ana Maria Maradona stated that the previous year had been "very sad." When asked how she remembered her brother today, she said, "With lots of love."
Maradona, who was sometimes likened to Brazilian great Pelé, achieved an unprecedented amount of adulation despite - or perhaps because of - his troubles. He has been memorialized in paintings, monuments, and tattoos inscribed into the skin of fans.
"The love for Diego has accompanied me since I was little, since childhood," said Gustavo Emanuel Parisi, 35, an artist who paints murals of Maradona in "respect and thanks to him."
Mynor de Leon, 39, a Maradona admirer from Guatemala, had traveled to Buenos Aires to mark a melancholy occasion: his birthday and the anniversary of his hero's death.
"Today is my birthday. One year ago, it was one, if not the saddest day in my life," de Leon said to Reuters during a visit to a shrine at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium of Argentinos Juniors, the team where the star initially rose to prominence.