Imagine being on the same flight as Pope Francis (we’d feel pretty safe, all considered). Then imagine striking up a conversation with him and having him offer to officiate a second wedding for you!
Pope Francis’ mid-air wedding offer
In 2018, Paola Podest Ruiz, age 41, and groom Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriaga, age 39 were working as flight attendants on a flight from Santiago to Iquique, Chile. The couple had already been legally married in a civil ceremony in early 2010, but they had planned to follow it up with a church ceremony.
However, on February 27, an enormous earthquake hit the country – it measured 8.8 on the Richter scale and caused a massive tsunami that further damaged coastal areas. 525 people lost their lives, and it was clearly no time for a wedding. But the couple always regretted not being married in the church.
Of course, Pope Francis, being a big fan of a Catholic wedding blessing offered to help the couple out by conducting a ceremony right then and there, on the plane, in the sky!
As far as anyone knows, it’s the first time a pope has conducted a mid-flight wedding.
The couple’s reaction
Despite being legally married for years, the couple jumped at the opportunity.
Mr. Elorriaga told Sky News (cited below): “We told him that we are husband and wife. That we are married. That we have two daughters and that we would have loved to receive his blessing. All of a sudden he asked us if we were married by the church too. We are not married by the church because the 2010 earthquake happened on the day we got married.”
The pontiff then asked the most important question:
“He took our hands and he asked if there was love in our marriage and if we want to keep on being together for life. He asked if wanted to stay together until the end. We said ‘Yes’. We laughed for a while. It was very moving. He blessed us. He married us. It was a huge emotion, we are very, very happy.”
The Vatican confirms the story
You might be tempted to think the story is at least partially made up, but Vatican spokesman Greg Burke confirmed the mid-air wedding.
“Something totally extraordinary happened today, which was that the hostesses and the stewards going to get their photos taken and one said: ‘We are a couple, we met on a plane.’ And as they walked back they said that the Pope married them in a religious ceremony, which obviously has never happened on a papal plane before. They were super happy. The first time the Pope heard about it was this morning, it wasn’t part of the plan.”
We just wonder…does the drink cart court as an open bar ceremony?