Blog Post

Pope Performs Marriage at 30,000 Feet

Two flight attendants had the honor of having their civil marriage blessed by Pope Francis while on a flight from Santiago to Iquique in Chile earlier this week.

CNA/EWTN News is reporting that the pope was flying between cities during his papal visit to Chile when two flight attendants approached to ask for his blessing on their marriage.

Paula Podest and Carlos Ciuffardi, explained that they were married in a civil ceremony but were unable to get married in the Church when their parish was destroyed in the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated Santiago in 2010.

When he heard their story, the pope asked, “Do you want to get married?”

“Yes!” the said.

“Are you absolutely sure?” the pope reportedly asked.


He then offered to convalidate their marriage. The delighted couple gave their wedding wings to the pope who blessed them, then instructed them to join their hands together. He offered a few brief reflections, then pronounced them man and wife.

According to Ciuffardi, Francis called the event “historic,” because “never has a Pope married a couple on a plane.”

Because the unusual circumstances left the couple without a marriage certificate to sign, the Pope asked the cardinals who were with him to draw something up. They  improvised with a blank sheet of copy pager on which they each signed their names and the role they played in the ceremony.

The Pope then gifted the couple with two rosaries.

“It was something historic, really. Very exciting,” Ciuffardi said afterward. “What he told us was very important: he told us 'this is the sacrament that the world needs, the sacrament of marriage. Hopefully, this will motivate couples around the world to get married’.”

When asked if what the pope did was legitimate, Greg Burke, Director of the Holy See Press Office, told Vatican News that the wedding was “totally legit” and “doctrinally OK”.

"Doctrinally it's OK, because to be married the actual ministers are the people themselves,” Burke said. “You just need a witness. There are a couple other things, normally there are publications. And there were things that had to be passed over, but it's totally legit, and everyone's happy!"

He added that it "was not the Pope's idea; it was their idea, but the Pope was happy to do it."

The official marriage certificate reads: "On 18 January 2018, aboard the papal plane from Santiago to Iquique, Mr. Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriaga and Ms. Paula Podest Ruiz contracted marriage, in the presence of the witness, Ignacio Cueto. The Holy Father Pope Francis received their consent."

The couple planned to fly to Iquique with the pope and complete another assigned flight before taking time off to celebrate.

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