Pope Francis marries airline employees on papal plane

19 January 2018
Paula Podest, 39, and Carlos Ciufardi, 41, were married by Pope Francis on the papal plane on Thursday. Image: Ines San Martin/Crux.

ON BOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (By Ines San Martin) – There’s never a dull moment with the whirlwind that is Pope Francis, who has many times been labeled the pope of firsts: On board the Airbus 321 going from Santiago to the northern city of Iquique in Chile, he married a couple that asked for his blessing.

Paula Podest, 39, and Carlos Ciufardi, 41, have been together for over ten years. They met in the air, where she was his boss as a flight attendant for LATAM, Chile’s flagship airline.

Pope Francis marries flight attendants Carlos Ciuffardi, left, and Paola Podest, center, during a flight from Santiago, Chile, to Iquique, Chile. Image: L’Osservatore Romano Vatican Media/Pool Photo via AP.

They have been civilly married since 2010. Days before they were scheduled to have their church wedding, an earthquake destroyed the church where they were supposed to marry.

On Thursday, as they were posing with Francis and the rest of the crew for the official picture, Francis asked them if they were married in the Church. They told him no, and the pontiff immediately took charge, asking them if they wanted him to marry them, and they agreed.

The handwritten marriage licence was signed by Pope Francis. Image: L’Osservatore Romano.

The newlyweds shared the conversation they had with the pontiff with the journalists, with Podest acknowledging that she was “still in shock,” so he did most of the talking, even though, from what they told journalists, “she’s still the boss in the house,” as she was at the airline when they met.

“It was historic,” the pope told them. “Never has a pope married a couple on a plane.”

“He asked us if we were married, I said no because of the earthquake, and he said, ‘well, I’ll marry you’,” according to Ciufardi.

The spouses asked the pontiff if he was certain about marrying them on the plane, asking him “are you sure?”

When the pope asked for a witness, they tapped the CEO of the airline, and to make sure there was no doubt over the validity of the sacrament, the pope “asked the cardinals who were with him” to draft the license, which they did. The document is handmade, signed by one of the cardinals, also a witness.

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