Pope Francis's first mid-air wedding
Two flight attendants had their wedding vows renewed in an impromptu ceremony mid-flight.
Pope Francis has celebrated an impromptu first-ever airborne papal wedding, marrying two LATAM flight attendants from Chile at 36,000 feet during a flight from Santiago.
Bride Paula Podest, 39, and groom Carlos Ciuffardi, 41, said "I do" after telling Francis that they had been married in a civil service in 2010 but had been unable to follow up with a church ceremony because of the earthquake that rocked Chile that year.
Francis then offered to marry them aboard the Airbus 321 en route to the northern beach city of Iquique, and they readily agreed.
The head of the LATAM airline served as the witness.
"He told me it's historic, that there has never before been a pope who married someone aboard a plane," Ciuffardi said.
Ciuffardi said the pope also told them: "This is the sacrament that is missing in the world, the sacrament of marriage. May this motivate others to get the sacrament of marriage. I'll do it for this reason."
Podest and Ciuffardi, who have two children, six-year-old Rafaela and three-year-old Isabela, said they plan to take a "mini-honeymoon" and return to Santiago on Friday.
The remarkable wedding transpired seemingly spontaneously. The flight crew was gathering in the front of the plane for a photo with the pope when the couple told him they were married and he motioned for them to sit next to him.
"We told him that we are husband and wife, that we have two daughters and that we would have loved to receive his blessing," Ciuffardi said. "All of a sudden he asked us if we were married in the church, too."
The couple explained that their church's bell tower had fallen during the quake, forcing the cancellation of the service. One thing led to another, and they never followed up.
"He liked us and he asked, 'Do you want me to marry you?",' Ciuffardi recounted. "He asked: 'Are you sure?' 'Yes, of course!' we said."
Podest said she and Ciuffardi had also explained to Francis that when they first started dating, she was his boss at LATAM. Francis asked if she was still the boss, and both readily agreed.
"And that's why the marriage works," Ciuffardi said.
Francis, Argentinian by birth, is on a South American trip that started in Chile where he was confronted by protests over the Church's sex abuse scandal, and church burnings. He arrived in Peru on Thursday.