Pope Francis celebrated the first-ever airborne papal wedding on Thursday, marrying two flight attendants from Chile’s flagship airline during a flight from Santiago.
Bride Paola 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 Feb. 27, 2010, earthquake that rocked Chile.
Francis then offered to marry the LATAM flight attendants aboard the aircraft en route to the northern city of Iquique, and they readily agreed. The head of the 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 told journalists in the aisle of the Airbus 321.
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 were working Thursday on the flight to the beachside town of Iquique, have two children, 6-year-old Rafaela and 3-year-old Isabela. They said they plan to take a “mini-honeymoon” and return to Santiago on Friday.
Francis is wrapping up his visit to Chile in Iquique, where he will celebrate Mass and meet with members of the city’s growing immigrant community. Later Thursday he travels to Peru.
By NICOLE WINFIELD / AP