On a wing and a prayer

Pope Francis has spread the love at 36,000 feet when he married two flight attendants in an impromptu ceremony abroad his papal plane.

The spontaneous Pope was on his way from Santiago to the northern Chilean city of Iquique when he met Paula Podest Ruiz and Carlos Ciuffardi Ellorriaga.

Pope Francis asked them if they were married and the couple told him they had been married in a civil service but their planned religious ceremony was suddenly halted when the 2010 Chile earthquake hit, destroying the church where they were to tie the knot.

In response, the Pope offered to bless their marriage on the spot.

“Do you want me to marry you?” he asked them.

“Here?” they replied, shocked and elated.

According to the couple, Pope Francis carried out a Catholic wedding service, blessing their rings and then said: “We need a witness.” Ciuffardo - the groom - turned around and asked his boss, the CEO of the airline to serve as witness.

One of Pope Francis’ cardinals aboard the flight drafted the wedding certificate by hand. The document was signed by Pope Francis, the couple and the witness.

The Vatican has released a photo of the handwritten document validating the marriage adorned with the Pope’s signature and Vatican officials say it is the first time a pope has married a couple on a papal plane.

The couple plans to celebrate with co-workers in Iquique and then have a small honeymoon before they fly back home in a few days’ time – with a remarkable story to tell.

Read more about Pope Francis’ trip to Chile and Peru here.

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