Pope Francis marries two flight attendants on papal plane

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During his flight to Iquique Jan. 18, the pope was approached by LatAm flight steward Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriaga and asked for a blessing for him and his wife, stewardess Paula Podest Ruiz.

The couple told Francis they had been civilly married, but said they had not been able to get married in the Church because their parish was destroyed in the massive 8.8 quake that rocked Santiago in 2010.

"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 laughed and answered, "Yes, she is."The hand-written wedding certificate, signed by Pope Francis.Ciuffardi told reporters that the Pope told them, "This is the sacrament that is missing in the world, the sacrament of marriage".

It's not very often that you get to witness a marriage on a plane and that too, with Pope Francis officiating the same.

Quick marriages in non-traditional settings may be de regueur in Las Vegas, but the Catholic Church usually prefers couples to be married in a church, preferably after a six-month Pre-Cana course.

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The couple explained that their church's bell tower had fallen during the quake, forcing the cancellation of the service.

According to journalists traveling with the Pope, the couple - Paula Podesta and Carlos Ciuffardi - went to the Pope during the January 18 flight to ask for his blessing.

A spokesman for the Vatican said the marriage was not planned, but when the Pope heard the couple's story, he asked: "Do you want me to marry you?" He first asked them, "Are you sure?" "So we have to be careful".

After applause - and a breakfast of fresh fruit, croissants, coffee and tea - the plane landed in Iquique and the couple bid the passengers farewell.

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