Pope Francis conducted the first-ever airborne papal wedding when he married two flight attendants aboard Chile's LATAM during a flight from Santiago.
The pope married 39-year-old Paula Podest and 41-year-old Carlos Cuiffardi after learning the couple had married in a civil service in 2010. The couple told Pope Francis that they had been unable to have their church ceremony due to the February 2010 earthquake that struck Chile.
Pope Francis offered to marry the flight attendants from Chile's flagship airline while flying aboard the Airbus 321 to the northern city of Iquique on Thursday (18 January).
According to the Associated Press, the head of the airline served as the couple's witness.
"He told me it's historic, that there has never before been a pope who married someone aboard a plane," Ciuffardi told reporters.
The pope reportedly told the couple: "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."
The impromptu wedding occurred shortly after the flight crew gathered in the front of the plane for a photo with the pope. When the couple told Pope Francis they were married, he asked 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 said that their church's bell tower had fallen during the earthquake and they were forced to cancel their service. As time passed, they never followed up.
"He liked us and he asked, 'Do you want me to marry you?'" Ciuffardi said. "He asked: 'Are you sure?' 'Yes, of course!' we said."
A Vatican official drew up an official, though handwritten, marriage certificate that stated the couple had consented to the sacrament of marriage and that the pope had officiated "aboard the papal plane from Santiago to Iquique".
The couple, who are parents to 6-year-old Rafaela and 3-year-old Isabela, told reporters they planned to take a "mini-honeymoon" and return to Santiago on Friday (19 January).
Pope Francis will wrap up his visit to Chile in Iquique, where he celebrated mass for members of the northern city's growing immigrant community before traveling to Peru.