The couple never got to have their dream wedding, so Pope Francis stepped in.
When the church Paula Podest Ruiz and Carlos Ciuffardi Ellorriaga had planned to be married in was destroyed in the 2010 Chilean earthquake, the couple resigned to a civil marriage without a traditional wedding ceremony. But now, thanks to Pope Francis, they got a wedding that surpasses all others.
The couple was on a plane flying Pope Francis from the capital Santiago to the northern city Iquique when they struck up a conversation with him. The Pope asked them if they were married, and they told him about their church being destroyed — and with it, their dream wedding. They told CNN that the impromptu wedding was Pope Francis’ idea.
Ciuffardi’s boss and CEO of LATAM airline served as a witness and one of the Pope’s cardinals drafted a wedding certificate by hand on a sheet of paper. The Pope gave the bride and groom rosaries — white for Podest and black for Ciuffardi. The two were then married, 36,000 feet over Chile.
#PopeFrancis marries Paula and Carlos, an air steward and stewardess on board his plane. He performed ceremony after Church they wanted to be married in was destroyed in earthquake. Paperwork was done mid-air. (Pope’s signature bottom right) Photos: @antoniospadaro @inesanma pic.twitter.com/RkOmg3DLPA— Christopher Lamb (@ctrlamb) January 18, 2018
According to Ciuffardi, the Pope said during the ceremony, “This is the sacrament that is missing in the world, the sacrament of marriage. I hope this motivates couples around the world to marry.”
Podest and Ciuffardi met while working as flight attendants, and Podest is Ciuffardi’s boss. They have two children, 6-year-old Rafaela and 3-year-old Isabela.
#PapaFrancesco ha appena SPOSATO IN AEREO questa coppia di assistenti di volo! Una felicità! La coppia parlava col Papa. Hanno detto che non si erano sposati in Chiesa. Il Papa ha chiesto se volevamo sposarsi subito. HANNO DETTO SÌ. Gli atti sono firmati su un normale foglio A4! pic.twitter.com/jVTo7rfwoO— Antonio Spadaro (@antoniospadaro) January 18, 2018
The couple said they planned to celebrate in Iquique with colleagues and have a “tiny honeymoon.”