Monday, September 15, 2014
One by one, the brides walked alongside their fathers, into St. Peter's Basilica...as the grooms waited for their soon to be wives.
A total of 20 couples, all of them from Rome, were married by Pope Francis.
"It is a demanding journey, at times difficult, and at times turbulent, but such is life!”
It's the first time in 14 years that a Pope has celebrated a public wedding ceremony in the Basilica. He said that even though there will be challenges, marriage is a gift and the foundation of society.
"He reminded me of so many things that you tend to forget after being married for so long. It's a way to renew the enthusiasm and energy.”
"It was beautiful ceremony!”
Gaetano di Sangi is one of hundreds of guests, who made their way to Rome, to celebrate the big day with the newlyweds. His nephew was married and family flew in from New York.
"We need the Pope to do these things in this period of moral and social decay.”
Interestingly, the couples reflected different social realities the Church is grappling with. One of the brides had a child out of wedlock when she was younger. A groom had a previous marriage annulled. Some of the couples were living together before the wedding. More than a ceremony, many believe the Pope is sending a message of mercy to those who are willing to move beyond their past and renew their lives with the Church.
"The love of Christ can restore to spouses the joy of journeying together. This is what marriage is all about: man and woman walking together.”
Of course, there was also some practical advice along the way that struck not only the newlyweds, but couples who have been married for years.
"He said that the husband must be willing to help his wife and the wife must be willing to do the same.”
"Never end the day without making amends.”
The last time a Pontiff presided over a public wedding was back in the year 2000, when John Paul II married eight couples. Interestingly, Pope Francis agreed to preside over the wedding, just weeks before the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, where bishops from all over the world will go to Rome, precisely to discuss the modern day challenges faced by the family.