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I was married by the Pope

It was all in a day's work for the ever-unpredictable Pope Francis.

First he celebrated the first-ever airborne papal wedding, marrying two flight attendants from Chile's flagship airline at 36,000 feet during a flight on Thursday to this northern Chilean beachside town.

Then, after landing, Francis came to the rescue of a policewoman who was thrown from her rearing horse as his popemobile passed by.

In between, he did what he actually came to do: celebrate Mass for some 50,000 people in a desert-hot field near the town of Iquique.

It all began with LATAM Flight 1250 from Santiago.

The crew was gathering in the first-class section for the usual photo with the pope when flight attendants Paula Podest and Carlos Ciuffardi revealed that they were a married couple. Francis motioned for them to sit next to him for the photo and asked if they had been married in the church.

They told Francis that they had been married in a civil service in 2010 but had been unable to follow up with a church ceremony because the Feb. 27, 2010, earthquake that rocked Chile had damaged the church.

Francis then made a proposal of his own: "I'll marry you!" and they readily agreed. The head of the airline served as the witness.

"He told me it's historic, that there has never before been a pope who married someone aboard a plane," the 41-year-old groom told journalists aboard the flight after he exchanged his "I do's" with his beaming bride.

Ciuffardi said the pope also told them: "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."

Ciuffardi and the 39-year-old Podest have two children, 6-year-old Rafaela and 3-year-old Isabela. They said they plan to take a "mini-honeymoon" and return to Santiago on Friday.

The airborne wedding came about spontaneously, as is often the case with the ever-surprising Francis.

"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 explained that their church's bell tower had fallen during the quake, forcing the cancellation of the church service. One thing led to another, and 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."



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