Pope Francis makes history by performing wedding ceremony on board a plane

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Pope Francis
Pope Francis blesses the faithful with the vial of what local Roman Catholics believe is the blood of Saint Gennaro at a meeting with members of the clergy in the Duomo during his pastoral visit in Naples March 21, 2015. Reuters/Stefano Rellandini

Love was literally in the air when Pope Francis conducted an impromptu marriage ceremony for flight attendants on board a plane travelling between cities in Chile. It was the first time in history that a pope married a couple on a papal plane, Vatican officials reportedly confirmed.

On Thursday, Pope Francis asked Paula Podest Ruiz, 39, and Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriga, 41, if they want him to marry them. The couple got the chance to sit next to the pope during a group picture as the crew of Chile's flagship carrier gathered.

Ruiz and Elorriga have earlier wedded in civil service but reportedly wished for the pope to bless their marriage. They said they were unable to marry in their church in the Chilean capital, Santiago, following a 2010 earthquake that caused damages. They explained that their church's bell tower had fallen at that time, forcing the cancellation of their church service.

The pontiff suggested performing the ceremony on his flight from Santiago to Iquique city in northern Chile. The Catholic wedding service was a short ceremony on the papal plane some 36,000 feet.

Speaking to CNN and other reporters, the couple said Pope Francis blessed their rings. They had also needed a witness, so Elorriga asked the CEO of the airline.

The pope reportedly asked his cardinals to draft the paperwork. One of the cardinals drafted the wedding certificate on a sheet of paper, which was signed by Pope Francis, the couple and the witness. It stated that both Ruiz and Elorriga had consented to the sacrament of marriage on January 18, 2018.

CBS News correspondent Steve Dorsey shared on Twitter a photo of a handwritten marriage certificate after the wedding ceremony on the plane. Latam, which provided the flight, is Latin America's largest airline.

The bride received a white rosary from the pope. The groom got a black one.

Podest looked in shock and a bit quiet during the interview. The couple were reportedly overwhelmed with emotion.

Elorriga said they planned to celebrate with co-workers and have a “tiny honeymoon.” They were scheduled to fly back home on Friday.

Pope Francis hopes the wedding will motivate couples around the world to marry. "This is the sacrament that is missing in the world, the sacrament of marriage,” he told the couple, according to Elorriga.

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