Pope Francis to wed 20 couples, September 14

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Wedding bells are about to ring in the Vatican: On Sunday September 14, Pope Francis will wed 20 couples from the city of Rome. After a series of baptisms, communions and confirmations, after listening to confessions and having presided priestly ordinations, the Bishop of Rome is now to unite 40 people, from his diocese, in marriage. The youngest is 25 years old and the eldest 56. Among the couples that will be walking down the aisle in St. Peter’s Basilica, will be some couples that are already living together. Some of them will be accompanied by their children.

The Pope’s gesture is an important one ahead of the Synod that will draw the contours of the Church’s new pastoral care programme for the family. Sunday 28 September will mark another important moment: St. Peter’s square will be filled with grandparents accompanied by their grandchildren.

Fourteen years have passed since the last “public” wedding celebrated by a Pope in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Pope in question was John Paul II and the occasion as the Jubilee of Families in 2000. Before this, he had celebrated a number of other group weddings, in October 1994. But the Polish Pope had also wed many couples in private ceremonies.

Except for the number of couples being wed, Sunday’s celebration will be the same as any other Catholic wedding in any other part of the world. The grooms will be walked down the aisle by their mothers and the brides by their fathers. At the altar, the Pope will be joined by Agostino Vallini, cardinal vicar of the diocese of Rome and about forty or so priests who are friends of the bride and groom.

“The Holy Father has often addressed married couples and families in his homilies and catecheses.” Said Mgr. Filippo Iannone, director of the Diocese of Rome’s centre for the pastoral care of the family. The last time he did so was about a week or so ago during the Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. Addressing newlyweds, he said: “You are courageous, I'm saying that because you have to have courage to get married today!”

The couples that are getting married next Sunday have been together for different period of time, some longer some shorter. Some already live together, some have children, some met in their local parish. Not all of them are originally from the Italian capital but all of them reside in the Diocese of Rome.

After greeting the Pope in the sacristy after the mass, the newlyweds will have photographs taken in the Vatican Gardens.

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