Thousands of couples from some 30 countries gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Feast of St. Valentine Friday (Feb. 14), receiving a blessing from a visibly pleased Pope Francis who also gave them his advice on how to have a happy and successful marriage. Photo by Eyal Baruch (www.eyalos.com)

Thousands of couples from some 30 countries gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Feast of St. Valentine Friday (Feb. 14), receiving a blessing from a visibly pleased Pope Francis who also gave them his advice on how to have a happy and successful marriage. RNS photo by Eyal Baruch (www.eyalos.com)


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Thousands of couples from some 30 countries gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Feast of St. Valentine Friday (Feb. 14), receiving a blessing from a visibly pleased Pope Francis who also gave them his advice on how to have a happy and successful marriage.

The event was originally supposed to take place indoors, but organizers moved it outside as interest grew. Estimates ranged from 10,000 to 15,000 couples, some married, some engaged, partaking of an unusually crisp and sunny day in Rome, which has been pounded by heavy rains in recent days.

“My dear engaged people, you are getting ready to grow together, to build a home, to live together for good,” Francis said. “Do not just base it on those feelings that come and go, but on the rock of true love that comes from God.”

He added that couples should not get married once their problems are solved, but rather solve problems together.

“Today, many people are afraid of making definitive decisions that affect them for all their lives because it seems impossible,” Francis said. “This mentality leads many who are preparing for marriage to say, ‘We will stay together as long as our love lasts.’ Just as God’s love is stable and lasts forever, we want the love on which a family is based to be stable and to last forever.”

On Twitter, the pope took advantage of Valentine’s Day to tweet: “Don’t be afraid to marry. A faithful and fruitful marriage will bring you happiness.”

One of the engaged couples who came to celebrate Valentines Day with the Pope Francis' blessings at St Peter's Square on February 14, 2014. RNS photo by Eyal Baruch (www.eyalos.com)

One of the engaged couples who came to celebrate Valentines Day with the Pope Francis’ blessings at St Peter’s Square on February 14, 2014. RNS photo by Eyal Baruch (www.eyalos.com)


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

The feast day, named for the third-century saint who died Feb. 14 on the outskirts of Rome, is not usually celebrated in such grand fashion. It wasn’t clear if the event will become a regular tradition under Francis.

It got underway at 11 a.m. local time with a series of testimonials from couples mixed with music and readings. At 12:30, Francis arrived in the popemobile and circled the square before making his way to the altar to meet several couples personally, bless the crowd and offer his advice.

“I have seen all the popes since John XXIII, and Francis is the most humane,” said 75-year-old Anna Pollio, who came to the event to celebrate her 50th wedding anniversary with her husband, Michele Iaccardo, 79. “I am very pleased to celebrate this momentous date with the pope.”

Enzo Stafferini, a 32-year-old businessman engaged to 24-year-old Alexia Costantini, a bartender, agreed: “Francis is a figure who comforts us in the difficulties that young people face, both material and spiritual,” he said. “Francis helps me find courage.”

YS/AMB END LYMAN

9 Comments

  1. Good intentions, but as great as Francis is, both for being down to earth and a blessed breeze of fresh air from the staleness of the papacies of Paul VI, John Paul II, ad Benedict, “celibate” clergy are in no position to be advising about love and sex to anyone, least of all married couples or those planning on marrying. The pre-marital conference requirement before Catholic marriage is downright foolish. Celibate clergy shouldn’t know what they’re talking about even if they presume to or pretend to. This is where married lay people should be playing a part, and this is another argument for married clergy, including women.

    • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

      It is amazing how uninformed about the Catholic Church of today some Church haters (and the media) are.
      The posting and comments show an ignorance about the Catholic clergy of today. Starting back in the 1980’s the Catholic Church began ordaining married men to its clergy ( I was ordained in 1980– now have 4 children and 8 grandchildren). Many of us are doing the pre-marriage instruction to couples and when not teaching couples about The Faith we deacons are frequently advising bishops and priests (who we communicate with a lot) about marriage or child-raising issues. In fact in our large city virtually all the marriage preparation in most parishes is given by married deacons and their wives.
      This arrangement (celibate priest, married deacon) works out very well because a priest’s family is supposed to spiritually be his “wife” and family. On the other hand, we deacons are supposed to give first place to our wives and children. (My pastor’s schedule is set up around Church meetings and duties. My Church schedule is set up around my family responsibilities and events.)

      • The Catholic Church is authoritarian and it is totalitarian.
        It is also fascist.

        For these reasons, among many others, it is the wrong institution for our times.

        Ignorance will continue to grow regarding Catholicism. To ask them to care about the Catholic Church is like asking them to take up blacksmithing.

  2. (1 Timothy 3:1-5) 1) That statement is faithful. If any man is reaching out for an office of overseer, he is desirous of a fine work. 2) The overseer should therefore be irreprehensible, a husband of one wife, moderate in habits, sound in mind, orderly, hospitable, qualified to teach, 3) not a drunken brawler, not a smiter, but reasonable, not belligerent, not a lover of money, 4) a man presiding over his own household in a fine manner, having children in subjection with all seriousness; 5) if indeed any man does not know how to preside over his own household, how will he take care of God’s congregation?
    THERE YOU HAVE IT STRAIGHT FROM GOD’S WORD. THEY SHOULD BE MARRIED AND HAVE CHILDREN IN SUBJECTION IN THEIR OWN HOUSEHOLD. IT’S A REQUIREMENT… so why are priests, cardinals, bishops and even the pope required by “the church” to remain unmarried and celibate? It’s a MAN-MADE doctrine that is in DIRECT CONFLICT with God’s requirements. God knows what he is doing more than any man knows or understands. Do not confuse “church doctrine” with GOD’S WORD. It’s NOT the same thing…

    • “Do not confuse “church doctrine” with GOD’S WORD. It’s NOT the same thing…”

      How could you know? Who could even try to know?
      Religious people need to understand that there is no such thing as ‘God’s Word’ anywhere in the world – The Bible is contradictory on every point.

    • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

      Fmr Cath: Try reading Mt. 19:12 where Jesus talks about those who have “renounced marriage (become eunuchs, according to some translations) for the sake of the kingdom.”
      Try reading 1 Cor 7:32 where St. Paul writes: “An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife.”
      And there are many passages that show that the Church has the authority to decide which passages should be emphasized or practiced in which times, in which places and in which cultures. That is why there are married ordained deacons in the Eastern and Western Catholic Churches, while there are also married ordained priests in the Eastern Catholic Churches. There are also hundreds of married ordained priests who were formerly Protestant ministers.

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