Pope Francis presided over the weddings of 20 couples at the Vatican on Sunday.
The Head of the Catholic Church had asked to marry couples from different backgrounds who represented the modern family. The weddings took place as part of a single, two hour ceremony at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The ceremony was the first of its kind in 14 years. The last Pope to preside over a wedding was John Paul II back in 2000.
Several of the couples had previously cohabited, some had been previously married and one couple already had a child. Previously, these would all be considered prohibitive for couples who want a traditional Catholic Church wedding.
Pope Francis warned the couples that marriage was “not some TV show”. He said it was “not an easy road” and was “sometimes a contentious trip”.
The ceremony comes just three weeks before a meeting of the Synod of Bishops, when the results of the Pope’s recent survey of Catholic attitudes towards the family are expected. This examined attitudes towards same-sex marriage, single parent families and divorce, among other issues.
The Synod provides the Pope with advice on faith and moral matters.
Pope Francis has been both praised and criticised for his public comments regarding atheists, women and gay people. In June, he was less controversial as he encouraged the faithful to have children instead of pets.
Photo of Pope Francis courtesy of Catholic Church England and Wales via Flickr