Pope Francis to Celebrate First Wedding Mass at St. Peter's Basilica

Pope Francesco

Pope Francis is set to officiate at the weddings of 20 couples who will get married at St. Peter’s Basilica on September 14.

The Vatican said the "20 young couples” are from the diocese of Rome.

It marks Pope Francis' first wedding ceremony and will be the first celebration of weddings by a pope since John Paul II married eight couples at a Mass to mark the Jubilee for Families in October 2000. Francis’ predecessor Benedict XVI never presided over a marriage during his eight-year pontificate.

In June, Pope Francis led a Mass at the chapel in his Santa Marta residence with 15 couples that were celebrating 25 to 60 years of marriage. During the service, he said the pillars of a successful marriage were fidelity, perseverance and fertility. On that occasion, he also urged couples not to replace children with cats and dogs, making headlines around the world.

“It might be better, more comfortable, to have a dog, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the dog,” he said then. “Is this true or not? Have you seen it? Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness.”

The papal Mass celebrating the couples’ marriage will take place three weeks before the extraordinary bishops’ synod on the family at the Vatican in October.

Given the pope’s huge popularity, his first wedding ceremony is expected to be a sell-out.