Skip to main content

Pope Francis talks language of love with couples on Valentine's Day

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 11:05 AM EST, Fri February 14, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Pope Francis: "Dear young people, don't be afraid to marry"
  • He takes Valentine's Day questions from young couples about having a happy marriage
  • Thousands of young engaged couples gather in St. Peter's Square to hear him
  • He says couples must build their love together and let it grow

(CNN) -- In a gesture toward the romance of Valentine's Day, Pope Francis on Friday gave his advice on how to have a happy marriage before thousands of young engaged couples.

The unprecedented event, held under brilliant winter sunshine in a packed St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, may reflect Francis' desire to be closer to ordinary people's lives.

Three couples were able to put their own questions directly to the Pontiff before being blessed.

His answers were shared with the 25,000 or so people from around the world spread out in the square before him.

The first young couple to speak explained how they had decided to get married. "We didn't want to give in to the easy way of not committing," the man said.

Pope wants expanded role for women
Pope plans to visit U.S. in 2015
Pope: Money should serve humans, not rule

The couple asked the Pontiff to give them his advice on how to make a lasting marriage.

Francis, himself committed to lifelong celibacy as a Catholic priest, said that many people are afraid these days to make "definite decisions" and long-lasting choices -- but that it can be done.

'Don't be afraid to marry'

"Today, everything is changing rapidly and nothing lasts for long. This sort of mentality leads so many who are getting ready for marriage to say they will be together for as long as love lasts," which can lead to divorce, he said.

Love has to be built together, he said, not alone. "To build such a thing means to help your love grow," he said.

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

Francis also took to Twitter to encourage those who are in love to take the plunge and tie the knot.

"Dear young people, don't be afraid to marry. A faithful and fruitful marriage will bring you happiness," he said on his official @Pontifex account.

Don't go to bed angry

A second couple in St. Peter's Square told Francis of how their love and commitment had changed their lives, before the woman asked for the Pope's advice on how to live together day to day.

"Living together is an art. It's a patient art, it's a beautiful art, it's fascinating," Francis replied.

He spoke of the need to communicate with respect and attention, "to request politely so that you enter with courtesy into the life of the other."

That isn't easy, he said. Each half of the couple must learn to say thank you, and to apologize for his or her mistakes.

"We all know there isn't a perfect family, neither a perfect husband nor a perfect wife. Of course, we are not talking about the perfect mother-in-law," he joked.

"Do not end any day without asking each other for forgiveness, having peace back in your house and your family," he said. "Never end a single day without being at peace with each other. This is the secret in order to preserve love."

The third couple's question dealt with how to celebrate their marriage.

Francis said the key thing was not to have a wild party, though the celebration is important, but to feel the presence of Jesus. The dress, flowers and food are important, but only if the couple are there in a true spirit of love, he said.

St. Valentine was a third-century Roman priest who is widely believed to have been martyred on February 14 for his beliefs. He has since become the patron saint of love and engaged couples.

READ: Pope Francis must finally root out child abuse

READ: Pope Francis wants to visit U.S. in 2015, sources say

READ: Barack Obama and Pope Francis: Unlikely comrades?

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:31 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
James Dawes: Evil is the strongest word we have to prepare ourselves to kill others.
updated 9:59 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
As protests over the shooting of an unarmed black teen calmed down, the question remains: Where's the police officer who pulled the trigger?
updated 5:22 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
CNN's Tim Lister: Getting rid of ISIS will be tougher than taking on al Qaeda.
updated 8:42 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
American patients infected with Ebola are being released from the hospital. What now?
updated 6:48 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
One of the first observers at the MH17 crash site in Ukraine describes the harrowing scene.
updated 9:53 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Five survivors of acid attacks capture India's attention with a "ground breaking" photo shoot.
updated 8:19 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
In an exclusive CNN interview, Lance Armstrong admits to having a "f**k you" attitude.
updated 8:36 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
The pain that Michael Brown's parents are going through is something Sybrina Fulton can relate to. She, too, lost a son in a controversial shooting.
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid gestures during the UEFA Super Cup match between Real Madrid and Sevilla at Cardiff City Stadium on August 12, 2014 Cardiff, Wales.
"We are like one grain of sand against a whole beach," says Eibar fan Unai Eraso.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
updated 6:22 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
From fierce protests in Ferguson, to an Ebola survivor discharged from a hospital in Atlanta, browse through the photos of the week.
ADVERTISEMENT