Pope beatifies 'model' married couple
A husband and his wife praised by Pope John Paul II for leading an exemplary life were beatified on Sunday, the first couple beatified in at least five centuries.
John Paul called Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi and Maria Corsini, Italians who died in 1951 and 1965 respectively, model Catholics for everyday life.
They were apparently always faithful and never argued, and slept in separate beds for the last 26 years of marriage. Two of their sons -- who helped the Holy Father celebrate Mass on Sunday -- became priests, and a daughter became a nun.
The last recorded married couple to be exalted in such a way were the martyrs Aquila and Prisca, became saints in the very early days of Christianity.
Beltrame Quattrocchi and Corsini "lived an ordinary life in an extraordinary way," John Paul said during the ceremony, which was held in St. Peter's Basilica instead of St. Peter's Square because of heavy rain.
Beltrame Quattrocchi was a lawyer who worked for the Italian government and for banks and was active in several Catholic groups. His wife comforted soldiers during World War I and later studied nursing and accompanied invalids traveling to shrines in such places as Lourdes, France.
Meanwhile the Pope caused controversy by holding a private audience on Thursday with a prominent divorced and remarried Catholic couple, Mexican President Vicente Fox and his new wife.
Initially pool who covered the visit reported that John Paul had received the two, who were married on July 2, 2001, together. This was later denied by the Vatican, which said the Pope met Fox then his wife Martha Sahagun separately.
The publication Inside the Vatican observed that many Vatican watchers were wondering how the Pope and his private secretary, Bishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, could have allowed such a break with traditional protocol, especially in light of the fact that the Mexican president's marriage was condemned by a leading Mexican cardinal this summer and therefore the Vatican should have known of his current irregular marital status.
Reuters/AnanovaInside the Vatican