An exiled Venezuelan politician surprised both Pope Francis and his girlfriend by proposing to her in front of the Holy Father on Sunday.
Dario Ramirez, a local councillor who was forced to flee the regime of Nicolás Maduro three years ago, was part of a delegation of 80 legislators from around the world who had travelled to Rome to meet the Pope. He was introduced to the Pontiff along with his girlfriend, Maryangel Espinal.
“When we were introduced to the Holy Father, I explained the situation in Venezuela and the situation facing political prisoners,” Ramirez told the National Catholic Register. “The Holy Father said he was praying a lot about it and doing all that he could to help.”
“I told him that we’re looking forward to him visiting Panama in 2019 for World Youth Day and he was very happy,” he added. “I then asked for a special blessing.”
Ramirez said his girlfriend thought they were just going to talk about Venezuela, but the politician then said to the Pope: “There’s a third thing I want to ask you.”
“I could see that Maryangel was thinking: ‘What’s he going to do? Is he going to ask for a selfie?’ She was shocked. I explained to the Holy Father that the woman next to me is the woman of my life. I met her in church, that God put her in my life, and I want to propose to her. So I got down on one knee and asked.”
Pope Francis apparently responded: “Wow, in front of the Pope!” before adding: “She’s not speaking — he asked you to marry him, what do you say?”
“She said: ‘Of course, yes!’ And he blessed us right in front of us,” Ramirez added.
Ramirez said he gained permission to propose in front of the Pope from Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, co-founder of the International Catholic Legislator Network.
“I said this is for the history of the ICLN,” Ramirez told Cardinal Schönborn, who replied: “This is for the history of the Church!”
“The Pope was very surprised; the people from protocol were a little mad, but in the end we all laughed a lot,” Ramirez added.