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20,000 to join Pope for Valentine's Day

Lovebirds from 28 countries will gather in St Peter's Square

12 February, 17:10
20,000 to join Pope for Valentine's Day (ANSA) - Vatican City, February 12 - The Vatican's Pontifical Council for Family has said that over 20,000 people from 28 countries will be taking Pope Francis up on his offer to spend Valentine Day's with him at the Vatican.

Couples were required to register by January 30 to secure their place at the general audience. "Engaged couples who have already attended or are presently attending marriage preparation courses are invited to a meeting with the Holy Father," the invitation said in several languages.

The fiancées will be meeting at 11:00 on Friday in St Peter's Square.

Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, Vatican minister for family affairs, said that "the numerical success of the initiative shows that there are many young people who go against the current trend and who want their love to last forever and be blessed by God".

Saint Valentine is believed to have been a priest who was martyred on February 14, 273 AD, for secretly marrying couples in the Christian faith. The pope will speak to three engaged couples.