Couple celebrating 60 years of marriage finally meet Pope Francis

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Anna and Mariano Mango were married in 1964 in a church in Rome. She was 22 years old and he was 31. Before meeting her, Mariano worked as a diamond cutter, and, a few years later, one of these precious stones became Anna's engagement ring.

MARIANO MANGO
We were married 60 years ago in a beautiful church. We were both very much in love. She loved me a lot then, and I loved her back. And so, we were always together. From time to time we have fought, but calmly, without overreacting.

Their family grew in Rome, not far from the Vatican. Yet, they still had never met a pope. But on this 60th anniversary, the couple was finally able to spend a few minutes speaking with Pope Francis. After they told him what they were celebrating, the Pope asked them a question.

ANNA MARIA ZAVAGNINI
He asked us both: who has had the most patience? Together, we said, “Both of us, but lovingly.” With love because that is important. If there is no love, you live badly.

The couple says prayer has been essential through these 6 decades, especially when facing challenges. They have three children. One was born with a disability and is dependent on his parents, who are now in their 80s.

ANNA MARIA ZAVAGNINI
Mariano would always tell me: “You are very brave.” And that encouraged me and kept me going throughout my life. After being married a year, our first daughter was born, whom we welcomed with a lot of love Then a second daughter whom we also welcomed with a lot of love, and finally a third child was born with even more love. A son who has a disability. But that doesn't matter.

Without letting go of each other's hands, Anna says their faith has been what has kept them united.

ANNA MARIA ZAVAGNINI
The role of faith for me has always been great. Actually, when I would get into bed, my first thought immediately was prayer. The Hail Mary, an Our Father. Always like that.

MARIANO MANGO
Sometimes, in the evening, she would ask me to say the prayers together, and I would be very tired but I would always say yes. And that has been our whole life.

Anna, teary-eyed, described the vocation of marriage as a very beautiful journey.

ANNA MARIA ZAVAGNINI
With all the ups and downs in life, it's not easy…but the joys are temporary and they pass. You have to face everything in life. But it's been a beautiful 60 years, and I thank the Lord for what He gave me.

The family owns a religious article store. They used to carve everyday jewelry but now they do it for sacred items. Precious stones are used to adorn tabernacles and monstrances in their shop windows, just a few feet from the Vatican.

PA
TR: KG

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