Manel came over to see us a couple of months back. He had a smile on his face and an envelope in his hand. It was an invitation to his son’s wedding combined with his grandaughter’s christening. We are doing both at once because it is cheaper that way – he announced. His son, Telmo, is in the local Fire Brigade. His partner of several years is Carla, daughter of a respected fisherman.
So last weekend, a party of us drove off in convoy to a seaside church, with the traditional piece of white gauze fluttering from our car’s radio antenna.The Padré was already at the altar with an unfocused beam on his face. I should have suspected something, he was very flushed. I put his wavering walk down to his mature years.
Mid-service, the Padré started on the direct questions to the bride and groom. I then realised that something was amiss…
Will you Miguel…? he asked. Who’s Miguel? Telmo, the bridegroom, was not sure what to say, after all you don’t expect to correct the padre in the middle of your wedding service. But three of the guests in the front row were keen to put the priest right. Telmo , they called in unism. The padre however didn’t miss a beat. He winked back at the front row. From there on he was treating them as members of the kids Sunday School.
What did God say about marriage then? The front rower who suggested, “Go forth and multiply” was scorned. The Padré responded, “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” All said with actions.
So the service dragged on. We passed the hour point and the padré was still addressing the groom as Miguel. Finally it was over and we moved to the font. The baby Diana was produced for christening. Hesitatingly, Telmo decanted her into the Padré’s arms. There was a gasp from the onlookers as he dived her head into the font, and a spine-jerking scream from Diana as she re-emerged. Such were the decibles that we shall never know what he named her.
Then the bride and groom disappeared into the vestry to sign the certificate. The bride’s mother told me afterwards that the padré had written in the bridegroom’s name as Miguel, and had to be forced to change it.
We are still wondering if we will be called back for a replay.