Blessed pair is a match made in heaven

Patrick and Eileen Fleming, who are celebrating 70 years of marriage, with a framed certificate sent to them as a blessing from the Pope. (s)
Patrick and Eileen Fleming, who are celebrating 70 years of marriage, with a framed certificate sent to them as a blessing from the Pope. (s)
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Even Pope Francis thinks this Burnley couple is a match made in heaven, having blessed their marriage on their 70th wedding anniversary.

But it’s not the first time Patrick and Eileen Fleming’s relationship has had such divine seal of approval.

The platinum couple knew they had something special back when their marriage was first honoured 70 years ago by Pope Pius XII.

If only Patrick had known they would receive such divine support when asking Eileen’s father for permission to marry her - you’d hope it would be less terrifying with the Pope on your side!

“It’s wonderful,” said their daughter Maureen. “They’re a true inspiration and lovely together because they always look out for each other.”

For, despite having divine protection, it’s really friendship which makes their relationship sacred.

“There’s no secret to a long marriage,” said 90 year-old Eileen. “You just have to give and take.

“Patrick and I are best friends - we couldn’t have made it through so many years if we weren’t.”

And so it was a heavenly moment for the pair when they celebrated their anniversary with 90 friends and family members in the same parish where they married.

Childhood sweethearts, Eileen and her 91 year-old spouse met as teenagers at St Mary’s Youth Club and became husband and wife at St John’s RC Church, Ivy Street, Burnley, on September 13th, 1947.

They went on to have seven children - Bernard, Frances, Maureen, Catherine, Margaret, Elizabeth and Jane - plus more than 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

“They’ve developed a lot of tolerance and are very understanding - probably because they have seven children,” said Maureen.

“We’re a loving family, we’re all close-knit and help each other out.”

And with Patrick having worked as a window cleaner right up to the age of 74, it’s clear the couple is a force to be reckoned with. It’s no wonder the siblings are proud.

“I think it’s absolutely amazing,” said daughter Margaret. “And they’re both still living in their own home and doing well.”

And, as Maureen added: “They are a truly charitable couple and are so lucky to have shared their lives together for so long! We hope they will have many more years of happiness!”