February 14th is a day when love is celebrated by couples. We want to take this Valentine’s Day to honor “the icon of God’s love for us,” (Pope Francis) sacramental marriages! To display the beauty of a sacramental marriage, we are aiming to post one love story a day from our married brothers and sisters until we reach Valentine’s Day. May their stories draw you closer to the Source of their love. Happy reading!
Marie and I met sometime in the fall of 1998 through the LifeTeen youth group at our parish in Austin, TX. Marie was born and raised in Texas while my family and I are from Milano, Italy. At that time we were living in the US. In the summer of 2000, during World Youth day in Rome we became friends and got to know each other a little better. In Marie’s words, “At the opening of World Youth Day, Matteo helped me to get closer to the railing as it was the first time I would see Saint John Paul the Great in person. Later that day I wrote in a journal that I was attracted to Matteo, but thought he might be a little immature!”.
After World Youth Day we continued to keep in touch mostly through online chats and emails, as I had already moved back to Italy. In the summer of 2001 after my high school graduation I spent one month in Austin to visit my old friends and during that time Marie and I started dating. Those 14 days we spent together changed my life forever because I felt loved for who I was. I was 19 at the time and I spent the following 10 years of my life trying to replicate what I felt, but I could never find the same love and peace. Because of the distance I didn’t think that we could keep up our relationship and so I called it off, but I guess God had other plans.
In the next 9 years we got to see each other once again in 2004 (where Matteo randomly and very dramatically told Marie that he would love her forever) and then again in 2005 where we literally bumped into each other during World Youth Day in Cologne (call it a needle in a haystack). We both had other relationships and also looked into the priesthood and religious life. I met the Emmanuel Community in Italy while Marie grew accustomed to a charismatic way of prayer while attending college at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. I learned about evangelization while praying with the EC and during my year at the Emmanuel School of Mission in Rome, while Marie joined a women’s community in college dedicated to the New Evangelization and decided to spend her life working for the Church.
In 2010 I decided to take a longer summer break from my job in Italy and traveled through the US to visit all the friends that I had not seen in a while. Marie took a day off to spend some time with me and we started to see that despite so much time apart and even in different countries, we had shared many similar experiences that brought us to similar points in our lives, especially regarding faith and a passion for evangelization. From Marie: “My phone alarm went off reminding me to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet. I was intending to ignore it, but Matteo asked about it. I told him what it was for and he instantly suggested that we pray it together. At this moment I knew I could fall in love with him again.”
I was going to see Marie one more day before flying back to Italy and I remember praying God to keep my mouth shut and not try to do something crazy like tell her that I loved her and then go back to Italy and break it off. Fortunately God gave us both the courage to see past the difficulties and the differences and we decided to trust Him and those feelings that he had put in our hearts a long time ago and never really went away.
In the next 3 years we experienced the poverty and the struggle of a long distance relationship but also the graces that God poured on us. We learned to communicate with each other (…still learning) and trust each other and trust that God knows better than us (always a struggle, especially for Matteo who thinks he knows better).
In September 2013 we finally got married in Austin, in the same parish where we met 15 years before and we now have 2 beautiful girls and a little saint in heaven. With our marriage God truly showed us that there is nothing that He can’t do in our lives and life is best lived when we place our trust in Him.
Marie & Matteo (TX)
Editor’s note: see a related older blog entry – Marie’s testimony written after their wedding.