A proposal in Vatican City

Katie Byrne and Jon Wold
celebrate their engagement at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City on June 26. Katie was on a music pilgrimage with members of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf when Jon flew in to surprise her with a proposal.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

Katie Byrne participated in a pilgrimage to Italy in June with her mother, Joan, and other members of the choir from St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf. Meanwhile, Katie’s fiancé, Jon Wold, was on vacation with his family in the Wisconsin Dells — or so she thought.

As the group completed the Scavi tour in Vatican City and headed toward the exit of St. Peter’s Basilica on June 26, Jon surprised Katie and led her to one of the side chapels. “He gave me a letter to read and then he got down on one knee by the main altar/Holy Spirit window,” she recalled.

Jon and Katie had been talking about marriage, but Katie assumed a proposal would happen after she returned. Jon coordinated the surprise proposal with Katie’s mom about a month before the pilgrimage. It was “the most Catholic proposal I could imagine,” Katie said with a smile.


The couple first met at an open gym volleyball event at their parish in Minnesota. In preparation for the proposal, Jon worked with a jeweler to incorporate elements of their relationship, including their shared Catholic faith, into the ring’s design. Two emerald-cut stones represent the couple, with a center stone to represent God who “should always be at the center of our relationship,” Katie said. The side profile contains a marquise shape, a nod to the stone cut on the wedding ring of Katie’s mom, as well as the couple’s initials and the Marian symbol.

Katie, a soprano, is excited to begin planning their wedding day. “I cantor and he plays guitar and sings at Mass, so we are very excited to make the music selections for our wedding Mass,” she said.

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