The oath was a simple one, and many of the words were the same as those they had said to one another 50 years ago.

But as nearly 500 silver-haired couples stood from the pews of Holy Name Cathedral Sunday, and as husbands turned to hold the hands of the wives with which they had weathered life's most testing moments, they found their voices cracking and their eyes watering.

The couples who crowded the church Sunday were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversaries, having married in 1966, when race riots and anti-war protests defined politics, the USSR landed a vehicle on the moon and "The Sound of Music" won best motion picture.

The Archdiocese of Chicago commemorated the golden wedding anniversaries with its annual Mass, met by a crowd so large that the church could only accommodate the couples themselves. Families were asked to watch the afternoon service from a live stream next door in the parish center.

Some wives wore sparkly white dresses, reminiscent of their wedding gowns, while others whispered excitedly into their husband's ears, as anxious for the ceremony as young brides.

In his homily, Archbishop Blase J. Cupich commended the couples' strength and endurance in staying committed to one another for a half-century.