Joe Biden attends Mass at Cathedral of St. Matthew, site of JFK funeral and iconic image

Joey Garrison and Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
·2 min read

WASHINGTON - President-elect Biden attended Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, his only event before he will be sworn in as the 46th president on Wednesday.

He was joined by his spouse Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff as well as congressional leaders from both parties.

The Bidens had a front pew, with Harris and Emhoff on the other side of the aisle, also in the front. The couples stood in silent reflection looking at the front altar. All attendees wore masked and were spread out in the cathedral to follow social distance standards.

President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden attend services at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle with Congressional leaders prior the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.
President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden attend services at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle with Congressional leaders prior the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.

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The cathedral along Rhode Island Avenue, a few blocks from the White House, is where the funeral service was held for the only other Catholic president, John K. Kennedy, who was assassinated Nov. 22, 1963.

A marble plaque, which is imposed in the floor immediately before the gates of the sanctuary, commemorates the place where Kennedy’s casket was placed for the funeral Mass and rites. Funeral services have also been held at the cathedral for Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Associate Justice William Brennan.

An iconic picture of the event showed Kennedy’s son, John Jr., saluting as his father’s coffin was placed on a horse-drawn caisson. The date, Nov. 25, was the boy’s 3rd birthday.

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Biden invited congressional leaders to join him at the service. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who is overseeing inaugural planning as head of the Rules Committee; and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., were among the participants.

Biden, who stayed overnight at Blair House, a building across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, road briefly in a motorcade to the cathedra along a route guarded by hundreds of National Guard troops. Storefronts were boarded with plywood to protect against protests.

As Biden’s motorcade left St. Matthew’s at 10:15 a.m. for the drive to the Capitol, the streets were filled with pedestrians, bicyclists and news crews. Many people were craning their necks and holding up phone cameras for a glimpse of Biden.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joe Biden attends Mass at Cathedral of St. Matthew, JFK funeral site