Imagine going to church in your small hometown in southern England one sleepy summer morning to find the president of the United States is also in attendance!
Well, that is exactly what happened to churchgoers in the U.K over the weekend when the Bidens turned up to attend Sunday Mass before heading their separate ways after a successful G7 summit.
Regular churchgoers were left “gobsmacked” when the president and first lady suddenly dropped by at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in St. Ives, Cornwall.
The Bidens were in Cornwall, which is located in the southwest of England, over the weekend following the president’s attendance at the G7 Summit.
While on the trip, the pair were seen with Boris Johnson, prime minister of the United Kingdom, and his wife. They also met with Her Majesty The Queen for a very successful afternoon tea.
Biden said about the monarch: “I don’t think she’ll be insulted, but she reminded me of my mother.”
President Biden is America’s second Catholic president…
And the Bidens regularly attend the Jesuit-affiliated Holy Trinity Church which is the same church to which John F Kennedy, the nation’s first Catholic president, belonged. It’s just a few blocks from Georgetown University, the nation’s oldest Catholic college. While public displays of religiosity are not uncommon among U.S presidents, Biden appears poised to be the first president since Bill Clinton to attend regular church services while in office.
The president has been open about his Catholic faith, having referred to it frequently over the course of his public life. He quoted St Augustine in his inaugural address and Ecclesiastes 3 in his presidential victory speech.
The people at Sacred Heart Catholic Church were amazed at the surprise arrival.
“I think gobsmacked is probably a very true word,” said Annie Fitzpatrick, fifty-eight. “It’s quite amazing, we went into the church and they took some details from us and I thought this is a bit unusual.
“About ten minutes into the service the doors opened up and President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden walked in and just sat in the pew just across from me.”
The president “quietly got on with his prayer like everyone was doing,” she said, adding: “He looked around and said peace be with you, and I was one of them so I’m delighted. I’m not sure I will ever get over this moment completely.”
Gayle Wood, sixty-three, said Biden appeared to make a “very generous donation” to the church before leaving.
Biden is now on the second leg of his trip, arriving in Brussels, Belgium for the upcoming NATO summit. He says that a strong NATO partnership is vital for maintaining U.S national security for the “remainder of the century.” Cyber defense and climate change are among the topics being discussed at the summit.
He will meet with Belgian King Phillipe on Tuesday before ending the 8-day trip Wednesday by meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.
Make sure to stay posted for updates on the Biden’s work during their European visit.