Joe Biden, who will become only the second Catholic president, is attending a service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, DC, ahead of his Inauguration later today.
Biden will be joined by all four congressional leaders, CNN reported, including Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.
Incoming presidents typically attend services on the morning of their inauguration, often at St. John’s Episcopal Church, a small church across Lafayette Square from the White House known as “The Church of the Presidents.”
Since 1933, seven presidents – Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Truman, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Obama and Trump – attended morning services at St. John’s ahead of their public inaugurations, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
FDR went to St. John’s before three of his inaugurations; for his fourth, in 1945, FDR attended a private service at the White House.
St. John’s was back in the news in 2020 as the backdrop of Trump’s infamous Bible photo op.
About the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle: The cathedral, the Mother Church of the archdiocese of Washington, is named for Saint Matthew the Apostle, the patron saint of civil servants, according to the cathedral’s website.
St. Matthew’s has been the site of several historical events, including the funeral Mass for President John F. Kennedy on November 25, 1963. Funerals for Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court William Rehnquist and Associate Justice William J. Brennan were also held there.
Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis have all visited St. Matthew’s, as well.
The cathedral also traditionally hosts an annual celebration called the “Red Mass” on the Sunday prior to the beginning of the Supreme Court’s regular October term, where Supreme Court justices, members of Congress and government leaders are invited to attend the special service.