LIVE

Pope Francis landed just outside Washington, D.C., at 4 p.m. on Tuesday to begin his historic U.S. visit

By Maria Coder
Updated September 22, 2015 04:15 PM
Advertisement
Image
Credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

Pope Francis landed just outside of Washington, D.C., at 4 p.m. on Tuesday and was warmly greeted at the Joint Base Andrews tarmac by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, their daughters, Sasha and Malia, and Vice President Joe Biden and his family – marking his first-ever trip to the United States as pontiff.

As Pope Francis descended the stairs from his plane, the crowd on the tarmac erupted in cheers of, “Welcome to the U.S.A.! Ho ho! Hey hey!”

According to CNN, the gathering on hand for his first steps on U.S. soil was small, by comparison, to the rest of his visit – about 300 school children, some of whom presented the pope with flowers, and a couple hundred adults.

His Holiness (who left in a modest Fiat 500) will participate in a welcoming ceremony on Wednesday at the White House and visit the National Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the first-ever canonization to happen in the U.S.

On Thursday, Francis will address a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, TIME reports, before other visits, including lunch with the homeless. He’s expected to arrive in New York City at 5 p.m.

On Friday, the pope will address the 70th annual General Assembly at the United Nations, then he’ll speak at the Sept. 11 memorial, visit Central Park and make several stops by motorcade en route to a 6 p.m. mass at Madison Square Garden.

Then Saturday he heads to Philadelphia, on the final leg of his trip, where he’ll conduct a mass at the World Meeting of the Families and visit with inmates, some of whom have spent several months building him a special chair.

It’s estimated that more than 2 million people will flock to his various appearances over the next few days.

This is the longest papal trip Francis, 78, has taken to-date. He’s officially expected to depart the United States and return to Rome at 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Prior to visiting the nation, Francis spent four days in Cuba, where he met with Cuban President Raul Castro and representatives of the country’s Catholic Church. He also spent a half hour casually speaking with the country’s former president, Fidel Castro, 89, at his Havana home.

The Pope has now made 10 overseas trips during his papacy. This trip is detailed in PEOPLE’s current cover story.