All About the Meaningful and Deeply Personal Gifts Joe and Jill Biden Gave Pope Francis at the Vatican

The Bidens gave His Holiness a historic garment worn by clergy and framed in wood from the White House as well as a coin that acknowledges the service of their son Beau Biden

Bidens, Pope Francis
Photo: Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty

During their Friday audience with Pope Francis in Vatican City, President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden attended to business, discussing topics like world poverty and climate change. But the visit was also full of "laughter and clear rapport," according to a White House official who was present, thanks in part to heartfelt and thoughtful gifts the Bidens presented to their host.

During a moment in front of cameras, President Biden, 78, gave Francis, 84, a special coin that he said he presents to "leaders and warriors."

"You are the most significant warrior for peace I've ever met. And with your permission, I'd like to be able to give you a coin. It has the U.S. seal on the front. ... I know my son would want me to give it to you," Biden explained through a translator, referring to his son Beau Biden, a National Guardsman who died of brain cancer in 2015. "On the back of it, I have the state of Delaware, the 261st Unit my son served with."

Francis will need to keep track of the coin, according to the president, who said, "The tradition is — and I'm only kidding about this — next time I see you, you don't have it, you have to buy the drinks."

Francis laughed during the exchange and accepted the coin, saying, "Irish people love whisky," after the president said he's the "only Irishman you've ever met who's never had a drink."

The coin wasn't the only gift Francis received. The president and first lady, who wore a black dress and the traditional black lace mantilla that covered the back of her head, also presented him with a "historic chasuble in a custom frame with historic marble and White House wood," according to a White House official.

Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown

The chasuble — a liturgical vestment worn by clergy for the celebration of the Eucharist — is handwoven, dating back to 1930, and comes from the archival collection of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church.

The church, the White House official said, is "steeped in American history and has played a significant role in advocating for abolition, desegregation, and civil rights since its inception in 1787."

Bidens, Pope Francis
Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty

President Abraham Lincoln visited the church, which served as a hospital during the Civil War, and the nation's only other Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, worshiped there during his time in office.

The religious garment came in a frame that incorporates naturally-fallen wood from the White House grounds and white marble reclaimed from the original pulpit of Holy Trinity Church, according to the White House official, who added that a donation of winter clothing will also be made by the White House in Francis' name to commemorate the World Day of the Poor on Nov. 14.

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