The president has long talked about the importance of faith in his life

By Virginia Chamlee
April 19, 2021 06:30 PM
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US President Joe Biden(R) and First Lady Jill Biden arrive at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church in Wilmington, Delaware
From left: Jill Biden and Joe Biden
| Credit: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty

It was a Biden family affair on Sunday as the president and first lady attended a special service at their church in Wilmington, Delaware, for the confirmation of grandson Robert "Hunter" Biden II.

Joe and Jill Biden arrived at St. Joseph on the Brandywine — the Catholic church where they regularly attend Mass — around 1 p.m. and left along with Hunter just after 2 p.m.

According to reporters with them, the couple spent some time chatting and taking photos before the first lady, 69, walked to an awaiting SUV to take a bouquet of flowers to the other side of the church, where the Biden family is buried.

Hunter is the son of the president's oldest child, Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer in 2015, and Beau's widow, Hallie Biden. He was born in 2006.

Though neither Biden spoke publicly, the traveling press reported that laughter could be heard as the family gathered before they joined Dr. Biden and left the church.

The president, 78, has long talked about the importance of faith in his life. In his first interview after moving to the White House, he told PEOPLE: "My religion, for me, is a safe place."

"I never miss Mass, because I can be alone. I'm with my family but just kind of absorbing the fundamental principle that you've got to treat everyone with dignity," he continued. "Jill, when she wants me to get a real message, she tapes it on the mirror above the sink where I shave. And she put up a great quote from Kierkegaard saying, 'Faith sees best in the dark.' Other people may meditate. For me, prayer gives me hope and it centers me."

President Joe Biden leaves during Hunter's confirmation
From left: Hallie Biden, Hunter Biden Jr., Natalie Biden and Joe Biden
| Credit: Aimee Dilger/SOPA Images/Shutterstock
President Joe Biden leaves during Hunter's confirmation
The Bidens gather at the confirmation of Hunter Biden Jr.
| Credit: Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock

The Bidens have also spoken openly about loss — as the president did again last week, when when visiting Section 60 in Arlington National Cemetery, where soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan are buried.

Growing emotional, the president told gathered reporters, "I have trouble these days ever showing up at a cemetery not thinking of my son Beau, who proudly insisted on putting on that uniform and going with his unit to Iraq and giving up his spot as attorney general in the state of Delaware because he thought it was the right thing to do."

Earlier that day, while announcing his decision to pull troops from Afghanistan, which the Trump administration had hoped to accomplish by May, Biden said he was "the first president in 40 years who knows what it means to have a child serving in a war zone."

Beau was Delaware's attorney general from 2007 until 2015 and was deployed with the Army National Guard for a year in Iraq, from 2008 until 2009. 

The president has earlier said that Beau's death was the primary reason he didn't run for the White House in 2016.

As he was sworn in five years later, a man in uniform was photographed next to Beau's grave in Delaware. And after arriving in the White House, Biden put up a photo of Beau behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.

The Bidens' children and grandchildren were a visible part of his campaign, gathering together on stage after his November victory speech and again on Jan. 20 for the inauguration.