Sunday, October 31, 2021

November Papal Prayer Intention


The Pope's Monthly Intentions for 2021


People Who Suffer from Depression
We pray that people who suffer from depression or burn-out will find support and a light that opens them up to life.

The Solemnity of All Saints


Ordinary Time: November 1st

Solemnity of All Saints



November 01, 2021 (Readings on USCCB website)


Almighty ever-living God, by whose gift we venerate in one celebration the merits of all the Saints, bestow on us, we pray, through the prayers of so many intercessors, an abundance of the reconciliation with you for which we earnestly long. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.










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Previous Calendar: Feast of All Saints ; Other Titles: All Saints Day

Today the Church celebrates all the saints: canonized or beatified, and the multitude of those who are in heaven enjoying the beatific vision that are only known to God. During the early centuries the Saints venerated by the Church were all martyrs. Later on the Popes set November 1 as the day for commemorating all the Saints. We all have this "universal call to holiness." What must we to do in order to join the company of the saints in heaven? We "must follow in His footsteps and conform [our]selves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. [We] must devote [our]selves with all [our] being to the glory of God and the service of [our] neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history" (Lumen Gentium, 40).

Don't forget to pray for the Poor Souls in Purgatory from November 1 to the 8th.

All Saints Day
During the year the Church celebrates one by one the feasts of the saints. Today she joins them all in one festival. In addition to those whose names she knows, she recalls in a magnificent vision all the others "of all nations and tribes standing before the throne and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands, proclaiming Him who redeemed them in His Blood."

The feast of All Saints should inspire us with tremendous hope. Among the saints in heaven are some whom we have known. All lived on earth lives like our own. They were baptized, marked with the sign of faith, they were faithful to Christ's teaching and they have gone before us to the heavenly home whence they call on us to follow them. The Gospel of the Beatitudes, read today, while it shows their happiness, shows, too, the road that they followed; there is no other that will lead us whither they have gone.

"The Commemoration of All Saints" was first celebrated in the East. The feast is found in the West on different dates in the eighth century. The Roman Martyrology mentions that this date is a claim of fame for Gregory IV (827-844) and that he extended this observance to the whole of Christendom; it seems certain, however, that Gregory III (731-741) preceded him in this. At Rome, on the other hand, on May 13, there was the annual commemoration of the consecration of the basilica of St. Maria ad Martyres (or St. Mary and All Martyrs). This was the former Pantheon, the temple of Agrippa, dedicated to all the gods of paganism, to which Boniface IV had translated many relics from the catacombs. Gregory VII transferred the anniversary of this dedication to November 1.

Halloween and Catholicism; the truth



by Fr. Steve GrunowOctober 31, 2018

As we near All Hallows Eve, aka Halloween, we fired some questions at the walking encyclopedia that is Father Steve Grunow, and he responded with everything you ever wanted to know about Halloween and its deeply Catholic roots.

QUESTION: I always figured that Halloween had pagan roots, but you are telling me they are Catholic. Huh? How so?

Fr. Steve: The origin and traditional customs associated with Halloween require no other explanation than that they are examples of the kinds of festivity that served as a means of celebrating the various holy days of the Catholic Liturgical Year. This includes everything from masquerades, feasting, and the associations of a given day of the year with supernatural or spiritual truths.
I would draw a distinction between the violent, macabre imagery that characterizes the modern appropriation of Halloween as a kind of secular celebration and the more traditional customs that are characteristic of a Catholic cultural ethos. The descent of Halloween into the madness of an annual fright fest is a relatively recent development, but the true substance of Halloween belongs to the Church. Halloween (or “All Hallows Eve”) is the festive precursor to the celebration of the Church’s public commemoration of All Saints Day.
There has been an appropriation of the festivities of Halloween by modern pagans, but please understand that modern paganism is precisely modern and should be distinguished from the cults of ancient religions. The origins and practices of the modern paganism do not extend farther back than the late nineteenth century. Also, remember, the term “pagan” is a slippery one. What does it mean? The worship of the gods and goddesses from long ago? Those cults have long since passed away with the cultural matrix that once supported the world views that were the conditions for their possibility. You can’t just reinvent those cults without the culture that supported them.
The paganism that exists today is a romantic and very selective attempt at a re-appropriation of an ancient religious ethos, but it isn’t and cannot be the same thing that paganism was in its original cultural expressions. I think that the practitioners need to justify their beliefs by insisting on an association with what they are doing and ancient forms and styles of worship. This gives the impression that the modern pagan élan has more gravitas (especially in relation to Christianity), but it doesn’t make it the same thing as the ancient cults. The association that modern paganism makes between itself and the forms and styles of ancient culture is more about desire than it is about reality.
I think that the association of Halloween with paganism has much more to do with the Protestant Reformation than anything else. The Protestant reformers were concerned about the practices of medieval Christianity that to them seemed contrary to what they believed the Church should be. They knew that these practices had clear precedents in the history of the Church, but insisted that they represented a corruption of the original form of Christianity that had become degraded over time. The degradation was explained as a regression into cultural forms that the Protestants described as pagan.
I realize popular religiosity is a complex phenomenon and the Church in Europe did intentionally assimilate many cultural practices that were more ancient than it’s own practices, but it did so selectively and with a keen sense of discernment. The end result was not simply that a veneer of Christianity was placed on top of an ancient pagan ethos, but that a new cultural matrix was created, one that was Christian to its core. It is a gross mischaracterization and oversimplification to assert that you can just scratch the surface of medieval Christianity and what rises up is paganism.
And yet this perception endures in contemporary culture. You see it, for example, in works of fiction like Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, which appropriates ideas from a lot of spurious, pseudo-scholarship that permeated British intellectual culture throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Unfortunately, this has become a standard and widely accepted narrative of how Europe became Christian. It is a modern myth born of the prejudices and propaganda of the Protestant reformation that mutated into the secular critique of Catholicism. As an ideological construct it represents the simultaneous fascination and aversion to medieval culture in general and Catholicism in particular. The reality is far more complex and interesting.
Protestantism was and is proposing what its adherents believe to be an alternative to Catholicism. This means that Protestantism will distinguish itself from the forms and styles of religious life that preceded their own culture and that this culture will be presented as a purified form of Christian faith and practice. One argument that is advanced to justify Protestant distinctiveness is that the beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church are pagan.
Placing all this in an American cultural context, the United States set its cultural roots in forms of Protestantism that were keenly aware of the distinction between themselves and a Catholic Europe that they had rejected and whose influence they had hoped to leave behind. Remember, the Puritans left Protestant England for the New World because England wasn’t Protestant enough! The Puritans detested the residual forms of Catholicism that they believed remained in the state church of England.
The arrival of Catholic immigrants to the shores of Protestant America was a source of great cultural consternation. The public festivals of the Catholic faith were characterized as a corrupting and dangerous form of paganism. Halloween with all its carousing and shenanigans was especially problematic, as it represented the incursion of a specifically Catholic cultural form into a public life that was supposed to be Protestant. Everything associated with these Catholic festivities was caricatured as pagan and the association stuck with even the Catholics internalizing the critique and believing that their own customs were holdovers from paganism.
As a result, the distinctly Catholic nature of Halloween became more and more muted and it was Catholics pulling back from their own festival that gave rise to the contemporary version of Halloween. The goulish version of the festival that we have today is in many respects a result of Catholic accommodation to a Protestant culture. And in another strange twist in the history of Halloween, most everything that the devout Protestant detests about Halloween has become all the more pronounced as a result of their protests.

QUESTION: What is the relation of Halloween to All Saints/All Souls? Which came first?

Fr. Steve: All Saints Day appears to have a more ancient genealogy than All Souls Day. 
The practice of a festival day to honor the whole communion of saints, rather than that just a single saint, seems to happen for the first time in the Catholic Church with the consecration of the Pantheon as a public place for the Church’s worship. This happened in the year 609 (or 610) on May 13th. The Pantheon had been originally dedicated for the use of Roman religion as a place where all the gods would be honored. Boniface displaced the images of the gods from their shrines and gave the building over to the saints of the Church, particularly the martyrs. This was a kind of “in your face” to pagan culture. Boniface was saying that the old gods had been defeated and were defeated by the faith of the Church’s martyrs.
Also, May 13th was a day associated in Roman religion with what was called the festival of the Lemurs or ancestral spirits. It is likely that Boniface’s choice of this day to claim the Pantheon for Christian worship was intentional and it was a way of saying that the martyrs are the great ancestors of all the baptized and it is their memory and witness that is rightly honored on the day that Romans recalled their ancestors.
How we get from May 13th to November 1st is interesting. The festival of All Saints seems to emerge from the dedication of another Roman church that was consecrated by Pope Gregory III. The church is named St. Peter and all the Saints. It was a subsequent pope, Gregory IV, who extended the annual festival that commemorates this church dedication to the whole Church as All Saints Day. The extension of festivals specific to the Church of Rome is a part and parcel of how the Catholic faith becomes the underlying cultural matrix from which a new kind of European civilization would emerge.
All Souls Day (celebrated November 2nd) seems to emerge with the growth and spread of monastic communities and the practice of commemorating deceased members of monasteries. This practice gained broad cultural traction and in time was extended to the whole Church.
Halloween is the precursor to All Saints Day and as such is kind of like what December 24th is to Christmas Day. Remember, the calendar of the Church is filled with festival days, all of which were once associated with great, public celebrations. A holy day of obligation has not always meant spending 45 minutes in church for Mass and then going back to work. Holy days were times for a party, and if you look at the Church’s calendar, past and present, with this ethos in mind you will discover that the reasons for a party happened with great frequency. 

QUESTION: I know that there are some Celtic or Germanic elements to the holiday that we’ve come to embrace as Halloween. Which traditions are Catholic and which are not?

Fr. Steve: The festival is not ethnic or nationalistic. It is Catholic. Certainly there were regional appropriations of the festivals of the Church, and Halloween was no exception, but bottom line these festal days belonged to the Church as a whole, which meant pretty much all of Europe. You might have some customs that were specific to regions, but the festival itself is a distinctly Catholic practice.
There are some folks that have come to believe that there is some association of Halloween with a pagan festival called Samhain, but I have come to understand that this association is more coincidental than actual.
In terms of customs that are specific to Catholicism, it is all pretty much derivative from the kinds of stuff that you find in the public festivities of Catholic culture. In this regard, Mardi Gras is probably the best point of reference. We think of Mardi Gras and its attendant festivities as specific to one day, but it used to be that that kind of festival environment occurred with great frequency throughout the Church’s year. Think of all the customs associated with Halloween as a Mardi Gras before All Saints Day and I think you get a perspective in regards to all the excess and tomfoolery. The party was meant to culminate in solemn worship, after which one returned to the routine of life. Unfortunately, the Church has surrendered the party to the secular culture. It has happened with Halloween. It is happening with Christmas. 

QUESTION: What do you think of the trend of parents boycotting Halloween on account of it being evil? What would you say to them if they told you such? Not safety or health concerns keeping kids indoors, but abject opposition to something believed to be satanic or terrorizing?

Fr. Steve: There is a lot that is unsavory about the contemporary celebration of Halloween. What does the singular focus on violence, horror, and death have to say about our culture? The traditional, Catholic Halloween placed these realities within the context of Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the devil. The current secularized version of the festival has no salvific content and has been loosed from its theological moorings. It looks very much like a festival of death for a culture of death, and for that reason I can see why parents might be concerned.
But what is the proper response to a culture of death? To lock the Church behind closed doors or to let her out into the world? I think it is time for Catholics to accept the religious liberties that this culture claims to afford them and go public with their own festivals—and to do so dramatically and with a great deal of public fervor. What is holding us back? What are we afraid will happen? The reticence and fear that characterizes Catholics is costing the Church its unique culture and it is allowing the culture of death to flourish. Halloween should not be a day when our churches go dark and Christians retreat into the shadows, but when we fill the darkness with Christ’s light and go out into the culture, inviting everyone to the prepare for the festival of the saints with all the joy we can muster.

QUESTION: What does the Catechism have to say about Halloween?

Fr. Steve: The Catechism has a lot to say about the characteristics of heroic virtue and holiness of life that create the Church’s saints. It also has a lot to say about Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the devil. These are the kinds of things that the festivities of Catholic Halloween should be celebrating with great gusto and panache.

QUESTION: One of the appealing elements of celebrating Halloween as a child, aside from the candy and costume stuff, is the spookiness factor—the thrill of being scared without any real risk. From a Catholic perspective, is that important? Is the experience of being fearful or having an awareness of evil an essential element for a Catholic kid to learn?

Fr. Steve: I think that all cultures employ cautionary tales that are replete with supernatural imagery, and use this imagery as a means of teaching boundaries and inculcating a sense that there are dangerous people and situations that they could encounter and should be wary of. Further, I think that stories told to a group will have the ability to evoke a shared emotional experience and as such bond the community together. It is not only Christian cultures that will employ a narrative, even a frightening one, to communicate their worldview and impart values.
I do think that Catholics need to learn from an early age to look at the world realistically and without the blurring lenses of sentimentality. The world is fallen and finite. People will hurt one another. We are sinners. But this darkness is illuminated by the light of God’s revelation in Christ that makes the deepest truth of what it means to be human available to us in the Incarnation and Paschal Mystery of the Lord Jesus. Yes, look honestly at sin and death. Know about the lure and deceptions of fallen, spiritual powers. Realize that greater than all the fallen powers of heaven and earth is the power of God in Christ, which is a love that is stronger than sin, death, and the devil. It is this divine power that is given to the believer in a personal way through Jesus Christ. He is victorious over everything that we are afraid of. His love is stronger than death. The power of his divine life dispels evil. Even as we gaze into the shadows we see his light.

QUESTION: I read somewhere that Halloween is seen as the day when the veil between heaven and earth and purgatory is thinnest, hence the presence of souls. That seems like some seriously “new agey” stuff. Is this a Catholic thing or is that where Wiccans and imaginative Hollywood types step in?

Fr. Steve: I don’t know precisely the metaphysical precedents that one would use to justify the belief that there are on specific days thicker and thinner veils between the natural and supernatural realms. It seems esoteric and speculative.
I do think that the reality that such a perspective represents has great power as a narrative that explains for some folks how they think that the natural and the supernatural interact with one another. Is it true? I don’t know how one would adjudicate such a claim definitively. As such, it remains a supposition or a possibility. 
The Catholic faith describes natural and supernatural realities existing in a relationship of communion or coinherence that is called sacramental. This means that because of the Incarnation of God in Christ, natural realities can express supernatural realities. Physical realities can truly be bearers of divine grace.
The divine grace that is revealed in the Church’s commemoration of Halloween should be our participation in what is called the communion of saints. This communion of saints means that this world is not all that there is, and that those who have passed through the experience of death continue to love us, care for us, and even through God’s permissive will, can interact with us. It also means that that the Christian can hope that God’s power in Christ to save and redeem extends beyond this world to the next and as such we can hope that few of us will be lost causes. The festivities of Halloween should affirm that these beliefs about the communion of saints are real and are also the deepest reality of what this world has become because of the revelation of God in Christ.

Pope mentions several special intentions at the Angelus Address


Pope prays for Haiti, flood victims in Vietnam & Sicily, COP26 summit

Pope Francis expresses his closeness to people hit by flooding in Vietnam and the Italian island of Sicily, urges civil authorities in Haiti to protect people as gang-related violence spikes, and hopes COP26 will produce effective solutions to climate change.

By Devin Watkins

As he does most Sundays, Pope Francis turned his thoughts to current events following the Angelus prayer with pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.

His first appeal was for flood-hit populations in Vietnam, where at least one person has died and over 7,000 people have been evacuated.

Prayers for flood victims

“My prayers and thoughts go out to the many families who are suffering, as well as my encouragement for the civil and local Church authorities who are working to respond to this emergency,” said the Pope.

The flooding in central Vietnam was set off by Tropical Depression “Invest” which moved across the Southeast Asian nation.

Pope Francis also expressed his closeness to people on the southern Italian island of Sicily, which has seen bad weather over the past week.

A “medicane” – or Mediterranean hurricane – tore through the eastern part of Sicily, and left at least three people dead.

Do not abandon Haiti

The Pope then turned his attention to the Haitian people, who are “living in borderline conditions.”

“I ask the authorities of various nations to help this country, and to not leave them alone,” he urged, asking everyone to pray for the people of Haiti.

“Let us not abandon them,” the Pope repeated.

Violence and gang-related activity has spiraled out of control in recent months, following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise.

In one instance, 17 Christian missionaries have been kidnapped by a powerful gang in the capital of Port-au-Prince, which is demanding a ransom of US$17 million. Negotiations for their release are ongoing.

COP26: Hear cry of earth and poor

Pope Francis also recalled the opening on Sunday evening of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Over 30,000 activists, political leaders, journalists, and others are gathering in the Scottish city to kick start efforts to combat climate change and limit global warming.

“Let us pray that the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor might be heard,” said the Pope. “May this encounter give effective responses, offering concrete hope to future generations.”

Sunday Angelus Address 10.31.2021


Pope at Angelus: May our love for God and neighbour resound in us

At the Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis calls on us to repeat Jesus' words and truly endeavour "to Love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength and my neighbour as myself”.

By Vatican News staff writer

Greeting pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square before leading the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Francis focused his Sunday catechesis on the day's Gospel reading, which recounts when a scribe approached Jesus asking Him which commandment is first.

Jesus answers by quoting Scripture saying the first commandment is to love God and the second to love one's neighbour as oneself. The scribe recognises and repeats Jesus's words.

The Pope said this repetition serves to reinforce a key teaching and to understand that the Word of God must be received in a special way, noting "it must be repeated, made one’s own, safeguarded."

The Word of God must be “ruminated”

Pope Francis observed that in monastic tradition there is the concept that the Word of God must be “ruminated”, as it is "so nutritious" that it must nourish and be contemplated in every aspect of life, as Jesus says, "the entire heart, the entire soul, the entire mind, all of our strength."

The Pope underscored that "it must resound, echo within us", reflecting that "the Lord dwells in the heart," as the scribe understood and Jesus told him: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

Read and reread the Gospel

Summarizing his thoughts, the Pope called on us to see that the Lord is looking for "docile hearts", more than "skilled Scripture commentators", who welcome His Word and allow interior conversion. He encouraged everyone to always have the Gospel in hand, "to read and reread it, to be passionate about it."

Doing so, the Word of God enters our heart intimately and "we bear fruit in Him".

Today's Gospel episode, the Pope added, shows us that more than just reading and understanding our need to love God and neighbour, we must allow this "great commandment" to "resound in us" and become "the voice of our conscience", as the Holy Spirit makes the seed of the Word germinate in us.

Each of us can reflect a unique expression of "the one Word of love that God gives us," he noted.

Let us repeat Jesus’ words

In conclusion, Pope Francis called on us to repeat Jesus' words and let them come alive in us: “To love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength and my neighbour as myself.”

Each day we should ask how much this commandment is present and resonating within us in order to be ever aware of our love for the Lord and doing good to those we meet on our journey.

Before leading the recitation of the Angelus, he prayed that the Virgin Mary may "teach us to welcome the living word of the Gospel in our hearts."

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Last Saint of Day for October


St. Wolfgang

Wolfgang (d. 994) + Bishop and reformer. Born in Swabia, Germany, he studied at Reichenau under the Benedictines and at Wurzburg before serving as a teacher in the cathedral school of Trier. He soon entered the Benedictines at Einsiedeln (964) and was appointed head of the monastery school, receiving ordination in 971. He then set out with a group of monks to preach among the Magyars of Hungary, but the following year (972) was named bishop of Regensburg by Emperor Otto II (r. 973-983). As bishop, he distinguished himself brilliantly for his reforming zeal and his skills as a statesman. He brought the clergy of the diocese into his reforms, restored monasteries, promoted education, preached enthusiastically, and was renowned for his charity and aid to the poor, receiving the title Eleemosynarius Major (Grand Almoner). He also served as tutor to Emperor Henry II (r. 1014-1024) while he was still king. Wolfgang died at Puppingen near Linz, Austria. He was canonized in 1052 by Pope St. Leo IX (r. 1049-1054). Feast day: October 31.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Saturday Saint of the Day


St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

Confessor and Jay brother, also called Alonso. He was born in Segovia, Spain, on July 25, 1532, the son of a wealthy merchant, and was prepared for First Communion by Blessed Peter Favre, a friend of Alphonsus' father. While studying with the Jesuits at Alcala, Alphonsus had to return home when his father died. In Segovia he took over the family business, was married, and had a son. That son died, as did two other children and then his wife. Alphonsus sold his business and applied to the Jesuits. His lack of education and his poor health, undermined by his austerities, made him less than desirable as a candidate for the religious life, but he was accepted as a lay brother by the Jesuits on January 31, 1571. He underwent novitiate training and was sent to Montesion College on the island of Majorca. There he labored as a hall porter for twenty-four years. Overlooked by some of the Jesuits in the house, Alphonsus exerted a wondrous influence on many. Not only the young students, such as St. Peter Claver, but local civic tad and social leaders came to his porter's lodge for advice tad and direction. Obedience and penance were the hallmarks of his life, as well as his devotion to the Immaculate Conception. He experienced many spiritual consolations, and he wrote religious treatises, very simple in style but sound in doctrine. Alphonsus died after a long illness on October 31, 1617, and his funeral was attended by Church and government leaders. He was declared Venerable in 1626, and was named a patron of Majorca in 1633. Alphonsus was beatified in 1825 and canonized in September 1888 with St. Peter Claver.

Joe Biden claims the Pope told him to just keep on receiving Communion


UPDATE: Biden says pope told him to continue receiving Communion


U.S. President Joe Biden greets Pope Francis during a meeting at the Vatican Oct. 29, 2021. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

By: Carol Glatz

Date: October 29, 2021

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis and U.S. President Joe Biden had an unusually long meeting at the Vatican Oct. 29, talking about the climate crisis and poverty, but not about abortion, the president said.

Some U.S. bishops have argued that Biden, who regularly attends Mass, should not receive Communion because of his support for legalized abortion, while Catholic Church teaching emphasizes the sacredness of human life from conception to natural death.

Asked if abortion was one of the topics of his meeting with the pope, Biden responded, “We just talked about the fact he was happy that I was a good Catholic, and I should keep receiving Communion.”

Biden spoke to reporters at Rome’s Palazzo Chigi where he was meeting Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi after meeting Pope Francis.

The Vatican described the president’s meetings with both the pope and with top Vatican diplomats as consisting of “cordial discussions,” with both sides “focused on the joint commitment to the protection and care of the planet, the health care situation and the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

They also discussed “refugees and assistance to migrants,” the Vatican said, and “reference was also made to the protection of human rights, including freedom of religion and conscience.”

The pope and the president also exchanged “views on some matters regarding the current international situation, also in the context of the imminent G20 summit in Rome, and on the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation,” it said.

According to a statement released by the White House, “President Biden thanked His Holiness for his advocacy for the world’s poor and those suffering from hunger, conflict and persecution.

“He lauded Pope Francis’ leadership in fighting the climate crisis, as well as his advocacy to ensure the pandemic ends for everyone through vaccine sharing and an equitable global economic recovery,” the statement said.

During a nearly 90-minute meeting in the library of the Apostolic Palace, which included 75 minutes of closed-door discussions between the two leaders, Pope Francis gave Biden a large painted ceramic tile of a pilgrim walking along Rome’s Tiber River and pointing to St. Peter’s Basilica in the distance. It and its border of shell designs symbolize “protection from adversity” during one’s spiritual growth and the hope of reaching a deeper and more fulfilling purpose at the end of this spiritual journey, according to an explanation of the artistic piece.

Pope Francis also gave the president a signed copy of his message for World Day of Peace 2021, a collection of his major documents, including his document on human fraternity, and the book, “Why Are You Afraid? Have You No Faith? The World Facing the Pandemic.” The book contains photographs and homilies, messages and prayers the pope delivered during the pandemic, emphasizing the importance of love, hope, solidarity and the common good.

Biden presented Pope Francis with a framed, handwoven “fiddleback” chasuble that had been made by Gamarellis, the famous Rome tailor shop, in 1930, for Jesuits in the United States. The White House was also making a donation of winter clothing to charities in the name of Pope Francis to commemorate the World Day of the Poor Nov. 14.

Biden also gave the pope a copy of his memoir, “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose,” about losing his firstborn son, Beau Biden, to brain cancer at the age of 46 and a presidential command coin inscribed with the unit of his late son, who had been deployed to Iraq in 2008.

Biden explained the reason for the coin to the pope, “I’m not sure this is appropriate, but there’s a tradition in America that the president has what is called a command coin that he gives to warriors and leaders and you are the most significant warrior for peace I’ve ever met.”

“And with your permission, I’d like to give you this coin,” he said, saying, “I know my son would want me to give this to you.”

“The tradition — I’m only kidding about this — next time I see you, if you don’t have it, you have to buy the drinks,” Biden said, adding, however, “I’m the only Irishman you’ve ever met who’s never had a drink.”

Later, as the pope walked Biden to the door, he thanked him for the visit and “for this,” he said, clutching the coin.

After meeting the pope, Biden went downstairs to meet Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican foreign minister. In addition to his wife, Jill Biden, the president traveled with a 10-person entourage of senior White House staff, including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan, his national security adviser.

The White House said in a statement that those discussions included “efforts to rally global support for vaccinating the developing world against COVID-19” and Biden thanking the Vatican for its “leadership in fighting the climate crisis” and for “speaking out on behalf of the wrongfully detained, including in Venezuela and Cuba.”

“The leaders committed to continue using their voices to advocate for personal and religious freedoms worldwide,” the White House said.

The Vatican had unexpectedly canceled — about 24 hours before Biden’s arrival — a scheduled livestream of the visit to the objections of reporters. Accredited journalists covering the Vatican have not been present for the beginning and concluding portions of any meetings with heads of state in the papal library since late February 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A group of reporters was given permission to be present for Biden’s arrival by car in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace and a livestream was aired only of the presidential vehicle convoy arriving at the Vatican and stopping in the courtyard.

The only explanation the Vatican provided was that no livestreams of the pope’s meetings with heads of state have been provided since the pandemic began. However, as is customary, Vatican Media provided photographs and edited footage of some parts of the meeting.

Reaching the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, where the U.S. flag had been raised and a formation of Swiss Guards stood watch, Biden and his wife were welcomed by Msgr. Leonardo Sapienza, regent of the papal household. Shaking his hand, Biden said, “It’s a pleasure to see you,” introduced his wife, and added that he was “glad to be here.”

“It’s good to be back,” he said, smiling, greeting and thanking each of the awaiting papal gentlemen who would accompany him upstairs.

“I’m Jill’s husband,” he told one member of the papal household, and, “If I had had your hair, I would have been elected much earlier,” he joked to another gentleman, blessed with a full head of salt-and-pepper-colored curls.

The monsignor then led them upstairs to the papal library before the live footage was cut off.

The private papal audience was Biden’s first presidential visit to the Vatican. Pope Francis had previously met Biden three times when Biden was vice president; the previous time was in 2016, after they both spoke at a conference on adult stem-cell research at the Vatican.

Biden is now the 14th U.S. president to have met a pope at the Vatican and the second Catholic president after President John F. Kennedy met Pope Paul VI almost 60 years ago.

The White House had said in mid-October that Biden planned on discussing working together on efforts promoting the respect of basic human dignity, ending the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing the climate crisis, income inequality and migration, and caring for the poor.