He's here! Pope Francis landed on U.S. soil on Tuesday afternoon and he had an A-list contingent ready to meet him in Washington D.C. It's the pontiff's first visit to the United States since becoming pope, and he was greeted by President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, their daughters, Sasha and Malia, and Vice President Joe Biden and his family.
Pope Francis with Barack, Malia and Michelle Obama Photo: Getty Images
The six-day trip comes after the pontiff spent time in Cuba and Pope Francis, 78, will have an action-packed time during his visit.
On Wednesday he will take part in a welcoming ceremony at the White House before holding the first-ever canonization mass on American soil (for new saint Junipero Serra) at the National Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
The following day he will address a Joint Session of Congress, visit the National Mall and meet parishioners from St. Patrick's Catholic Church. Catholic Charities St. Maria's Meals plans to have dozens of tables set up for the poor and homeless to be served lunch as the Pope blesses the food.
Pope Francis made the President laugh within minutes of his arrival Photo: Getty Images
The pontiff will fly to New York City that night and hold an evening prayer service at St. Patrick's Cathedral. On Friday he will spend time with the United Nations General Assembly before heading to a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
Then he will head uptown to visit Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem and lead a papal motorcade through Central Park, which will be witnessed by 80,000 lucky ticketholders who won their spots in a lottery. That evening Jennifer Hudson and Harry Connick Jr. are set to perform before mass is held in Madison Square Garden.
On Saturday the Pope will fly to Philadelphia, where mass will be held at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul before he visits Independence Mall, home to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, there the Declaration of Independence was signed.
That evening he will stop by the Festival of Families and hold a prayer vigil with the World Meeting of Families. Mark Wahlberg is hosting the event, which is the largest meeting of Catholic families held every three years. It will feature performances by Aretha Franklin and Andrea Bocelli.
Sunday will see Francis hold a papal meeting with bishops before visiting inmates at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. He will return to the World Meeting of Families for mass before departing for Rome.