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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Press Association

President Biden "in tears" after meeting priest who gave last rites to his son

President Joe Biden has broken down in tears at Knock Shrine in Co Mayo after a chance meeting with the priest who performed the last rites sacrament on his son Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer in 2015.

The parish priest of Knock, Fr Richard Gibbons, told the BBC that the chaplain who gave the last rites to the president’s son is now working at Knock shrine.

Fr Frank O’Grady was the priest that performed the last rites and met with Mr Biden.

Read more: In pictures: US President Joe Biden's historic trip to Belfast

“He spoke about his, his family and his connection with his faith, and also about his son Beau who died,” Fr Gibbons said.

“And it just so happened, and this was kind of spontaneous, it just so happened that we have, working at the shrine here, the chaplain who gives the last rites of the last anointing to his son in the United States.

“Just extraordinary, and I didn’t even know that, I didn’t know that until the president arrived.

“I told the president that because I would have lined up the priests to meet him, so he wanted to meet him straightaway.”

Fr Gibbons said it was an emotional moment for Joe Biden.

He said: “He laughed, he cried, it just kind of hit the man, you could just (see) how deeply it all felt and meant to him.”

Fr Gibbons added: “It was an extraordinary afternoon. I won’t forget it, I can tell you that it was quite something else.”

Fr Gibbons said he would have arranged to have Fr Frank O’Grady in the line-up to meet the US president if he had known he had performed the last rites on his son Beau Biden.

“I asked, I said to Fr Frank O’Grady, ‘Why didn’t you tell me this when he came?’ And he said, ‘Well, I didn’t want to say too much about it’,” Fr Gibbons said.

Fr Gibbons also said Joe Biden had a private moment of prayer before receiving a gift from the site of the apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1879.

“We said a prayer, we said a decade of the rosary for his family and we lit a candle and then he took a moment or two of private prayer and then we presented him with a gift of some of the original stone of the gable wall where the apparition took place,” he said.

The US President is due to visit Ballina on Friday, where he has ancestral connections.


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