Joe Biden shares laugh with priest as he tours Catholic pilgrimage site

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US president Joe Biden has toured a Catholic pilgrimage site as part of his final day of engagements in Ireland.

Mr Biden was met by cheering crowds waving Ireland, US and Mayo flags, at Knock shrine in Co Mayo – one sign in the crowd read “Welcome Home Joe”.

Knock shrine is a Catholic pilgrimage site, where locals claimed to have seen an apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1879.

President Biden visit to the island of Ireland
US president Joe Biden arrives at Ireland West Airport Knock (Niall Carson/PA)

The two could be seen laughing together by the altar as Fr Gibbons told the president about the history of the site, pointing out details including the Stations of the Cross.

Fr Gibbons held an umbrella over the president as they walked towards the Apparition Chapel.

Mr Biden touched the original apparition wall before heading inside the chapel.

The pilgrimage location has been visited by several popes, most recently by Pope Francis in 2018.

Mr Biden is the second Catholic president and has been known to attend Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington’s Georgetown neighbourhood, a few miles from the White House.

It is where the nation’s first Catholic president, John F Kennedy, also attended mass in his time in office.

Upon arrival at Knock airport, Mr Biden was met by various dignitaries including transport minister Eamon Ryan and Mayo TD Dara Calleary.

Knock airport was opened in 1985 to attract visitors to the pilgrimage site.

It is the fourth busiest airport in Ireland, serving 722,000 passengers in 2022.

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