When First Ladies Met Popes: A Photo Essay, 1841-2015

Rosalynn Carter was the only First Lady to welcome a Pope upon his arrival in the United States, 1979. Last week, Roman Catholic Pope Francis made his first trip to the United States. First Lady Michelle Obama shakes hands with the Pope Francis upon his arrival in Washington, September 24, 2015. Upon his arrival in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Barack Obama welcomed the Pope to Washington directly at the airport, rather than wait for his arrival at the White House. His wife Michelle was also there, along with their two daughters. While standing out in her blue dress, the First Lady played a more subdued role during the pontiff’s visit compared to some of her predecessors going back to the 19th century. Mrs. Carter and John Paul. Nearly forty years ago, however, it was a First Lady alone who did it first. In 1979, Rosalynn Carter, wearing a modest, closed black hat was on hand to welcome Pope John Paul II as he alighted from his plane for the first of what is now three visits to the White House by the leader of the global faith. The Baptist Carters were the first to host a Pope in the White House. Following the South Lawn arrival ceremony for John Paul II, presided over by President Jimmy Carter, Mrs. Carter guided His Holiness through the executive mansion, including a tour of the family’s private quarters. There, the presidential couple and their daughter Amy presented the Pope with a state gift and he offered them his. Then the Carters escorted him onto the Truman Balcony where they waved to the guests who’d assembled for the arrival ceremony. The Carters and the Pope exchange gifts during his visit with them in the White House family quarters. The Carters and the Pope on the Truman Balcony. Rosalynn Carter and Amy Carter visit with Pope John Paul II in Vatican City, 1980. John Paul II was the first Pope to visit the White House, Francis now being the third. In between them, the only other Pope to do so was Benedict XVI, who came as the guest of George W. and Laura Bush. Laura Bush accepts Pope Benedict’s state gift to the United States, presented in his papal reception room, 2006. Arriving for a two-day visit to Washington on April 15, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI was given an unexpected privilege at the White House by

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Categories: First Ladies

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