Former vice president Joe Biden will be taking a making a run for the presidential office in 2020. Biden is a practicing Catholic and served as the first Catholic vice president in American history. Here are five things to know about Biden and his faith.
1. HE IS CATHOLIC
Biden was raised Catholic. He attended grade school at Holy Rosary, a Catholic school in Philadelphia, and later attended Archmere Academy in Delaware, an all-boys Catholic school.
In an interview with NPR, he said, “From the moment I got within the ten-foot-high wrought-iron fence that surrounded the campus and drove up the road—they actually called it the yellow-brick road—I knew where I wanted to go to high school … I’d sit and stare out my bedroom window and dream of the day I would walk through the front doors and take my spot in that seat of learning. I’d dream of the day I would score the touchdown or hit the game-winning home run.” Biden would end up helping his football team go undefeated his senior year.
2. HE WEARS A ROSARY ON HIS LEFT WRIST
Biden’s rosary originally belonged to his late son, Beau Biden. Biden’s younger son, Hunter, had given the rosary to Beau. The beads were from Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico. Beau died in 2015 after battling brain cancer.
“I have not taken off the rosary Beau was wearing when he passed, since then. It is my connection with him,” Biden said in an interview.
He also wrote about his son’s life and eventual death in his book, Promise Me, Dad. “It’s not about religion, per se,” he said on wearing the beads. “It’s about the connection. It makes me feel good. I know he’s with me, just touching it.”
3. HE HAS BEEN DENIED COMMUNION
A Catholic church in South Carolina reportedly denied Biden communion because of the former vice president’s support for abortion rights. Father Robert Morey, of Saint Anthony Catholic Church in Florence, South Carolina said he denied communion because “any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching.”
“Holy Communion signifies we are one with God, each other and the Church. Our actions should reflect that,” Morey said.
Biden refused to comment, calling it a “private matter.”
4. HE QUESTIONED HIS FAITH AFTER THE DEATH OF HIS CHILD AND HIS FIRST WIFE
In 1972, Biden’s first wife, Neilia, and his one-year-old daughter, Naomi, were killed in a car accident. Sons Beau and Hunter survived, but Biden said he struggled with his faith after the accident.
“For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide. Not because they were deranged, not because they were nuts, because they had been to the top of the mountain, and they just knew in their heart they would never get there again,” he said.
Biden said meeting Jill Jacobs a few years later helped give him “back his life.” He has said Jill has encouraged him in his faith over the years, once posting the quote, “Faith sees best in the dark” on his shaving mirror.
5. HE IS CONSIDERED A FRIEND OF ISRAEL
Of Biden’s three children, all three married Jews. His late son, Beau Biden, was married to Hallie Olivere, and his daughter, Ashley Biden, married Howard Krein, a Jewish doctor. His other son, Hunter, married Melissa Cohen. The couple has matching tattoos that say, “shalom,” which means “peace” in Hebrew.
“If I’m going to switch, I know where I’m going,” Biden said in 2016 about his Jewish family members and support for Jews in Israel.
Biden has long been considered an advocate for Israel’s Jews. He has also talked about his large collection of yarmulkes he has gathered from attending Jewish events.
Biden has also been honored by the World Jewish Congress for his work in helping Israel and the Jewish people. “I am a Zionist, and you need not be a Jew to be a Zionist,” he said.