Joe Biden has rested a hand on the same Bible every time he’s been sworn into a political post, ever since he first became a senator in 1973. When Biden was sworn in as the President of the United States on January 20 he insisted on one particular frail 127-year-old family Bible.
The large 5-inch thick Bible, which is adorned with a Celtic cross on its cover, has been in Biden’s family since 1893. The book appears in public only on special occasion, such as when 78-year-old Biden took his oath as the 46th POTUS during the inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C.
President Biden told late-night host Stephen Colbert recently, “It’s just been a family heirloom on the Biden side of the family, and every important date is in there… For example, every time I’ve been sworn in for anything, the date has been on that and is inscribed on the Bible.”
Biden was first seen with the Bible when he was sworn in as a senator in Delaware in 1973 at 30 years old, and the family heirloom has made an appearance at his subsequent swearing-in ceremonies as a senator and eventually vice president.
The book was last present in 2013 when Justice Sonia Sotomayor swore Biden in for a second term as vice president after President Barack Obama’s re-election.
Biden’s late son, Beau, who died of brain cancer at 46 in 2015, also used the same Bible when he was sworn in as Delaware’s attorney general in 2007.
President Biden has often spoken about his faith, and he and his family have frequently attended church on historic occasions like his swearing-in as vice president. On Election Day in November, he attended church service at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church in Greenville, Delaware, before visiting his son Beau’s grave.
Last month, he attended church service with his wife at St. Joseph on the Brandywine before visiting the graves of his first wife, Neilia Biden, and their 13-month-old daughter, Naomi, on the 48th anniversary of their deaths. The mother and daughter were killed in a car crash on Dec. 18, 1972, just days before he first became a US senator, when a tractor-trailer struck their car while Neilia was taking their children to pick a Christmas tree.
After Biden placed his hand on the family Bible on the most significant day of his political career, his first stop the next morning was a church programme at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, one of the most prominent Catholic churches in Washington.
Biden is the second Catholic to become president of the United States, attends Mass every Sunday. He refers to his faith as “all about hope and purpose and strength.”
Though he supports abortion rights and other actions that go against his church doctrine, Biden has said his faith has given him hope during the darkest times in his life, especially after the death of his wife and young daughter.