Francis to become first pope to address Congress
WASHINGTON - On Thursday, Pope Francis will make history on Capitol Hill as he will be the first pope to address a joint session of Congress. Before that speech, he will also get a short historic tour of the U.S. Capitol.
The flags outside the building signify the pope is coming. Every detail has been planned and nothing has been left unpolished.
“People need to plan a lot of extra time to get anywhere around here,” said U.S. Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine.
He said security measures have been planned out for months.
“We do all types of preplanning,” said Chief Dine. “We’ve had training for the entire department. Literally over a hundred briefings. So much coordination and great communication -- and just a lot of planning both internally and externally.”
When Pope Francis arrives, he will enter through the House side as his main focus that day will be addressing Congress. But there is also a historic connection between the U.S. Capitol and the Vatican.
Francis will walk down the Brumidi Corridors. In the 1850s, Constantino Brumidi, who once worked in the Vatican, was sent away to America. He would spend decades painting inside the U.S. Capitol. His most impressive mural is under the Capitol dome.
“The whole Brumidi Corridor is decorated by this Italian artist, who was called the Michelangelo of the Capitol, working on the dome as well as decorating much of the parts of the Senate itself,” said Brian Summers of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society.
Just before his address to Congress, the pope will enter National Statuary Hall. Cameras are in place and a marking is on the floor where Pope Francis will view the statue of Junipero Serra, who he will canonize on Wednesday night.
After he addresses Congress, the pope is expected to come to the Speaker's Balcony where he may possibly wave to the crowd that has gathered.
Huge televisions will also be set up for people outside of the U.S. Capitol to see his speech.