White House Shows Behind the Scenes of Pope Visit

It's a welcome fit for a pope.

The White House released a video on YouTube on Wednesday giving viewers a glimpse into the extensive coordination and preparation that went into welcoming the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to Washington, D.C. In the video, event organizers discuss the hard work done in advance of Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States.

According to Ellie Schafer, director of the White House Visitors Office, preparations for the visit began in April, and 13,500 people were expected to attend the welcoming ceremony. Olivia O’Neil, a staff assistant at the visitors office, added that 250 volunteers were trained to help with the visit.

“I never dreamed I would be this close to seeing two figures of their stature meeting and discussing world affairs,” said Pete Selfridge, U.S. chief of protocol for the State Department, in reference to the pope and President Barack Obama, “so naturally having a role, a part of that, is really exciting.”

Francis is only the third pope to visit the White House.

The first such visit occurred in 1979, when President Jimmy Carter hosted Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI paid the White House a visit in 2008, where he was welcomed by President George W. Bush. Pope Paul VI met with President Lyndon B. Johnson during his historic 1965 trip to the United States but did not visit the White House. Francis will depart the nation’s capital for New York on Thursday and conclude his trip in Philadelphia this weekend, where he will attend the World Meeting of Families. 

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