More than 100 people gathered in Dupont Circle park to watch Pope Francis address Congress this morning.
Dupont Festival teamed up with NBC Washington to livestream the speech on a jumbo-sized screen in the park.
“When NBC approached us, I wasn’t sure if we could turn it around quickly enough, but we did and people seem to be very glad for that,” said Aaron DeNu, Dupont Festival’s principal organizer. “It’s a beautiful day and people are taking time out of their work day to come down to the park and see this.”
Crowds waited excitedly in front of the screen and then clapped as the pope entered the chambers.
Some attendees brought along their morning coffee and breakfasts, while other passers-by stopped briefly to hear snippets of the pope’s speech.
ANC 2B Commissioner Mike Feldstein was one of those who gathered to hear the pope speak.
“There’s a mood since he’s been here,” Feldstein said about the pope’s visit to D.C. “He’s generating a level of emotional joy that I’ve never felt before in this city. I look around, and I’ve never seen so many people smiling.”
Pope Francis took an unexpected detour today.
His Holiness was spotted cruising down U Street in his trademark Fiat earlier this afternoon. Was the pope hungry for a U Street taco? It’s unclear. What is clear, however, is that his appearance came as a surprise to many.
“We thought it was a bank robbery or something,” said Andre Esser, who owns U Scoot at the corner of Vermont Avenue and U Street NW. “They were yelling at a guy to get out of a van, all these cops.”
“Next thing we know, the pope comes driving by in a Fiat,” Esser added.
Esser said that although police presence had been heavy around the area all day, officers only started to block off the street five minutes before the pope’s arrival. And then: pope.
“I was actually getting ready to leave,” said Esser. “And as I’m leaving, I’m like… there’s the pope coming by. It was a huge surprise.”
“It almost looked as if he was blessing my business,” he added. “I was going to put that on my Facebook, the pope just blessed my business.”
Photo and video courtesy of U Scoot
Had enough pope madness? Brace yourself. We’re not done yet.
Dupont Festival will team up with NBC Washington to livestream the pope’s address to Congress in Dupont Circle at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning.
“We’ll be positioning the screen in the exact same location as the movie night screen,” said Aaron DeNu, Dupont Festival’s principal organizer. “The screen will be a high definition LED rain-or-shine proof screen.”
DeNu suggests bringing breakfast or coffee along to watch the pope’s address.
“This is such a perfect opportunity for folks to literally walk outside their offices and join us by the park,” DeNu added.
Photo courtesy of Dupont Festival
(Updated at 2:07 p.m.) More than a thousand people lined Connecticut Avenue NW to see a historic event earlier today.
Police corralled the crowd to the side of the street. Songs were sung. People clapped. Many were excited to catch a glimpse of His Holiness.
Police closed off the entire block of Rhode Island Avenue NW, so onlookers gathered along M Street NW and 17th Street Northwest to catch a glimpse of the pope as he drove by in his trademark Fiat.
Crowds started gathering early in the morning. Multiple people said they left home early anticipating traffic and Metro problems, but most people said the trip went smoothly.
Laura Fisher, 55, and her mother Francis, 90, arrived just after 6 a.m., five hours before the pope’s arrival, to make sure they could get a good view. The two chose to come to St. Matthews instead of the parade near the White House because the church carries special importance to them.
“We always came to church here when I was younger,” Laura said. “We weren’t planning on battling the crowds at the Mall.”
Another group that arrived before sunrise were the Women’s Ordination Conference, a group that advocates for female priests in the Catholic church.
Standing behind a banner saying that “God made men and women equal,” Women’s Ordination Conference co-chairwoman Kat McElwee said that they are hopeful that Pope Francis will take their message to heart.
“You have to be hopeful,” said McElwee, who came from Rome to participate in the group’s multiple demonstrations during the pope’s American visit. “Francis has shows that he’s a man of conversion and open to change, so we’re elevating stories of women and we believe the message will resonate with him.”
Some protestors representing a different women-as-priests movement were later arrested for laying down in and blocking the street, reported WUSA 9.
Dignity Washington, the local chapter of a national organization for LGBT Catholics also staged a demonstration, holding a banner that read “The spirit speaks through us,” in front of the Human Rights Campaign office on 17th Street NW and Rhode Island Avenue NW. Dignity Washington member Larry Ranley, 60, said that the group was hoping to spread their message with the pope, not to directly protest him.
“It’s a gentle protest,” Ranley said. “Our message is that the spirit is speaking through us, and some of the church hierarchy would argue the opposite, but I have no doubt that the spirit speaks through us. When you’re a practicing Catholic despite the condemnation it almost has to be the spirit.”
But not all the protests were so gentle. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church picketed the event with their usual provocative and vulgar signs, and several anti-abortion trucks decked out with images of bloody fetuses drove past to a chorus of boos.
“That ruined my lunch,” remarked an onlooker in disgust.
Despite these moments, most people gathered were happy to have the chance to see the pope, even if it was only for a brief moment as he stepped out of his Fiat and into the cathedral.
Many people in the crowd discussed how they thought the pope’s visit was a blessing. Veronica Cummings, 35, who is moving this weekend from Mount Pleasant to California, said she saw the visit as a blessing on her life changing.
“There’s something about being here with all these strangers all here for the same purpose,” she said. “I choose to interpret his presence as a blessing on my upcoming move. I’m not religious and certainly not Catholic, but I respect religion for the faith and hope that it inspires in people and I’m hoping this visit is a blessing not only in my personal life but for the whole country.”
Several business near St. Matthew’s Cathedral are bracing for arrival of Pope Francis.
The pope will bring his entourage of road closures, beefed-up security and onlookers to the Dupont Circle area tomorrow morning as he visits with bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. The owners of several businesses that share the 1700 block of Rhode Island Avenue NW with the church are preparing for street closures and large crowds, but few are planning to close for the day.
At Jack’s Fresh, a restaurant across the street from the cathedral, owner Susan Yin said that she plans to stay open tomorrow. Yin added that several customers have asked, noting that that eatery’s windows directly face the front steps of the cathedral.
“I was surprised no police came to check security yet,” Yin said. “But I hope the pope can find time to come over here to enjoy lunch.”
Customers may have to use the restaurant’s entrance on M Street NW if the Rhode Island Avenue entrance is blocked off. Yin added that had not heard specific directions from police on how the barricades that are already cropping up along Rhode Island Avenue will affect her restaurant, but she hopes at least one customer will be allowed through the store’s main Rhode Island Avenue.
The owner of Marbi’s News Stand, which is next door to Jack’s Fresh, said he doesn’t expect customers to be able to reach his store from Rhode Island Avenue, but said his entrance within the OFC building will remain open.
On the other side of the OFC building, on M Street, businesses aren’t dealing with as many physical barriers, but are still bracing for crowds and traffic problems.
The owners of Suki Asia restaurant say that they will prepare boxed lunches ahead of time so they can better serve the expected crowds of pope-watchers.
Across M Street, employees at Avis car rental say their storefront will remain open, but because there will be so many road closures in the area, they’re encouraging customers to go to their other locations at Union Station and National Airport.
Mike Caruso, vice president of Caruso Florist on M Street NW says he’s not sure what to expect tomorrow. He expects crowds in the area around the pope’s visit but with so many people in the area working from home, he thinks the area might be empty for much of the afternoon.
Caruso’s business provided several flower arrangements to the cathedral for their services, and he hopes that they help create a festive atmosphere in and outside of the church.
“A lot of people aren’t working so I think it’s going to be like a snow day most of the day. There will be people around the church, and I think it’ll get pretty festive.”
But one thing the pope and his fans may not be able to do tomorrow is bank: Both the BB&T Bank location at the intersection of M Street NW and Rhode Island Avenue NW and the Sun Trust bank location at the intersection of M Street NW and Connecticut Avenue NW will be closed all day.
Have you heard? The pope is coming, and with his visit comes road closures, transit changes and extra security across the District. But will it be the end of the world? Pope-alypse? Pope-mageddon? Probably not.
Residents across the Borderstan coverage area will likely feel the effects of Pope Francis’ visit on Wednesday, when the pope will hold mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Dupont Circle after parading around the White House.
Here’s our big infodump-y list of what to expect from the Pope’s visit:
Where Pope Francis Will Be
- Pope Francis will meet with President Obama Wednesday morning, which will be followed by a parade around the White House along Constitution Avenue NW and 15th and 17th streets NW
- The pope’s motorcade will then go from the White House to the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle at 1725 Rhode Island Ave. NW, where he will hold a midday prayer with U.S. bishops.
- He will then head to Catholic University to hold mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
- LGBT Catholics will gather outside of the Human Rights Campaign offices at 17th Street NW and Rhode Island Avenue NW to greet the pope as his motorcade passes en route to the cathedral
Where Pope Francis Will Not Be
Those looking to avoid the pope and road closures altogether should stay north of O Street NW. Places to avoid include Massachusetts Avenue near the Naval Observatory on Tuesday night, Farragut Square, Dupont, Catholic University and Brookland on Wednesday and the U.S. Capitol and downtown on Thursday.
- Rhode Island Avenue NW between Connecticut Avenue NW and 17th Street NW will be closed from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday
- Several roads around the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle will close intermittently between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. including:
– M Street NW between Connecticut Avenue NW and 17th Street NW
– Connecticut Avenue NW between 18th Street NW and Desales Street NW
– 17th Street NW between M and N streets NW
- Parking will be prohibited between midnight and 3 p.m. Wednesday in a one-block radius from the Cathedral including:
– Rhode Island Avenue NW between 17th Street NW and Connecticut Avenue NW
– M Street NW between Connecticut Avenue NW and the BB&T bank halfway down the block
- Parking will be limited from midnight tonight until 6 p.m. Thursday between 11th and 12th streets NW and between K and O streets NW
- Service on all lines will be increased during the midday and evenings. Metro does not have the capacity to increase service during rush hours and expects trains to be very crowded at those times
- Bicycles and large coolers will not be allowed on Metro trains Wednesday or Thursday
- Bags, packages and containers may be searched at Metro stations
- There is no scheduled track work on any lines during the Pope’s visit
- Updated information will be made available online
- 37, D1, D3, H1 and S1 buses will not operate on Wednesday or Thursday
Several bus routes have been shortened from due to road closures along their routes. Those bus lines are:
- 42 and 43 will only operate between Mt. Pleasant and 9th Street NW and F Street NW from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 2 p.m. Thursday
- N2 and N4 will only operate between Friendship Heights and the National Cathedral at 34th Street NW and Garfield Street NW from 9 a.m. Tuesday to 4 p.m. Thursday.
- N3 and N6 will only operate between Friendship Heights and Dupont Circle from 9 a.m. Tuesday to 4 p.m. Thursday
- S2 and S4 will only operate between Silver Spring and McPherson Square from 10:30 a.m. Tuesday to 2 p.m. Wednesday
- The Dupont Circle-Georgetown-Rosslyn and Woodley Park-Adams Morgan-McPherson Square lines will run every 15 minutes starting at noon on Wednesday and lasting until Thursday evening
- D.C. Public Schools will all be open for the entirety of the Pope’s visit. School officials warn that road closures and crowds may affect transportation to and from school and said parents can contact the Parent Resource Center at 202-576-5000 for transportation-related questions during the Pope’s visit.
Several charter schools will be closed on Wednesday, including:
- All Carlos Rosario International Charter School locations
- All Center City Public Charter School locations
- E.L. Hayned Public Charter School
- All KIPP D.C. locations
Places to Celebrate
- Embassy Row Hotel in Dupont Circle will hold a pope-themed rooftop party Tuesday night with foods from Pope Francis’ native Argentina. Tickets are $25
- Rumors Bar and Grill has a special pope sandwich on their menu this week
- Posto restaurant on 14th Street NW will offer a tasting menu of Roman dishes in honor of the pope’s visit
- Here’s a list of pope drink specials popping up across town
In honor of Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to D.C., Rumors (1900 M St. NW) has added a sandwich professed to be his favorite.
What does His Holiness like to eat? If the sandwich is any indication, the pope likes to pile chimichurri-marinated chicken breast, provolone cheese and arugula atop ciabatta rolls and top it off with a healthy scoop of “holy land” relish made with chopped tomato, cucumber, onions, shallots, parsley, garlic and lemon vinaigrette.
Mike Soper, the menu consultant behind the ‘wich, said creating the divine delicacy was a unique culinary challenge.
“We were just sitting around and thought, since the Pope’s coming and we’re right down the street from St. Matthew’s, let’s try something different,” Soper said.
The recipe was inspired by Pope’s background, and incorporates Argentinian, Italian and Mediterranean culinary influences, said Soper. He added that it also reflects the current pope’s humble nature.
“It’s really a simple idea, but it seems to hit the right spot and people love it,” Soper said. “It’s fun and creative. Nothing too crazy.”
Some of the proceeds from each sandwich sold will be donated to Catholic Charities to support its meals programs, Soper added.
And the sandwich has already snagged some church cred: Soper said Rev. Daniel Gill and Monsignor Ronald Jameson of the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle tried the sandwich and gave it their stamp of approval last week.
The Local News Now staff here in the office also dug into the sandwich earlier today to see if it lived up to the holy hype.
“I think the pope would like it,” said Borderstan editor Tim Regan. “Like Pope Francis, it’s surprisingly good.”
Eleanor Greene, sponsored content manager, said “the sandwich as a whole seemed summery because of the lemony cream sauce,” and HillNow editor Andrew Ramonas added that “the Holy Father might not be able to resist this sinfully tasty sandwich.”
But not all of our staff reviews were glowing. Borderstan and HillNow reporter Sean Meehan remarked that the sandwich “loses points for being very saucy, which could pose a risk if the Pope were to try to eat it while wearing his white robes.”
Pope Francis will visit St. Matthew’s Cathedral in September, announced the Vatican today.
Pope Francis will arrive in D.C. on September 22. The next day, the pope will visit with President Obama at the White House at 9 a.m., then visit St. Matthew’s by 11:30 a.m.
At a press conference held earlier this morning, Cardinal Donald Wuerl said the historic Dupont church, located at 1725 Rhode Island Avenue NW, would prepare to host roughly 25,000 people during the pope’s visit.
Wuerl added that tickets to the event would be distributed through D.C.’s Catholic parishes.
And there will be a surprise visit by the Popemobile, confirmed Wuerl.
This is the pope’s first U.S. visit since succeeding Pope Benedict XVI in 2013.
View Pope Francis’ full U.S. itinerary here.