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Pope Francis lands in nation's capital for historic first visit to US

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wave goodbye to Pope Francis as his motorcade departs Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on September 22, 2015. Photo by Pete Souza / White House

Pope Francis arrived in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday for the start of his historic visit to the United States.

A delegation that included President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama greeted the leader of the Catholic Church after his plane touched down at Joint Base Andrews. He spent the night at the Apostolic Nunciature in D.C. in preparation for two days of big events in the nation's capitol.

Pope Francis travels to the White House this morning for another meeting with the president. Afterwards, he will participate in a parade around the Ellipse of the White House.

Later in the afternoon, the pope heads to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the canonization mass of Junipero Serra, who was the founder of the brutal Indian mission system in California. The ceremony will feature two members of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, one of whom will read a scripture in the Chochenyo language.

The Chochenyo and English versions of Isaiah 52:7-10. Image from Papal Mass Program / Catholic University of America

Vincent Medina, an assistant curator at the Dolores Mission in San Francisco, has been reviving the language of his ancestors. The papal mass -- which is being webcast at 4:15pm Eastern -- marks the first time Chochenyo will be heard all over the world.

“The language is not lost,” Medina told The San Francisco Chronicle. “It has only been sleeping ... and now it is being awakened.”

Medina, though, does not support the decision to bestow sainthood upon Junipero Serra. He told the paper that the founder of the Indian missions "advocated for whips to be used on people who spoke the Native languages and followed the culture.”

According to the papal mass program, Medina will read from Isaiah 52:7-10. The text in Chochenyo follows:
Holše neppeya huyyakma
‘ayye ne koro kii waaka alšip
Kiiy horše, kiiy alšip noonoy
‘Ayye kiiy sai-hayi, kiiy ta Ziontak
“Meenem yoos ya-horše”
‘Ee, Meenem muwekma warka,
hemmenya waaka ‘iwhi alšip
‘Ayye waaka hiiti ya-hin
Yoos tiirnen Ziontak
Watin hemmen ‘ayye šaawe
‘Ee watiki Jerušalemtak!
Yoos ‘utaspi ‘i-muwekma
‘ayye ‘i-kay’i Jerušalemtak.
Yoos kiiy i-koro hišmet
hiitiy hemmen muwekma;
hemmenya pire hinšušte
neppe sai-hayi mak-Yoos.

Caroline Ward-Holland, second from right, and her son, Kagen Holland, are seen at a stop at the Mission Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, California, on September 20, 2015. Photo by James Tensuan / Walk for the Ancestors / Facebook

Medina will conclude his reading with "Neppe noonoy Yoos" and "Alšip ta-mak Yoos." The latter phrase translates to "Thanks be to God."

As the ceremony occurs, tribal members in California will observe a Day of Mourning. Organizers include Caroline Ward-Holland, a member of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians who is walking to all 21 missions as part of the Walk for the Ancestors.

"It’s unfathomable that in 2015, after everything we know about the mission system and what it did to our ancestors, that we have to gather in a Day of Mourning while the church honors the individual who is directly responsible for what happened," Ward-Holland said in a press release. Her son, Kagen Holland, is also embarking on the 650-mile journey around the state.

Pope Francis concludes the D.C. portion of his trip on Thursday after an address to a joint session of Congress. Later in the day, he will head to New York City and spend two days there. Finally, he will be in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Saturday and Sunday for the final leg of his visit.

Get the Story:
Ohlone descendant to recite native language at Serra ceremony (The San Francisco Chronicle 9/23)
Pope Francis will make Junipero Serra a saint during a historic canonization today (The Washington Post 9/23)
Pope Francis arrives in the U.S. for a ‘new encounter’ (The Washington Post 9/23)
Pope Francis’ Arrival in the U.S. Is a Low-Key Prelude to Pageantry (The New York Times 9/23)
Obama to Welcome Pope Francis With Stately White House Ceremony (The New York Times 9/23)

An Opinion:
Mark I. Pinsky: Did soon-to-be-saint Junipero Serra meet his era’s highest moral standards? (Religion News Service 9/22)
Editorial: Perhaps Pope Francis will light the path to reconciliation (The Fresno Bee 9/21)

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