US President Joe Biden broke down in tears on Friday afternoon, April 14, when he met Fr. Frank O'Grady, the Irish priest who performed the last rites for his son Beau Biden in 2015. 

Biden met Fr. Frank O'Grady, who had performed the last rites for Beau Biden before he died of brain cancer in 2015, during a chance encounter during his visit to Knock Shrine in Co Mayo on Friday, the final day of his four-day Irish tour.

Catholics from around the world have traveled to worship at the sacred Knock Shrine in Ireland.

This morning, I had the honor of joining them – taking a few moments of private prayer in place steeped in God’s light.

— President Biden (@POTUS) April 14, 2023

Fr. Richard Gibbons, the parish priest of Knock, told the BBC that Fr. O'Grady now works at the Knock Shrine and said the unplanned meeting between the priest and Biden left the US President in tears. 

"He spoke about his family and his connection with his faith, and also about his son Beau who died," Fr. Gibbons told the BBC. 

"And it just so happened, and this was kind of spontaneous, it just so happened that we have, working at the shrine here, the chaplain who gives the last rites of the last anointing to his son in the United States.

"I didn’t even know that, I didn’t know that until the president arrived.

"He laughed, he cried, it just kind of hit the man, you could just see how deeply it all felt and meant to him," the priest added. 

Fr. Gibbons said Biden sent a secret service agent to find Fr. O'Grady after learning about the connection.

Raining in Knock as @potus walks across from Basilica to Apparition Chapel with Fr Richard Gibbons #rtenews #BidenVisit

— Joe Mag Raollaigh (@joemagraollaigh) April 14, 2023

Fr. O'Grady said meeting Biden on Friday felt like a reunion. 

"We had a nice chat for about 10 minutes. He was delighted to see me and I was delighted to see him," Fr. O'Grady told RTÉ. 

"He gave me a big hug, it was like a reunion. He told me he appreciated everything that was done." 

He said he was "shocked" to receive a phone call informing him that the President wished to speak with him. 

"It was a delightful 10 minutes with him. I hadn’t seen him really in eight years since Beau died. His son Hunter was there too, so we had a real reunion.

"He certainly misses his son. He has been grieving a lot, but I think the grief is kind of going down a bit. We talked a little bit about how grief can take several years." 

During his visit to Knock, Joe Biden met the priest who performed the last rites sacrament on his son Beau Biden, who died in 2015. Fr Frank O'Grady said that he did not anticipate to meet the US President today, and that it was like a reunion |

— RTÉ News (@rtenews) April 14, 2023

Biden touched the apparition wall and had a quiet moment of reflection in the apparition chapel during his visit to Knock on Friday. 

In 1879, locals in Knock claimed to have seen an apparition of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and St. John the Evangelist on a gable wall of the parish church. 

The site later became a place of pilgrimage, with pilgrims taking pieces of stone from the wall as souvenirs, leaving the structure damaged. 

The wall has since been reinforced, but some of the original stones have been kept in storage and one of them was gifted to the President. 

"We were trying to think of what to present to the president that would be meaningful and we thought that something with a physical connection with Knock would be of particular significance to him," Fr. Gibbons said. 

"We have mounted the stone in a presentation case and have no doubt that he will appreciate the significance of it." 

Biden later made an emotional private visit to the Mayo Roscommon Hospice in Castlebar and appeared to be overcome with emotion as he stared at a plaque honoring Beau. 

Biden turned the first sod at the hospice during his previous, personal visit to Ireland in September 2017. 

Biden, his son Hunter, and his sister Valerie were greeted by several people outside the hospice, including his distant cousin Laurita Blewitt. The President also "spoke tenderly" with each of the patients in the hospice, according to GAA pundit Joe Brolly, Blewitt's husband.

The Bidens with some of the hospice stalwarts seeing the dedication stone to Beau Biden at the Mayo hospice for the first time. The president later embraced and spoke tenderly with all of our end of life patients. An overwhelming day.

— Joe Brolly (@JoeBrolly1993) April 14, 2023

Biden also met with Ernie Caffrey and his daughter Miriam on Friday afternoon. Caffrey runs a store on the site of Biden's great- great-great-grandfather's home in Ballina and presented the President with a brick from the original house. 

"That's incredible," Biden said after reading an inscription on the back of the case.