Hours before his swearing in, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. attended Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in downtown Washington, joined by congressional leaders from both parties in a show of unity after weeks of tumult.
Expected to join the soon-to-be president were Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, Democratic Senate Leader Charles Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who accepted an invitation Mr. Biden quietly extended hours earlier.
Mr. Biden, a Catholic who regularly attends Mass, was accompanied by his wife, Jill, as well as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband. Mr. Biden will be the nation’s second Catholic president, after John F. Kennedy.
At the nearby corner of 17th Street and Rhode Island Avenue, a crowd of journalists, police officers and onlookers stood behind a waist-high metal barred fence, straining for a view of the president-elect as he entered the cathedral. The streets were still wet after an early morning rain, but the sun was shining, lighting up the dome of the church and its brick red wall.
“I’m just here hoping to get a glimpse,” said Brittany Rogers, 35, a security guard from Baltimore. “This is a new beginning. A fresh start. I feel really good.”
When asked what she most wanted the new administration to accomplish, she said: “The thing I most want is for them to bring unity with all cultures. That’s what I’m hoping for.”
Sumari Stamps-Henderson, 53, stood at the same corner, smiling behind her mask. Her husband attended Howard University with Ms. Harris, and they decided they wanted to come to Washington to see her sworn in.
“We said ‘Oh, we’re not going to miss this,’” she said excitedly. Ms. Stamps-Henderson said she had been horrified by the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“The lack of disrespect,” she said. “I’m really concerned for this country.”