by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
Being, on my mother’s side, a Sicilian by descent, and born in the United States of America, I cannot help to share a surprising fact which I ran upon today, namely, that the wife of Joe Biden, President Donald Trump’s rival for the Presidency of the United States, is a Sicilian-American.
Her grandfather was Domenico Giacoppo. He was born in Gesso in the Province of Messina. He emigrated with his father, Placido, and the whole family to the United States in 1900, taking a steamer from Naples and arriving in Philadelphia.
The family, to avoid discrimination, did what many Italian families did back then: they anglicized their surname, and thus changed Giacoppo to Jacobs. Giacoppo actually means James in English, however, and is taken by Italians after St. James the Apostle, patron of the Spanish Riconquista. (Spain ruled Sicily for long centuries and thus left a strong imprint on the culture of the island).
The family settled in Hammonton, New Jersey, where many families from Sicily came to settle, and with their saving buying small farms. Though at first, they worked as agricultural workers. A rail line to Philadelphia caused Hammonton to boom in the early 20th century, since it could sell fresh agricultural products quickly to both Philadelphian and New York Markets. (I know this, because my own Sicilian great grandfather and grandfather did this there).
Jill was born on June 3, 1951 in Hammonton. Her family moved to Cherry, Hill, in the outskirts of Philadelphia. When she was 15 years old, she chose to leave the Catholic Faith and became a Presbyterian. After marrying and divorcing her first husband, outside the Church, she married Joe Biden in 1975 in the Catholic Church, at the Chapel of the United Nations Building. (Before 1983, the Code of Canon Law did not recognize Protestant Marriages as valid, so they probably needed no annulment nor dispensation).
The Bidens’ politics is about a far as you can get from the Catholic Faith. In truth, both are apostates and 65% of Catholics in the US voted for Trump, whose wife is also said to be a Catholic. But I have posted this report, not for the sake of politics, but for personal reasons of similarity: since my own grandfather, born at Messina in 1893 and who emigrated to the USA in 1907 on board a boat from Naples to Philadelphia, lived in Hammonton with his father, Francesco, who had a farm there for some years.
For more information, in Italian, about Jill Biden’s Sicilian ancestry see this article.
CREDITS: The Photo of Joe and Jill Biden meeting Pope John Paul II in 1980, is from the Wikipedia article in Italian about Jill.
9 thoughts on “Jill Biden is a Sicilian-American”
Pope St. John Paul II , pictured above with Jill and Joe was responsible for amending Canon Law to recognize as valid the marriage of a Protestant and a Catholic who had renounced their Faith for Protestantism. John Paul II did not think it was logical for the marriage to be valid for one party, the Protestant , and not for the other. Pope Benedict XVI reversed this decision, partly because it seemed to have the effect of making it more difficult to determine the validity of marriages. I was not aware that there was a Catholic Chapel at the UN, but I did tour a non-sectarian one , which was more of a meditation room, in the 1970’s.
We know of no change to the Code of Canon Law on the validity of protestant marriages, made by Pope Benedict XVI. If you do, please share a link to what you are referring to here in a comment. Thank you.
I suggest contacting a canon lawyer who works on a diocesan marriage tribunal . It was there and in Master’s level courses in a Catholic seminary that I obtained this information. It was also discussed on a Catholic website a few years ago. If one has doubts about the validity of their marriage based on problems such as these, it seems the first thing the Canon at a tribunal will ask is ” what year were you married”. Of course we are speaking of the USA which had vastly more Church annulments than other countries.
In the 1970’s a Catholic who had married in a Protestant service and later divorced would need to get an annulment from the Catholic Church based on improper “form” which was a rather straightforward procedure and resulted in getting a certificate of nullity. The Catholic could then marry in a Catholic ceremony.
Mrs. Avila, you are correct. There is only a non-denominational chapel at the UN. I am from NYC. Back in the ’70s, there were Catholic priests who would perform CIVIL CEREMONIES for Catholics who otherwise were not free to marry in the Church. Looked good for relatives and friends who didn’t know the difference. These couples got State of NY marriage certificates but there was no involvement of their baptismal certificates. Neither Jill nor Joe were from NY, so that speaks for itself. Joe was widowed, so he was free. Jill was divorced, so she was not. One of two things had to happen, then: She was baptized Catholic but left at age 15 and joined the Presbyterian Church. And later married as a Protestant. The diocese/Tribunal would have to make a “call” as to whether they view her as a Catholic with an invalid first marriage. Or as a Protestant with a valid first marriage. In the case of the former, she would only have to address a first marriage lacking canonical form which is Administrative in essence, i.e., an inconvenience more than an obstacle. In the latter case where they view her as a Protestant, she would have had to go thru the annulment process (first husband included). In any case, if the UN marriage is what I strongly suspect, then they would not have been able to receive the sacraments from that moment. Until they got things squared away with the diocese via their pastor. Once the diocese made the decision as to how they viewed her, they would know what had to be done in order to get their marriage convalidated which would allow them to resume receiving the sacraments. There is no indication anywhere how the Bidens managed any of this.
I read on anther blog that Jill was married in the Catholic Church to her first husband. I do not know whether or not this is correct information.
Query Is that Sen. Howard Baker from Tn in the background? Amazing parallel backgrounds for you and Jill Biden. At some point you might be called to write her a letter. Betty
There is no Catholic Church at the UN. There is only a non-denominational “chapel” run by the Methodists that caters to second “marriages” i.e. potentially adulterous ones and mixed religious marriages (which might be invalid). If there were no problems with the relationship then why didn’t they marry in a local Catholic Church? JB married his first wife in a Catholic Church. I can no find no referencing of an annulment of Jill’s marriage to Bill Stevenson. And per Mr Stevenson, she was having an affair with Joe Biden while they were still married. God bless~
I am not implying that Joe and Jill have an invalid marriage. Only that there is no public evidence of an annulment. They could have attained an annulment before or after the UN Chapel ceremony. Also, I do not know if the UN Chapel ceremony was presided by a Catholic priest. It may have been. So please do not take my comment to mean anything untoward. However it would be prudent to inform the public of an annulment since the situation of their marital relationship is irregular in it’s origin i.e. Jill having been “married” before. God bless~
I would like someone to provide evidence that BEFORE Jill Tracey Jacobs married Bill Stevenson in 1970:
(1) she ever received Baptism in the Catholic Church;
(2) she ever did ANYTHING to practice the Catholic Faith;
(3) she was ever “baptized” in any Christian but NON-
(4) she married Stevenson in a NON-Catholic wedding.
Thanks, Steve Deitsch
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