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Vice President Biden gives eulogy at mother's funeral

By Associated Press
Wednesday, January 13, 2010; A03

WILMINGTON, DEL. -- Jean Finnegan Biden, the mother of Vice President Biden, was remembered Tuesday as a strong-willed woman of unshakable faith who instilled a sense of loyalty and courage in her children.

Biden died Friday at the age of 92 after a brief illness.

About 700 people gathered in the sanctuary at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church for a funeral Mass. The guest list included President Obama, former president Bill Clinton, and several Cabinet officials and members of Congress.

Biden thanked Obama for treating his mother "with warmth and personal affection."

"She believed in us, so we believe in ourselves. How could we do less?" he said, adding: "Mom taught us that courage was not defined by the lack of fear, but by the willingness to act in spite of your fears; that bravery lived in each of our hearts. And her expectation was that we would be summoned to reach for it when necessary."

Raised in a family with a strong Irish Catholic tradition, Jean Biden leaned on her faith in comforting Joe Biden after his wife and daughter were killed in a car crash in December 1972, the month after he was first elected to the Senate. His two sons were seriously injured.

Biden said his mother, who was raised in Scranton, Pa., was fiercely protective.

"She taught her children that the thickest of all substances was blood," he said.

Three granddaughters gave Scripture readings, and the pallbearers included four grandsons.

The Rev. Monsignor Thomas Cini told Jean Biden's children that she was "your strength, your rock." In death, Cini added, she has been reunited with her siblings and her husband, who died in 2002.

"You can imagine the Irish feast that's going on right now, and she's leading them," the priest said.

The vice president echoed those remarks as he closed his eulogy.

"Mom is back in Dad's embrace, where she belongs, and we're all at peace," he said.

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