President Obama welcomes Pope Francis to the White House. (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

There were plenty of regular folk among the 15,000 guests thronging the White House on Wednesday to hear Pope Francis. And a prominent few who kicked up controversy, including, per our colleagues, “the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, a leader for transgender rights, a gay Catholic blogger and a prominent nun-lobbyist,” though they’re not exactly the pick-em-out-of-the-crowd types.

But anytime there’s a hot ticket to be had, there are bound to be a few recognizable bold-facers. So which VIPs made the pope-visit list?

In addition to the usual coterie of top aides and Cabinet members, White House guests included some prominent Catholics, including Ethel Kennedy and her grandson Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.). The Kennedy matriarch, the widow of former senator and attorney general Bobby Kennedy, had an appropriately VIP escort in the form of Secretary of State John Kerry.

Actress/activist Eva Longoria, who is slated to perform at a free concert in the pope’s honor at the Kennedy Center on Wednesday night (she’s reading a speech that Eunice Kennedy Shriver gave at the 1987 Special Olympics), scored an invite.


Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) (who’s Jewish, but says he’s not particularly religious), was on hand, and chatted with CNN as he waited for the pontiff to speak.

More Catholics spotted amid the crowd: House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, former D.C. mayor Vincent Gray, former House speaker Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista.

Awaiting the arrival of Pope Francis at the White House. #popeinus #popeindc

A photo posted by Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) on

Democratic strategist Donna Brazile posed with celeb pastor Rick Warren.