Biden eulogizes mother, calls her courageous

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden gather at the funeral of Jean Finnegan Biden at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del., on Monday.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden gather at the funeral of Jean Finnegan Biden at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del., on Monday.SUSAN WALSH / AFP/Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

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

The matriarch known to the Biden family as "Mom-Mom" died Friday at the age of 92 after a brief illness.

A crowd of about 700 people gathered in the sanctuary at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church for a funeral Mass. The guest list included President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, 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. "... 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 elected to the Senate. His two sons were seriously injured.

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

"To mom, the greatest virtue was courage," he said. "She taught her children that the thickest of all substances was blood."