— -- Pope Francis has touched down on American soil, marking the start of his historic visit to the United States.
The head of the Catholic church arrived at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C.
He was greeted first by President Obama, Michelle Obama, Sasha Obama, Malia Obama, Michelle's mother Marian Robinson, Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Dr. Jill Biden, and their granddaughters, which is a welcome even more special than many heads of state receive when they travel to the U.S.
Pope Francis was escorted to the plane in Santiago by Raul Castro along with an honor guard and military band carrying the Cuban and Vatican flags.
The visit to Washington D.C. will last through Thursday, and will include a landmark address to Congress which none of the previous three popes who visited the U.S. have done. From there, he will travel to New York City, where he will stay until Saturday morning when he will travel to Philadelphia. He will stay in the 'City of Brotherly Love' until Sunday night, when he takes an evening flight back to the Vatican.