WASHINGTON (RNS) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi began her day on Jan. 6, 2021, by praying with colleagues and discussing the Christian celebration of Epiphany, according to newly released behind-the-scenes footage chronicling the California Democrat’s experience of the insurrection.
The chilling footage was shot by Pelosi’s daughter, Alexandra Pelosi, a documentary filmmaker, and portions of it were shown during a hearing convened on Thursday (Oct. 14) by the select House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. But the extended version of the footage — a 40-minute montage — aired on CNN Thursday evening, offering additional details into Pelosi’s harrowing experience.
The footage opens with a masked Pelosi entering her office at the Capitol, sitting in front of a laptop and participating in a Zoom call with caucus colleagues. After Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin speaks about the importance of a peaceful transfer of power, Pelosi, a Catholic, declares: “Today is the Feast of the Epiphany — January 6 … The visit of the magi, the rest of the world seeing the birth of Christ.”
She then leads lawmakers in prayer, saying, “Let us pray, any way that you do, for our country and that today will be an epiphany for the American people as they see the difference between our respect for the oath we take versus what they’re up to. And let us hope that they will see the light and have their own epiphany on the other side.”
A short time later, the footage shows Pelosi being hurriedly evacuated from the Capitol as insurrectionists batter police and barrel their way into the building. The rioters eventually enter Pelosi’s office, where a few are seen gathering around what appears to be the same laptop she was praying at earlier in the day.
“That’s her laptop,” one rioter says.
Pelosi’s prayer was one of many said by both those storming the Capitol and its occupants throughout the day on Jan. 6. The orisons of the insurrectionists have garnered widespread attention, particularly those that appealed to Christian nationalism. But many others appealed to the divine as well: A group of counter-demonstrators began the day with prayer; House Chaplain Rear Adm. Margaret Grun Kibben prayed with lawmakers as they frantically put on gas masks and ministered to them throughout the day; and cell phone video captured Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester pleading for God to bring “peace in the land” as rioters banged on the doors of the House chamber.
In addition, aides say then-Vice President Mike Pence also started his day with prayer, bracing himself hours before he was whisked away to a secure location amid calls for him to be hanged for refusing to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Pelosi, for her part, appealed to the Epiphany at least twice on Jan. 6. After rioters were forcibly cleared from the Capitol and Congress returned to finish certifying the 2020 election results, Pelosi referenced the holiday and offered a short prayer during her speech to the assembly.
“On this holy day of Epiphany, let us pray,” she said. “I am a big believer in prayer. Let us pray that there will be peace on Earth and that it will begin with us. Let us pray that God will continue to bless America.”