News / USA

Jacqueline Kennedy's Letters to Priest Reveal Her Private Life

FILE - Jacqueline Bouvier shown with then-Sen. John F. Kennedy in Hyannisport, Mass., on June 27, 1953. They would marry on Sept. 12, 1953.
FILE - Jacqueline Bouvier shown with then-Sen. John F. Kennedy in Hyannisport, Mass., on June 27, 1953. They would marry on Sept. 12, 1953.
VOA News
A newly discovered collection of 33 letters former U.S. first lady Jacqueline Kennedy wrote to an Irish priest a half-century ago are giving new insight into the deepest thoughts of one of the most private people in American public life.

The letters cover the years from 1950 to 1964, a period that includes her marriage to John F. Kennedy, then a rising politician, his 1960 election as president, his 1963 assassination and the aftermath.

The letters, first reported in The Irish Times, were written to the Rev. Joseph Leonard, a family friend, and discovered hidden at All Hallows College in Dublin this year.

They were sold to an expert in rare books, Owen Felix O'Neill, and are scheduled to be sold at auction in Ireland next month where they could fetch up to $1.6 million.

In 1950, then Jacqueline Bouvier first met Leonard on a trip to Ireland. She met him in person just one more time, in 1955, after she had married the then-U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts. She described it as a "fairytale visit."

They corresponded regularly until Leonard's death in 1964. She sometimes disclosed her innermost thoughts, but on other occasions, especially early on, was more lighthearted, discussing arts and literature and her personal life.

In one early letter, she said that Leonard, who was so different from the priests she had met in the U.S., helped renew her commitment to her Catholic faith.

"I terribly want to be a good Catholic now and I know it's all because of you," she wrote.

In the letters, Jacqueline Kennedy compares her husband to Shakespeare's Macbeth because of his all-consuming ambition and worries about his womanizing. A few months after the assassination, she confided, "I am so bitter against God."

Additional excerpts from the letters:
 
  • In her first letter to Leonard, after he had chaperoned her around Dublin, she said she was "miserable at leaving Ireland."
     
  • Leonard also made the 1955 visit with Sen. Kennedy memorable. "You will never know how much our visit meant to both of us — of all the places we've ever been together that was — always will be — the best. And why? All because of one person whom there is no one else like on this earth — you."
     
  • In a 1952 letter, she describes some of her early impressions about her future husband. "I think I'm in love with — and I think it would interest you — John Kennedy — he's the son of the ambassador to England — the second son — the oldest was killed. He's 35 and a congressman."
     
  • In a later letter she described his ambition and their courtship. "He hurt me terribly when he was campaigning and never called up for weeks. I think he was as much in love with me as he could be with anyone and now maybe he will want to get married because a senator needs a wife, but if he ever does ask me to marry him it will be for rather practical reasons — because his career is this driving thing with him."
     
  • On marriage itself: "After a year, I love being married much more than I did even in the beginning."
     
  • Jacqueline Kennedy struggled with the president's death. "I think God must have taken Jack to show the world how lost we would be without him — but that is a strange way of thinking to me." She later added with a touch of humor: "God will have a bit of explaining to do to me if I ever see him."

Some information for this report provided by AP.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

Alaskans experiencing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more frequent and extensive wildfires, deteriorating glaciers, and swift shoreline erosion More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs