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Jackie Kennedy letters to Irish priest withdrawn from planned auction

By on Thursday, 22 May 2014

Jackie Kennedy and JFK with their children and pets (PA)

Jackie Kennedy and JFK with their children and pets (PA)

A Catholic college will no longer auction letters sent by former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy to an Irish priest.

Earlier in May Vincentian-run All Hallows College in Dublin announced that it was selling the correspondence between Kennedy and Vincentian Father Joseph Leonard, a priest who had befriended the former first lady when she visited Dublin in 1950.

The letters detailed Kennedy’s struggles with her Catholic faith after the assassination of her husband, President John F Kennedy, in 1963.

In a statement to the media May 21, college officials said that the letters were “being withdrawn from auction” at the direction of the college and the Vincentian Fathers.

The statement added: “Representatives of All Hallows College and the Vincentian Fathers are now exploring with members of Mrs. Kennedy’s family how best to preserve and curate this archive for the future.”

Kennedy wrote the letters between 1950 and 1964 to Father Leonard, whom she first met when she visited Dublin as a student in 1950. They began a correspondence that continued until his death in 1964. The letters revealed that Kennedy credited the priest with her return to Catholicism after a period when she had lapsed in the practice of her faith.

The existence of the letters was revealed in mid-May and generated massive media coverage. Kennedy died May 19, 1994, at age 64.

The letters had been expected to sell for as much as $1.3 million.

Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith: Should the contents of Jackie Kennedy’s private letters to a priest have been made public?

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