BEFORE THE TIMES OF CATHOLIC TV, THE BISHOP RECITED THE ROSARY OVER THE RADIO INSTEAD, SO THAT FAMILIES COULD JOIN IN PRAYER.
“Whilst Catholics don’t normally approve of the sale of relics, there has been huge interest in the news that an American auction house is planning to sell President John F. Kennedy’s personal rosary beads, just ahead of the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas…
THE ONLY NON-PROTESTANT PRESIDENT
Kennedy was the only non-Protestant president. During campaigns and while in office, he often attended Mass with his special assistant, David F. Powers… A letter of provenance, written by Power’s son, David Powers, comes with the items to explain their origins: ‘My father was David F. Powers, the Special Assistant to President John F. Kennedy and Curator at the Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston. Many consider my father to have been President Kennedy’s best friend and confidant.
They campaigned together from 1946 to 1963, and travelled the world together on presidential visits. During their travels, they frequently attended Mass… My father was in the fateful motorcade in Dallas, right behind President Kennedy’s vehicle. I can imagine that reflecting with these rosary beads gave my father comfort in the years after the President’s death…
THE AUCTION HOUSE’S EXPLANATION OF THE USE OF A ROSARY:
‘While rosaries were made with myriad different materials, it was common for Catholics of high status to have them made of finer materials, such as the sterling silver and black onyx (one of the more common choices for men, due to its masculine appearance).
Though one would not get his or her own rosary engraved, it was common for upper-class Catholics to do so when giving it as a gift; with Jackie’s known penchant for personalising meaningful pieces that she gave her husband, and with her undeniable eye for the finest modern styles, it is likely that this was a gift to Kennedy from his wife.
During Kennedy’s time, the rosary was a major part of Catholic practice. It was used in family life, highly encouraged by the Kennedy’s close friend Archbishop Richard Cushing, who recited it over the radio so that families could gather at home and join in prayer; in personal life, with the rosary carried at all times as a reminder to pray; and in community life, as most Catholics would silently pray the rosary during Latin Mass, when they could not follow the priest’s words.’ The auction house also notes…: ‘trying to balance family life with the pressures of political life, it is understandable that this rosary should show such wear, with the sterling heavily rubbed and the onyx beads slightly chipped… It holds incredible significance in its signs of daily use and its representation of the faith that carried him through life.’
A SECOND SET OF ROSARY BEADS KENNEDY USED ARE IN CO. WEXFORD, IRELAND
But stories about JFK’s rosary are nothing new. Back in 2010, whilst making a documentary on the life of JFK, RTE presenter Ryan Tubridy made the dramatic claim that the rosary beads that were in the late President John F. Kennedy’s pocket when he was shot in Dallas, Texas, in 1963 were given to his Irish relatives in County Wexford by the president’s wife Jackie. President Kennedy visited the Kennedy homestead in Dunganstown near New Ross on his June 1963 state visit after two earlier low-profile trips to Ireland.
According to Tubridy, the presence of JFK’s rosary beads in the house where his great grandfather Patrick Kennedy was born reflected his deep attachment to Ireland, and the importance of his Wexford ancestral home to the American President. ‘Jacqueline felt they belonged to the President’s ancestral home in Ireland,’ said Tubridy. ‘To this day in the house which is run by Patrick Grennan, they have this extraordinary memento.’…
The president’s late brother Robert, who was assassinated in June 1968, died with a rosary in his hands, which had been given to him by hotel employee Juan Romero moments after he had been fatally shot whilst leaving a conference via the back kitchens of the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles.”
– These are excerpts of an article published in “The Catholic Universe” issue Sunday 20th October 2013. For subscriptions please visit http://www.thecatholicuniverse.com (external link).