Jackie Kennedy’s letters to Irish priest reveal bitterness toward God after assassination

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By Mark Ellis

Jackie with Irish priest before her marriage
Jackie with Irish priest before her marriage

Newly discovered letters reveal Jacqueline Kennedy’s thoughts about her marriage to President John F Kennedy, their life in the White House, and her bitterness toward God after his assassination.

The spectacular historical archive of her 14-year-long correspondence with Father Joseph Leonard – a Vincentian priest who lived in Dublin – will be sold at an auction in Ireland next month, according to The Irish Times.

Treasure trove of historical letters
Treasure trove of historical letters

In the heretofore unpublished letters, Jackie tells Father Leonard how Kennedy, — then a rising star in American politics — was consumed by ambition “like Macbeth.”

In a letter Jackie penned in July 1952, she said her time with JFK had given her “an amazing insight on politicians – they really are a breed apart,” according to The Irish Times.

She described with some delight that she was in love with “the son of the ambassador to England,” but expressed concern he might prove to be like her father, John Bouvier. “He’s like my father in a way – loves the chase and is bored with the conquest – and once married needs proof he’s still attractive, so flirts with other women and resents you. I saw how that nearly killed Mummy.”

In one particularly revealing letter written in 1953 — when she was just 23 — she confided to Father Leonard:

Wedding day
Wedding day

“Maybe I’m just dazzled and picture myself in a glittering world of crowned heads and Men of Destiny– and not just a sad little housewife . . . That world can be very glamorous from the outside – but if you’re in it – and you’re lonely – it could be a Hell.”

But after a year of marriage she wrote to her Irish confidante: “I love being married much more than I did even in the beginning.”

After JFK’s tragic assassination in 1963, she confided to Father Leonard how she became “bitter against God” and struggled to find comfort in her faith. “I have to think there is a God – or I have no hope of finding Jack again,” she wrote, according to The Irish Times.

“God will have a bit of explaining to do to me if I ever see Him,” she added, with poignancy.

With Father Leonard
With Father Leonard

Although Jackie was one of the most scrutinized public figures in history, she never published an autobiography and no memoir appeared after her death in 1994 at age 64.

Her obituary in the New York Times stated, “her silence about her past, especially about the Kennedy years and her marriage to the president, was always something of a mystery.” This treasure trove of documents changes everything.

Sheppard’s Irish Auction House in Durrow will conduct the auction, according to The Irish Times. Spokesman Philip Sheppard said the letters were “the dream find of a lifetime for an auctioneer” and they included “simply astounding fresh insights that transform our understanding of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy”.

“They are, in effect, her autobiography for the years 1950-1964,” he stated.

He expects the archive to sell at the June 10th auction for “in excess of €1 million.”