Letters from the late Jackie Kennedy to an Irish priest detailing intimate details about her relationship with President John F. Kennedy were pulled from auction after questions about the documents' rightful owner were raised. Jacqueline Bouvier was a young American socialite when she first met Reverend Joseph Leonard at All Hallows College in Dublin. The Catholic priest was a member of the Vincentian congregation and resided at the Irish school. He was in frequent correspondence with Miss Bouvier during her courtship and eventual marriage to JFK, right through to the president's assassination and the years following.
The tone of the letters between Jackie Kennedy and Rev. Leonard was one of friendship and familiarity. Excerpts from the documents were released ahead of the proposed auction to generate interest in the lots. The excerpts show the former first lady talking about everything from her first impressions of John F. Kennedy to her personal religious crisis prompted by his assassination. The letters were uncovered in April as All Hallows College began looking for ways to raise money for the school. Upon uncovering the personal letters, school officials planned to auction them off in an effort to raise money. The letters were expected to sell for as much as $5 million.
The auction of the letters was canceled after the will of Rev. Leonard, long assumed lost, was found. The will dictates that the letters belong to the Vincentian congregation and not, in fact, to the college. Thus, the Irish school was forced to take the letters off the auction block. The revelation of the 33 letters written by Jacqueline Kennedy over the years aroused the interest of the Kennedy family, who expressed their interest in acquiring the lots. Upon the recognition of the will and the involvement of the Kennedy family, the auction was canceled.
The letters' future
It is unclear what will become of the Kennedy letters. It is hoped that they will be donated to the Kennedy Presidential Library to be available to researchers and perhaps the general public. However, issues concerning the privacy of public figures as well as the confidentiality between religious leaders and their followers makes it unclear whether full transcripts of the personal writings will ever be available. The personal details of one of America's most famous and intriguing couples will no doubt be the object of much desire for many years to come.
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