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Jackie Kennedy letters withdrawn from auction

By Tricia Escobedo, CNN
updated 12:56 PM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
  • Personal letters from former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy withdrawn from auction
  • Report: The letters were to be sold by an Irish Catholic college
  • Report: The college is working with the Kennedy family to determine the letters' fate
  • Kennedy wrote of love and concerns about her husband, President John F. Kennedy

(CNN) -- Jacqueline Kennedy's personal and heartfelt letters to an Irish priest about her marriage, faith and the 1963 death of her husband will no longer be sold at auction, according to the Irish auction house in charge of the event.

"Sheppard's is in the process of returning the archive, and items related to the archive, which had been consigned to the auction, to the vendor," Sheppard's Irish Auction House announced this week on its website.

The trove of letters to the Rev. Joseph Leonard from a young Jacqueline Bouvier and later a married Jackie Kennedy offers a rare and revealing glimpse of the private thoughts of one of America's most admired first ladies.

They were put up for auction by All Hallows College in Dublin, Ireland, which is run by the Catholic Church's Vincentian Fathers, according to the Catholic News Service.

Jackie Kennedy wrote letters to a priest over a 14-year period.
Jackie Kennedy wrote letters to a priest over a 14-year period.

The college did not say why it decided to withdraw the letters from auction, according to the Catholic News Service report, but it said it's working with the Kennedy family to determine their fate.

"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," All Hallows College said in a statement provided to the news service.

In her letters, Jackie Kennedy -- who died in 1994 -- wrote of her feelings of love, her concerns about the flirtatious nature of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, and later, her struggle with faith after Kennedy's assassination in November 1963.

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She met Leonard on a trip to Ireland in 1950, and from that time until his death in 1964, she wrote him more than two dozen letters. She was 21 when her correspondence began with 73-year-old Leonard, and her letters to the priest showed the value she placed on their relationship.

The correspondence also revealed intimate details about her early relationship with the dashing young politician she would later marry.

"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," she wrote in one letter of her future husband's political ambitions.

A 1952 letter, written the year before the couple wed, showed her understanding of Kennedy's philandering ways, which continued in the White House.

"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," she wrote. "I saw how that nearly killed Mummy."

She also wondered about the glitzy life she lived, writing that "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."

She added, "That world can be very glamorous from the outside -- but if you're in it -- and you're lonely -- it could be a Hell."

Read more: Details on the revealing letters

Read more: 50 years later, Jackie Kennedy's pink suit locked away from view

CNN's Tom Cohen and Becky Perlow contributed to this report.

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