JFK Bible Hold


President Kennedy always carried his personal Bible.
It was an unusual copy, and very personal.
The cover was of tooled leather, the edges were hand-sewn;
on the front there was a gold cross and, on the inside cover,
the tiny sewn black-on-black initials, "JFK."

To Orwell Today,


I am curious where the Roman Catholic missal that Johnson was sworn in on might be now?

Thanks in advance,
Charles Dismore

Greetings Charles,

According to a previous reader, JFK's missal* is in the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas and has been for years - even on display in the museum for a period of time.

Apparently JFK's long-time campaign manager and chief liason man with Congress, Larry O'Brien (who stayed on to serve under LBJ), describes how it came to be there in interviews conducted in 1985. See Oral Histories--Lawrence F. O'Brien

There are 32 transcripts in the series and I haven't found mention of JFK's bible in my reading of them so far (but I've only read parts of a few).

In photos on-line at the LBJ Library you can see the bible clearly in the hand of the judge who recited the oath to LBJ, and who subsequently handed it to a mysterious man after she exited Air Force One:

"... Tripping down the ramp steps toward Earle and Dearie Cabell, who were waiting on the field, Sarah Hughes was hailed by a self-assured man -- she remembers him as "rather officious" -- who pointed at the black binding in her hand and asked, "Do you want that?" She shook her head. "How about this?" he inquired, fingering the 3 x 5 card with the text of the oath. Neither belonged to her, and so she surrendered them, assuming that he was some sort of security man. He wasn't. His identity is a riddle. How a cipher could have penetrated Jesse Curry's cordon is difficult to understand, but he did. The venture required enterprise and luck. The spoils, however, were priceless; he left the airport with a pair of unique souvenirs. The file card is the less valuable of the two. It is an archivist's curiosity of interest only to collectors and museums. The book, however, is something more. It was private property, and at this writing it remains untraced. President Kennedy's family is entitled to it and would give a lot to have it back. By now, however, the anonymous cozener may have disposed of it. Either way, the fact remains that the last item of Kennedy memorabilia to be left in Dallas, his most cherished personal possession, was his Bible...." [from Death of a President by William Manchester] See LBJ SWORE ON JFK'S BIBLE & JFK HOLDING BIBLE

All the best,
Jackie Jura

*According to Jim Bishop in his 1968 book THE DAY KENNEDY WAS SHOT it wasn't actually a bible, but a missal, which is a book containing prayers and other devotional matter for celebrating Roman Catholic Mass throughout the year.

excerpt from the 1965 book, KENNEDY, by Ted Sorenson: (...He did not believe that all virtue resided in the Catholic Church, nor did he believe that all non-Cathlics would (or should) go to hell. He felt neither self-conscious nor superior about his religion but simply accepted it as part of his life. He resented the attempt of an earlier biographer to label him as "not deeply religious"; he faithfully attended Mass each Sunday, even in the midst of fatiguing out-of-state travels when no voter would know whether he attended services or not. But not once in eleven years--despite all our discussions of church-state affairs--did he ever disclose his personal views on man's relation to God.

He did not require or prefer Catholics on his staff and neither knew nor cared about our religous beliefs. Many of his close friends were not Catholics. While he was both a Catholic and a scholar, he could not be called a Catholic scholar. He cared not a whit for theology, sprinkled quotations from the Protestant version of the Bible throughout his speeches, and once startled and amused his wife by reading his favorite passage from Ecclesiastes (". . . a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance . . .") with his own irreverent addition from the political world: "a time to fish and a time to cut bait." During the eleven years I knew him, I never heard him pray aloud in the presence of others, never saw him kiss a bishop's ring and never knew him to alter his religious practices for political convenience...)


Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~

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