A newly unearthed treasure trove of handwritten letters from a young Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to an old Catholic priest in Dublin reveal her deepest insecurities — including her belief that JFK would stray in marriage — and her unbearable, faith-shaking heartache following his assassination.
In the 14-year-long correspondence — which offers rare insight into the ultra-private former first lady — Jackie says her frighteningly ambitious husband is like “MacBeth’’ and that she finds mother-in-law Rose not “too bright.”
She indicates that she’s well-aware of JFK’s skirt-chasing, too.
“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,” Jackie poured her heart out to the Rev. Joseph Leonard in July 1952.
After President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, she admitted, “I am so bitter against God.
“I think God must have taken Jack to show the world how lost we would be without him but that is a strange way of thinking to me.
“I have to think there is a God — or I have no hope of finding Jack again.”
The revealing correspondence — 33 letters, which were obtained by The Irish Times and detailed for the first time Tuesday — began shortly after Jackie met Leonard during a visit to Dublin in 1950.
At the time, she was a beautiful 21-year-old socialite, and he was a partly deaf, 73-year-old, decorated former World War II chaplain. It was one of only two times that the pair met face to face. The other was during a trip five years later with her husband, then-Sen. John F. Kennedy.
Leonard died in Dublin in 1964 at age 87.
The letters, owned by an unnamed person in Ireland, go up for auction there next month — and are expected to fetch up to $1.65 million, The Irish Times said.
By July 1952, Jackie wrote that another man had caught her eye.
“I think I’m in love with — and I think it would interest you — John Kennedy — he’s the son of the ambassador to England — the second son — the oldest was killed. He’s 35 and a congressman,” she wrote.
“Maybe it will end very happily — or maybe, since he’s this old and set in his ways and cares so desperately about his career, he just won’t want to give up that much time to extracurricular things like marrying.’’
But “it’s so strong a personality — like his father [Joseph Kennedy], who has so overpowered Mrs. [Rose] Kennedy he doesn’t even speak to her when she’s around and her only solace now is her religion,” Jackie wrote.
“I don’t think Jack’s mother is too bright — and she would rather say a rosary than read a book,’’ Jackie said.
“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.”
A little more than a year later, the couple was married.
In 1956, after she gave birth to a stillborn daughter, Arabella, she told Leonard she could “see . . . how sadness shared brings married people closer together.’’
“I always would have rather lost my life than lost Jack,’’ she wrote on black-edged mourning paper.
Then, in a moment of humor, she added, “God will have a bit of explaining to do to me if I ever see him.”
Apparently responding to one of Leonard’s letters, she added, “You’re right — the American people are beginning to realize what they have lost.”