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Memorial Mass for JFK in Boston

Jan. 19, 1964 - Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy wept quietly at a Memorial Mass for President Kennedy today in a Boston cathedral where his ancestors worshiped a generation before. Richard Cardinal Cushing offered the Solemn Pontifical Mass of Requiem at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Erich Leinsdorf, and a 180-voice choir performed Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D Minor. Mr. Leinsdorf said earlier in the week that he had chosen Mozart’s Requiem because, as was the work of President Kennedy, it was left unfinished by premature death.

Some 1,800 invited guests joined members of the Kennedy family at the mass, which was telecast nationally. More than 2,000 persons lined the street opposite the cathedral to glimpse family members and guests as they arrived. Mrs. Kennedy sat in the front row. Sitting with her were President Kennedy’s mother, Mrs. Rose Kennedy; his brother, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.); Sen. Kennedy’s wife, Joan; the late President’s sister, Mrs. Eunice Shriver; and the former First Lady’s sister, Princess Lee Radziwill. Mrs. Kennedy and other members of the family received Communion during the mass while others in the church were asked to wait until the end. The Cardinal spoke briefly after the service, saying: “The day has a special meaning for all of us by the presence of the late President’s wife, valiant Jacqueline, who has taken herself from her sorrow for a few hours to pray to God with us in sacrifice and song.” He also called the President’s mother “a symbol of maternal strength and absolute confidence in God.”

At the close of the service, Cardinal Cushing escorted the President’s widow and his mother into the sanctuary to meet Mr. Leinsdorf. Both women also shook hands with Henry B. Cabot, who conceived the idea of the memorial service. Mr. Cabot is chairman of the board of directors of the Boston Symphony.


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