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President Kennedy the Third U.S. President to Be Received by a Pope

July 2, 1963 - President Kennedy is the third President of the United States to have been received in audience by a Pope. The two others were Woodrow Wilson, received Jan. 4, 1919, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, on Dec. 6, 1959 (pictured). What distinguished Mr. Kennedy’s audience is that he is a Roman Catholic. Popes have received heads of state since early in the history of the Catholic Church. Charlemagne was received in Rome by Pope Leo III and crowned Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas Day of the year 800. In modern times, a memorable visit was made to Leo XIII near the end of the last century by the German emperor Wilhelm II. He insisted on arriving accompanied by his mounted bodyguard and appeared at the Vatican on horseback, accompanied by a detachment of cavalry. A memorable modern visit to Rome by the ruler of a nation was made by Adolf Hitler in 1938. When he came as the guest of King Victor Emmanuel III, Pope Pius XI left for Castel Gandolfo, his summer residence, to emphasize that he wished to have nothing to do with the German dictator. In recent years, such heads of state as Queen Elizabeth II and President de Gaulle have been received by the Pope.


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