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Robert and Ethel Kennedy Received by Pope John XXIII

Feb. 21, 1962 - Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and his wife, Ethel, were received this morning by Pope John XXIII for a private audience in his private study on the second floor of the Vatican Palace. Mr. Kennedy was received first. Then his wife joined the audience. Both knelt before the Pope as they entered his room and again to receive his blessing at the end of the 25-minute audience. Mr. Kennedy said he had found the Pope in good health and “very kind and cheerful.” He added that the Pope had expressed concern for the health of Joseph P. Kennedy, the Attorney General’s father, and had sent good wishes to him and all the members of his family. The elder Kennedy suffered a stroke just before Christmas. Vatican sources said the Pope had also taken the occasion to congratulate the Attorney General on the orbital flight of Lieut. Col. John H. Glenn Jr. Although the Pope speaks some English, he chose to talk in French and to have his words translated by Msgr. Thomas Ryan, an Irish secretary. He understood what Mr. Kennedy said without using the interpreter. Mrs. Kennedy speaks fluent French. The Pope presented Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy with medals of his Pontificate and with Rosaries for themselves and for each of their seven children.

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