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Jackie Kennedy letters to priest pulled from auction

The letters are a trove of secret correspondence that Jacqueline Kennedy had over nearly 15 years with Father Joseph Leonard, an Irish priest.

Sheppard's Irish Auction House

The letters are a trove of secret correspondence that Jacqueline Kennedy had over nearly 15 years with Father Joseph Leonard, an Irish priest.

WASHINGTON -- The secret and intimate letters that Jacqueline Kennedy wrote to an Irish priest over nearly 15 years are being pulled from an auction in Dublin, a decision that follows criticism that All Hallows College received for trying to sell them.

In a statement, the college said it is now in discussions with the Kennedy family about “how best to preserve and curate this archive for the future.”

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A spokeswoman for the college would not say whether they were speaking with Jacqueline Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline, and whether any money was being offered. A spokeswoman for the John F. Kennedy Library, which currently houses the former First Lady’s papers, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A spokeswoman for Caroline Kennedy, who is currently the US ambassador to Japan, also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The letters, revealed last week, are a trove of secret correspondence that Jacqueline Kennedy had over nearly 15 years with Father Joseph Leonard, an Irish priest. Over more than 30 letters, she questioned the faithfulness of her husband, mourned the death of her son, and wondered openly about her faith after her husband was assassinated.

News of the letters triggered worldwide attention, as well as some criticism that the college was selling deeply personal letters that were never meant for public viewing.

For decades the letters sat at All Hallows College in Dublin, where Leonard lived and first met Kennedy in 1950, and where he died in 1965. The college prepared the letters for an auction amid estimates they could fetch as much as $4 million.

The college claimed ownership of the letters.

The letters were scheduled to be auctioned by Sheppard’s Irish Auction House on June 10.

The Globe reviewed some of the letters, and authenticated them with specialists in the correspondence of presidents and first ladies. The Globe also obtained other letters from their correspondence through the John F. Kennedy Library.

Related coverage:

New letters reveal more intimate side of Jackie Kennedy

Photos: Letters between Jackie Kennedy and Father Leonard

Framingham woman helped Jackie Kennedy reply to condolence letters

JFK library releases letters to a grieving widow

Matt Viser can be reached at matt.viser@globe.com.

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