Tuesday, July 2, 2013


July 2, 2013


Rome and Naples Italy (JFK+50) The first Roman Catholic president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, met the newly installed Pope Paul VI* at the Vatican here in Rome 50 years ago today, July 2, 1963.

*Giovanni Battista Montini, Pope Paul VI (1897-1978) was born in Concesio, Italy.  He took the name Paul as a symbol of his mission to spread the message of Jesus Christ around the world.  He served as head of the Catholic Church from June 21, 1963 to August 6, 1978.  Pope Paul VI died at Castel Gandolfo at the age of 80. 

                   JFK and  Pope Paul VI
                          The Vatican
                          July 2, 1963
              White House Photographs

Afterwards they drove to North American College where JFK was greeted by Cardinal Cushing who had come from Boston for the new Pope's coronation.

JFK's last stop was NATO Headquarters in Naples where he received the "noisiest demonstration of his European tour..."

Presidential aide Kenneth O'Donnell wrote....

"With bigger crowds than we had seen in Berlin showing a more overwhelming explosion of hero worship than even the hero-loving Germans had displayed."

In his speech at NATO HQ, President Kennedy said...

"It is fitting that my travels...should come to a close in this beautiful city and country.

Italy, wrote Shelley**, is the 'paradise of exiles'***, and in my brief exile from the Washington climate--both the political and the atmospheric climate--I have immensely enjoyed this paradise as the last stop in Europe."

**Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) born in Sussex, England became a major English romantic poet.  His poetry was idolized by Robert Browning and admired by Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and Upton Sinclair.  Shelley died in a storm at sea just before his 30th birthday.

***from "Julian and Maddalo: A Conversation"

"How beautiful is sunset, when the glow
 Of Heaven descend upon a land like thee,
 Thou Paradise of exiles, Italy!
 Thy mountains, seas and vineyards, and the towers
 Of cities they encircle!  it was ours
 To stand on thee, beholding it."

                       Percy Bysshe Shelley
             Portrait by Alfred Clint (1819)
                  National Portrait Gallery 
                         of London Image

At 7 p.m., JFK spoke at Capodichino Airport just before boarding Air Force One for the flight back to the United States.

JFK said....

"This has been a short visit...but I go now to my own people from whom I carried messages of good will to all of you, and I carry home to them a strong feeling that the efforts that they have made over the last 18 years are understood, are recognized, and that a great flood of friendship...wells forward for all my countrymen."


"Julian and Maddalo: A Conversation," by Percy Bysshe Shelley,

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1964.