University Archives


John F. Kennedy, the First Catholic President: Personally-Owned Rosary Beads. Fantastic Provenance!

John Kennedy's personally owned Rosary Beads, having been previously gifted via donation by Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, in 1974, to Sister Fabiola Parent of the Sinsinawa [Wisconsin] Sisterhood. "Sister Fab" was the curator and founder of the Sinsinawa Rosary Museum, and actively collected rosaries from around the world, both "mundane" and historical. She also designed and created Rosaries from most any natural material, having made over 28,000 rosaries in her lifetime. Some period after Kennedy's death, during her visit to Kennedy's grave, Sister Fab collected rose petals from the rose bushes around Kennedy's grave site and created a rosary which she sent to his mother, Rose. In return, Rose had sent Sister Fab her son's rosary in 1974. Overall length of rosary approximately 18 inches.

Parent's extensive collection, in addition to this spectacular strand from President Kennedy, included:

Rosaries that belonged to Mother Teresa, Bishop Cletus F. O'Donnell and Cardinal John Cody.

Rosaries from England's Royalty.

Rosaries made by prisoners in a Nazi Concentration camp at Auschwitz, Germany during WWII.

Rosaries blessed by each of the last 10 popes.

Rosaries of the seven Sinsinawa Mother Generals.

Rosaries from countries around the world that are made from seeds, wood, bread, glass, bog wood, sterling silver, marble, rocks, gold, coffee beans, ivory, coral, and many other materials.

The lot offered here includes copies of various newspaper articles, some which photo this very item, that indicate the beads were owned by Sister Fabiola Parent of the Sinsinawa [Wisconsin] Sisterhood. Since these news articles date back thirty years and Sister Fab first took her vows in 1932, we believe her museum and personal affects were dispersed some time back.The spiritual significance of this piece cannot be overstated.

Aside from the outstanding provenance, President Kennedy was the first Catholic President, and rosaries are considered the most important devotions in the church following the Mass. However the wonderful exchange between this Catholic Nun who both collected and fashioned her own rosaries, and Kennedy's mother shows a deep appreciation of their faith by both parties.

Kennedy's rosary was placed on display in Sister Fabriola's rosary museum, showcased on a red velvet display board. Numerous newspapers of the period, including the "Telegraph Herald", "The Observer", the "Catholic Herald", the "Des Moines Register", and "The Courier", all made note of her famous collection and President Kennedy's rosary beads throughout the years, often including images of her Kennedy display.

Copies of the various newspaper articles will accompany this lot for provenance, in addition to a photograph of the original display from which the rosary was recently removed.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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