Politics

Melania Trump First Catholic FLOTUS In Decades

| by Sarah Zimmerman

Shortly after the Trumps' visit to the Vatican May 24, First Lady Melania Trump confirmed that she is Catholic, making her the first Catholic first lady since Jacqueline Kennedy.

During President Donald Trump's visit with Pope Francis, CNN reports that Melania asked the pontiff to bless her rosary which is an extremely holy ceremony within the Catholic Church. The pope obliged, blessing the beads and then bending to make the sign of the cross while placing his right hand over hers. 

Melania also complied with Catholic tradition when meeting the pope, wearing the traditional outfit expected of women entering the Vatican: black formal wear with long sleeves and a black veil.

According to Kate Andersen Brower, author of "First Women: The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies," Jacqueline Kennedy, the previous Catholic first lady in the White House, wore a similar outfit in 1962.

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"When the Kennedys visited Pope John XXIII in 1962, more than 15,000 people cheered Jackie when she entered Vatican City," she said. "Like Melania did yesterday, Jackie also wore a black dress and a black lace mantilla on her head." 

Spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham confirmed that Melania is indeed Catholic, but refused to comment on her religious habits or if she raises her 11-year-old son, Barron, under the Catholic Church. The Washington Post reports that after Barron finishes his school year in Manhattan, he will attend St. Andrew's Episcopal, a religious preparatory school in Potomac, Md. The school is comprised of 16 percent Episcopalian students, 18 percent Roman Catholic, 10 percent Jewish and 23 percent other Christian denominations.

The first lady's religious affiliation had never come up before now. She married Mr. Trump, a Presbyterian, in 2005 at the same church that she later baptized her son. Although the wedding was a traditional Episcopal service, the Palm Beach Daily News reported that the ceremony incorporated some elements from Catholic tradition.

"The bride walked down the aisle carrying only an ancient rosary, not to Lohengrin or Wagner, but to a vocalist singing Ave Maria in an exquisite soprano voice," the paper reported.

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When the normally-reclusive first lady does make public appearances, she often mentions blessings or prayers. Melania opened a February presidential rally in Florida with the "Lord's Prayer," a move that even took her husband by surprise.

"I didn't know that Melania was going to be saying the Lord's Prayer, but I thought that was beautiful, thank you," the president said immediately after, according to CNN.

During her closing remarks at the White House Easter Egg Roll in April, she addressed the crowd, saying, "May God bless you."

Sources: CNN, The Washington Post, Palm Beach Daily News / Photo credit: The White House/Flickr

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