First Lady Melania Trump has revealed that she's a practicing Roman Catholic.
It was confirmed by her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, on May 24, hours after Pope Francis blessed a rosary for her at the Vatican, reports the Daily Mail.
Melania plans to move into the White House full-time when her son, Barron, finishes school in New York City. She will become the first Catholic of the White House since former President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie.
"Anti-Catholic prejudice was still very much in the mainstream of American life when JFK decided to seek the presidency in 1960," explains the JFK Library. "Only one Catholic, Governor Alfred E. Smith of New York, had ever been the presidential nominee of one of the major parties. Smith’s 1928 campaign was dogged by claims that he would build a tunnel connecting the White House and the Vatican and would amend the Constitution to make Catholicism the nation’s established religion."
The website goes on to note that "Kennedy won the presidency in one of the closest elections in American history -- by a margin of 118,000 votes out of 69 million," and he "remains the only Catholic to have held the highest office in the land."
Although Melania's religious affiliation has now been confirmed, it is still unclear when, exactly, she became a Catholic. President Donald Trump is a life-long Presbyterian, and he and Melania were married in an Episcopal church in Florida.
Growing up in Slovenia as the daughter of communists, she was raised as an atheist, reports the Daily Mail. When asked to confirm when Melania was baptized into the Catholic faith, spokeswoman Grisham did not reply.
Considering that Melania is a former nude model whose husband is twice-divorced, the announcement of her Catholicism is likely to be greeted with some skepticism, notes The American Catholic -- a website devoted to "politics and culture from a Catholic perspective."
Religion has been a recurring theme during the visit to the Middle East and Italy by the first lady and Mr. Trump. On May 24, the president issued a proclamation calling for a national "day of prayer for permanent peace" on May 29, which is observed as Memorial Day in the United States.
"On this ceremonious day, we remember the fallen, we pray for a lasting peace among nations, and we honor these guardians of our inalienable rights," he said, as quoted by the Daily Mail. "I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time when people might unite in prayer. I urge the press, radio, television, and all other information media to cooperate in this observance."