Heritage

The Church Where Jackie Married JFK Opens to Tourists

St. Mary's Church in Newport, Rhode Island is inviting visitors to "relive that special day."
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St. Mary's Church, where Jacqueline Lee Bouvier married then-Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy, has long drawn history buffs to Newport, Rhode Island. But for years, the Catholic parish was typically closed outside of traditional mass hours, leaving visitors no way to peek inside.

Fortunately for fans of the iconic couple, all that is changing this summer.

This month, St. Mary's is launching "Return to Camelot," a series of programs dedicated to the Kennedy wedding, which will take tourists inside that historic day in September of 1953.

Every Tuesday from now through October, the church's pastor, Reverend Kris von Maluski, will invite visitors in to see the church's interior, pose for pictures in pew number ten (where the couple worshiped during their stays in Newport both before and during Kennedy's presidency), watch film clips of the ceremony, and listen to local stories about the big day.


Jackie and JFK during the wedding ceremony.

According to the Associated Press, the Diocese of Providence saw this as a way for the church to connect with more people.

"I have approved of social and cultural events as a means of welcoming people to our Church, evangelization and outreach," Bishop Thomas Tobin said in a statement Thursday. "It is especially appropriate given the history of Newport and St. Mary's in particular."


Jackie and JFK are met by crowds after leaving St. Mary’s in Newport.

The price of admission will also benefit the local community. The cost of the Return to Camelot experience is $15 per person; proceeds will be used to restore the church's choir loft, and for the preservation of a newly refurbished organ.

"Travelers today are really seeking authentic experiences," Evan Smith, tourism director for Newport said of the project. "For someone to come to Newport and say, 'I sat in the pew in the church where Jacqueline Bouvier married John Kennedy, that is a real experience that people will remember for the rest of their life."

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For more information, visit Returntocamelot.org

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.

* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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Caroline Hallemann
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