Exactly 55 years ago today, November 22, 1963, Lyndon B. Johnson was inaugurated as the 36th President of the United States. Did you know that the oath was upon a Catholic hand missal? This would have been a pre-Vatican II missal in 1963 – the Catholic bishops of the world were in Rome at the time in the second session of the council, but they had not yet approved the liturgy constitution which set in motion the liturgical reform.
President John F. Kennedy was shot at 12:30 pm in Dallas. Johnson was with him at the hospital when he was advised by Secret Service agents to return to Washington in case he too was an assassination target. Kennedy died at 1:20 and Johnson left immediately. On the plane with him was the body of the deceased president, and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy. The swearing-in of LBJ took place on the Air Force One plane before it took off. Twenty-seven people squeezed into the sixteen-foot square stateroom of the plane for it.
Instead of the usual Bible, they found a Catholic missal on a side table in JFK’s bedroom on the plane. The new president chose Judge Sarah Hughes to swear him in – the first time a woman administered the presidential oath.