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Hundreds Gather in North End to Pay Respects to Rose Kennedy

By Phil McCombs
The Washington Post
BOSTON

Once again Tuesday the multitudinous Kennedy clan gathered to honor in death one of its own. The casket of the matriarch, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy rested before the altar of St. Stephen's Church here in the city's North End, where she was baptized 104 years ago. Cardinal Bernard Law, the archbishop of Boston, celebrated the Mass of resurrection.

This time, it was not another Kennedy life cut short. This time, it was a life of almost unimaginable complexity and duration, a life so full that its impact on America clearly exceeded that of many a statesman. " I have fought the good fight,' " said John F. Kennedy Jr., quoting his grandmother quoting in turn from one of her favorite verses of Saint Paul. " I have finished my course. I have kept the faith.' "

"Jack once called her the glue that held the family together," recalled Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., in his eulogy. " Millions who never met her sensed the kind of rare and wondrous person she was ... She had an inner strength that radiated from her life. She was a symbol of family in this country and around the world."

It was a family in need of much glue too. There were the murders of a president, her son; and of a presidential candidate, another son. There were the deaths in accident and war of two more of her nine children, the mental retardation of another, and a series of humiliating scandals. Yet, her children and grandchildren have continued successfully in politics and public service at the national and local levels, along with their spouses and families. There they sat in the front rows Tuesday, as provocative to the American imagination as they have ever been: Ted Kennedy and his remaining siblings, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her husband, Sargent, Jean Kennedy Smith and Patricia Kennedy Lawford. And the next generation: Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, Edward M. Kennedy Jr., William Kennedy Smith, Sydney Lawford McKelvy, Maria Shriver and Rory Kennedy, to name a few. Granddaughter Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the new lieutenant governor of Maryland, was one of the pallbearers.

Outside, where hundreds of citizens crowded behind police barricades, a cheer went up when Maria Shriver got off one of the family buses from Hyannis Port with her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger. A policeman scowled at the cheering group, and the noise soon subsided.