What we have here is a strange story about a missing news story.
To say that the press has dedicated a large amount of ink to Citizen Donald Trump over the past two years would be the understatement of the century.
Under normal circumstances, when a man runs for president, the press also does quite a bit of digging into the life and times of the woman who would become the First Lady. This digging only intensifies after the election.
You can say that the quiet supermodel named Melania Trump received her share of press attention, but most of it merely raised some rather nasty questions about her past (she won damages from the Daily Mail after one set of accusations). As always, her fashion choices as First Lady have been treated as international news. That's normal.
But it appears that journalists missed a rather interesting fashion choice long ago on her wedding day -- she was wearing her mother's rosary. The Palm Beach Post team noticed that rosary at the time (photo and story here), but no one investigated that detail.
She brought that same rosary, it appears, with her when she met Pope Francis -- even though pool reporters (see this USA Today story) apparently thought that the pope gave it to her. Actually, it appears that the First Lady asked Francis to bless the rosary, which he did -- with a broad smile.
Later, it appears that -- ironically -- someone at The Daily Mail asked a rather obvious question: Is Melania Trump a Roman Catholic?
As it turns out, she is. One would have thought that hidden fact about her life -- her family maintained a Communist/atheist public image in Slovenia -- would have been uncovered by now. Her husband, famously, is an old-school mainline Presbyterian and their marriage took place in an Episcopal Church in Palm Beach.
But the rosary may point to the family, or at least her mother, hiding a forbidden faith. Here is the overture to the Daily Mail story:
When Melania Trump recited The Lord's Prayer before a Melbourne, Florida presidential rally in February, the Internet went hog wild.
Now we know one reason why the first lady began with 'Let us pray' and 'Our Father who art in heaven' when she introduced the president that evening: She's a practicing Roman Catholic.
Her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham confirmed that to DailyMail.com on Wednesday, hours after Pope Francis blessed a rosary for her at the Vatican.
The last Catholics to live in the White House were John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie. Melania and her son Barron will move to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over the summer.
Apparently, there were other clues to Melania's faith during her Rome visit, especially during her visit to the Vatican-affiliated Bambino Gesu Hospital. The Mail ran all the official photos, including one of the First Lady -- who appears to be making the sign of the cross -- praying at a statue of the Virgin Mary. She spent most of her time in the intensive care unit.
The Daily Mail story notes that, according to people who knew her family in Slovenia, "Melania and her sister were not baptized and did not make their First Holy Communion with other children their age."
The First Lady's press aide did not say when Melania was baptized. What about her son, young Barron Trump? A bit of online research indicates that he was baptized, not as a Presbyterian, but at the same Episcopal parish where his parents were married in 2002. Was that a compromise location? Did anyone check to see who did the baptism?
Journalists on the other side of the Atlantic have picked up this story, while here in America everyone is still talking about why she wore a black veil when meeting the pope (answer: it's the protocol).
The Catholic Herald in England played the story very straight:
United States First Lady Melania Trump is a practicing Catholic, her spokeswoman has confirmed. ...
Mrs Trump placed flowers at the feet of a statue of the Virgin Mary and spent time praying at the Bambino Gesù Hospital during her visit. She also presented Pope Francis with rosary beads for the Pontiff to bless.
It is unclear when Melania Trump became Catholic. She was raised in a Communist-supporting family in Slovenia and was not baptised as a child. She married Donald Trump, a life-long Presbyterian, in 2005 at an Episcopal church in Palm Beach, Florida.
Despite her husband being inaugurated US president in January, she is not due to move into the White House until the summer. When she does, she will be the first Catholic to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue since President John F Kennedy and his wife Jackie in the early 1960s.
To say the least, it is interesting that mainstream (or church) journalists have not asked this question before, during the barrage of coverage that -- as I mentioned earlier -- greets someone who becomes First Lady.
We may soon see words like "devout" and "practicing" attached to Catholic references in news stories about Melania Trump (if and when American journalists cover this story). That hides obvious questions: Such as the nature of her family's hidden faith long ago. When was she baptized? When did she begin practicing the Catholic faith?
For journalists there is also this: Has she been going church for Confession and Communion? If so, how in the world did she manage that without the press knowing?
So many questions to ask -- since it appears they were never asked in the past.
FIRST IMAGE: Detail from a Trump wedding photo posted at the Project Wedding website.