Friday, April 26, 2013


Royals seem to be much in the news these days, especially with a new king for the Netherlands, the first in four generations, to be "crowned on April 30. I find it fascinating that some modern royals are being considered for canonization. Remember Jesus' words that it is easier for a camel to fit thru the eye of a needle than a rich man to gain eternal life. Yet some have lived such exemplary lives that they deserve our consideration.

BLESSED KARL, was a model of holiness in his public, family and spiritual life. He was beatified on October 3, 2004.

He was, among other titles, the last ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was the last Emperor of Austria, the last King of Hungary, the last King of Bohemia and Croatia, and the last King of Galicia and Lodomeria, and the last monarch of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine

Charles of Austria was born August 17, 1887, in the Castle of Persenbeug in the region of Lower Austria. His parents were the Archduke Otto and Princess Maria Josephine of Saxony, daughter of the last King of Saxony. Emperor Francis Joseph I was Charles' Great Uncle.

Charles was given a deeply Catholic education. A stigmatic nun prophesied that he would undergo great suffering and attacks would be made against him.  A deep devotion to the Holy Eucharist and to the Sacred Heart of Jesus began to grow in Charles and he turned to prayer before making any important decisions.

Karl and Zita
On the 21st of October, 1911, he married Princess Zita of Bourbon and Parma. The couple had  eight children during the ten years of their happy and exemplary married life. Charles declared to Zita on his deathbed: “I'll love you forever.”

Charles became heir to the throne of the Austro‑Hungarian Empire on June 28, 1914, following the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand. World War I was underway and with the death of the Emperor Francis Joseph, on November 21, 1916 Charles became Emperor of Austria. On December 30th he was crowned apostolic King of Hungary.

Charles envisaged this office also as a way to follow Christ: in the love and care of the peoples entrusted to him, and in dedicating his life to them. He placed the most sacred duty of a king -a commitment to peace- at the center of his duties during the course of the terrible war. He was the only one among political leaders to support Pope Benedict XV's peace efforts.

Bl. Karl with firstborn, Otto
As far as domestic politics were concerned and despite the extremely difficult times, he initiated wide and exemplary social legislation, inspired by social Christian teaching. Thanks to his conduct, the transition to a new order at the end of the conflict was made possible without a civil war. He was, however, banished from his country.

The Pope feared the rise of communist power in central Europe, and expressed the wish that Charles re‑establish the authority of his government in Hungary. But two attempts failed, since above all Charles wished to avoid the outbreak of a civil war.

Charles and his family were exiled to the island of Madeira. Since he considered his duty as a mandate from God, he could not abdicate his office. Reduced to poverty, he lived with his family in a very humid house. He then fell ill, accepting this as a sacrifice for the peace and unity of his peoples.

Karl & Zita & seven Children
Charles endured his suffering without complaining. He forgave all those who conspired against him and died April 1st 1922 with his eyes turned toward the Holy Sacrament. On his deathbed he repeated the motto of his life: “I strive always in all things to understand as clearly as possible and follow the will of God, and this in the most perfect way”.

The English writer, Herbert Vivian, wrote:  "Karl was a great leader, a Prince of peace, who wanted to save the world from a year of war; a statesman with ideas to save his people from the complicated problems of his Empire; a King who loved his people, a fearless man, a noble soul, distinguished, a saint from whose grave blessings come."

The French novelist, Anatole Franc, stated:  "Emperor Karl is the only decent man to come out of the war in a leadership position, yet he was a saint and no one listened to him. He sincerely wanted peace, and therefore was despised by the whole world. It was a wonderful chance that was lost."

One wonders what the world would be like today, specially the Eastern European countries, if  leaders had listened to Bl.Karl. Peacemakers do not seem, even in our day and age, to stand a chance against political leaders who have so many agendas, which include greed, hatred, and bigotry.

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