Feast Day of Blessed Emperor Karl (Charles) of Austria
Blessed Emperor Karl of Austria and his wife, Servant of God Empress Zita of Bourbon-Parma, attending Mass with wounded Hungarian troops from a hospital train during World War One.
On the 21st October, Members of the Order of Malta celebrated the Feast Day of Blessed Emperor Karl (Charles) of Austria, Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Order of Malta.
Watch Fr James McCarthy’s, Homily at his Catholic Mass for the Memorial of Blessed Karl of Austria :
Karl was given an expressly Catholic education and the prayers of a group of persons accompanied him from childhood, since 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 Karl. He turned to prayer before making any important decisions.
On the 21st of October, 1911, he married Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma. The couple was blessed with eight children during the ten years of their happy and exemplary married life. Karl still declared to Zita on his deathbed: “I’ll love you forever.”
Karl became heir to the throne of the Austro‑Hungarian Empire on June 28, 1914, following the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
World War I was underway and with the death of the Emperor Franz Josef I, on November 21, 1916 Karl became Emperor of Austria. On December 30th he was also crowned apostolic King of Hungary.
As Emperor, Karl 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 centre of his preoccupations during the course of the terrible war. He was the only one among political leaders to support Benedict XV’s peace efforts.
As far as domestic politics are concerned, 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 Karl re‑establish the authority of his government in Hungary. But two attempts failed, since above all Karl wished to avoid the outbreak of a civil war.
Karl was exiled to the island of Madeira. Since he considered his duty as a mandate from God, he could not abdicate his office. He died on 1 April, 1922.
Blessed Emperor Karl of Austria was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 3 October 2004.