Sunday, March 18, 2012

Habsburgs Head to Madeira to Commemorate the Emperor Karl

A sizable contingent of Habsburgs, accompanied by members of the League of Prayers for the Emperor Karl of Austria, are headed to Madeira.

While on the Portuguese island the Habsburg family will commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Emperor Karl's death, as well as his 125th birthday anniversary.

In 1916 Karl became Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary on the death of his great-uncle, Emperor Franz Josef. He was forced off the dual throne as the empire collapse at the end of the Great War.

Born on 17 August 1887, Karl was the first sons of Archduke Otto of Austria (1865-1906) and of his wife, the former Princess Maria Josepha of Saxony(1867-1944), herself a granddaughter of Queen Maria II of Portugal.

Then Archduke Karl married Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma (1892-1989) on 21 October 1911. Their wedding took place at her family's vast residence, Schloß Frohsdorf (sold many years later and now a women's prison), and was attended by many important personalities, among them Emperor Franz Joseph, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, King Friedrich August III of Saxony and the Duke of Madrid, Carlist claimant to the Spanish throne.

Karl and Zita were to become the parents of eight children born between 1912 and 1922. Their last surviving child, Archduke Felix, only died last year.

After making unsuccessful attempts to regain the Hungarian throne, Karl, accompanied by his wife and their children, was sent to exile on the island of the Madeira, in the Azores. While there, the damp climate took a terrible toll on the exiled Emperor and his already weakened constitution was irreparably compromised. He died from complications on 1 April 1922.

The Empress Zita survived him until 14 March 1989. She rests inside the Capuchin Crypt in Vienna, while her husband's remains rest in Madeira.

Emperor Karl was a devout Catholic and a ruler with a deep sense of social justice, as well as a clear perspective of what it meant to lead a life dedicated to his Catholic faith and principles. For these and other aspects of his life, he was beatified in 2004 by the late Pope John Paul II.

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