Family Gather in Madeira to Commemorate the Blessed Emperor Karl of Austria

The descendants of Blessed Karl of Austria, April 2022.
Last weekend, at least one hundred descendants of Emperor Karl I of Austria-Hungary gathered on the island of Madeira. The emperor died on Madeira on 1 April 1922. He was only thirty-four years-old. In 2004, Emperor Karl was beautified by Pope John Paul II.
The imperial family in the Cathedral of Funchal.
Front row: Archduke Karl, Archduchess Anna Gabriele, Archduke Georg, and Archduchess Maria Beatrix.
Photo (c) Duarte Gomes.
Archduke Karl and Archduke Georg with their aunt Archduchess Anna Gabriele.
Photo (c) Duarte Gomes.
Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, wearing the Order of the Golden Fleece.
Photo (c) Duarte Gomes.

On 1 April 2022, a Mass was held at the Church of Our Lady of the Mount in Funchal. The church was packed with a large number of descendants of Emperor Karl and Empress Zita. Among those present were Archduke Karl, Head of the Imperial House and a grandson of the emperor, as well as Archduchess Anna Gabriele, a daughter-in-law of the late emperor, and Dom Duarte, Duke of Braganza and Head of the Royal House of Portugal. 

Father László Erffa, the Bishop of Funchal, Father Paul Habsburg, and Father Johannes Habsburg.
Photo (c) Duarte Gomes.
In the homily for the Eucharist, the Bishop of Funchal, Dom Nuno Brás, stated: “Faithfulness to God and to the commitments that God had entrusted to him at the time of his coronation as Apostolic King of Hungary, always led and enlightened him [Karl] in the understanding of reality and in the search for paths that would lead to a happy life for all. As ruler of the Empire, looking for new ways to respond to new needs; he did so as a believer, living on the basis of faith” And that’s what the Servant of God Zita recognised, when questioned by a journalist about how she and Karl found the strength to overcome the persecution and betrayal they were subjected to, she replied: ‘Without faith, it would have been impossible.’ In these days, once again marked by a war that invades our Europe, we must look to the example of this Holy Emperor. [An emperor who] sought to make peace; but also an Emperor who ‘breathed’ an inner peace that could only come from God.”

On 15 March, Dom Nuno Brás reflected on the life and example of the Blessed Emperor Karl of Austria. In his writing, the Bishop of Funchal recalled to readers the three core tenants of the beliefs and faith of the emperor:

First, the primacy of God. In personal life, be it interior, in the secret of conscience, or public, in the attitudes and words that someone addresses to everyone; and, above all, the primacy of God in political life, in the organization of society and in the laws that regulate its way of life. Throughout his life, this was Karl’s secret: God and his will, sought after, known and lived as far as our strength and abilities allow.

Then the primacy of the person. The person is seen not as a means to an end, not as another insignificant number, but as someone dear and loved by God for himself, with a unique dignity that cannot be compared to the mere consideration of one in the midst of an anonymous mass.

Finally, the primacy of peace. It may seem strange, but the fact is that at the beginning of the 20th century (and even today), many defended war as a means of human progress: from the partisans of the class struggle to the defenders of savage individualism that does not look at nothing or anyone to achieve your purposes. In front of these and against them, Karl, since he arrived at the head of the Empire, always tried seriously and with all his strength to find ways to peace in Europe and in the world.


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