Bl. Emperor Karl I of Austria
Memorial: April 1
Beatified: October 3, 2004
Ever lost something that gave you safety and security: your job, health, etc.? If so, did you get angry with God?
Bl. Emperor Karl I Habsburg knew this type of loss, but his response provides a great example for our age.
As a boy, Karl’s home life was bleak. His parents had an unhappy marriage. They effectively left his rearing to others. Because he was in line for the throne, he couldn’t do anything remotely “dangerous” as a boy.
Despite or perhaps because of all this, Karl developed a deep faith life early on. He actively worked to achieve sanctity. Indeed, the day after his marriage, he told his wife, “Now, we must help each other get to heaven.”
Of all the major rulers in Europe at the time of the war, he was the only one who truly worked for peace.
Following Austria’s defeat in World War I, the Allies compelled Karl’s abdication and exiled him to the Portuguese island of Madeira. There he spent his last five months living destitute in a home unfit for winter habitation. Furthermore, for the first time, his family had to completely provide for themselves.
However, at midnight on his last New Year’s Eve, while he and others prayed the Te Deum, all started sobbing. All but Karl. That is how much he had come to accept everything as God’s will.
Indeed, on his deathbed, he said he had done everything necessary to discern and do “…the Will of God…as nearly perfectly as possible!” His last words were, “As you will it…Jesus!” His tomb says, “Fiat voluntas Tua…Thy will be done.”
As John Paul II said, “His chief concern was to follow the Christian vocation to holiness….”
Want to know more about Bl. Karl of Austria? His full story is in 39 New Saints You Should Know (Servant Books).