Emperor, exemplary husband and father – (1887-1922)
+ Charles was the son of Archduke Otto and Princess Maria Josephine of Saxony and the great-nephew of Emperor Franz Joseph I.
+ Deeply devoted to the Eucharist and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Charles was a man of prayer and compassion.
+ In 1911, he married Princess Zita of Bourbon and Parma and the couple would go on to have eight children.
+ Following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, Charles became the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and, in 1916, he was enthroned as Emperor of Austria and Apostolic King of Hungary.
+ Charles believed it was his duty as emperor to love and care for his people, offering his life for them if necessary. Despite extreme difficulties, he initiated a number of social reforms, inspired by the Church’s social teachings.
+ Exiled to the island of Madeira by Communist opponents who seized control of the former empire following the First World War, Charles and his family were reduced to poverty and in 1922 he fell fatally ill. After forgiving all those who had conspired against him, he died on April 1, 1922.
+ Blessed Charles of Austria was beatified in 2004. The Church celebrates his memory on October 21, the anniversary of his marriage to princess Zita.
Beatified with Blessed Charles of Austria was a French priest, Blessed Peter Vigne. Although he joined the Vincentians after his ordination in 1694, he later left to the community to serve as an itinerant priest traveling for more than 30 years preaching, celebrating the sacraments, visiting the sick, and catechizing children. After establishing base for his ministry in Boucie-le-Roi, he would go on to establish a small, independent community known as the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Blessed Peter Vigne died on July 8, 1740.
“From the beginning, the Emperor Charles conceived of his office as a holy service to his people. His chief concern was to follow the Christian vocation to holiness also in his political actions. For this reason, his thoughts turned to social assistance.”—Pope Saint John Paul II
O God, who alone are holy and without whom no one is good, command, we pray, through the intercession of blessed Charles that we be numbered among those who do not deserve to be deprived of your glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For Any Saint)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.