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.
-St. John Paul II, Homily for the Beatification of Blessed Karl
In a time of war and destruction, when all the safety and comfort of society was collapsing, a noble man gave his life for his peoples. For two long years he pleaded with his enemies to find some way to bring peace to his war-torn country. He began a wave of reform which swept away the corruption and decay which the war had brought to light. But he was alone, his enemies were relentless and his allies unwilling to give up on the phantom of total victory. In the end he died alone, exiled on an island far from his homeland. Yet his son took upon himself his father’s burden, and lived to see the evils his father had struggled so fiercely against utterly destroyed.
This story sounds so much like a myth, a fairy-tale to inspire children. But this is only because fairy-tales are the closest to true history of all stories we tell. You may well ask in this age of corrupt politicians and mob mentality, is it even possible that one man could stand against the world of his time, and so courageously that his impact on it remained long after his death? My answer to you is yes, that this man lived, and that his name was Karl von Habsburg-Lothringen, by the grace of God, Emperor and King. And most surprisingly of all, the time he lived in was much worse than our own.