Deep in the snow-laden forests surrounding the river Aare in small cave a young lad stirred from a painful sleep. Fiery embers still glowed warmly just outside the low entrance of the cavern as dawn illumined the east, far from the shadow of the western mountains. He lifted his golden haired head from under the great wolf pelt which had covered him the last night, still half asleep but dimly conscious of a large shadow moving in and for a moment concealing the sunlight beyond. As the boy tried to recollect what exactly it was he had seen, he suddenly realized that he could not even remember his own name.
It is when a fact is thus too big for history that it overflows the surrounding facts and expresses itself in fable. Nay, it is when the fact is in a sense too solid that its very solidity breaks the framework of ordinary things; and it can only be recorded through extraordinary things like fairy-tales and romances of chivalry. Everybody felt that merely saying that one Carolus or Carl had lived and died at a certain date, and had a palace at Aix, and fought such and such campaigns against Saxons or Saracens, was wholly inadequate to explain what had happened.
The first of these pernicious errors, widespread today, is the forgetfulness of that law of human solidarity and charity which is dictated and imposed by our common origin and by the equality of rational nature in all men, to whatever people they belong, and by the redeeming Sacrifice offered by Jesus Christ on the Altar of the Cross to His Heavenly Father on behalf of sinful mankind.
– Pius XII, Summi Pontificatus
Encouraged by certain “victories”, the world is triumphantly entering a New Age of Nationalism… or so we are told in shouts of jubilation or despair. The sad truth is that the world has never left the downward spiral that is Nationalism; it has merely entered beginning the last phase, Racial Nationalism. That the world has fallen to such lowness is not surprising; such was always the Fate of the Fallen world, and yet we are not bound by that fate, but by Divine Providence alone. With God’s grace we can fight against this marring of the world.
On this day (November 21) one hundred years ago (in 1916), His Majesty Franz Josef, Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Jerusalem (etc.), and heir of the Holy Roman Emperors, entered Eternal Life after a reign of sixty-eight years. He came to the throne amidst the fires of revolution, and died amidst the ashes of the Great War, and yet for the long years of his reign, his peoples were at peace and contented. So long as he ruled it, this last remnant of Christendom in Europe seemed as though it would last into the far distant future. And yet his own life was fraught with tragedy that might have brought lesser men to despair, the murder of his brother, of his only son, of his wife, and finally of his heir, and through it all he held firm to his God-given duties to his peoples.
However, the death of the old Emperor was not only a time of mourning, for it was also on this day that Archduke Karl ascended to the throne of the war-torn Empire; Emperor as was foretold by St. Pius X, and though most of his reign would be spent in exile, he was certainly a worthy successor of his great-uncle Franz Josef, blessed with same courage and devotion.
Pie Jesu Domine,
Dona eis requiem sempiternam
Far, far across the hills echoed the song of the Olifant of the Palatines. In the vanguard of his army Carolus Goldencrowned heard it beyond the Pass of Runcievalles, summoning the riders of the King of the West. Now swiftly they rode, their own horns giving answer, swiftly to brandish bright swords against the enemies of the free realms. Alas! too late had come the summons and what aid now could save those valiant knights of Christendom?
I bless Archduke Charles, who will be the future Emperor of Austria and will help lead his countries and peoples to great honor and many blessings — but this will not become obvious until after his death.
-St. Pius X, Audience with Empress (then Princess) Zita of Bourbon-Parma
“In exile far from the lands, you sojourn, Hope of Austria…” These words, written for His Imperial and Royal Majesty Otto while he was still an exile in Spain, might very well apply to his father the last reigning Emperor-King, Karl of Austria. His body still sojourns on the isle of Madeira, the final shores of his exile. It might seem strange to connect Hope with his long suffering, his earthly failure as the powers in the world dethroned him, his young death after an excruciating illness. And yet his suffering was not in vain, rather, it was the beginning of something greater, something we now may not see the end of in our earthly lives.
Prayer for the Canonization of Blessed Emperor Karl of Austria:
[To be prayed at the beginning of each day of the novena.]
Heavenly Father, through Blessed Emperor Karl You have given Your Church and the people of God an example of how we can live a discerning and spiritual life in a convincing and courageous way.
His public actions as emperor and king, and his personal acts as a family man, were firmly based in the teachings of the Catholic Faith. His love for his Eucharistic Lord grew in times of trial, and helped him to unite himself to Christ’s sacrifice through his own life’s sacrifice for his peoples. Emperor Karl honored the Mother of God, and loved to pray the rosary throughout his life.
Strengthen us by his intercession when discouragement, faintheartedness, loneliness, bitterness and depression trouble us. Let us follow the example of Your faithful servant, and unselfishly serve our brothers and sisters according to Your will.
Hear my petitions and grant my request [mention your intention here].
Grant that Blessed Karl of Austria be deemed worthy of canonization, for the glory of Your Name, the praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and for blessings upon the Church.
- Day One: Reverence for the Most Blessed Sacrament
- Day Two: An Emperor Devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
- Day Three: A Life of Sacrifice
- Day Four: Sharing in Christ’s Passion—Greatness in Suffering
- Day Five: “Love Your Enemy”
- Day Six: Devoted Father
- Day Seven: The Sovereign
- Day Eight: Faithful Fulfillment of the Will of God
- Day Nine: The Blessed Virgin Mary
Venimus, Vidimus, Deus vicit!
“We came, we saw, God conquered!” These words of the Polish King Jan Sobieski reflect well the Hand of Providence in the victory which decisively saved Christendom from the long Turkish onslaught. The soldiers of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and their King certainly deserve the glory hard won on the Kahlenberg. However, save in their own countries those who fought alongside the renown Winged Hussars are often overshadowed and overlooked, be they Imperials, or the Lipka Tatars (Lithuanian Turkic Muslims who fought in the defense of Vienna).
Of course, there was always Germany, in the sense that there were always Germans. But in so far as those Germans had a country, a culture, a common centre of their civilisation, it was never, through all the ages, what we now call Germany. It was what we now call Austria. In so far as they were ruled by a Kaiser, the Emperor of Austria was the one and only Kaiser. In so far as there was a German Empire, the Austrian Empire was the one and only German Empire. They were more loosely federated than the solid nations like France; they could be regarded as small separate kingdoms and dukedoms; but in so far as they were ever one thing, this was the one and only thing. If they belonged to any Empire, it could only conceivably be the Holy Roman Empire, and the great imperial throne upon the Danube.
-G.K. Chesterton, The End of the Armistice
Throughout the Anglosphere since the rise of the heresy of Nationalism (which Deo volente will be the subject of one of my next posts) there has arisen the regrettable practice of referring to the “First German Empire”. This error pervades even the most well thought out articles, which otherwise provide valid points and arguments. Yet why exactly is this commonplace understanding so much in error?
People forget that even an ideal realm with such sacred foundations as the Holy Roman Empire, with an emperor who was personally holy such as Henry II, still remains something this-worldly and earthly. The Church rises infinitely above this realm, since she is essentially supernatural. As the unity of the Church triumphant, suffering, an militant, she connects the world to come with this world. The focal point must never be shifted to the extent that too much is expected sub specie æternitatis from an earthly realm. In building up the earth one should bring in neither too little theology nor too much theology.
-Dietrich von Hildebrand, Noch einmal: Katholizismus und Politik