asking Heaven for grace and blessing for myself and my House, as well as for my
beloved peoples…I swear before the Almighty to
It is by this prayer and
this solemn promise that Emperor Charles of
We read it in community with all the more interest since the account responds to an expectation that our Father formulated in his special issue on the heroes of the Great War. Neither the politicians, nor the historians, nor even the theologians have yet truly understood the meaning of their sacrifice: “There remain, alone credible, alone audible, but yet neither heard nor believed, the saints of the Church who had revelations and indubitably prophetic visions of it, and accompanied them with religious and moral lessons so that the holocaust might not be without merit, without value in the eyes of God but, on the contrary, that it might obtain from Him mercy and grace upon grace up to the fullness of victory and a holy Catholic peace that have not yet come to our peoples of sacrificed heroes…” (Georges de Nantes, Memorial of the Heroes of the Great War. “I have compassion on the multitude,” CCR n° 272, December 1994, p. 1)
Charles of Austria was
not of “our side,” of our Catholic and Latin people confronted by Germanic and
Born 17 August 1887, Charles showed from his early years a benevolent and sensitive character, with a heart as true as gold and a profound piety. Destined, like all the princes of his family, to the military profession, he became an officer at the age of eighteen and distinguished himself by his sense of duty, his austerity and his gaiety. Nothing, however, suggested that this grandnephew of the old emperor, Franz-Joseph, would succeed him one day.
On 21 October 1911,
Charles married Zita de Bourbon-Parma, a charming
princess of French tradition and education, integral and monarchy Catholic
Faith – her grandmother, the Duchess Louise of
A few months before the
wedding, the princess had been received in audience with her mother by Pope
Pius X, who told her: “You are going to marry the heir
to the throne.” Surprised and
intimidated, she did not dare object that the heir to the throne of the
Habsburgs was then the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and not Charles, her future
husband. Pius X continued, however: “I rejoice very greatly at
this, because a great blessing will fall upon his country because of him. He
will be the recompense for
The assassination at
To the ambassador of Franz-Joseph, come to ask, in the name of his master, a blessing for the Austrian armies, Saint Pius X, who had had a sort of prophetic vision of the dreadful “guerrone” – the great war – into which the world was plunging as a chastisement for its impiety, answered:
“Tell the Emperor that I cannot bless either war or those who have wanted war: I bless peace”.
War having been declared, one had to do one’s duty and go to the firing line. The Archduke and heir could be seen rushing about on all the fronts; he was everywhere: on the eastern front, facing the Russian armies of Brusilov, and in the southwest, in the Tyrol, where he commanded for a time the elite troops of the Edelweiss Korps, with an obvious concern for sparing the blood of his men that causes one to think irresistibly of General Pétain at the same period.
If the Dual Monarchy had been on the point of disintegrating, as was repeated ad nauseam after the war to justify the treaties of 1919 that dismembered it, that would have happened in 1914. Against all expectation, however, the mobilisation took place without difficulty. More: the regiments fought valiantly. In October 1917, the Austro-Hungarian armies were still able to inflict a disaster on the Italian troops at Caporetto.
This fidelity and this valour can be explained by one very simple and positive reason. The imperial army was a melting pot in which was blended the profound sentiment, shared by the peoples of the Danube basin, of belonging to a community of destiny, incarnated in one family, the house of Habsburg, and cemented by the Catholic Faith – the ancestral support of the throne.
Charles, who said his
rosary every day, whether alone at the front or with his children when he
Yet how was it possible to get free of a ally that was animated by such bellicose fury?
When Emperor Franz-Joseph
died on 21 November 1916, after a reign of sixty-eight years, one might
have wondered if imperial
“The emperor, however, was there. He now had the face of a man not yet thirty years old, at whose side walked a very young woman, already the mother of four children, veiled in black from head to toe.”
Charles and Zita were crowned December 30, 1916, in
To tell the truth, their responsibility in such circumstances was crushing. Charles fulfilled it in the daily exercise of the virtues of his state to a heroic degree. Taking supreme command of the army himself, he succeeded in imposing his way of looking at things: no infantry engagement without a long and intense preparation by the artillery. New life ran through the army. On their side, the civilian populations began to suffer painfully the consequences of the blockade: replenishing supplies became more and more difficult and food shortages occurred…The pity that flooded the heart of the Emperor, joined to his keen sense of the duty of a sovereign, obliged him to seek by any and all means to put an end to a war that had lasted much too long.
He tried, in vain, to
oppose the German plan for excessive submarine warfare, which caused the
Likewise, he considered
insane the support given by the Kaiser’s headquarters to Lenin in April 1917,
allowing him to pass through
If, in his heart and in his conversations, he was opposed to his ‘allies,’ in practice he was deprived of means to put pressure on them. “This is the whole drama of the sovereign,” notes Sévillia.
It was so until the day
when he decided to open secret discussions with the Entente,
that is to say with
Contacted by their
mother, the Duchess of Parma, the two brothers of Empress Zita,
Sixtus and Xavier of Bourbon-Parma, who had been
engaged since the beginning of the conflict in the Belgian army, went incognito
On 24 March, Emperor Charles confided to his brother-in-law a handwritten letter destined to be delivered to the French authorities, in which can be read :
Charles offered the
Entente substantial terms: recognition of Belgian neutrality, reestablishment
He was indeed the only
head of state of the time thus to desire and to propose peace honestly. Another
motive also urged him: the revolution that had just broken out in
Charles had placed his plans for peace under the protection of the Blessed Virgin, whose image adorned the flags of the imperial regiments. On 15 April 1917, he went to St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna in order to make a vow to build a church dedicated to the Queen of Peace, and to offer himself to her to be her instrument, if she so desired.
For his part Pope Benedict XV, who believed “in the moral force of what is right,” added to the Litanies of Loretto, on 5 May 1917, the invocation “Regina Pacis, ora pro nobis.” “He asked,” wrote our Father, “that there be prayers for peace so that God would give it to the world even though the belligerents did not want either to pray or to disarm.” (CCR n° 272, p. 4)
In response, on 13 May, Our Lady appeared to
the children of
“Recite the Rosary every day in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.
– Can you tell me,” asked Lucy, “if the war is still going to last a long time, or if it will end soon?
– I cannot tell you that yet, until I have not also told you also what I want.”
“Thus humanity asks first of all for its immediate and temporal good. Our Lady, in deferring that off until later, reminds humanity that it is neither the most necessary gift nor the best one. That one is conversion, with Heaven as its object. The great evil is not war but sin, which leads poor souls to Hell and unleashes wars and revolutions.” (G. de Nantes, Letter to My Friends n° 247.) On 13 July 1917, the Blessed Virgin revealed her secret plans of mercy, the execution of which ungrateful and rebellious men were going to delay indefinitely: “The war is going to end, but if they do not cease offending God, another, worse, one will begin in the reign of Pius XI…”
Already, in 1917, a false peace and a calamitous postwar period were being prepared, of which Charles of Austria would be one of the first victims, while from the disjointed parts of his Empire, separated from their head, the spark of the other “worse” war would shoot forth.
The first to refuse the
outstretched hand of Emperor Charles were the French… republicans. Sévillia, following the historian François Fejtö in his “Requiem pour un Empire défunt ” (Paris, 1988), details the stages of this criminal
blindness, from the suppression of the Austrian propositions by the
Radical-Socialist Alexander Ribot and his Italian
accomplice Sonnino in April-May 1917, to the spring
of 1918 when “the ignoble Clemenceau,” as our Father calls him, communicated to
the press the secret letter of Charles of 24 March 1917. He repudiated the
engagements taken and contributed by that very fact to shift
There were networks in
“It was in 1918 that the
wind changed,” remarks Sévillia. The president of the
Ah! Here is the fine
program, formulated by
Poor Charles, who had
thought it a good idea to write to the American president and received no answer! To whichever side he turned, he encountered only
contempt and rebuffs. A smear campaign against the imperial couple during the
summer of 1918 wreaked havoc in the Empire; upon investigation, it was seen to
emanate from the German ambassador in
“It is not enough that I am the only one who wants peace,” Charles confided one day to Polzer-Hoditz, “I must have the whole people and the ministers at my side.”
The people certainly were
his from the beginning; never had a monarch gained so quickly the approval of
his subjects. His simple manners, his social reforms – he was the first in
The “representatives” of
the people, on the other hand, caused him nothing but difficulties, and one is
surprised that one of Charles’ first measures was to convoke the Austrian
parliament, closed since 1914. “The democratic game in
There were few talented men to help him govern, while partisan and national rivalries obstructed his just reforms, in particular his federalist project. If there is a lesson to be drawn from this account, it is that parliamentary life is incompatible with the conduct of war. The most disconcerting thing in these pages is to see that the natural benevolence of Charles, for want of a solid political doctrine, often turned into excessive confidence accorded to his political enemies. At the same time, he professed a disarming belief in the aspirations of peoples, who “eliminate exaggerations on their own [sic!].” In this, he showed himself more a disciple of Leo XIII and Benedict XV than of Pius X.
At the critical moment, the Austrian bishops shirked their traditional mission of supporting the throne. On 12 November 1918, the Christian Socialist deputies, who composed the majority of the assembly and who had sworn fidelity to the Monarchy a few days previously, rallied to the Republic. “A republic without republicans,” read the headlines in the Arbeiterzeitung, the Social-Democratic daily, so evident was it that the change in regime had not been willed by the people but by the political class.
Elections were fixed for 16 February 1919. Sévillia recounts: “Msgr. Seydl, at Eckartsau where the imperial family had taken refuge, had in his hands the text of a Pastoral Letter that the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Piffl, planned to publish in the name of the Austrian episcopate, urging Catholics to vote. This amounted to an implicit recognition by the Church of the change in regime.
“On 15 January 1919, Charles wrote to Msgr. Piffl to get the priests to urge their sheep to elect deputies who were not only Christian but faithful to the throne. In this letter the monarch insists that the teaching of Leo XIII, calling for action within the framework of established institutions, could not be invoked in the Austrian case, where the Republic had been the fruit of a revolution…Wasted effort: on 23 January, the Letter of the episcopate was read in all the pulpits. It was an appeal to work for the future of society and of the fatherland, and to recognised the form of the state in the spirit of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Romans – ‘All power comes from God’– and of the encyclical Immortale Dei of Leo XIII.” (p. 228) Sickening, fatal rallying!
As for Pope
Benedict XV, in response to the magnificent letter that Charles addressed
to him the 28 February 1919, on the eve of leaving for exile, he urged the
Emperor to find “in the Faith and abandonment to God the strength
to consent to the sacrifice (!) that
is required of him.”
The Emperor, who had not abdicated, tried twice, in March and October 1921, to restore his throne in Hungary, where he had been anointed and crowned “Apostolic King,” and where the regent Horthy himself had given him some assurance. They were two unfortunate attempts, which recall too well Louis XVI at Varennes or the Count of Chambord at Versailles for us not to deplore with our Father, at the reading of these lamentable pages, that at these decisive moments, when what was needed was to show audacity and to force destiny, legitimacy was not armed with the virtue of fortitude.
Relegated with his family to the
“We are going through suffering now, but after will come the resurrection,” murmured his heroic spouse at his bedside.
The dawn of this resurrection began to break on 3 October 2004, when Charles of Austria took his place among the Blessed. A “great blessing” then fell upon his country.
One cannot speak of the Emperor Charles of
On the day of their coronation in Budapest, on 30 November 1916, the consecrating bishop had placed the heavy Crown of Saint Stephen on the queen’s shoulder for a moment, saying to her: “Receive the crown of sovereignty, so that you know you are the spouse of the King and that you must always take care of the people of God. The higher you are placed, the more you must be humble and rest in Jesus Christ.”
Following the example of Charles, whose memory she kept
alive, she never abdicated her rights, and it was as Empress of Austria and
Queen of Hungary that she was interred on 1 April 1989, in the crypt of
the Capuchins in
She who received at her birth the uncommon name of Zita, the holy patronness of
Luca, was born in Tuscany on 9 May 1892, of a Portuguese mother and of a
“line of French princes who reigned in Italy,” as her father, Duke Robert of
Parma liked to say. With him, we find the legitimist framework that we love,
since he was the son of Louise de Bourbon, sister of Henry V. Driven from his
States by revolution, he had been raised by his uncle at Frosdorf
in Austria. From his two successive marriages he had twenty-four children, of whom six were handicapped. The family was divided between
the domain of Pianore in
Zita had a childhood “particularly joyful and happy.” After
four years spent with the Salesian sisters of Zangberg in
On her return to
In the enthusiasm of mutual love and with the blessing of Pope Pius X, they were married on 21 October 1911. The following day, they went on pilgrimage to Mariazell to consecrate themselves to “The August Mother of Austria,” as she was called by Ferdinand II when his empire was threatened by the Turks and the Protestants.
Zita had a very thorough sense of tradition; one could even say that her whole personality was “relational.” “All those who preceded me,” she said, “left their mark on my life, and all those who were and are with me, above all the Emperor who gave meaning and fullness to my existence. Without those who have gone before us, we would be nothing. Whatever happened, whatever I have done, I have done it for those who lived before us, those around us, and those who will live after us. Certainly, we have made mistakes, but good will presided over all our enterprises.” (Zita of Habsbourg, Mémoires d’un empire disparu, collected by the historian Erich Feigl, 1991, p. 23)
She added that above all the vicissitudes of history, God alone is sovereign: “A thousand powers, the one Power! All the forces around us that bustle about, pushing or pulling, are nothing beside the only power that rules us. The Emperor Charles was in its service.”
“The identity of the Danubian region
was forged in the struggle against the Turks, and then against Protestantism.
In the seventeenth century,
Situated geographically between the West and the East, the
Austria of the Habsburgs had, for the seven centuries of its existence, played
a determining federating role for the mosaic of peoples who, although
displaying in the heart of Europe an astonishing diversity of statutes,
customs, and institutions, were incapable of living and defending themselves
alone. Franz-Joseph observed this in 1868: “Within our Empire, the
small nations of central
It was, however, above all its overtly political Catholicism
that brought down upon the Empire of the Habsburgs the hatred of the enemies of
the Church, in particular of Freemasonry. In the year that followed the
marriage of Charles and Zita, an international
Eucharistic Congress was held in
death of Rudolph of Habsburg at Mayerling in 1889 had
been, in all likelihood, a Masonic crime. (cf. Michel Dugast
de Clemenceau à Mayerling,
“I am going to be assassinated.
– But Uncle, that’s not possible! Who would commit such a crime?”
“Uncle Franz-Ferdinand,” Zita
commented, “obviously had reasons for believing what he told us. He had had
serious threats from nationalist and anarchist groups. Obviously the police had
been informed of them and took them very seriously. To tell the truth, the
instigators were known to be inaccessible. They mingled and moved in a
half-light, and in the political demi-world, between
Zita, raised by Franz-Joseph to the rank of first lady of the Empire,
came to live at Schönbrunn beginning in July 1914.
Before leaving for the front at the head of the First Hussars, Charles asked
her to have engraved on his sabre the words of their
consecration to the Virgin: “ Sub
tuum præsidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genitrix. ”
On her side, her own brother, Prince Xavier of Bourbon-Parma, who was preparing
“Today Zita called us to Schönbrunn. She gave us terrible news that, I must say, is in accordance with the moment in which we are living: Pope Pius X is dead. He was the only source of light in this period of darkness. ‘Ignis ardens,’ the ‘burning fire’is no more. I see him again before me; we are all assembled around him, and he is speaking to us as a father to his children. How we were all attentive when he spoke of Zita as of the future Empress of Austria! I see again Mama saying that it was not possible… and here Uncle Franz-Ferdinand is dead. Zita is at Schönbrunn…”
At Court, Zita quickly made an
impression by her charisma and her energy. A confidante of the old Emperor,
mother of two, then of three lovely children, she gave herself without counting
the cost to the most needy, applying the motto of her
patroness, St. Zita: “The hands at work, the
heart to God.” Watching over the functioning of the hospitals, in
the capital and then behind the frontlines, she visited the wounded and organised the relief services. She was, according to the
expression of the Cardinal-Archbishop of
On 21 November 1916, Franz-Joseph drew his last breath
after seventy years of reign. He had wanted to punish
Jean Sévillia puts it very well: “A monarchy is a family placed at the head of the State.” Charles, who appreciated the political intelligence of his wife, wished her to be directly informed of the great issues of government. With tact and discretion, Zita knew how to assist her husband admirably in his crushing task. General Margutti, received in audience by the young Empress at the end of January 1917, recounts:
“This time I was again fascinated, not only by the charm that emanated from her august person and by the unrivalled grace of her manners, but more by the turns of her alert and pleasant conversation, sparkling with intelligence and vivacity.” Their exchanges covered the desire of Charles for peace, the implacable determination of the Germans, the risk of the entry of the United States into the war, the danger of events precipitating the fall of Nicholas II and rebounding into that of William II and of the Habsburgs. Zita, however, never encroached on the sphere of the Emperor. Polzer-Hoditz describes the way in which she assisted each evening at the military briefing:
“She was habitually seated a little apart, reading a book or writing letters. Her presence was purely passive. She sometimes asked me for information on such or such an event, but it was never about important affairs. It was rare that she permitted herself to make a remark while the Emperor was discussing political questions with me, but when she did so, the question was always judicious and never beside the point.”
Zita was the soul of the peace negotiations that began to develop
beginning in the month of December 1916. It was she who wrote in March 1917 to
her brother Sixtus in order to convince him to come
to Vienna to learn from Charles himself of his resolution to take Austria out
of the war: “Think of all the unfortunates who must live in the
hell of the trenches, who are dying by the thousands every day: come!” It
was again she who helped her husband to write, in impeccable French, his secret
propositions for peace and the reversal of alliances, intended to remove the
Monarchy from the German grip and to establish a new Paris-Vienna axis against
“The Emperor of Austria, secret friend of
Though it was treason for
“The only enemy of
The same report envisioned that “in case of the break-up of
the Danubian monarchy into ethnic and national
This prophetic note would have no sequel because Pétain and Painlevé had to cede their positions to the evil duo of Clemenceau-Foch, more avid of power and glory than the true good of France, as the Abbé de Nantes, our Father, has shown. (cf. Les années Pétain : 1918, la gloire éclipsée, CRC n° 303, p. 31).
Charles of Austria had thus failed. “There is something so
tragic in the destiny of Emperor and King Charles that one must have lost all
sense of spiritual realities not to be moved in seeing the way in which all the
aspirations of his soul clashed with the great currents of world politics,”
wrote Polzer-Hoditz. The honour
of Charles, and that of Zita, “Princess of Peace,”
(Antoine Redier, Paris, 1930), consisted in fighting
to the end for the peace of Christendom. The judgment of Anatole
On the domestic front, Charles and Zita found themselves more and more alone as the months passed. He was snubbed by the Viennese aristocracy for his too simple and common manners, heir to a Constitution that imprisoned his reform projects, ill served by ministers who were not equal to the task. When the Emperor, who wanted to keep close contact with his peoples and reinforce their union during the ordeal, decided to convoke the parliament, he soon had reason to regret it: each ‘national’ party rushed to take up pre-war conflicts without regard for the common good. When Charles wanted to repair the denials of justice committed by certain military tribunals with a general amnesty, as a way of pulling the rug out from under his enemies’ feet, he was not understood. This was one of the rare points to which Zita objected, and with reason.
One day in January, 1867, Blessed Pius IX asked Don Bosco if he had done well to grant an amnesty to the political prisoners of his States. As the saint hesitated to answer, the Pope insisted :
“Go on, state your idea frankly.
– Your Holiness, by this sovereign stroke of clemency seems to have done what Samson did when he captured three hundred foxes and then let them go. They ran about everywhere, sowing fire and ruin.
– Well, well, you have guessed right. We made a mistake. Wild beasts can be gentled and tamed, but the foxes ‘would lose their coats rather than their vices.’ ”
It was Zita who, in April 1918,
was subjected to the affronts of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ottokar Czernin, who, in a fit of
madness, wanted to use odious blackmail against the imperial family. “The
honour of a gentleman,’ Zita calmly retorted, ‘is to protect his
sovereign.” The treason of Czernin had
disastrous effects, obliging the Emperor to draw closer to
A real work of sabotage, orchestrated in
“We must show
the people,” said Zita, “that
we are there where our duty commands.” It was the maxim of a
sovereign. All through the crisis the Empress, who in 1918 became a mother for
the fourth time, gave proof of a rare courage. At the end of the summer, she
was to be present at a charity gala for the benefit of the war-wounded. Some
people warned her against going: she would be booed, the scandal would be
tremendous. The Empress decided to face it; she would go. Charles accompanied
her. Tense, they appeared at the Konzerthaus
Charles too had shown his character. Probably he committed blunders; probably he had moments of weakness. Nothing, however, had prepared him to succeed Franz-Joseph, and he compels admiration, consideration and compassion when almost always everything turned against him.
“This thirty-year old man,” writes Sévillia,
“placed at the head of an old empire, had to face, almost alone, its dissolution.
At his side there was no minister of the stamp of Kaunitz
or Metternich, no marshal of the character of Eugene of Savoy or Radetzky.
The fall of the Empire took place “in the Austrian way,”
without bloodshed, the Emperor having refused to defend his throne with arms.
When the political circles wanted to push him to abdicate, however, he likewise
refused. He did not acknowledge any right for himself
to dispose of an authority received from God and blessed by the Church, and Zita still less: “Abdicate? Never!”
The imperial family retired to the
From his place of exile in
Zita accompanied him in his second attempt at a restoration in
Confined and then exiled to
The Empress, who was holding him in her arms, had then an expression of unspeakable dread on her face. Mater dolorosa… Soon, however, her faith got the upper hand and caused her to pronounce the act of heroic abandonment that was to bring her so many graces.
On his side, the Bishop of Funchal
testified: “No mission has ever contributed so effectively to revive the Faith
in my diocese as the example given by the Emperor in his sickness and his
death.” Among the bouquets placed on his tomb in the Nossa
Senhora do Monte church, one bore a band
on which was written in Portuguese: “to the martyr king.” Five years earlier, in the same language,
the Virgin Mary had announced at
It is at
Our Lady granted the end of the Great War, announcing on 13 July 1917: “The war is going to end,” as a truce. After the vision of Hell, which should have sufficed to terrorize the good and result in a Crusade of prayer, bringing the reigns of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary over the world… Alas! She announced the possibility, that She knew must be the sad reality of the near future: no attention would be paid to Her appeals, and thus the chastisements would return:
“But if they do not cease to offend God, another, worse one will begin in the reign of Pius XI.”
Jacques Bainville, analysing the treaty signed at
The Virgin Mary continued :
“When you see a night illuminated with an unknown light, know that it is the great sign that God is going to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, famine, and persecutions against the Church and the Holy Father.”
This “unknown light”shone in the
night of 25 January 1938. Less than seven weeks later, the Anschluss of Austria by the
German army marked the true beginning of the Second World War, with
Pius XI still reigning. From
“If My requests
The peoples of the ancient
Alone and destitute, with eight children, of whom the last was still to be born, Zita felt “supernaturally united to her husband.
Every day she invoked him in her prayers, and more so when difficulties arose.” (Sévillia, p. 207) To the faithful Werkman, who had served as secretary to the Emperor, she confided:
“I have one great political duty, and perhaps only that one. I must raise my children according to the mind of the Emperor, to make of them good men who fear God, and above all to prepare Otto for his future. None of us knows what that is.”
Welcomed by the Spain of Alphonso XIII, the family settled in the very Catholic
Finding one of her ladies-in-waiting in tears one day, she learned that there was not enough money left to buy provisions for the week. She was then heard to murmur, “All the same, it is a great thing to be at this point in the hands of God!”
Otto had been kept in his room for two days while the shoemaker resoled his one pair of shoes: “Thus,” said the Empress, “he will understand the poor and will really be their king!”
Another day, she called him and spoke seriously to him. The
newspapers had just announced that the crown prince of
It was, however, towards
The treaty of 1919 had created an unlivable
Hitler understood him too, and wanted to finish off the
little man who flouted him. On 25 July 1934,
Let us be finished once and for all with the legend:
Reading the thrilling pages of Sévillia
on this period, we realise that the legitimist
movement had spread to such an extent in
As refugees in the
It was still necessary for her people to join with her.
At the origin of this “miracle” we find a Franciscan of the name of Petrus Pavlicek. On 2 February 1946, this valiant popular missionary went to the sanctuary of Mariazell to ask “the august Mother of Austria” what he should do. During his prayer he heard a voice saying to him:
“Do what I tell you and you will have peace.”
On the other side of the eastern frontier, events had taken
a far more dramatic turn.
The Marian year was scarcely ended when the Prince-Primate
was arrested. Imprisoned, dreadfully tortured, he was condemned to perpetual
forced labour at the end of a mock trial that accused
him of counter-revolutionary intrigues in league with Otto von Habsburg, on the
pretext that he had met Otto at the Marian Congress in
He was liberated during the uprising of 1956, then
constrained to take refuge in the American Embassy in
In 1982, Zita could once again at last
set foot on Austrian soil. In contrast to her son Otto – who had renounced
his rights at the end of the nineteen-fifties in order to return to the
country, assuage his democratic passion and be elected to the European
Parliament! – she had never given in. “Not
through pride,” Sévillia stresses, “but out of
fidelity to the memory of Charles.” After a pilgrimage of thanksgiving to Mariazell, she was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd in
In the beginning of 1989, she knew one final joy in learning
that her son Otto had also been received triumphantly in
Well, no! Her mission is not finished, nor is that of
Charles, whom Maurras honored with the title of “True
European gentleman,” if it is true that in Heaven one can still
work for the Kingdom of God on earth. That Kingdom is far from being
frère Thomas de Notre-Dame du perpétuel secours.