Friday, November 15, 2019

The Great-Grandchildren of Emperor Karl and Empress Zita Who Have Taken Religious Orders

Monseigneur Dominique Rey, Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon, at the ordination of Brother Johannes
Photograph (c) Point de Vue/Luc Castel
Photograph (c) Nicolas Buttet
Four members of the Austrian Imperial Family became priests, brothers, and a sister in the same religious order within the past year: the added twist is that they are all siblings. The most prominent of these is Archduke Johannes of Austria (b.1981). He become a priest in June 2018. Johannes is the third child and second son of Archduke Rudolf of Austria (b.1950) and his wife Archduchess Marie Hélène (b.1954; née Baroness de Villenfagne de Vogelsanck). Johannes is a grandson of Archduke Carl Ludwig of Austria (1918-2007) and his wife Archduchess Yolande (b.1923; née Ligne). Archduchess Yolande is one of the three remaining daughters-in-law of Emperor Karl and Empress Zita; the others are Archduchess Margherita (b.1930; née Savoy-Aosta), the widow of Archduke Robert (1915-1996), and Archduchess Anna-Gabriele (b.1940; née Wrede), the widow and second wife of Archduke Rudolph (1919-2010).


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Archduke Johannes of Austria formerly worked as a banker. He joined the Eucharistein Brotherhood, which was founded in Saint-Maurice, Switzerland, by Nicolas Buttet. In a 2018 profile by Point de Vue, Johannes recalled his spiritual journey, while noting the role his great-grandparents had played in this development: "I remember the presence of 'Uhr Gross Mama', as we called our great-grandmother, when we went to see her in her retirement at Zizers. I was eight years old when she died. I discovered by reading her biography and that of the Emperor Karl that they were far from all the dreams which generally surrounds sovereigns, they had dedicated their lives to the poor. Their holiness touched me."


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Of the eight children of his parents, Johannes is not be the only member of the family to enter religious life. His brother Archduke/Frère Thomas (b.1983), his sister Archduchess/Sœur Marie-des-Neiges (b.1986; she entered the order on the same day that her brother Johannes was ordained as a priest), and his brother Archduke/Frère Joseph (b.1991; who also entered the order on the same day as his brother Johannes and sister Marie-des-Neiges) are all members of the Eucharistein order. Thus, four of the eight children of Archduke Rudolf and Archduchess Marie Hélène of Austria have joined the ministry of the Roman Catholic Church.

The great-grandfather of the four archdukes and archduchess, Emperor Karl of Austria-Hungary, was beautified by the Church on 3 October 2004. He is now known as the Blessed Karl of Austria-Hungary. The great-grandmother of the siblings, Empress Zita of Austria-Hungary, had the cause for her beautification opened in 2009: the empress is now known as Servant of God Zita of Austria-Hungary.

Sources:
« Héritier » de Christophe Giordani, l’appel de Dieu en héritage
L'ordination de l’archiduc Johannes d’Autriche
Johannes d'Autriche: le banquier Habsbourg devenu prêtre

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