An Unlikely Saint for Our Times: Blessed Karl of Austria

An upcoming symposium in Dallas, Texas will look at the life of Blessed Karl of Austria, the last Habsburg Emperor who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2004. What can we learn from this man?

Crisis Point
Crisis Point
An Unlikely Saint for Our Times: Blessed Karl of Austria
/

Links

• Blessed Emperor Karl Symposium
• Blessed Karl of Austria website
• Blessed Charles of Austria: A Holy Emperor and His Legacy (book)

Transcript

Eric Sammons:

An upcoming symposium in Dallas, Texas, will look at the life of Blessed Karl of Austria, the last Habsburg Emperor, and who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2004. What can we learn from this man today? That’s what we’re going to talk about on Crisis Point today.

Hello, I’m Eric Sammons, your host, and the Editor-in-Chief of Crisis Magazine. Before we get started, I just want to encourage people to subscribe to the channel, to like this episode, let other people know about it, and follow us on social media @CrisisMag.

So our guest today has had a devotion to Blessed Karl for about five years now. His name is David Ross, and he is the host of the Blessed Karl Symposium to be held this year on October 15th in Dallas, Texas. And we’ll talk more about the symposium in a little bit, but I want to first start talking about Blessed Karl himself, and people might notice who follow this podcast, that I recently had a change in my background.

And, in fact, the change was that I have a Blessed Karl bust behind me now. So you can tell I have an interest in this subject as well. Now I want to start by saying, it might seem odd to modern Americans that there’s a growing veneration, or growing devotion to this man. After all, he was a leader of a country we were at war with in WWI. He was a Monarch and we’re in America, we’re very much for democracy. And also, by our standards, he was a failure, in the sense that he wanted to bring about peace, he wasn’t able to do that. And so it seems like a strange person for modern Americans who loved success, we love democracy, definitely on our side in every war. Why do you think there is a growing devotion, just in a nutshell, why do you think there’s a growing devotion to this man?

David Ross:

Well, good morning, Eric. Thank you so much for having me on the show. It’s an honor to be with you. I think the answer is this, it’s really what is going on today in our country. In Blessed Karl’s time, and you’re talking about a young man who was the emperor of a vast empire, when there were forces against him… anti-Catholic bigots, communists, Masons, modernists, everybody working to destroy his empire, which is a very Catholic empire, and replacing these good institutions with intrinsically evil ones. And does that not sound like today? So when I would read about Blessed Karl, I thought this is so applicable. It’s so relevant today. How did he navigate through it? And what was so remarkable is that he always stayed on mission. He didn’t lose the faith. He was a very temperate man. He couldn’t be beguiled by luxury. He was not a stranger to pain and difficulty. He was the perfect man for the job, but he was rather outnumbered and overwhelmed, but he kept his joy the whole time.

And joy… the devil wants to take our joy away, which is that choice of an inner gladness of heart, and the devil’s after that, because he’s taken so much away from us, but not everything. There’s every reason for hope. And so I found it very interesting. How did this man stay on mission? And he so stayed on mission, and keep his joy, and his faith when his empire, which was hundreds of years old, came collapsing down around him. And so when I read about him, I’m pulled into his story and I smile, because the devil isn’t going to take away our joy. And especially after men, he is… and a prime example for men, for fathers, husbands, and leaders, how he guided his family and the other provinces, which made up the empire, and he did it with a smile and he would not have his joy taken away. And I find it very, very inspiring and very relevant for today.

Eric Sammons:

It was interesting in Crisis Magazine, just this week, we had article by Father Robert McTeigue about comparing the… he calls it the Guns of August. He’s comparing August 1914 with August 2022. And he actually was making the parallel between the two times. And he particularly mentioned Blessed Karl. And he said, we don’t have a Blessed Karl today. So the one good thing they had back then we actually don’t even have that. So it was somewhat of a sobering read. But I do think there’s a lot of, like you were saying, a lot of connections on similarities between the two times. Now, let’s take a step back for a second. And I just want to briefly, let’s talk about a little bit about the Habsburgs, because he is the last Habsburg Emperor. There’s obviously still Habsburgs alive today, but that name has a certain mystique and also a certain… I think there’s a certain bias against it. And with Americans, can you speak just briefly about the family and kind of what it means in connection with Catholicism and in the life of Blessed Karl?

David Ross:

Yes, I can touch on that. The Habsburgs originated from, today what is North Switzerland. And they succeeded the governance of the Holy Roman Empire, which started on Christmas Day in the year 800 when Pope Leo III crowned Karl der Grosse, Karl the Great, Karles Magnos. And the last Emperor is Karl… our man, Blessed Karl. And so the Habsburgs started to rule this empire in the late 13th century, 1270, something like that. And well, this predates Protestantism. So this was all Catholics, or countries which were soon to be converting to the faith, but perhaps most of them already were. And so this is the only Christian faith at the time, the Apostolic Church. And so monarchy was the normal mode for governance of these territories. And the borders changed throughout the years. I mean, for one time, well, if you’re including the Holy Roman Empire, almost the entirety of Europe, not all of it, that came to an end in the early 1800s.

And then what took its place, and the Habsburgs were still on the throne, was the Austrian Empire, which went into 1867 when it merged with the Kingdom of Hungary. And Kingdom of Hungary was a very large kingdom itself. It ruled for hundreds of years, and this is what’s called the dual monarchy. And that started in… that merger, if you will, took place in 1867, and this is commonly referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire. And so the Hapsburgs, not all of them, were beautifully Catholic people. Some were rather shameful to the faith. Some were very superb to the faith… just like then, just like now. But what’s interesting is that, the longest reigning Kaiser… Kaiser’s German for emperor, was Franz Joseph, who reigned for almost 70 years until he died in 1916. His successor was supposed to be his nephew, Franz Ferdinand. Franz Ferdinand was a devout Catholic, and Franz Joseph was too, but Franz Ferdinand also was, and he was next in line and he was assassinated in 1914.

And that is why, a month later… that was June 28, 1914, and it triggered WWI July 28th, one month later, 1914, WWI, and we’ll talk about that, because I know right now you’re not asking me about that, but I have a lot to say about that. And so when the old Kaiser died well into his eighties in 1916, Blessed Karl took over. He was always a very devout Catholic man, a boy. In fact, when he was about five years old, there was very little chance he was ever going to come to the throne because there was at least five men, depending on how you calculate it, in line before him and their male offspring.

So it made a Hungarian nuns’ prophecy that he was going to be Emperor one day, so laughable, so far fetched, but she said, “I assure you, he is going to be Emperor, and he’s going to be persecuted. And the gates of hell are going to be tormenting him. So we need to pray for him”. So she started the Gebetsliga, in German, the Prayer League, which still goes on today. And the head of the North American branch of it is actually one of our speakers. So I answered a little bit more than what you asked.

Eric Sammons:

That’s okay. Yeah. Well, it’s easy to get excited about Blessed Karl and just keep on going. I know how that is. So let’s talk… so he’s basically the inheritor, of course, of the Holy Roman Empire. But at the time that he became Emperor, it’s the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but let’s talk a little bit about his upbringing. So now, obviously we know that that Blessed Karl was a devout Catholic, but was he raised from birth as a devout Catholic? Was his family, his parents, were they devout Catholics? What was his upbringing like?

David Ross:

Yes. His upbringing was thoroughly Catholic. The Habsburg family were absolutely Catholic. His mother was very devout. His father had some rough edges around it. He seemed to have fallen more under the wing of his mother, but he also had tutors and he had a very academically rich upbringing. He went to institutional schools, as well as private tutoring. And he was known for always being, even as a boy, very merciful, very virtuous, always serving others.

For instance, there’s one story about after he and Zita married, October 21, 1911… see, that’s his feast day. He died in April 1st, which normally is a Saint’s feast day. But Pope St. John Paul II, who is named after Karl… remember that Pope’s name is Charles, Karol, named after Karl actually, picked the date of their marriage to be his feast day. Well, soon after they married, he and his young bride, Zita, were assigned to go live somewhere else in the empire because he was in the military, and he had to go to his post.

On the way there, their car breaks down in front of a house, and the lady comes out and recognizes his military uniform and said, “You’re in my son’s unit”. “Yes, I am”. She doesn’t recognize who he is. “Would you take something for him”? “Be happy to.” “Here’s a little bit of bread and some money.” “Gladly”. So he drove without ever telling the woman who he was. He drove to his unit, looked up her son, and gave him the bread with the money, and he put more money into it. And didn’t tell the woman. But the son reached back to his mother and said, “You’ll never know who that was”. That is so Karl.

There’s other examples. For instance, when he was Emperor, he ordered the royal carriages to load up with vessels of milk, to hand deliver to the hungry children during WWI, to give them milk. He ordered that everybody put on rations during the war. He included his own palatial staff, even himself. They all had to eat the same amount of food of what the soldiers were, out in war, very meager food offerings. This explains… I gave some when he was younger and then older, this explains how he was. There’s even a gardener who tended the palace gardens, who remembered him as a boy, how he was always trying to give money and do services for the servants. That’s him. So it’s really no surprise. And if you read all the books that I got a hold of, all about Karl, you can see, it’s no wonder that he is a Saint. I mean, he really always was.

Eric Sammons:

Yeah. And I think we need to realize… of course, it’s very difficult for every one of us to be humble. I mean, that’s our… pride is the base sin of all of us, and it’s very hard to be humble, but to try to imagine growing up as Karl did, even though he was maybe fifth or something in line at first, I mean, it’s equivalent to somebody like Prince Harry in the British royal family. And then, of course, he ends up becoming kind of Prince William as far as his status. And think about growing up like that, where you are in this situation where you’re kind of above everybody, is the natural thing. A lot of us might then tend to revel in that, and become very prideful about that. And I think… and you see, of course, in the history of royal families marks a lot of the bad ones, that’s exactly what they do.

So I think it’s very telling that Karl, from a very young age, he never let that become something, a point of pride for him, but it was more of a point of service for him. And I love the story about him going off with, running an errand for someone. That’s great. But I also want to bring up then, part of his upbringing then, it was as a soldier. And so what was his military service, because sometimes you get situations where somebody in a royal family, they kind of have almost just a… it’s a more perfunctory service. But I believe, if I’m not mistaken, Blessed Karl actually did have a lot more than that. He was actually intimately involved as a soldier. Am I right?

David Ross:

Yes. Yes. That was his job. If I can simplify it that way. He was a military man, and that was his constant work. And if you go online and see lots of pictures of Blessed Karl, you’ll see many of them in soldiers uniforms, with the troops. He was known, even while he was Emperor for two precious years, he was Emperor, it’s fascinating. All this talk. We’re still here talking about Blessed Karl who was on the throne for two years, but we’re no longer talking about all these forces at that day, who were much bigger than him in a way, at least influentially. No symposiums about him. No symposiums about the anti-Catholic president Woodrow Wilson. And this is 100 years later, but Blessed Karl… Karl would visit the troops, while Emperor, literally in the trenches, visiting them, bringing them food, bringing them good cheer. And he spent his whole time on the throne, those precious two years, working for an end to the war. He was against the war.

If I can just add this, because people might say, you know what started the war? If they’re so good, then why is there a war? Well, the heir to the throne was assassinated. The Kaiser’s nephew was murdered in cold blood at point blank range. He and his wife, Franz Ferdinand and Sophie, in Sarajevo, Bosnia. And that’s a whole other talk, but they were assassinated by people that already were troublemakers for the empire, the Serbians. And so Austria gave Serbia a list of requirements they had to do, okay? You have to do this, that, this or that, or we’re going to invade. And they agreed to almost all of them, but the Kaiser was old and frail and his generals muscle him into launching excursions into Serbia proper. And that’s what started it.

So Austria invaded Serbia, which was allied to Russia. So Russia invaded Austria. Germany was allied to Austria. So Germany invaded Russia, and Germany sent a note to both France and Russia. France, you must declare your neutrality in this problem with Russia, and Russia, you must stand down. Well, they didn’t get an answer at all. So Germany attacked France through Belgium. Well, England, which wasn’t particularly allied with Serbia or with Russia, but was with Belgium, and attacked Germany. And that is WWI. Italy was actually allied with Austria, but England and France promised Italy, if they would join England and France, the entente, that they would get a chunk, a free real estate deal. They’d get a chunk of Austria, which they now have. It’s Sud Tyrol, in the far north. And so Italy went against Austria, and then ironically.

So Karl spent his time, instead of prosecuting the war, offering peace. Pope Benedict, at the time, gave him a peace plan, offered peace, but it was rejected because they saw that as a weakness, and they thought we could crush this man, and get his lands rather than take his offer of peace. And that caused the death of a million more men and Woodrow Wilson deliberately would not talk to Karl. He would only speak to the agitators in the different empires, the Austrians, the Hungarians, the Czechs, the Polish, the dissidents who were exiled elsewhere, which actually helped crumble the empire because he wouldn’t… in other words, Wilson already rejected the legitimacy of this 650 year old empire. And all of this is during Fatima, 1917. Keep in mind, when our lady told the children pray for peace… this is in context of WWI, and ironically Blessed Karl ended up, and his remains still are, on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Again, a little more than what you asked for.

Eric Sammons:

Oh, that’s all good. That’s all good. So why don’t you give me… so just to make sure we recap here. So WWI has started before Blessed Karl is the Emperor. And like you said, it was basically a domino effect. One thing led to another led to another. Now all of a sudden we have all of Europe is it war, and eventually United States also enters into it. And it really was the war to end all wars, as it was called, and it was just a horrible thing. And can I tell by your tone of voice, you share the same opinion as me about Woodrow Wilson. I wish Americans realize he probably ranks as the worst American president ever. And I’m not going to get on a whole tangent against him, because I could, but just terrible in so many ways. It’s unbelievably. But let’s talk about Blessed Karl though, who’s the good leader back then.

So he becomes Emperor in the midst of WWI. It’s not like, all of a sudden, that he can just day one say, okay, we’re out of it now. That’s not how it works because he has his alliances with Germany. And it’s just not something that can be done. However, from day one, from the moment he became Emperor, he said his goal was peace. His goal was to end the conflict. What were some of the practical things that Blessed Karl tried to do during the war to bring peace about?

David Ross:

And it was hard, because his ally, who was much stronger than him, was the German Empire, and the German Empire was not a very old empire. It’s just another long history about the Holy Roman Empire, then the German Confederation. But it was a big empire and Kaiser Wilhelm II, was very powerful and his generals were very powerful, and the growth of the Austrian empire was due to marriage, actually not to war. And so I just don’t really think the Austrians were very skilled at war making. But every time Blessed Karl… and he had to confer with the German Kaiser because they were literally enmeshed. I mean, their soldiers were mixed, literally side by side in the trenches. So he couldn’t just pull them out. That was one thought, why don’t we just tell all the Austrians to come home? We’re just going to stop.

Well, they were in the trenches with the Germans, side by side, because they’re both speaking German. Also, it was feared, and not unreasonably, that Germany would just take over the Austro-Hungarian Empire itself. It was a strange bedfellow for Austria. So Karl continually sent messages and met with the Kaiser Wilhelm in Germany… “Let’s end this”. “No, my generals are telling me we can win this”. “I don’t think so. Let’s end this now. Plus men are dying, and for what? Let’s end this”. Well, he wouldn’t. So it was hard for… and it took me some time on just all the different books I’ve read, to get my mind around this, why he couldn’t just stop. And it took several books and a couple of readings to understand, it wasn’t that easy, because their troops were so intertwined with the German troops and their fear that Germany would take over Austria and Germany’s refusal. So that was the main reason why he couldn’t just arbitrarily sue for a separate peace, as they call it.

Now the biggest, most reported effort that Blessed Karl made, was a separate peace that he offered to France and England. He finally did reach a point where he was willing to make a separate peace outside of Germany, but he kept it a secret from Germany and some of the French, some of the English agreed with it, but some didn’t. And when the Germans found out, it really blew up and it made Karl look bad. Let me just say now Karl was not a great warrior. Never said he was.

And a study of Karl looks like a study of Christ, and it just takes my breath away at how relevant it is today. And we’re not going to be able to cover it. The symposium website, by the way, in case someone’s waiting now is, blessedkarl.org… Karl with a K, org, not com. Blessedkarl.org. So Karl kept doing this. He kept contacting the Italians. Let’s stop the French. Let’s stop the English. Let’s stop… not the Russians, because Russia attacking… now consider this, Russia attacking Austria, back in July, August of ’14 at the very beginning, it’s really what started WWI. When Austria went into Serbia, which now we say we wish they didn’t, but when they did that, that wasn’t WWI. It’s when Russia attacked Austria. Ironically, within a year, couple years, three years, the Russians are out of the war, because the Bolsheviks took over, and Lenin was in hibernation, in Switzerland, and he wanted to go into Austria, and Karl would not allow him to use the Austrian railway because he knew what the communists would bring to the world.

You talk about prophecy, a prophetic vision. It was the Germans who let Lenin in, to Russia, through Germany, because they thought it would be good to destabilize the Russians. Well it did. Oh brother did it. And now for 100 of years, these 100s of years, this 100 years, this moral mess that the world is in, historians believe it’s because of the fall of the Habsburg Empire. Some say, because this man did not stay on the throne, it was the dam that kept it all in. When he was removed, it all burst. And because people say, how did we get into this? Most historians believe that the end of WWI, was that line drawn in the sand. The dam bursting.

So that’s… but the empires that he was warring with… which is ironic, because some of them were relatives, because these Royal houses intermarried. They were all friends of his. Anytime there was a Royal wedding or a funeral, the Kaiser would send Karl because he was so lovable. So the irony is that he was in charge of fighting these people. Well they just continued to refuse his offers of peace. And because they thought, why take peace and end the war, when we can take his country and end the war? So, that’s the medium answer to your question?

Eric Sammons:

Okay. So now let’s get to the fact that the end of the empire, the end of him being Emperor… now he did not abdicate. I know that. So how did it happen? Why did it happen? Why did he have to leave leadership of the Austro-Hungarian Empire?

David Ross:

Why did he have to leave? Is that what you said?

Eric Sammons:

Yes.

David Ross:

Okay. Well, eventually the war did come to an end, and the Masons, communists, anti-Catholics, socialists, took over. They organized a takeover because the empire was comprised of Austria, Hungary and Croatia and Slovenia and Bosnia, Herzegovina, and part of Ukraine and Poland and the like. Well, inside of all of these… I don’t know any country where everybody agrees 100% with their leader, right? I mean, I don’t know any human in the world who’s perfect today. So there were factions, there were always malcontents, and they approached England, France, and the United States, and said help us set up a new government. So that’s what I’m saying. Woodrow Wilson, awful man, horrible man, he would only meet with them, to further destabilize the empire.

So they got what they wanted. The war is finished. Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated, and took, today what would be hundreds of millions of dollars worth of wealth, and scrammed. Blessed Karl didn’t, because he was a devout Catholic. And while the throne of Austria did not require a kind of vow to God, the coronation of the Kingdom of Hungary did. The coronation of the king of Hungary did. And so it was rather liturgical. The bishops were there. It was in the cathedral, and he had vestments on, and he made a promise to God. I will not abandon my people. And a good father does not abandon his people, his children. A good father does not frighten his children. A good father does not let his children go scattered. Where is Papa? Where is Papa? He stays. And he defends. So he made a promise to God, and a father does not abandon his children. So Karl never could. And mind you, the context of this is, the Romanov family in Russia, who had just been assassinated a year before, knowing that could happen, he still would not abdicate.

Today, maniacs are still obsessed with the idea. People who don’t even care about this issue, they still want to pursue the claim that he abdicated, to show that he renounced God and his children, but he didn’t. 100 years, they’ve been trying to manufacture evidence that he did. And he didn’t. Because a lot of people say, what does it matter? It matters because Blessed Karl lived as an Emperor and a Catholic. Even on his deathbed, he called his son, the Crown Prince Otto, and he wouldn’t let the children come to him, because he was afraid they would get a disease, and you need to see how an emperor and a Catholic dies. This man was through and through Catholic. And that’s why I say he’s so relevant to men today. You men can learn from Karl, how he navigated life through such trials and tribulations and humiliations and calumny, how he guides his family, how he guides his responsibilities, how he doesn’t abandon his duties.

And that’s why I keep saying he is so relevant today. So the communists wanted him to do that because he was so popular. They knew that most of the people were behind him, but the powerful people weren’t, okay? So they wanted him to abdicate because it would be so quick and simple, but he wouldn’t, because they were afraid a civil war. If the people would have what they wanted, they would pick Karl and it might lead to civil war. And then the communists, the Masons, the anti-Catholic bigots and radical Republicans and rugged individualists, they would lose it away. And so that’s why they needed him to abdicate, but he didn’t. And wouldn’t because of the reason I said.

Eric Sammons:

Now, what was it… so after he left office, I guess we’ll say, after… he didn’t really leave office. After he left the country, I guess, is a better way to put it, and he stopped ruling the country, his life was actually very short after that. But tell me a little bit about then what was his life like before, and leading up to his death after he had left running the empire?

David Ross:

Yes. Yes. Yes. And let me just insert this. I try not to make this a regurgitation of all the ills he went through, and then a regurgitation of all the ills we are going through. My point is, times are tough now. Let’s not pretend that isn’t so. They are tough now, but there is a victory to be had, in looking at the saints and that’s what the saints are for. They can help us get to Jesus. Blessed Karl’s life helps me, and a lot of other men, get to Jesus. Read about it, and find out, come to the symposium, etcetera, but read about it and find out. And that’s why the veneration of this Saint certainly isn’t the end. It’s a means to the end, which is Jesus in heaven.

So, he was exiled to Switzerland. I mean, he’s actually holed up in a castle. There are attempts on his life, together with a request for abdication, which he wouldn’t. Finally, the British sent a Catholic German and… the British sent a British Catholic general, rather, to take him and escort him to Switzerland. So he went to Switzerland with his family, and that is, I believe, ’19. The war ended in ’18, and this is ’19. Out of Switzerland, and before this happened, he put a Naval Commander… Austria today doesn’t have any Navy. They don’t… they’re not, have any seas, seashore, but back then they did. He put a man on the throne in Hungary. Remember Karl is Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary. He put that man as a Regent, hold my place, coming back. He’s exiled into Switzerland and goes back to Hungary, unannounced, to tell the Regent, “I’m here”. “What are you here for”? “I’m here to take over again”. “Not now. Now’s on a good time. You need to come back another time”. And it was just awful.

Karl had heart attacks. He had trouble in planning. And so he left. He didn’t even have a weapon with him. He went back to Switzerland. A few months later, he made another incursion into Hungary, this time by airplane, for the first time in his life, he’s on an airplane with Zita. He tried to take the throne again, but the Regent would not let him. And Karl could see a civil war. This was a very short, abbreviated version. He could see a civil war was going to happen, though most Hungarians supported him, the people in power didn’t. So the British… Switzerland would never receive him again. So the British first shipped him to… they put him on a ship, and they couldn’t get anybody to captain the ship because they were all Karlists here, Blessed Karl. They try to get a Croatian to do it, but they were so loyal to it. So they found a Serb, who were historically against the Empire.

They first shipped into Constantinople and Turkey, and then shipped him 2000 miles away to the Portuguese island of Madeira, which was more off of the coast of Western Africa than it is Europe. And he arrived in November of ’21, and three and a half months later, without seeing his children, he finally were given his children who were still in Switzerland. He got his children, and Zita, went to Switzerland on February 3rd, brought them back and arrived in Madeira on February 3rd. And Blessed Karl died April 1st, 1922.

What happened is, a few things. First, you’ve got the Spanish flu, sorry, the Iberian peninsula norality. Yeah, you get it. And did he maybe get some of that? But he was high in a mountain, which was always in clouds and a very cold house with no heat, no electricity. And he caught a cold, shivers. Maybe the Spanish flu, certainly a broken heart. His granddaughter Princess Maria-Anna, one of our speakers, said that her grandmother, the Empress, said he died of a broken heart. I mean, if you read about all the things he went through, that’s why I say, wow, this is like a modern day life of Christ, all those things, it killed him literally.

And so he died on April 1, 1922 at 12:25 PM, at the age of 34, almost 35, with a few last words on his lips, if I can tell you. First he’s receiving communion daily, he’s going to confession multiple times. He declares again, “I did not abdicate. I would never abandon my people, but God wants me to lay down my life for my people”. Who does that sound like? Then he calls in Otto, as I said, his first born son of eight children, and actually was the last one to die about 10 years ago or so, almost 100 years old, “Come and see how a Catholic and an Emperor dies”.

Then he says to his wife, “Let my peoples know, I forgive them all”. And he had much to not forgive and much to forgive. And he did. And then he said to his wife, “Why can’t we go home”? He starts to hallucinate and “Why can’t they just let us go home”? Then he looks at his wife and says, “I will love you endlessly”. And then he looks at the crucifix and says, “Jesus”, and dies at the age of 34, leaving seven children and a pregnant wife, while the socialists and Austria make a law, called the Habsburgs Law.

Habsburgs are not allowed to go back to Austria. They’re not allowed to set foot in Austria. After they’ve been running the country for 650 years. And so they all spread out in different countries. For instance, you’ll see this picture of, on February 3rd, when Zita comes back from Switzerland, bringing the children, that he hasn’t seen in three and a half months, he’s holding a little boy. That’s two year old Rudolph, who is the father of our speaker, Princess Maria-Anna von Habsburg- Galitzine, who lives in Texas by the way, that is her father. When he grew up and become a man, he moved to New York and fell in love with a Russian Countess who was Orthodox.

You had to go through special tricks and maneuvers to marry a non-Catholic. And so the Catholic Rudolph, married Countess Xenia, and who married them was an obscure priest… you might know him by the name of Fulton Sheen.

Eric Sammons:

That’s amazing. So they scattered all over. And I just want to finish before we talk about the symposium. So Empress Zita, she lived for quite some time after that. And you mentioned how the Habsburgs were not allowed back in Austria, but Empress Zita did come back, right? 1989 was her funeral… wasn’t it in Austria? Did she go back there?

David Ross:

Yes. They allowed her. She died well in her nineties. She died in 1989 and her funeral was… she was allowed to eventually go back. The Crown Princes Otto was allowed to go back. They wanted him to sign an abdication form, but he wouldn’t, but he did sign a form saying that he has no intention of running the government or something like that. I don’t know. I don’t know everything about Blessed Karl, but he was allowed to go back. And when his mother died, Servant of God, Zita, her funeral was in Vienna Austria, only if her family pays for it, the government is not paying one shilling, penny for it. So they all had to pay for it.

And there was eight children. Otto was one of them. I mentioned Rudolph, there’s six more children. They scattered, some are in Hungary. The great, great, great grandson of the old Kaiser, Franz Joseph, who died in 1916, he’s one of our speakers. He’s a guy, my age. He is Hungary’s Ambassador to the Holy See, believe it or not. He’s a husband, a family man. They have six children. He’s one of our speakers. He is Edward from Habsburg, and his talk, he is going to talk about, in context of Blessed Karl, how do you live in a world like today? And he’s a diplomat and he’s a dad and a father and all those children, how does he do it? So he is going to have a unique and interesting way of intertwining those two, Blessed Karl-ism and 22- ism. And what does that look like?

But our speakers and study about Karl, there’s joy there. As Bishop Sheen says, there’s no better time to be Catholic. And the harder the time is, there’s no better time to be Catholic. This is really when we can show, how a Catholic lives and how he dies, and how he faces these challenges and how he will not allow himself to be intimidated to deny his faith. There never was a time in recent memory and generations to apply Blessed Karl to the times. And this is now. Again, it’s more than what you asked, but I’m so filled with joy about it.

Eric Sammons:

Yes. And this is great. This is the enthusiasm is showing. I like it. And so you’ve mentioned two of the speakers. They’re going to be there. Who are the other speakers are going to be at the symposium?

David Ross:

Well, one is, I mentioned the Archduke Ambassador at Edouard von Hapsburg. I mentioned Suzanne Pearson.

Eric Sammons:

You mentioned the granddaughter, also.

David Ross:

Okay. So Princess Maria-Anna, yes, the granddaughter, she’ll be there. She’s not giving a speech or a talk, but I will interview her. She even lived with her grandmother, Zita. We have an amazing interview and some people report to me that it’s their favorite part of it, but it’s playful. It’s historical. It’s interesting. She can talk about what it was like living with Zita, her grandmother, and give us some answers, which are not in books, from just living with the venerable lady. Suzanne Pearson, and she is at, emperorcharles.org. She is the delegate of the North American Emperor Charles Prayer League, that that Hungarian nun I talked about, started in 1892, that’s still going on. She’s one of our speakers, expert in all things Karl.

We have a well known and prolific American author by the name of Charles Coulombe. That’s spelled C-O-U-L-O-M-B-E. He is a very interesting man and author in that, he’s written many historical books, many books on history, and history that you’ve never heard before. For instance, one on American history called Puritan’s Empire. Well, he’s written a book about Blessed Karl. He’s right now, living in Vienna, working on another doctorate degree. That’s it, brother.

Eric Sammons:

I got it right here.

David Ross:

I don’t even have to find it for you.

Eric Sammons:

Charles is actually one of the contributing editors of Crisis Magazine. We had him on a few weeks ago on the podcast.

David Ross:

Yes. Yes. I’m not surprised to hear that. He’s sought after. He offers an interesting dimensional insight to the subject matter that you just don’t get from everybody. And he’s in Austria doing deep, intense research, on the Habsburgs, and what was going on. He’s working on a book now about, Servant of God, Empress and Queen Zita, Crown Prince Otto. He is one of our speakers. We’re so fortunate to get him because he almost couldn’t come when he thought I wanted to bring him on Blessed Karl’s feast day, which is October 21st. And the event isn’t… the event is a week before, about a week before, October 15th. So lastly, and certainly not lastly, is Bishop Athanasius Schneider. I’m sure 101% of your viewers knows who he is. He has a bold pastor. He is coming as a spiritual director to speak a little bit about Blessed Karl, but also give us some reasons for hope that Christ Wins. You have that new book of his from a couple years ago, Christus Vincit?

Eric Sammons:

That’s right. Yes I do. It’s sitting right over there in the bookshelf.

David Ross:

Okay. I’ll take your word for it. So that man has seen it all. He is intimately deep into the world. He has a tough life, too. And what’s interesting about these speakers is, these are people that have suffered, and you usually have more to learn from people who have suffered, but they’re not going to be at our symposium to offend the moral sensibilities of children. I’ve told my speakers, please don’t… we don’t want to hear a regurgitation of all the ills. We already know it. Our speakers are going to come to give you reasons for joy, to smile. The devil wants you to be nervous. He wants you to be glued to the news. He wants you to be obsessed with it. He wants you to be depressed, and he wants you to lose your faith and joy. And we’re not going to let him do that. And these speakers are going to give us an insight about how we can do that. So we should leave the symposium, smiling and full of joy. Hallelujah.

Eric Sammons:

Amen. Amen. Well, I would just want to say, I’m looking forward to attending… yes, everybody watching us know I am attending this symposium. I can’t wait to get down there and hear all the speakers and meet the different people and things like that. So what I’m going to do is… so it’s October 15th. It’s just a one day symposium, a Saturday in Dallas, Texas. And I’m going to put the links to the proper places where you can find out more about it, buy tickets, things like that. I just highly recommend it. Obviously if you’re in the area of Dallas, really, you got to make it. It’s not very expensive. It’s just one day. And even if you’re traveling like I am, from another location, I really do think it could be worth it for so many reasons.

David Ross:

Let me add to that. I can’t tell you how many people from different states outside of Texas are coming. This is an unusual high percentage. They’re coming from all four corners of the country. Just recently, I was mentioning something like that to Bishop Schneider, and he said, “I have a message for people who are coming. And he says, I want you to not let your faith be shaken by societal disruptions. Be strong in your faith. I’m coming to bring you joy. And I want to see you all in Dallas”. That is his message for us. And there are many priests coming. There might be a couple of bishops coming. There’s an unusual high quantity of priests coming.

And again, it is not an event that’s going to depress you. I don’t want people depressed. We got that enough. We’re going to be pumped. We’re going to reclaim our joy and look, consider this, Eric, our political fortunes, they come, they go, they come back, they go away again. Our material possessions, too. But through it all, like Karl, we’re going to keep our joy. The devil wants to take that. He’s not going to shake our faith. We are not going to lose our joy. And I hope that’s what this symposium is going to bring to you, and anyone else who wants to come. blessedkarl.org.

Eric Sammons:

Amen. Amen. Well, okay, we’ll end it there. I really appreciate you coming on the program, David, this is great.

David Ross:

Thank you.

Eric Sammons:

I mean, I’m even more enthusiastic now. I want October 15th to come even sooner, but hopefully it will come when it comes. So I’m looking forward to it. Again, thank you. For everybody else watching, I just encourage you to consider attending the conference. If you can’t make it for any reason, pray for its success, that all the speakers get there fine, all the attendees get there, fine, everything goes smoothly. I know what it’s like. I’ve organized conferences myself and symposiums in the past. I know… a lot of work, so I know you’re very busy. So I really appreciate you taking your time out to come on the program here.

David Ross:

My pleasure. Thank you brother. Thank you.

Eric Sammons:

Okay, until next time everybody, God love you.

Recent Episodes

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00

Orthodox. Faithful. Free.

Signup to receive new Crisis articles daily