Grandson of Royals and Future Saints Recalls Their Faith Lessons

This article by K. N. Hattrup was originally published on July 5, 2017, by

What must it be like to see such a shining example in your own family of what marriage "basically, basically" is?

Archduke Rudolf of Austria visited Croatia in May on the feast of the Servant of God Zita, the wife of Blessed Charles of Austria. The archduke is the eldest grandson of this saintly pair, from their fifth child, Archduke Carl Ludwig of Austria.

The Archdiocese of Zagreb published this video interview with Archduke Rudolf, in which he speaks about his grandparents, the testimony of their marriage, and his own experience as a husband and father. He also notes some fascinating coincidences in the lives of his grandfather and Pope John Paul II, including that little Karol Wojtyla was in fact named after Emperor Charles.

Blessed Charles of Austria, besides being the last Emperor of Austria (and ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and a leader who worked tirelessly for peace during World War I, was also a family man and a loyal husband to his wife. They were married for 11 years before his early death in exile in 1922. Zita was pregnant with their eighth child when Charles passed away.

As Archduke Rudolf recalls in the video, on the day before Charles and Zita were married, Charles told her, “Now we have to lean one on the other in order to reach heaven together.”

“That is basically, basically what marriage is,” the archduke reflects.

Readers might also enjoy a 2013 lecture from Archduke Rudolf at Notre Dame, which can be viewed here.

In this lecture, the archduke notes among many anecdotes how Zita was told by Pope Pius X when she went to Rome for a blessing on her upcoming marriage that she was marrying the man who would be heir to the throne.

Zita didn’t know how to receive such a “prophecy” given that Charles, her fiancé, shouldn’t have become emperor, as he was only the great-nephew of Emperor Franz-Joseph. Charles succeeded Franz-Joseph only because of a string of assassinations and deaths, which at the time Zita couldn’t have anticipated.


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Karl Austria