The Emperor Karl League of Prayer

The Emperor Karl League of Prayer promotes the canonization of Blessed Karl of the House of Austria who, as Emperor Karl I and King Karl IV, reigned in Austria-Hungary from 1916-1918. The League invites new members.

Karl was conscientiously given a Catholic education and supported from childhood by the prayers of a group of people, because the religious sister and stigmatist, Sr. M. Vincentia Fauland, prophesied that he would suffer greatly and be attacked. After Karl's death this group developed into the Emperor Karl League of Prayers for Peace Among Nations, which introduced his cause for beatification in 1949, and has had ecclesiastic recognition since 1963 as a prayer society. Through his life and dying, Emperor Karl has encouraged and strengthened the faith of many people. Inspired by his spirituality, the Emperor Karl League of Prayers continues to pray today. 

Emperor Karl and Empress Zita with their children while in exile.

Karl of the House of Austria was born on August 17, 1887, at Schloss Persenbeug in Lower Austria. His parents were Archduke Otto and Princess Maria Josepha of Saxony, daughter of the last king of Saxony. Emperor Franz Joseph I was Karl's great uncle.

From an early age, Karl fostered a great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He used prayer to guide him in making all important decisions. 

On October 21, 1911, he married Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma. During the ten good years of their happy and exemplary marriage, the pair were given eight children. While on his death bed, Karl said to Zita: "I love you unceasingly!" 

On June 28, 1914, because of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Karl became the heir apparent of the throne of Austria-Hungary. In the middle of the First World War, the death of Emperor Franz Joseph on November 21, 1916, made Karl the Emperor of Austria. On December 20, 1916, he was crowned Apostolic King of Hungary. 

Karl also saw his duty as a way to follow Christ: by loving his people and being concerned and devoted to improving their lives. 

The most sacred obligation of a king - to provide peace - became the primary focus of Karl's efforts during this horrific war. The only world leader to do so, he support the peace proposals of Pope Benedict XV. 

During a most difficult time domestically, he offered extensive assistance to his people and gave example to them by passing social legislation in conformity with Catholic social teachings. 

His stance prevented civil war from occurring during the post-war transition of government. Yet still he was banished from his homeland. 

Beatification Mass of Blessed Karl presided over by Pope Saint John Paul II, 2004. Note the banner of Blessed Karl in the background.

Beatification Mass of Blessed Karl presided over by Pope Saint John Paul II, 2004. Note the banner of Blessed Karl in the background.

At the request of the pope, who feared that communism would overtake Central Europe, Karl attempted to restore his government and return to the throne of Hungary. Two attempts failed because he wanted to avoid civil war at all costs. Karl was then sent into exile on Madeira. He saw his abandonment there as a commission from God, a duty he could not put aside. 

He lived with his family in poverty, in a damp house. There, Karl contracted a fatal illness, which he accepted as a sacrifice to make for the peace and unity of his people. Karl endured his suffering without complaint, forgave everyone who had treated him unjustly, and died on April 1, 1922, with an almost holy countenance. The motto of his life, which he even said on his deathbed, was: "My entire endeavor has always been to clearly recognize the Will of God in all things and to follow it as completely as possible." 

On October 3, 2004, Pope Saint John Paul II beatified Emperor and King Karl.