Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Otto Von Habsburg - a great Catholic

Who is this man that the Holy See should award him honours on two separate occasions: one with the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, and another time with the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Sylvester? Who is this man that when he died his heart was buried in a Benedictine Arch Abbey in Pannonhalma, Hungary on July 17th 2011 (sunday gone)?

Well according to Archabbot Asztrik Varszegi, Otto Habsburg was a confessing Catholic Christian, a cultured European politician, “a wonderful person who felt with a Hungarian heart” and a good father. During an official visit to the abbey in 2002, Habsburg signed the guest book as “Benedictine student”.His heart was interred in a ceremony with vespers, in Latin, and an ecumenical prayer. But Otto was much much more....

Wikipedia states the following:

Otto was born in 1912 in Austria-Hungary and baptised Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xavier Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius (what a name... and I thought Tico from the good, the bad and the ugly had a long name)by the Prince-Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Franz Xaver Nagl. His godfather was the Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, his godmother was his grandmother Infanta Maria Antonia of Portugal.

In 1916, Otto became Crown Prince when his father, Archduke Charles, ascended to the throne. A realm which comprised modern-day Austria, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, and parts of Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine. However, in 1918, at the end of the First World War, the monarchies were abolished, the Republics of Austria and Hungary founded instead, and the family was forced into exile. Hungary did become a kingdom again, but Charles was never to reascend the throne. Instead, Miklós Horthy ruled as regent until 1944, in a kingdom without a king.

In 1922 the title he held was : By the Grace of God Emperor of Austria; King of Hungary and Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia and Lodomeria; King of Jerusalem etc.; Archduke of Austria; Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow; Duke of Lorraine, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and Bukowina; Grand Prince of Transylvania, Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Silesia, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Guastalla, Oświęcim and Zator, Teschen, Friaul, Dubrovnik and Zadar; Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca; Prince of Trento and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and Istria; Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenburg etc.; Lord of Trieste, Kotor and Windic March, Grand Voivod of the Voivodeship of Serbia etc,etc.

Special Note: From 1099-1324 there have been European rulers of Jerusalem. Over the years, many European rulers claimed to be the rightful heirs to one of these claims. None of these claimants, however, has actually ruled over any part of the Kingdom.

Otto's devout Catholic mother raised him according to the old curriculum of Austria-Hungary, preparing him to become a Catholic monarch. In 1951 he married. The couple had seven children, 23 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren He spoke German, Hungarian, Croatian, English, Spanish, French and Latin fluently.

Otto was active on the Austrian and European political stage from the 1930s, both by promoting the cause of Habsburg restoration as well as an early proponent of European integration—being thoroughly disgusted with nationalism—and a fierce opponent of Nazism and communism.

Otto von Habsburg was Vice President (1957–1973) and President (1973–2004) of the International Paneuropean Union, and served as a Member of the European Parliament for the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU) 1979–1999. In 1961, Francisco Franco offered him the crown of Spain, but he declined on account of the Habsburg dynasty's long absence from the Spanish throne, and recommended Juan Carlos. A noted intellectual, he has published several books on historical and political affairs. Otto has been described as one of the "architects of the European idea and of European integration" together with Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer, and Alcide De Gasperi.

Over the years he has been awarded:
10 dynastic orders such as "The Grand Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen",
21 governmental orders (from many countries including the two from the holy See) such as "Commander with Star of the Order of Hilal Quaid Azam" (1993) from Pakistan
4 non governmental orders such as "Honorary Knight of the Teutonic Order", and
23 academic awards including 15 honorary doctorates from universities and academic groups throughout the world.

The news service noted that at his funeral, "three times the master of ceremonies knocked on the crypt's doors and twice the coffin was denied entry — first when Habsburg was named as emperor and holder of dozens of other royal titles, then when his academic and political achievements and other accomplishments were listed.

"We do not know him!" was the response from the Capuchin friars within. The doors only opened onto the sun-filled afternoon and into the gloomy half-light of the chapel above the crypt after Habsburg was described as "Otto — a mortal and a sinner."

What a man. What a life. If he had lived another 18 months he would have been 100 years old. He truly lived in interesting times, and still he was a great Catholic.

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