On this All Saints Day, I find myself thinking about a blessed that I never of until last month.
In the back of a church in Vienna, I found a little pamphlet -- available in a multitude of languages -- telling the story of Blessed Emperor Charles, described as "Prince of Peace for a United Europe."
A member of the famous Habsburg family, Charles (Karl in German) was the last emperor of the Austro-Hungarian empire (Charles I) and the last king of Hungary (Charles IV), as well as the last king of Bohemia and of Croatia.
He succeed to the throne in 1916, the middle of World War I, upon the death of his great uncle, the much better known Emperor Franz-Joseph. The was made possible by the assassination two years earlier of Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo, which touched off the world war.
A soldier by training, he pursued peace and banned his army's use of poison gas. As a ruler, he was guided by Catholic social justice teaching. But he was not a ruler long. He withdrew from the administration of the state -- not using the word "abdicate" -- on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918.
Weakened by pneumonia and two heart attacks, he died of respiratory failure on April 1, 1922 in exile on the Portuguese island of Madeira with his wife and eight children (the last of them in utero). He was 34 years old.
According to the pamphlet I picked up in Austria, the moto of his life was as he is said to have repeated on his death-bed: "My entire efforts are always in all things to recognize and follow as clearly as possible the will of God even in all its completeness." He died in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
Long viewed as a model Christian ruler, Charles I was beatified by Pope John Paul II on Oct. 3, 2004. Two miracles have been recognized through his intercession, one of them involving a Baptist woman from Florida. His feast day is Oct. 21, the date of his marriage to the Empress Zita in 1911.
Jesus said it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter heaven. How encouraging that some saints can work even that miracle!