Austrian Emperor Charles I to Be Beatified

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2003 ( Charles I, the last Hapsburg ruler of the Austro-Hungarian empire, will be beatified, after the Holy See approved a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to his intercession.

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Charles was born on Aug. 17, 1887, in Persenbeug, Austria. He was proclaimed emperor of Austria and king of Hungary in 1916.

Five years earlier, he had married Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma, to whom he said on their wedding day: “Now we have to take one another to heaven.” They had eight children.

When the Austro-Hungarian empire fell on Nov. 11, 1918, Charles abdicated. He left Austria in March 1919 and was formally stripped of his office by the Austrian Parliament in April. He spent his exile on the Portuguese island of Madeira, where he died in 1922 at age 34.

“He served his people with justice and charity,” the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Sainthood Causes, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, explained Saturday during the ceremony to promulgate the decree.

“He sought peace, helped the poor, diligently cultivated his spiritual life,” the cardinal said. “Faith sustained him from his youth, especially in the period of the First World War, and during his exile on the island of Madeira, where he died a holy death.”

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