Thought for the Day – 21 October – The Memorial of Blessed Karl of Austria (1887 – 1922)
“Practising Catholic – How to become a Saint”
From a young age and throughout his life, Karl of Austria demonstrated an awareness of God’s presence and Christian duty. As a child, he loved praying at daily mass with his mother, Archduchess Maria Josefa, and was known for his charitable acts. He knew all the prayers a typical Catholic youth would learn and loved praying them, particularly the rosary. As a youth and later as an adult, he loved making pilgrimages to Marian shrines.
As a young child, he was concerned about the poor and needy, so he did odd jobs around his home in order to earn money to give to them. There are records from when he was 18 years old recording his almsgiving and even as Emperor he continued his private charitable giving. There is testimony from one of his aides who was in charge of distributing the Emperor’s alms from his personal household. The aide informed him there was no more money left and Karl said:
“The need is so great, find the money from somewhere else and distribute that.”
Blessed Karl loved to pray throughout his life. He received Holy Communion daily and at the end of mass prayed “Veni Creator.” He prayed Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and the rosary daily. He frequently prayed the Litanies of the Sacred Heart, the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph; he was a member of Our Lady’s Confraternity and wore the scapular.
Karl was devoted to adoring the Blessed Sacrament and could happily spend hours in adoration. He was routinely found praying wherever he was, at home, in the office and on the battlefield. He encouraged all of his soldiers to pray and frequently asked those around him to join him in prayer to begin a meeting or some action. Furthermore, the Emperor had a devotion to the angels, especially Saint Michael the Archangel, whom he made patron saint of the imperial army.
Karl of Austria was obedient to the Holy Father, acknowledging him to be the Vicar of Christ and he treated bishops and priests with respect. He was known as a loyal, kind, generous and jovial comrade, who lived and practised his faith without artifice. From the testimony of those who knew him well, it is clear, that Blessed Karl took his faith seriously and fostered his relationship with God, devoutly following the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.