From Roman Christendom
The Catholic imperial monarchy of Austria and the Holy Roman Empire…
Who does not recognise the face and picture of the distinguished, charming and saintly old gentleman who was the Kaiser (Emperor and Caesar) Francis Joseph of Austria-Hungary from 1848 to 1916?
He led a saintly, rigorously military and piously disciplined life right up to the day of his pious and holy death.
His successor was his great-nephew, the Blessed Emperor Charles I, beatified in 2004 by Blessed Pope John Paul II, himself named Charles (Karol in Polish) after the Blessed Emperor Charles since the Pope’s father had served in the Austro-Hungarian army.
Both men, in fact, led difficult and, indeed, crucified lives. Francis Joseph lost his son, his wife and his nephew successor to assassins. Charles, who worked tirelessly for peace and an end to war, but was betrayed, forced off the throne, exiled into poverty with his wife, Empress Zita, and 8 children, to Madeira Island, and died there aged only 34 years old.
But what was life like under the old Catholic empire?
In fact, it was a glorious kaleidoscope of colour, tradition, beauty, piety and plenty that ought to be the envy of a less fortunate age.
Unfortunately, too few know about those times and many have been seduced by secularist and anti-Catholic propagandists into believing that, in those times, life was nasty, brutish and short.
In fact, the reverse is, and was, true.
The 1955 film Sissi starring Romy Schneider as the Kaiserin (Empress and Caesar’s wife) Elizabeth (“Sissi”) and Karl-Heinz Boehm as Kaiser Francis Joseph, although stylised, gives a surprisingly accurate picture of life in those times.
The theme is the early life of the Kaiser and his new wife, Princess Elizabeth in Bavaria, “Sissi”, which was personally happy and only marred by the increasingly revolutionary politics of the day, tragically and persistently threatening the peace of Europe and the lives of Europeans.
The Italian secularist “irredentists”, seeking a secular and separate Italy, snub and repudiate their Emperor but, at least in the film, are won over by the charm of the Empress Elizabeth when she and the Kaiser arrive at St Mark’s, Venice, in the imperial barge, accompanied by the imperial flotilla.
The Italian nobility shut the doors of their Canal-side villas to their true and rightful Kaiser or Caesar and, instead of attending upon the Kaiser, both at St Mark’s and at the Opera, rudely send their most dull-witted servants to embarrass the Kaiser and Kaiserin (and, at the opera, they rudely drown out the imperial anthem by singing the Italian nationalist anthem, Va Pensiero, famously composed by Guiseppe Verdi whose name was used as an anagram of the king proposed by the irredentist nationalists, the unpleasant Victor Emmanuel, King of Italy – Vittorio Emmanuele Re d’Italia – VERDI).
Sissi foils the plot by charming even the dull-witted servants sent to embarrass the imperial couple.
The whole story is, at base, historically true to life.
Read the rest of the article where you may watch the three YouTube video films of Empress Sissi, plus other clips on the subject.