TAYLORS—Prince of Peace Church held a special novena in honor of Blessed Karl von Habsburg of Austria, which will be highlighted by the blessing of a new shrine to the former monarch, which is the first of its kind in the Diocese of Charleston.
Father Boniface Hicks from St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pa., will bless the shrine during the Oct. 20 Mass at the church. Father Hicks is a delegate for the Emperor Karl League of Prayer, which promotes the canonization efforts.
“I’m looking forward to telling more about him,” Father Hicks said. Since his beatification in 2004, “relics were taken from his body so that the presence of Blessed Karl could be venerated, his prayers evoked and his example followed in shrines all over the world.”
As emperor of Austria-Hungary, Karl supported Pope Benedict XV in the Church’s efforts to end World War I peacefully. Three years after Emperor Karl’s death in 1922, the canonization effort was begun. Pope John Paul II beatified Blessed Karl at St. Peter’s Square in Rome in 2004.
According to the League of Prayer, there are currently a dozen Blessed Karl shrines in the U.S. The one at Prince of Peace is the 13th and is the first in South Carolina.
Father Christopher Smith, pastor at Prince of Peace, said his interest in Blessed Karl’s life started eight years ago with a visit to Austria.
“As a military man, family man and secular leader, he had a deep sense of his vocation to work, his duty to country and family, as stemming from a life of personal holiness in the Church,” Father Smith said. “I was amazed by his heroic virtue and leadership during an incredibly difficult time that would break lesser men.”
The Blessed Karl shrine will be placed in the church next to the St. Josemaría Escrivá shrine. It will feature an image of Blessed Karl, along with a reliquary presented by parishioners Thierry and Tanya Weringer, who had it made in Spain following the death of Tanya’s mother earlier this year. Her mother, Erna, was born in Austria.
“She still had a devotion to Blessed Karl, and would often talk about him, especially to Father Smith,” Mrs. Weringer said, adding that the two conversed in Erna’s native German.
Following the dedication of the shrine, the parish will celebrate Blessed Karl’s feast day Oct. 21, the anniversary of his marriage to Princess Zita of Bourbon Parma in 1911. Her cause for canonization was opened Dec. 10, 2009, and she has the title Servant of God.
Last summer, Prince of Peace parishioner Angela Calabro went on a pilgrimage to Muri Abbey in Switzerland, where the hearts of Blessed Karl and Servant of God Zita are enshrined.
“I am so excited and grateful that we are getting a shrine to Blessed Karl here at Prince of Peace,” Calabro said. “It’s so important in our world today to have such a wonderful example of holy marriage that is Blessed Karl and Servant of God Zita.”