Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cause of Beatification of Empress Zita Opened

Many readers will rejoice - fittingly on this Gaudete Sunday - to learn that last Thursday, 10 December 2009, the Cause of Beatification of the Servant of God Zita, last Empress of Austria and wife of Blessed Emperor Charles, was solemnly opened by His Excellency Msgr. Yves Le Saux, Bishop of Le Mans, France. The process was opened in Le Mans, and not in the Swiss diocese of Chur, where the Empress died 20 years ago in 1989 in Zizers, with the consent of Msgr. Huonder, the Bishop of Chur, and the permission of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, because within the diocese of Le Mans is situated the Abbey of Solesmes, well known to NLM readers for its leading rôle in the early liturgical movement in the 19th century, especially regarding Gregorian chant, and which was the spiritual center of the Servant of God Zita, her home among her many exiles.

The ties of the Empress with Solesmes go back to 1909 when after studying with the Visitandine Sisters at Zangberg, Bavaria, she briefly went to study with the Benedictine nuns of the abbey of St. Cecilia of Solesmes, the female sister-abbey of St. Peter of Solesmes, likewise founded by Dom Guéranger, then in exile on the Isle of Wight in England. Her sisters Princesses Maria della Neve Adelaide, Francesca, and Maria Antonia of Bourbon-Parma were all nuns of St. Cecilia abbey. Zita herself later, in 1926, became an Oblate of St. Peter's Abbey of Solesmes. She also received a papal indult allowing her to spend three months of each year within the enclosure of St. Cecilia's abbey. All counted, the Empress spent about 1400 days at Solesmes, i.e. almost 4 years. Her intense spiritual life included, after rising each day at 5:30 a.m., praying part of the Office, hearing several daily Masses (usually three), and reciting the Rosary. If she is raised to the altars, she will also especially be the model of a wife - the deep religiosity of their marriage being exemplified by the famous words of her husband, Bl. Charles, on their wedding day: "Now we must help each other into heaven!", and significantly, their wedding day, 21 October, has already been appointed as the Feast Day of Bl. Charles - and of a widow, a concept sadly very much neglected in the modern age.

This is the official prayer to implore the Beatification of the Servant of God Zita, Empress and Queen:

God our Father, you redeemed the world by the self-abasement of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He who was King became the Servant of all and gave his life as a ransom for many, therefore you have exalted him.

We ask you that your servant Zita, Empress and Queen, will be raised upon the altars of your Church. In her, you have given us a great example of faith and hope in the face of trials, and of unshakeable trust in your Divine Providence.

We beseech you that alongside her husband, the Blessed Emperor Charles, Zita will become for couples a model of married love and fidelity, and for families a guide in the ways of a truly Christian upbringing. May she who in all circumstances opened her heart to the needs of others, especially the poor and needy, be for us all an example of service and love of neighbour.

Through her intercession, grant our petition (mention here the graces you are asking for). Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

1 Pater, 3 Ave, 1 Gloria Patri

Imprimatur : 09/07/2009
† Mgr. Yves Le Saux
Bishop of Le Mans (France).

Those who have received graces through the intercession of the Servant of God, Empress Zita, should contact:

Association for the Beatification of Empress Zita
Abbaye Saint-Pierre
1, place Dom Guéranger
72300 Solesmes, France

Some images, videos and links which may be of interest:

The Servant of God and Blessed Charles on their wedding day:

The Empress on the day of her coronation as Apostolic Queen of Hungary:

Her private chapel at her exile in Québec:

A video of her funeral in Vienna, including the famous dialogue at the gate of the Capuchin Crypt:

The herold taps three time on the gate with his rod.

Capuchin friar: "Who begs entrance?"

Herold: "Her Majesty Zita, by the grace of God Empress of Austria, Apostolic Queen of Hungary, Queen of Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria and Illyria, Queen of Jerusalem etc.; Archduchess of Austria, Grand Duchess of Tuscany and Cracow, Duchess of Lorraine, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and Bucovina; Grand Princesse of Transylvania, Margravine of Moravia; Duchess of Upper and Lower Silesia, Modena, Piacenza and Guastalla, of Auschwitz, Zator, Teschen, Friuli, Ragusa and Zara; Princely Countess of Habsburg and Tyrol, Kyburg, Görz and Gradisca; Princess of Trent and Brixen; Margravine of Upper and Lower Lusatia and in Istria; Countess of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz and Sonnenberg, etc.; Lady of Triest, Cattaro and in the Windic march; Grand Voivode of the Voivodeship of Serbia; née Princess Royal of Bourbon, Princess of Parma, etc."

Capuchin friar: "We know her not."

The herold knocks again.

Capuchin friar: "Who begs entrance?"

Herold: "Her Majesty Zita, Empress and Queen."

Capuchin friar: "We know her not."

The herold knocks for the third time.

Capuchin friar: "Who begs entrance?"

Herold: "Zita, a mortal, sinful man."

This is the website if the Diocese of Le Mans for the cause, where you can listen, inter alia, to the Bishop and the Abbot Solesmes (in French): link.

And this is the website of the Association mentioned above, with a lot of biographical information, images, and videos; most of it is only in French so far: link.

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