Blessed Charles of Austria

Blessed Charles I of AustriaAlso known as

  • Charles of Habsburg
  • Carlo d’Austria
  • Karl I von Österreich
  • Karl IV von Österreich



Son of Archduke Otto and Princess Maria Josephine of Saxony; great-nephew of Emperor Francis Joseph I. A stigmatic nun prophesied that he would be the victim of attacks and great suffering. A group of people were specifically assigned to pray for him at all times; after his death this group formed the League of Prayer of the Emperor Charles for the Peace of the Peoples (Gebetsliga Kaiser Karl für den Völkerfrieden), which became an ecclesiastically recognized prayer group in 1963. He received a strong Catholic education, and developed a strong devotion to the Holy Eucharist and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Married Princess Zita of Bourbon and Parma on 21 October 1911. They had eight children over the next ten years.

With the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand on 28 June 1914, the trigger for World War I, Charles became heir presumptive to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. On the death of Emperor Francis Joseph on 21 November 1916, Charles became Emperor of Austria; crowned apostolic king of Hungary on 30 December 1916. He saw his crown as a way to implement Christian charity and social reform. He worked for peace, for an end to the war, and was the only leader to support Pope Benedict XV‘s peace effort. After the war, Charles was exiled to Switzerland in March 1919. Trying to prevent the rise of Communism in Central Europe, he tried twice in 1921 to return to power, but since he refused to be the cause of civil war, he finally gave up. Since he considered his office a mandate from God, he never abdicated his throne or title, but he was exiled to the island of Madeira, Portugal and spent his remaining days in prayerful poverty. His widow, princess Zita, dressed in black and lived in mourning her remaining 67 years.





Additional Information


I strive always in all things to understand as clearly as possible and follow the will of God, and this in the most perfect way. – Blessed Charles’ life motto

MLA Citation

  • “Blessed Charles of Austria“. CatholicSaints.Info. 1 September 2020. Web. 16 June 2021. <>