Saturday, October 5, 2013

A mortal, sinful man

On July 16, 2011, during the funeral rites of Dr. Otto von Habsburg, the last heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, a curious ceremony took place for what will almost certainly be the last time.

Following the requiem Mass at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, his coffin was carted through the Innere Stadt, the historic old town, to the door of the Capuchin Church of Saint Mary of the Angels. There Ulrich-Walter Lipp, a family friend, used a staff to knock on the door three times.

Just inside the door was the custodian of the Imperial Crypt, Father Gottfried Undesser. “Who desires to enter?”

Lipp, taking on the role of a herald, then began to read Otto of Austria’s numerous titles. Former Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary. Royal Prince of Hungary and Bohemia, of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria and Illyria. Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow, Duke of Lorraine, of Salzburg, Steyr, Carinthia, Carniola and Bukovina. Und so weiter.

Replied Fr. Gottfried, “We don’t know him!”

Lipp knocked three times again, and with Fr. Gottfried’s query, began to read Dr. von Habsburg’s many secular titles and awards. President and Honorary President of the Pan-European Union. Senior member of the European Parliament. Honorary doctorates from numerous universities; honorary citizen of many communities in Central Europe; member of honorable academies and institutes. And so on.

Again the denial: “We don’t know him!”

Lipp knocked again. This time, in response to Fr. Gottfried’s question, he announced “Otto – ein sterblicher, s√ľndiger Mensch (a mortal, sinful man).” To which Fr. Gottfried replied, opening the doors, “So may he come in.”

Read the rest at Catholic Stand!