Wednesday, July 6

Otto von Habsburg, R.I.P.

A few days ago I posted about beginning to work my way through the 1970s BBC docudrama miniseries, Fall of Eagles. I awoke this morning to news that the last living link to that late-19th-early-20th-century age has passed. Archduke Otto von Habsburg, eldest son and heir to the beatified last Austro-Hungarian Emperor Karl I, died peacefully in his sleep on Monday 4 July 2011 at age 98. Requiescat in pace.

Young Otto with granduncle
Emperor Franz-Josef, 1916
Last Crown Prince of Austria, lifetime statesman and tireless advocate of a united Europe, defender of traditional values, the family, and the Faith, the Archduke will be remembered by many of my students from an anecdote I share to illustrate the thoroughly Catholic identity of the Habsburg Dynasty. Otto von Habsburg is considered the father of the European Parliament, as a member of which in 1988 he participated in one of the more colorful incidents in that body's history. Pope John Paul II was speaking before the Parliament. Ian Paisley, Northern Irish Protestant firebrand, unfurled a sign proclaiming, “The Pope is the Antichrist.” Among those manhandling Paisley from the Parliamentary chambers was 70-some-odd-year-old Otto von Habsburg, upholding his family's centuries-long tradition of defending Holy Mother Church.

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