Karl I of Austria.
Many people have absolutely no idea who this blessed man was. Blessed Karl (Charles) I was the last Emperor of Austria, the last King of Hungary, and the last King of Bohemia. This is just a small fraction of the full title of the Apostolic King and Emperor of the former Empire of Austria-Hungary, established by Francis I in 1745 as an extension of the Holy Roman Empire. Following the start of the First World War, Blessed Karl became heir to the throne after the assasination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and assumed the throne after the death of Emperor Franz Joseph.
Many people in the modern age scoff at the idea of Monarchy as tyrannical and refuse to believe in a Catholic Monarchy. This is merely a misconception of Monarchy as a whole, and Bl. Karl did just that. He was a purely Catholic King.
Bl. Karl truly cared for the people of his kingdom. Thrown into reign during World War I, Bl. Karl established various welfare services for both families left without fathers from war, as well as men returning from war injured. From the time he was very young, Karl understood the necessity of charity. As a child, Karl would do as many extra chores at home as possible to earn extra money to give to the poor. This continued throughout his whole life. It is recorded from one of his personal aides to the royal household that when money for alms-giving ran out, Karl responded with, “The need is so great, find the money from somewhere else and distribute that."
Bl. Karl was also a devout Catholic man. He attended Holy Mass daily to receive the Blessed Sacrament. Each day after Mass, he recited the Veni Creator Spiritus in thanksgiving to the Holy Ghost. He began each day with Lauds and ended each with Vespers, making sure to pray the Rosary as well and devoutly wore the Brown Scapular in honor of Our Lady. He routinely made holy hours in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament before making any major decisions in his rule, with specific devotion to St. Michael the Archangel, Patron of the Imperial Army.
In the midst of World War I, Pope Benedict XV proposed a plan for peace. Out of the entirety of powers involved in the war, only Bl. Karl’s Austria-Hungary submitted to the Holy Father’s plan. Bl. Karl wanted nothing but to end the war peacefully from its beginning. He even attempted to enter a secret alliance with the Triple Entente to shut down Germany and end the war. Sadly, due to power-hungry leaders in both French and English powers, peace was never negotiated and the war raged on.
Soon after the end of the war, the Empire was beginning to collapse. Promised help from so-called allies never came, and eventually rebels were able to overtake the government, and all nations inside the Empire were free to establish themselves as independent nations. With this, Bl. Karl was exiled from his own throne, where he died soon after.
From The Emperor Karl League of Prayer:
O God, through the adversities of this world You led Blessed Karl from this earthly realm to the crown reserved for him in heaven. Grant through his intercession that we may so serve Your Son and our brothers and sisters that we may become worthy of eternal life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.