Frequently asked questions:
What should empress Zita be called ?
During her earthly life Zita was successively: Princess, Archduchess, Empress and Queen.
According to the usages and customs of different countries several forms of address were used (as a matter of protocol or courtesy). She was quite particular about protocol, not out of vainglory, but out of respect for the office she held, knowing full well that it came from God Himself.
However, her most beautiful titles would come after her death:
- “Zita, a sinful mortal”: during the Servant of God’s funeral in Vienna on 1st April 1989, her coffin was laid before the doors of the Capuchins’ Crypt. From inside one of the Capuchins enquired: “Who begs entrance?” After twice listing all the titles of the deceased and having received two refusals, the Master of Ceremonies utters this humble name and the door is opened.
- Servant of God: the title used by the Catholic Church once a Process of Beatification has been opened. Zita has borne this title since 10th December 2009.
The Association strives to continue this list, God willing, with Venerable, Blessed…and Saint.
These titles, granted by the Catholic Church, correspond to the conclusions of the different phases of the Process. For the moment we keep that of The Servant of God Zita, or simply Zita, remembering that like the rest of us she is “a sinful mortal”.
Why beatify this woman rather than someone else?
All Christians are called to be saints.
“ We come to a full sense of the dignity of the lay faithful if we consider the prime and fundamental vocation that the Father assigns to each of them in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit: the vocation to holiness, that is, the perfection of charity. Holiness is the greatest testimony of the dignity conferred on a disciple of Christ.”
Pope Saint John Paul II Christi fideles laici (n°16)
When it falls on certain persons the Church’s choice is guided above all by her concern to hold up examples of sanctity before as many people as possible, at the end of a Process based on at least one ‘sign’ (miracle) obtained by the intercession of the person thus honoured.
It is not a matter of passing an exam or fitting a role, but of official recognition by the Church. This should be met by the faithful as an invitation for them to tend towards holiness themselves by making the talents they have received bear fruit.
From the very beginning of the Church the Saints have come “from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 7:9). Being famous is no advantage. In Zita’s case it is her life as mother, spouse and queen which is being presented for the Church’s judgment, a unique life according to God’s plan, as every human life is unique. There are indeed may other candidates.
“God calls us all to intimate union with him, even if the special graces or extraordinary signs of this mystical life are granted only to some for the sake of manifesting the gratuitous gift given to all.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 2014
Her husband emperor Charles is Already blessed, isn't that enough?
The Beatification (and even more so the Canonisation) of a married couple by the Catholic Church remains exceptional. To date:
Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi were Beatified by Pope John Paul II on 21st October 2001, the 90th anniversary of Charles and Zita’s marriage.
Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of Sainte Thérèse de l’Enfant-Jésus, were Canonised by Pope Francis during of the Synod of Bishops on the Family.
Charles was beatified on 3rd October 2004, (the last beatification performed by Pope John Paul II), because, “as a statesman and as a Christian, he sought in everything the will of God, recognised it and carried it out” (cf. the Beatification Mass homily), because of his commitment to peace during the First World War. “Emperor Charles considered his office as a holy service of his peoples” (ibid). Without prejudice to the sovereign judgment of the Church, the Christian life of the couple formed by Charles and Zita is equally exemplary. It is quite logical to combine the two causes, but they will remain separate at long as the Church has not beatified Zita.
In any event, these three admirable couples are already intercessors and models for all couples.
Why seek to beatify a princess born at the end of the 19th century when so many untitled contemporary christians deserve this honour?
The Association, as Petitioner, promotes this Cause in response to the request of numerous people who have been touched by Zita’s life. This is a spiritual measure aimed at making better known the life of a person who certainly had outstanding rank in this world and who lived in a particular historical context, but it is certainly not a nostalgic affair regarding an over and done with past.
The Association’s objective is perfectly clear: to encourage Christians to respond in their own daily lives to the call to sanctity which they have received just as the Servant of God received it in her own day. As Archduke Otto, Charles and Zita’s eldest son, once wrote: “If you take the past to admire it but change nothing because of it, you simply become the learned guardian of a cemetery. On the other hand, if you draw strength from it, it becomes a point of departure for the future” (Mémoires d’Europe)
Why Solesmes ?
“The Servant of God’s relationship with France springs not only from her family’s origins but also from the ties which bound her to the two monasteries of Solesmes. With the Nuns she had known her grandmother Mère Adelaide of Braganza, Queen of Portugal, who after the death of her husband, became a Benedictine nun at Solesmes; three of her own sisters likewise followed this example.
In the midst of her many trials, the monastery of Sainte-Cécile of Solesmes was, for Empress Zita, a spiritual anchorage which she felt much in need of. Having become an oblate of the Abbey of Saint-Pierre, she often, almost annually, came to Solesmes, and thanks to an indult from Pius XII, even stayed inside the enclosure at the Abbey of Sainte-Cécile.
The nuns have always emphasised her discretion and the great simplicity with which Her Majesty lived inside the enclosure, striving not to disturb the conventual life at all and to respect the rule of silence. She was exemplary in her attendance at the Choir Offices, dedicated extended moments to prayer and helped the nuns in their daily tasks. For her, these stays at Solesmes were, at one and the same time, a rest, a spiritual retreat and a joyful time with her sisters. Being unable to become a nun herself in the face of her children’s opposition, she guided several young vocations, especially Basque ones, towards the monastery of Sainte-Cécile.
All this explains in part why the Cause for her Beatification was opened in the diocese of Le Mans.”
The Rt Rev Dom Dupont, Abbot of Saint-Pierre of Solesmes.
Zita, servant Princesse
A film, produced by Carine Poidatz and co-produced by KTO, Les Bons Clients (Paris) and the Association for the Beatification and Canonisation of Empress Zita, retraces the Empress’ life and the testimonials of members of her family and people sensitive to her example.
Order the DVD
(French version only)