The chronicle for Nov. 26, 1946 of the convent of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri included this cryptic note: "Arrangements were made also for the Empress Zita who is expected tomorrow afternoon."
“Empress Zita” was Zita von Hapsburg, the last empress of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and widow of its last emperor, Charles I. Two days after the above entry, having arrived with her daughter at the convent, she went to Thanksgiving Day Mass at the nearby Benedictine Conception Abbey.
What was a deposed member of European royalty doing in northwestern Missouri? Charles, Zita, and their children had been forced to leave Austria-Hungary at the close of World War I. Charles died at the age of 34, leaving behind 7 children and another on the way. When the Nazis invaded Belgium in 1940, Zita and her children had to flee again. Experiencing poverty and war-time suffering firsthand, she sympathized with the poor families of post-war Austria and, settling her family in Quebec, began a two-year trip across Canada and the United States to raise money for Central European war relief.
That explains the reason she was in the U.S. But why Missouri? For many years she had wanted to pray at the grave of Father Lukas Etlin, who had died in an auto accident in December of 1927 and was buried on the convent grounds in Clyde. Born in Switzerland in 1864, Etlin had served as the Clyde sisters' chaplain and had worked to raise funds on behalf of Austria's poor following World War I.
Reprinted with permission from PrepareTheWord.com. ©TrueQuest Communications.