16 July 2011

The Habsburger Burial Ritual

You can watch the funeral and burial of His Imperial Royal Highness Archduke Otto von Habsburg live on Austrian television at ORF. It is an historic event, and I hope you are able to witness at least a part of it.

Almost 2 billion people (that's the reported number, although it may be a bit hard to believe) watched the funeral and burial of H.I.R.H. Kaiserin Zita von Bourbon-Parma (wife of Blessed Kaiser Karl) in 1989. Below is some brief video footage of that historic day, in which you can also see the moving Habsburger burial ritual.

When the procession arrives from the Stephansdom, where the funeral Mass was held, at the doors of the Kapuzinerkirche, where members of the royal family are traditionally entombed in the crypt, the herald knocks on the door three times with his staff. From within a Capuchin friar asks: Who seeks entrance? The response: Zita, Her Majesty the Empress and Queen. The friar says: We don't know her. He knocks again. Who seeks entrance? This time the herald answers: Zita, a mortal, sinful woman. Friar: Then come in.

In the clip below you can see a more dramatic enactment of the same ritual from an Austrian television series which in one scene portrays the burial of Crown Prince and Archduke Rudolf von Habsburg of 1889. Here the dialogue is even more impressive, as it truly was, since the Empire was still a living reality.

Capuchin friar: Who is there?

Imperial herald: His Imperial Highness, Crown Prince of Austria, Kingly Prince of Hungary and Bohemia, of Lombardy and Venetia, of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria, and Illyria; Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece; General Inspector of the Imperial Infantry; Archduke Rudolf von Habsburg.

Capuchin friar: We don't know him. [The herald knocks again...] Who is there?

Imperial herald: Archduke Rudolf von Habsburg!

Capuchin friar: We don't know him! [The herald knocks again...] Who is there?

Imperial herald: Rudolf, a poor sinner.

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