Habsburger Ritual

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The Imperial Crypt (German: Kaisergruft) in Vienna, Austria, also called the Capuchin Crypt (Kapuzinergruft), is a burial chamber beneath the Capuchin Church and monastery. The church was founded in 1618 and dedicated in 1632. It is located on the Neuer Markt square of the Innere Stadt, near the Hofburg Palace. Since 1633, the Imperial Crypt has been the principal place of entombment for members of the House of Habsburg. The bones of 145 Habsburg royalty, plus urns containing the hearts or cremated remains of four others are here, including 12 emperors and 18 empresses. Some of the dozen resident Capuchin friars continue their customary role as the guardians and caretakers of the crypt, along with their other pastoral work in Vienna. The most recent entombment was in 2011 of Otto von Habsburg.

Otto von Habsburg was the son of the Blessed Karl, Last Emperor of Austria, Apostolic King of Hungary. He had possessed great titles, wealth, and social status while on earth, but these counted as nothing before God. Only with a humble and contrite heart would he stand before the judgement of the Lord, trembling in fear and awe.

In July 2011, Otto von Harburg’s coffin was carried to the Capuchin Cloister, where the Imperial Crypt is sited, there, under this modest yellow church building, Otto von Habsburg’s mighty ancestors are buried. Here is the translation of the traditional dialogue at the burial of every member of the Imperial Family before the entrance of the Capuchin Cloister, which reminds us that we human beings are equal before God, and only through his grace and our repentance can we be saved. It is called the ‘Knocking Ceremony’ (Anklopfzeremonie), translation from Sacrucensis. It has also come to be known as the ‘Habsburger Ritual’:

(the Master of Ceremony knocks on the door three times)

Friar: Who desires entry?

MC: Otto of Austria; once Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary; Royal Prince of Hungary and Bohemia, of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria and Illyria; Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow; Duke of Lorraine, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and the Bukowina; Grand Prince of Transylvania, Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Guastalla, of Oświęcim and Zator, Teschen, Friaul, Dubrovnik and Zadar; Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca; Prince of Trent and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and Istria; Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenburg etc.; Lord of Trieste, Kotor and Windic March, Grand Voivod of the Voivodeship of Serbia etc. etc.

Friar: We do not know him.

(The MC knocks three more times)

Friar: Who desires entry?

MC: Dr. Otto von Habsburg, President and Honorary President of the Paneuropean Union, Member and quondam President of the European Parliament, honorary doctor of many universities, honorary citizen of many cities in Central Europe, member of numerous venerable academies and institutes, recipient of high civil and ecclesiastical honours, awards, and medals, which were given him in recognition of his decades-long struggle for the freedom of peoples for justice and right.

Friar: We do not know him.

(The MC knocks three last times)

Friar: Who desires entry?

MC: Otto, a mortal and sinful man.

Friar: Then let him come in.

The following scene is from the movie ‘The Crown Prince’ about Prince Rudolf von Habsburg who was buried in 1889. Even though this is not in English, you can feel the impact of the ritual:

Now the question comes down to each and every human being who ever lives on this earth, no matter what their status in life is: “Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal LORD and Savior to wash your sins away and declare you righteous when your time comes to stand in judgment?”

“And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15)

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About annointing

Defender of the Christian Faith
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