Sunday, October 11, 2009

Belgian Royals at Papal Ceremony

Their Majesties King Albert II and Queen Paola of the Belgians met with HH Pope Benedict XVI in Rome on the occasion of the canonization of five new saints, one of which was St Damien of Molokai, a Belgian priest who served the afflicted people of the leper colony of Molokai island in the Kingdom of Hawaii, eventually contracting the disease himself, as expected, and passing away in 1889. For a country as relatively young (at least in its current form) as the Kingdom of Belgium the ties between the Belgian monarchy and the Holy See are very strong. During the Risorgimento in Italy many Belgians went to fight in defense of the Papal States with the Papal Zouaves. It was a Belgian, Msgr Xavier de Merode, whom Bl. Pope Pius IX appointed Minister of War to deal with that crisis. After the war the Belgian royal court sent the "prisoner of the Vatican" a very magnificent papal tiara (one of my favorites) to show that his authority remained untouched in the hearts of the faithful. King Albert I and King Leopold III were well known for their devout faith and the late King Baudouin was the last living knight of the Papal Supreme Order of Christ; then the highest papal honor possible given only to Catholic heads of state for certain actions or occasions by the Pope himself. King Albert II and Queen Paola previously attended a special mass in honor of St Damien before going to Rome for the formal canonization in St Peter's Basilica.


  1. In 1967, the ex-King Leopold III and his wife, Princess Lilian, visited Molokai and paid their respects at Father Damien's grave. On this occasion, they also (despite the warnings of doctors against doing so) insisted on visiting the lepers. Lilian, for all her reputation as an "iron woman," broke down and embraced one of the women. Leopold later recalled how heart-rending it all was, how the patients tried to cling to them and didn't want to let them go.

  2. Thanks for the info, I never knew that. That's great and reveals the character of the pair. I really wish stories like this were more well known, about Leopold III and Princess Lilian in particular. If people knew the "whole story" about the couple I am sure their public image would be very, *very* different.

  3. But we need the image that we have now...

    ... just like we need to imagin that in a Republic, or Democracy as they call it now, people who run for office have only the interest of the peopel at heart and turly care about the common man, we need to imagine those of Royal blood or an Aristorcratic background as self centred and concerned only with themselves and thei rown will.

    This fiction has been rather promenant since the Revolutionary movementbegan, and is a bedrock of modern-dasy thinking about how enlightened our time is as opposed o the old order.

    Its liek a comment I saw in a news story about the French restoraion movement. When news came of Orleans wish to restore the French crown, one commenter said that he thoguht he waqs beter than everyone else and os wanted to rule htem. Its perhaps better to have a systen in which we can intead elect leaders who do not have this attitude.

    The image beign that nayoen who wants ot be King must be sinisteand arroganr,m wantign only to dominate others, and elected officials are a contrast ot this, beign form the common man and only warign to serve, hubly, and represent their electorate. This is the common myth, which is beleived still, while Of course most of the time we elect leaders who are arrogant and self centred, and hwo run ofor office to gratify either their own egos or desire to weild power over others.

    Why else are thye running for office? Realisticlaly few want to help others or simply serve them, and it snot liek our eleted eladers lack arrogancy.

    In fact, we know this in any context excpe tmonarchy. We hear politician jokes all the time, and we know they are arorgant, self centred, and powerhungry on averae, and ven when this sint true we suspect it. We even make jokes abotu it.

    They only take on the image of selfless civil servants when we contrast hte to an Aristorccacy or Monarch, in which they need this image ot justify Republicanism.


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