Archduchess Kathleen of Austria is everything a princess should be – poised, graceful, elegant, articulate, God-fearing, humble, and virtuous. She is also an American with a passion to defend the poor, the lonely, the pre-born and their mothers. I know about this passion, because I was blessed with this inspiring friend when we worked together in the pro-life movement in Washington, DC.
Let’s just say that it was no surprise to any of her friends when Katie married Imre. A few of us knew from the beginning that she had met her match – they shared a common Faith, goals, and very importantly, a sense of humor, constantly challenging and supporting each other. One thing was clear: they loved each other. Katie, our ‘Anne of Green Gables’ fan, had met her “Gilbert Blythe.”
Imre is a Hapsburg – a descendent of the centuries-old family of the Holy Roman Emperors. Officially ‘His Imperial and Royal Highness of Austria,’ this young, serious man solemnly wed his American Kathleen on September 8, 2012. The couple chose this feast day of the Nativity of Our Lady to be wed at St. Mary, Mother of God Catholic Church in Washington, DC.
It was both a sentimental and significant choice. Kathleen and Imre had met here at the Latin Mass they attended months before. The church had recently been dedicated as a shrine to Blessed Karl of Austria – the last emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Imre’s great-grandfather.
A private ball in the new couple’s honor the night before was a thing out of a fairytale. Truly, the evening was everything I dreamt a royal ball could be. As we entered, a string quartet could be heard playing a waltz. I found myself seated alongside several dukes, archdukes, and a soon-to-be archduchess. (Never in a million years could this Pacific Northwest girl, who grew up playing kick-the-can with the neighborhood kids in the summer, have imagined such a scene!)
At the first notes of Strauss’s Kaiser-Waltz, they walked to the dance floor, swinging their clasped hands and gazing shyly at each other. As the movement in the waltz changed, so did their dance and likewise, their reenactment of their courtship – walking a bit closer to one another, he spinning her a few times until finally, a twirl found her in his arms and they set off waltzing effortlessly around and around.
Their dance was a reenactment of their courtship – walking a bit closer, he spinning her a few times until finally, a twirl found her in his arms and they set off waltzing effortlessly around and around.
It was simply, breathtakingly beautiful. And I must say, the innocence of their love and their fulfillment of their call to chastity was evident to all who attended. (I might have pushed a tear aside at this point.)
And what a party! Our DJ, who stepped in for the string quartet, rocked the American pop classics. Until the wee hours, we all — Europeans, Americans, Canadians, Chileans – danced and sang in our varying accents. Yea, verily, it was Twist ‘n’ Shout almost to the next morning, which came all too quickly.
Outside St Mary’s gray stone eminence, the procession of ladies’ hats and men in elegant day suits astonished passerby. It was clear that this was no ordinary event. For this reporter, the hats were a revelation. Never before, save for TV coverage of England’s royal wedding, had I seen such luxury. Online fashion blogger The Sartorialist would have been delighted. As an avid Downton Abbey fan, I was thrilled by the European men in their dashing morning coats. (This might be a men’s fashion that needs to re-cross the Pond.)
I found myself seated alongside several dukes, archdukes, and a soon-to-be archduchess. An avid Downton Abbey fan, I was thrilled by the European men in their dashing morning coats.
Presided over by Monsignor Charles Pope, in the presence of Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde, their Latin Nuptial Mass was glorious. There was not a single moment where it was not evident that it really does take three to get married.
While a beautiful bride and her handsome groom stood before the altar, the Mass itself centered on God; our attention was never drawn away from the sacred. An hour and a half flew by in minutes, and soon the new husband and wife walked to the shrine of Our Lady to consecrate their newly-created family. Finally, the church echoed to the strains of “On This Day, O Beautiful Mother” – the favorite Marian hymn of Kathleen’s late grandmother.
Truly, the day was everything that I dreamt a royal wedding could be.
To be honest, I still cannot believe that I witnessed this deeply sacramental marriage.
More than the obvious “commoner- meeting-her-Prince-Charming” storyline, it was the beautiful culmination of another, rarer story in our fallen world, where ‘holy and virtuous girl meets holy and virtuous boy’ and they fall madly in love – keeping Christ at all times at the center of their relationship.
The Latin Nuptial Mass was glorious. I still cannot believe that I witnessed this deeply sacramental marriage ceremony.
Even in these ‘progressive’ times, theirs is the kind of fairytale that each and every Christian woman dreams of – whether they will admit it or not.
May God bless Their Imperial and Royal Highnesses Imre and Kathleen of Austria and grant them a long and joyous life!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lucy McVicker worked for the pro-life movement in the Washington DC area and currently resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon where she is active in her parish community. In her free time, she can be found sewing or knitting, kayaking, running, or hiking.