Thursday, March 14, 2013

Luxarazzi 101: The Grand Ducal Family at the Vatican

In the light of the recent events - Pope Benedict XVI stepping down and Pope Francis being elected as the new head of the Catholic church - we will have a (quite photo-heavy) look back at the Grand Ducal Family meeting the different popes over the last few decades.

Most of the members of the Grand Ducal Family are staunch Catholics though their family had actually been traditionally Protestants, much like the other branches of the House of Nassau.

The last Protestant monarch to reign Luxembourg was Grand Duke Guillaume / Wilhelm IV, the father of Grand Duchess Charlotte. He met the woman who would later become his wife for the first time in 1884, but he, at the time a simple Prince of Nassau, was not allowed to marry Infanta Maria Ana of Portugal as she was a Catholic and his father Duke Adolphe refused his consent.

Only a few years later fate intervened: Duke Adolphe became the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, a country which population was largely Catholic. (Since many years it is illegal to collect statistics about religious believes in the Grand Duchy but the CIA Factbook estimates that about 87% of the population is Catholic.) In 1893, Guillaume / Wilhelm and Maria Ana were finally allowed to marry and it was agreed that their children would be raised as Catholics as to give the population a ruler who shared their faith.

Due to lack of photographic evidence - or rather me being able to find them - our view back start in the 1960's.
In May 1965 Grand Duke Jean, who had ascended to the throne a year earlier, and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte visited the Vatican for an audience with Pope Paul VI. Born as Giovanni Battista Montini he headed the church from 21 June 1963 until his death on 6 August 1978.
In September 1978 Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte again made their way to Rome to meet Pope John Paul I who only reigned for 33 days. Formerly known as Albino Luciani, he reigned from 26 August 1978 until his death on 28 September 1978.
(Photo: Cour grand-ducale)
In 1983, th Grand Ducal Family visited the Vatican once again, this time for an audience with Pope John Paul II. Born as Karol Wojtyła he was the first non-Italian pope since 1523 and his papacy is the second longest in history. A very young Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume accompanied his family for the occassion and got a kiss from His Holiness himself.
Two years later in May 1985, Pope John Paul II paid a visit Luxembourg during which he also met with the Grand Ducal Family, among them Grand Duchess Charlotte who died two months later.
Photo: Tom Wagner
Though I'm sure that many more visits happened in the following 15 years, the next one I have pictures of took place in 2000. In July that year a very large Grand Ducal tour group made their way to Rome. Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte, Hereditary Grand Duke Henri  and Hereditary Grand Duchess Maria Teresa as well as their children Prince Guillaume, Prince Félix, Prince Louis, Princess Alexandra and Prince Sébastien, Prince Jean, Prince Guillaume and Princess Sibilla with their oldest son Prince Paul-Louis were received for an audience by Pope John Paul II.
Photo: Tom Wagner
In March 2003, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa used their state visit to Italy to stop by at the Vatican for another audience with Pope John Paul II. They were accompanied by all their children; Guillaume and Félix looking dapper in coat and tails and Sébastien with a broken foot.
Photo: Getty Images
Naturally, the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess also were at the funeral of Pope John Paul II on 8 April 2005...
Photo: Mario Tama / Getty Images
...and subsequently at the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI on 24 April.
Photo: Vatican Pool/Immaginazione/Corbis
A year later, the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess as well as their five children visited the Vatican once again for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. The German-born Joseph Ratzinger recently announced his retirement as pope and is now known as pope emeritus.
Photo: AP
On 17 September 2009, Grand Duke Henri and Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume were received by Pope Benedict XVI at the Castel Gandolfo; a day earlier the Grand Duke had been awarded the Van Thuan prize.
Photo: Zimbio
On 1 May 2011, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa accompanied by Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Prince Louis as well as the Grand Duke's sister Princess Margaretha and husband Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein accompanied by their daughters Princess Maria-Anunciata and Princess Marie-Astrid were present for the beatification of Pope John Paul II.
Photo: Hola
Most recently Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume, Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie and Prince Félix attended the very last general audience given by Pope Benedict XVI.

In addition to these "official" visits, members of the Grand Ducal Family regularly attend mass at the Vatican. As Prince Félix studies in Rome, he probably is the most frequent guest. Prince Nikolaus and Princess Margaretha attend events related to the diplomatic corps as he is Liechtenstein's non-resident ambassador to the Holy See. But also other members make their way to Rome to celebrate special masses, Easter being one example, at the Vatican.

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