Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Denn wir haben hier keine bleibende Stadt.

Last Saturday afternoon, I observed a historical coda of sorts as I watched Otto von Habsburg's funeral procession make its way through central Vienna. (For background, consult this post on Otto's death from earlier in the month and this fine obituary from The Economist.) Having spent two years as crown prince before Austria dropped its monarchy in 1918, Otto von Habsburg represented one of the last living links to a European cultural and political milieu that was largely swept away by the First World War. With Otto's death, a vanished world becomes even more distant and inaccessible.

For readers who may be interested, I'm presenting a selection of the photos I took of the Habsburg funeral procession as it passed through the Michaelerplatz near the former imperial place (the Hofburg). Leading the procession was a company of the ceremonial Gardebataillon of the Bundesheer, Austria’s army.

And here comes the Gardebataillon's marching band, playing an appropriate Trauermarsch.

Another shot of the band.

Courtesy of a brother Jesuit who joined me at the Michaelerplatz, here is some video footage showing the army band as well as some of the many civilians who marched in the procession in period uniforms. I'd be curious to know whether any readers can identify the music (I could not).

Most of the 'period uniform' groups in the funeral procession seemed to be made up of historical reenactors, many of whom carried flags or placards identifying the towns or villages from which they came; my impression is that these groups represented historical military units that had actually come from their home communities, showing a devotion to local history that I found very moving.

Some of the aforementioned reenactors.

Members of the Wien Süd-Inzersdorf Chapter of the Österreichische Kameradschaftsbund. The mission of the ÖKB is to help preserve the memory of soldiers who were killed or went missing during wartime; in practice, this mostly means working with the Austrian government to help maintain military graves.

Some groups marching in the procession came from former Habsburg dominions outside Austria. Here, Croatia is represented by members of the Zrinska garda Čakovec in sixteenth-century uniforms.

Marchers from Tyrol in traditional dress.

Some younger members of the Tyrolean contingent.

Members of the Historische Landwehrschützen Wals from Wals-Siezenheim near Salzburg.

Members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

I don't know who these women are - in an earlier age, perhaps they would have been described as an order of widows.

The acolytes and clergy who were on the altar during the Requiem Mass at the Stephansdom make their appearance. If you look closely, you may notice that the processional cross is actually being carried by a helmeted soldier from the Bundesheer.

Concelebrants and other priests and clerics who participated in the Requiem walk in the procession.

The Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, who served as principal celebrant and homilist at the Requiem Mass.

The coffin bearing the body of the deceased comes into view, escorted by Tiroler Schützen and by members of the Orden vom Goldenen Vlies, a chivalric order closely associated with the Habsburg family.

Another view of the coffin and its attendants.

Karl von Habsburg, Otto's oldest son and heir, walks behind the coffin with his immediate family.

A closer view of Karl von Habsburg, with daughter Eleonore on the left and son Ferdinand Zvonimir on the right.

From the same Jesuit who provided the earlier video of the military band at the start of the procession, here is a short video of the coffin and the Habsburg family.

Otto von Habsburg's funeral drew a number of European royals, including King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden (visible in the center of this photo) and Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein (in the upper right-hand corner, behind the bodyguard with a hand to her ear and the partly-visible man in Tyrolean Tracht).

Towards the end of the procession, here are Munich's senior rabbi Steven Langnas (second from left, in frock coat and bow tie) and the Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mustafa Cerić (seventh from left, in red-and-white turban), both of whom offered prayers for Otto von Habsburg at a wake service on Friday.

As soon as the procession had left the Michaelerplatz, my Jesuit companion and I moved as quickly as possible to the Kapuzinerkirche, where Otto would be buried, hoping to be able to see the procession reach its destination. A lot of other people had the same idea; this photo shows the crowd that gathered behind and around us near the Kapuzinerkirche, straining to catch a glimpse of the procession's arrival.

Here, finally, is a photo of the coffin's arrival at the Kapuzinerkirche. It may be hard to tell - the crowd was simply too large for me to get any closer to the church or to get a better shot - but this photo was actually taken during the Anklopfzeremonie, which deserves a post of its own, and gets one here. AMDG.


At 7/21/2011 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is beautiful, sorrowful and reverential: a place where even angels fear to tread (with comments).


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