Last emperor of Austria-Hungary set for sainthood

The last ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Charles I, was officially set on the path to beatification yesterday when the Vatican recognised a miracle he performed.

The reported miracle came when a Brazilian nun who prayed for his beatification - a key step towards sainthood in the Catholic church - was cured of a deadly disease, the emperor's grandson George Hapsburg told the Hungarian Catholic monthly Uj Ember.

Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, head of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, said: "He looked for peace, helped the poor, cultivated his spiritual life with commitment."

Charles became heir to the throne after his uncle, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated in Sarajevo in 1914 - an event that triggered the First World War.

Unable to stop the disintegration of the empire, Charles abdicated. He went into exile, dying in Portugal in 1922 at age 34. His grandson said that the nun's inexplicable healing was confirmed by three expert medical opinions.

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