Thursday, May 16, 2013
Maria Cristina of Savoy, Queen of The Two-Sicilies
Ferdinando II and become Queen of the Two-Sicilies. She was still a teenager when the engagement was agreed to in 1830 and the local aristocracy in Turin held a magnificent engagement party for her. Onlookers remarked on how lovely the young princess of Savoy looked with her large deep eyes, light complexion and thick dark hair, charmingly shy and reserved. The princess had to be a little nervous about the marriage, not only because she was leaving her family for the first time but also because there was not a great deal she had in common with her husband-to-be.
Yet, though she had almost no one close to her for company, Queen Maria Cristina was greatly loved by the ordinary people of the Two-Sicilies who were charmed by her demure beauty, kindness and sympathized with her for the way she was treated by her seemingly cold and indifferent husband. In fact, at times he seemed to delight in offending her, whether by his vulgar language or having dancers perform in their underwear. Originally quite popular as a “man of the people” the public reputation of Ferdinando II suffered both by the perception of how he treated his wife as well as the violent suppression of any calls for constitutional government (hence his eventual nickname of ‘King Bomb’). But Queen Maria Cristina was always adored because of the care and compassion she showed toward her adopted country and because of how she endured her less than ideal life, with patience and pious devotion.
Francesco II, and complications soon set in. Her condition deteriorated rapidly and only five days later she passed away on January 21, 1836. She was buried in the Basilica of Santa Chiara in Naples, the King married again in less than a year and his new wife would be the major influence on the life of little Francesco II. Nonetheless, as a boy he was always taught to honor the memory of his late mother, who had died bringing him into the world, as the ‘saintly queen’ or ‘holy queen’. He would be the last King of the Two-Sicilies and after he had lost his throne and was living in exile he began to push for the Church to take up the cause of his late mother. Her pious reputation was such that there was great support for it and in 1872 Pope Pius IX recognized her status as a Servant of God. The cause continued to progress and on May 6, 1937 Pope Pius XI recognized the Queen as a Venerable Servant of God and, most recently, on May 3, 2013 Pope Francis recognized a miracle attributed to her intercession, opening the way for her to be beatified, the last step on the road to canonization as a saint.