Spiritual Synergy

Baudouin and Fabiola had very clear and refined spiritual philosophies that combined to form a powerful love and caring for the Belgian people. As a shepherd king, Baudouin was known for the deep spiritual spring which bubbled up within his daily life embodying his personal dedication to his people, which dictated his daily aims and activities. He explained to a fellow pilgrim his purpose in being king was:

” to love his country,
to pray for his country,
and to suffer for his country. ” ¹

Paramount within him was his belief in the FIAT prayer that we ‘Always and everywhere be witnesses to the Lord.’ This dovetails exactly with Queen Fabiola’s remembrance card which states her simple and profound example to us all, reminding us to, Always say YES to God.  May we always give thanks for those faithful pilgrims who have gone before us for their example to us as God’s children.

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¹ from “Baudouin, King of the Belgians: The Hidden Life” by Cardinal Suenens.

On This Day – 15 December 1960

On this day in history, 15 December 1960, King Baudouin and Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragón were united in marriage and Queen Fabiola would go on to bring a warm ray of sunshine from Spain to a sometimes gloomy King Baudouin.

As Of The Father, So Too Of The Son

The following quote is taken from the blog, The Cross of Laeken, from a post dated August 2, 2010 – A Chaplain’s Testimony. Please be certain to check out this treasure-trove of Belgian royal history.

Here is a description of Léopold III by Rev. Collart, one of his chaplains during his later years at Argenteuil.

Leopold III

J’ai pu voir transparaître, dans la limpidité de son merveilleux regard, la simplicité et la chaleur de ses paroles, toute la grandeur d’un de nos semblables qui s’est situé tellement au-dessus de nous. Le langage du croyant au prêtre, du confident à l’ami, quand on a cherché ensembles des réponses à des questions lancinantes, quand on a eu si souvent l’occasion de prier ensemble, on ne peut pas ne pas se connaître. Aussi est-ce avec une tranquille assurance que je puis certifier ceci: jamais il n’a failli à l’image de l’homme exceptionnel que ses fidèles ont gardée de lui. Il savait sans préoccupations personnelles déceler où était le bien de ceux qu’il voulait servir. Il ne flattait pas, il savait tenir un langage ferme et vrai quand il entrevoyait où et comment il fallait s’orienter pour assurer le bonheur et la liberté de son peuple et je l’entendais volontiers reprendre à son compte les paroles du vieux Caton au peuple romain qui s’égarait: “Je voudrais vous être agréable, je souhaiterais vous faire plaisir, mais je préfère essayer de vous sauver.”

The translation is a bit rough, because it is mine:

Leopold III with son, Baudouin

I was able to see transpire, through the limpidity of his marvelous gaze, the simplicity and warmth of his words, all the grandeur of one of our fellow men who is placed so far above us. The language of the believer to the priest, of the confidant to the friend, when we searched together for answers to tormenting questions, when we had, so often, the occasion to pray together, it is impossible not to know one another. So it is with a tranquil assurance that I can certify this: never did he fail to live up to the image of the exceptional man his faithful followers kept of him. He was able, without personal preoccupations, to discern where the good of those he wished to serve lay. Henever flattered, he knew how to use a firm and true language when he saw where and how he had to orient himself to ensure the happiness and liberty of his people and I used to hear him take up, for his own, the words of Cato the Elder to the Roman people who were going astray: “I would like to be agreeable to you, I would like to please you, but I prefer to try to save you.” (Quoted by Jean Cleeremans in Léopold III, sa famille, son peuple sous l’occupation, 1987, p. 16)

I bring this quote to you from The Cross of Laeken because it so reminds me of the plain-spoken direct and sincere manner which I so admire in King Baudouin. One can say without doubt it was a direct reflection of the deep character and sincere religious faith of his father, Leopold III, who suffered great difficulties in his life and experienced unjust attacks to his character and leadership. He was a good man, and that certainly carried through in his worthy son, Baudouin.

Media Myths: Infertility and Impotence

If It's A Girl, She Will Be Queen

Fabiola Mother This Summer!

Next in the Media Myths series is the cruel claim that Fabiola was infertile. This issue impacted the couple in deeply profound ways, as one can imagine. It seems especially grievous that the trauma of their medical challenges were exploited to sell tabloid copy. The inferred image is of an infertile woman and an impotent man. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Infertility is the inability to achieve pregnancy. Being pregnant five times, should have quieted malicious whispers of infertility or any notion of the King lacking virility.

Covering this information illustrates vividly the sad axiom, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Both Fabiola and Baudouin exhibited inspirational courage of spirit, facing the public always with a smiling face and head held high. Reports are that each time her pregnancy was announced, the palace overflowed with the abundant generosity of the Belgian people, rejoicing at the special news of their King and Queen. Each time, a brief quiet announcement would pierce their joy.

Unscrupulous authors lazily cling to tired court rumours, one claiming Baudouin’s step-mother, Lilian Baels, received a letter reporting Fabiola never menstruated and was, thus, infertile. While laughable, the depths to which man will go for notoriety is immeasurable and certain writers and journalists have sold such nonsense to readership eager for a juicy detail. Earlier untruths cast Lilian as the apple of Baudouin’s adoring eye, being hopelessly in love with his step-mother. The proof is nowhere to be found in that pudding; Leopold and Lilian were as ignorant to Baudouin and Fabiola’s engagement as were all Belgian citizens.

The business of outsiders blaming Fabiola for the couple’s childlessness is cruel and unconscionable. I wonder at how it is journalists or palace “insiders” feel confident or even suitably emboldened to testify with authority to the queen’s personal medical details. Fabiola’s affirmation of suffering from miscarriages was widely reported by the Belgian press in 2008. Belgians, nevertheless, were surprised at learning Baudouin and Fabiola suffered the loss of five babies.

I certainly don’t know anything more about the details than what Fabiola said in 2008. I do know that often a spontaneous abortion/miscarriage is triggered as the body’s fail-safe way of stopping a non-viable baby. Most often, this is manifested due to chromosomal insufficiency or abnormalities. The baby receives chromosome material and markers from both parents. This is how diseases get passed down from generation to generation.

It was scarcely reported, but King Baudouin suffered from Barlow Syndrome. His physical characteristics are classic for Barlow. Tall, extremely slender, elongated features, requiring corrective lenses for sight… Another system impacted is the skeletal system. As people age, material around the skeleton deteriorates and leads to back pain. Baudouin suffered severe back-pain later in life that he attributed to his golfing passion as a young man.

One of the most serious complications of Barlow Syndrome is mitral valve prolapse, from which Baudouin suffered. Surgery was performed on him in 1990 in an attempt to fix the valve. Until the last 20 years or so, this often meant a patient’s life span could be cut by a quarter or even a third. There is an increase frequency of sudden cardiac failure in Barlow patients with valve problems – even if they’ve been successfully operated on.

Heart ailments were fairly common in the King’s family. Indeed, his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, died of heart failure. His father, Leopold III, died of a heart attack. His brother, Alexander, required heart surgery to correct a defect during his youth.

All of this makes me wonder if each time Fabiola conceived there wasn’t a chromosomal abnormality that triggered a miscarriage? It is exceedingly rare that a woman who has multiple miscarriages (3 or more) continues to have miscarriages. Statistically, after a miscarriage a woman has about a 65% chance of carrying the next baby to term. And yet Fabiola had miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage. She was checked by renowned Swiss doctors, so one might infer that she did not have a physical abnormality, which would have been seen and diagnosed by those physicians.

La Reina Fabiola ha visto frustradas nuevamente sus esperanzas de maternidad

The Sad News – click for rough translation

That leaves us back at chromosomal abnormality possibly being in play – in this case, each time you’re still working from affected genetic material which could possibly encode the child’s chromosomes incorrectly – thus triggering another miscarriage.

I thus present to the unscrupulous journalists and anonymous insiders this: Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out that perhaps a miscarriage was triggered by chromosomal biologic material incompatible with viable life? Now wouldn’t that just be interesting? Not an issue of everyone supposedly knowing whether Fabiola menstruates or not. Not an issue of Fabiola being guilty of knowing she had infertility and needing to sacrifice her marriage to go to a convent releasing Baudouin to marry again in order to gain an heir. Not an issue of Fabiola being “barren”. Not even an issue of any kind dealing with Fabiola.

It is not for us to know. In the end, the lasting lesson in this tragedy was the indomitable spirit of these two inspirational souls who lived as one. King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola bore their cross with grace and turned this adversity to triumph by welcoming all the children of Belgium into their hearts. I will follow up on that point in an upcoming post.

Let us find encouragement in the story of loss and hope from these two guiding lights.

Bonus Material: Coming soon.

 

Media Myths Series: The Monk-King

B98In this first post for my Media Myths Series covering media bias and fabrications, I will focus on some obvious mistaken or misleading information produced by Belgian and European media based on un-named “insiders” who claim intimate knowledge of the King. This one deals with the claim that Baudouin wanted to abdicate in favor of a monastic life.

It is quite obvious, based on his life and photo evidence that he absolutely did not want the secluded life of a religious. He wanted a wife – a traditional wife and a traditional life. He was already miserably secluded in the Palace at Laeken and hated being so. His dreadful unhappiness shown on his face and through the pain in his eyes. Indeed, his spiritual mentor, Cardinal Léon Joseph Suenens, who after Baudouin’s untimely death wrote a book on the King’s inspiring faith, never mentions anything about the King wanting the solitary life of a religious. Cardinal Suenens and Baudouin discussed his painful isolation in Laeken Palace and his desire to find a spouse. After meeting innumerable European princesses and finding no connection with them, Baudouin asks the Cardinal to assist in a search for a suitable Roman Catholic young lady of great spiritual depth and faith to match his own.

Therefore, by this evidence, there is no logic or proof in the media’s assertion that Baudouin wanted to live a monastic life.