Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Albert I in the Holy Land

In 1933, to mark the 1900th anniversary of the Redemption, King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. With his usual piety and simplicity, the King was seen praying at all the sanctuaries; with his usual thoughtfulness, meditating upon the Gospel in solitude. A beautiful photograph taken by the Queen, and published in Le Roi Albert et les missions (1936), shows the King standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, intently reading his New Testament. As pictured above, the royal couple also visited the Garden of Olives. The King of the Belgians, who would himself die tragically, only a year later, at the feet of a rustic crucifix in the Ardennes, contemplated the sacrifice of Christ where the King of Kings had prepared for His Passion.


MadMonarchist said...

I don't like to compare monarchs, and I'm certainly not against the man, but recently I was looking over some photos of Kaiser Wilhelm II's visit to the Holy Land. The contrast with the above photo of King Albert I could not be more stark. If you did not know his face you could take the King for any other pilgrim. The Kaiser, however, rode in on a white horse wearing a very flamboyant uniform -over the top in every way. Quite a contrast.

May said...

The Kaiser did love display, didn't he? I've heard that he changed uniforms multiple times per day.

Funnily enough, there was talk during WW1 of making the Holy Land some sort of Belgian protectorate, with Albert I as a kind of successor to Godfrey de Bouillon and the crusader kings. But Albert was wary of the whole idea, which, needless to say, came to nothing.

MadMonarchist said...

Many multiple times a day -he'd put on a grand admiral's uniform to visit dock workers; a uniform for every occasion.

I must say, being a fan of Godfrey, there is something satisfying in the thought of Belgian influence returning to the Holy Land. However, Albert I was probably wise in his caution. It was Belgium's misfortune to be "awarded" Rwanda, no need to gain another small territory destined to have populations that want to kill each other.