Mummies from Ancient Egypt on Vienna

THE BODIES OF THE HABSBURGS 1 have always been buried in the Imperial Crypt. And although the dynasty already lost its worldly power in Austria in 1918, to this day when a member of the Habsburg-Lorraine family passes away, the one-of-a-kind “admission ceremony for burial” is carried out.
This admission ceremony takes place in front of the crypt. A herald stands in front of the door and requests permission for his lord or lady to enter. A Capuchin friar answers from behind the door:
“Who seeks admittance?”
The herald answers with the long version of the lord or lady’s title.
“We do not know of them. Who seeks admittance?”
The herald answers with the short version of the lord or lady’s title.
“We do not know of them. Who seeks admittance?”
“A poor sinner.”
And not until then does the door to his or her final resting place open for the humble dead.
The last Austrian empress Zita2 was buried in the Imperial Crypt in 1989. But her heart was sent to a monastery in Muri, Switzerland, where it now rests.

Mummies from Ancient Egypt on Vienna Photo Gallery

Part of the burial ceremony of the Habsburgs was to bury the body, heart and viscera separately. The embalmed body was entombed in the Imperial Crypt, the heart in the Heart Crypt of the Augustinian Church3 and the viscera in the catacombs of St. Stephen’s Cathedral4 .
A total of twelve emperors and nineteen empresses and queens rest in the Imperial Crypt.
The embellishment of the tombs mirrors the characteristics of each respective epoch even long after death: Thus the mighty, baroque double tomb of Maria Theresa5 and her spouse is a true contrast to the ascetic tomb of her son Joseph II6 , a staunch supporter of Enlightenment.
But not only the emperors and empresses lying next to each other give the Imperial Crypt its unique atmosphere of imperial Austrian morbidity:
• – Crowned skulls wryly smile at visitors from atop the tomb of Charles VI7 ,
• – On their communal tomb Empress Maria Theresa and her spouse are shown suddenly awakening like from a dream, tacitly happy about their eternal reunification,
• – On some of the tombs death is portrayed as an irresistible erotic temptation in form of a woman.
In the very back part of the crypt the last Habsburg emperor to be entombed here, Franz Joseph I8 , lies next to his murdered wife Elisabeth – Sisi9 and their son Crown Prince Rudolf10 who committed suicide. Close to each other but strictly kept apart, next to each other instead of with each other, just as they lived their lives.

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