In 1889, Emperor William II visited the Pope. He wished to make the visit in such a manner that the Quirinal might not be offended. He therefore paid his visit from the German Embassy in his own carriage, which had been brought from Berlin.
Regarding an 1899 visit – When visiting the Pope it is customary to kiss his slipper. The King of Sweden, a staunch Protestant, had not done this when visiting His Holiness. He had shaken hands.
To show, however, that he did not mean to make obeisance to the Pope he appeared, in military uniform. When visiting the Pope it is customary to kiss his slipper. The King of Sweden, a staunch Protestant, had not done this when visiting His Holiness. He had shaken hands.
The Emperor went further. He embraced the Pope. The Empress dressed in white. Papal court etiquette prescribes black dress. This matter of etiquette, however, would have created no offence.
The German Emperor likes to do things out of the common. But, again, Bismarck's intrigues very nearly spoilt the game. The Pope had retired with the Emperor into his private apartments. They were alone. This was an extraordinary privilege and recalled to all the interview between Napoleon and Pius VII in Paris.
Hardly had Leo XIII retired with his guest when Count Herbert Bismarck, the son of the great statesman, caused the Emperor's brother, Prince Henry, to step into the Pope's room and interrupt the conversation. The visit was at once terminated, and in the excitement the Emperor forgot the agreed arrangements and ordered his coachman to drive to the Quirinal. Personal explanation and presents fortunately set matters right.
I mention this incident to show what extraordinary influence Bismarck had, and how basely he made use of it. He was a clever and a great man. We cannot help admiring him, but we cannot give him our esteem.
It is befitting to conclude this article by a word of praise for the heroic German bishops and priests, for Herr Windhorst, the undaunted leader of the Catholic party in the German Parliament, for the three German Emperors who showed good-will in spite of the opposition of their Governments, and above all, for our Holy Father, Pope Leo XIII, who labored so ardently for the spiritual and temporal well-being of his German children. – The Indian Advocate, 1901
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