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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 December, 2003, 00:20 GMT
Vatican set to beatify emperor
Pope John Paul II waves to the crowd in St Peter's Square
The Pope recognised Charles I's "heroic virtues" last year
Pope John Paul II is to beatify the last emperor of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Charles I, after recognising a miracle attributed to him.

The Vatican gave no details, but the miracle was said to be related to the case of a Brazilian nun who was cured of a deadly disease.

Beatification is the penultimate step before sainthood. For actual sainthood, proof of another miracle is required.

Charles I sat on the throne of the now defunct empire between 1916 and 1918.

No date has been set for the beatification.

Last Habsburg ruler

"He (Charles I) served his people with justice and charity," said the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints on Saturday.

Beatification requires that a miracle has occurred
Group approaches local bishop
After Rome's approval an investigation is launched
Findings are sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
Case is presented to the Pope
Blessed may be accorded a feast day
Relics of the candidate may be venerated
Canonisation (Actual sainthood ) requires proof of a second miracle

"He sought peace, helped the poor, cultivated a spiritual life with commitment," the statement added.

The Vatican launched the emperor on the path to sainthood in April 2002, when Pope John Paul II formally recognised his "heroic virtues".

After that, Vatican experts sought to formally verify claims of the miracle.

The reported miracle happened when the Brazilian nun was cured of a deadly disease after praying for Charles I's beatification, the emperor's grandson George Habsburg told the Hungarian Catholic Uj Ember last year.

The last Habsburg emperor became heir to the throne after his uncle, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated in Sarajevo in 1914 - an event that triggered World War I.

Charles I was unable to stop the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian empire and was deposed in 1918.

He went into exile and died on the Portuguese island of Madeira in the Atlantic in 1922 at the age of 34.

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