Jan van den Hoecke, Archduke Leopold Wilhelm praying to the Madonna, painting, c. 1650

Pietas Austriaca

Habsburg Piety


Many Habsburgs were noted for their piety and their devotion to the Catholic Church, so that we might almost talk of an ‘inherited’ family characteristic. The Pietas Austriaca, Austrian piety – referring not to Austria as geopolitical concept, but to the Casa d’Austria, the House of Austria – was propagated in the Baroque era as the most fundamental virtue of the Habsburg dynasty. 
During the age of schism, the Habsburgs remained uncompromisingly faithful to the Roman Church. Catholicism was de facto the state religion in the Habsburg lands. Pious endowments, pilgrimages and veneration of the Virgin Mary together with uncompromising severity in religious politics laid the foundation for a Baroque Catholicism which was to shape the history of the Habsburg lands for a long time.

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