Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma was born on May 9, 1892, near Lucca, Italy. On October 21, 1911, she married Archduke Karl of Austria, a great-nephew of Franz-Josef, who became Emperor Karl I of Austria and King Karl IV of Hungary in 1916.

As Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary, Zita assisted her husband during their two year reign through her efforts for peace and social justice. This united couple, brought closer together by their deep Christian faith, had eight children.

Exiled to Switzerland at the end of the First World War, the imperial family was later exiled to Madeira, where Karl died on April 1, 1922. Widowed, without any resources, devoting herself to her family and others, Empress Zita first lived in Spain and Belgium, then in Quebec and the United States during World War II, and finally returning to Europe after the war.

She returned her soul to God on March 14, 1989, and was buried in Vienna on the following April 1. Karl of Austria was beatified by John Paul II in 2004. In 2008, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints authorized the opening of the cause of beatification in the Diocese of Le Mans for the Servant of God Zita of Bourbon-Parma.