Princess of Bourbon-Parma (1812-1910)


       Zita was born on May 9, 1892. She was the daughter of Robert, the last reigning Duke of Parma (he was thrown out of his duchies of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla, at the time of the Italian unification in 1860, the evil of Nationalism already rearing its head).

Zita was born of Robert’s second marriage (the 5th of 12 children) to Maria-Antonia, Royal Princess of Portugal, from the Braganza dynastyFrom his two wives, he had 24 children (born between 1870 and 1905), 6 of whom from his first marriage were handicapped and gave thus a particular personality to the family:  contrary to most, the family did not hide them. Zita was born ‘Italian’, but it was only by chance, due to the fact that her family resided half of the year in the Austrian castle of Schwarzau, near Wiener Neustadt, about 70 km south of Vienna, and the other half in their Villa de Pianore, in Tuscany, near Lucca.  She would have to suffer from this circumstance during World War I, when she, the 'Italian or French' Princess, was accused by the Germans and some of her own subjects of favoring the Italians, then enemies of the Central Powers.


        Her upbringing was happy, among this large family, but also very pious. Zita was first taught at home by tutors, later she went to the Visitandines of Zangberg, in Bavaria (September 1903-July 1908), and finally she spent several months with the Benedictines of Saint Cecilia of Solesmes, then exiled to Ryde, on the Isle of Wight, England (February-July 1909).