“King according to the heart of men, Baudouin was also a king according to the Heart of God ... His secret was his Lord, whom he loved to madness and by whom he knew he was loved” (Sermon of Cardinal Danneels). Since his early childhood, Baudouin always showed great zeal in his Christian faith. The time he spent as a boy scout contributed to deepening his faith; there was a variety of other influences: his family, of course, Father Braun, O.P., during the years of his exile in Switzerland, Veronica O'Brien, the king’s spiritual adviser for more than thirty-three years...
He was more than a king ... Mary was with him!
Concerned about his own and his wife’s holiness, the King based their spiritual life on the sacraments given by Jesus to His church. The center of each day, even on the road, was Mass and communion. Without ever hiding his faith, which was known to all, he has always refrained from using his position to impose it. That did not prevent him from bearing witness on occasion. Once as he spoke to Irish sport fans he said: “The Irish converted Europe to Christianity. Don’t lose your faith, hold on to it preciously!” In front of a visitor who talked openly of his own faith, Baudouin testified about his own personal experience with Christ: “I had the certainty that Jesus loved me and lived in me as He lived in others. Everything changed from that day on. His presence has never left me since I was eighteen years of age.”
A journalist testified on the Belgian television: “Exercising the monarchy as King Baudouin is like exercising the priesthood.” He was more than a king! ... Mary was with him! ... As in Christ’s life, and in the life of John the disciple, and in the lives of all true disciples, the Virgin Mary was there in the life of King Baudouin. She appears to have occupied a privileged place, especially from the time of a certain encounter with the spirituality of St Louis de Montfort... What we can partly discover in Cardinal Suenens’ book, and what should be exposed in broad daylight is this:
Our Lady helped him solve the question of his marriage
Baudouin’s Marian piety dated back to his childhood: he grew up as a boy scout, and then later as the years went by, he was nurtured by traditional devotions of the Church. He prayed the rosary every day; very early he developed the good habit of praying the rosary with his wife, and sometimes even with his visitors or with his nieces and nephews. He entrusted to the Virgin Mary the question of his marriage, and for this purpose he made a pilgrimage to Lourdes, where he spent long hours of the night at the Grotto of Massabielle...
Shortly thereafter, in the early 1960’s, Cardinal Suenens introduced him to Veronica O'Brien, a very holy person ... Veronica was Irish, “sent” by the Legion of Mary to France and Belgium. She was very spiritual, a wholesome person, all devoted to the service of Jesus Christ, in the spirituality of Louis de Montfort, of whom she was a follower and an “apostle”. Veronica and Baudouin met in March 1960. Already at that first meeting, she spoke to him about the consecration to Christ through Mary that Father de Montfort recommended, and the strength that it gave in accordance to the knowledge of Jesus Christ and the fidelity to the commitments made to Him at baptism, following the requirements of each personal vocation.
The very next day, Veronica sent the King, as promised, two texts by De Montfort: The Secret of Mary and The Treaty of the True Devotion. She wrote in her accompanying letter: “... I’m sure that once you have meditated and prayed these passages, you will choose Mary as your queen, and accept her as your mother, even more than in the past. Afterwards, let yourself be guided and inspired by her tender love that envelops every detail of life. Mary is actually more interested in your life that you yourself might be ...” Shortly thereafter, Veronica played an important role in the meeting that Baudouin had with Fabiola and in their decisive encounter with Our Lady of Lourdes at the Grotto.
Baudoin was a true disciple of Saint Louis of Montfort
Baudouin’s personal spiritual journal suggests how much his life had become united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who he fully accepted as his mother and his queen: his love for her, his confidence in her and his recourse to her, can be seen in these the lines he wrote (which are often in the form of prayers):
“Your yoke, Lord, how I would take it and take only but it! ... My mother, my tender Mother, I need the comfort of your protection, the warmth of your rescue. I feel so weak in the front of everyday life. Help me, take me in your maternal arms, let me live in you, Mary!” (1984). “If you please, Lord, make me a saint, a saint who wants to be like you looked in the Passion ...”
“My Mother Love, take me under your loving care, educate me, and shape me into the likeness of Jesus. How much I would like to be united to Him and that he be really visible in me” (1989). “Father almighty and merciful, I entrust to you and offer you the world that suffers because its leaders do not know you and ignore your love. Protect… (here he wrote a list of countries, names) ...”
“My sweet Mother, I call you mamma, because you are my mamma and I don’t have any other. Nourish me, shape me, educate me, and teach me. I beg of you and I thank you” (1992).
Baudouin wrote to an industrialist friend who asked his advice: "Christ is in you, you should give him some room, leave things up to him ... With Mary, everything becomes easy. Be submitted. Stay true to your commitment to Christ ...”
In his royal way, King Baudouin was a true disciple of St Louis de Montfort (a fact that he readily accepted himself). As a disciple, he became, by his example, a master of wisdom who still speaks to us today, especially to those who bear great responsibilities: “With Mary, everything becomes easy.”