The bride (photo copyrighted by Netty Leistra)
After a gala evening at nearby Zemst on Friday the guests for the wedding of Count Rodolphe de Limburg Stirum and Archduchess Marie-Christine of Austria had a good night sleep. Around noon several royals could be spotted strolling through the shopping streets of Mechelen and walking around on the market square. Some even had a look outside the cathedral and the town hall. Late in the morning I had a chance to get into the town hall, as there had been another civil wedding, and the doors were only closed after all guests of that wedding had left.
The couple had chosen to marry in Mechelen because it is a town with a rich historical past. Here among others one of the ancestors of Archduchess Marie-Christine, Margaretha of Austria, resided as governess of the Netherlands.
The civil wedding at the town hall was attended by close family, friends and some of the higher royal guests. The groom arrived by car together with his parents. Also the bride arrived by car together with her parents. The wedding was scheduled to take place at 2.30/3.00pm. Afterwards guests, bride and groom drove by car to the nearby cathedral. Because of the wet streets - as it had been raining heavily from time to time in the afternoon - it wasn't possible to walk the short distance.
The bride wore a white satin bridal dress, designed by couturier Yves Dooms from Brussels, around the wrists there was white fur.The four metres long train was covered with a veil of old lace, that once belonged to Empress Eugénie, wife of Emperor Napoléon III of France. Before the lace was also used for the cradle of the son of Emperor Napoléon I of France. The diademe belonged to the grand-ducal family of Luxembourg, and was once in the possession of her great-grandmother Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg.
The bride and her father leave the town hall (Copyright: Eric VdV)
The guests for the wedding already started arriving before 2.00pm. Unfortunately it was cold and windy and from time to time it rained heavily. It didn't make it easier to make pictures. Guests were not very willing to pose in this weather, and quickly ran inside or had umbrellas with them. The female guests were freezing in skirts with stockings, and had lots of difficulties running on the old street stones with their high heels. At least one guests lost her shoe on the way to the cathedral. Archduchess Christiana of Austria had to pick up her hat from the street even twice. The Duke of Bragança was the only one who took the time to walk to the audience, and we were accidentally standing very close. Just before 4.00pm bride and groom and their parents arrived by car at the St Rombouts cathedral.
The bride and her father arrive at the Cathedral (Copyright: Netty Leistra)
Already since 2.00pm people interested had been able to enter the cathedral. It was announced beforehand that 150 people from the audience would be allowed to attend the wedding service in the cathedral. We had no idea how many people had gone inside, but we wanted to stay outside making pictures. However after bride and groom had entered the cathedral someone winked from the door opening that more people could get in. And of course I and some friends now wanted to get in, and we managed to. Sitting in the back of the cathedral my sight wasn't very good, but it could have been worse. I at least managed to get an order of service for my collection. The church was beautifully decorated with light pink roses (Sweet Avalanche), white asters and white lillies. Several flowerists of the Belgian Flower Arrangement Society had been busy with the decoration since Friday.
The religious wedding service was led by Cardinal Godfried Danneels, Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels. He was assisted by Mgr Karl-Joseph Rauber, apostolic nuntius, Mgr Josef de Kesel, Mgr Tomasz Grys, Mgr Mansour Labaky and Canon Georges Vuillermoz (of the Luxemburg court). Also helping were priests from Belgium, France, Luxemburg, Spain and France: Pedro Barajon L.C., Daniel Ange, Jaak bertmans, Jean Meeus, Jacques t'Serstevens, Edouard van de Velde and Jan Arnalsteen. The service was conducted in Dutch, French, German and Latin, as well as some English. It took two hours before everyone could try to leave the cathedral.
The musical setting of the service was by The Brussels Choir Society led by Eric Delson. They were accompanied by organist Denis Vernimmen, the very moving soprano Sarah Van Mol, and trompettists Philippe Lambert and Pascal Donzé.
During the service the bride placed her bouquet at the Maria altar.
Opening of the Celebration:
Concerto pour 2 trompettes (Vivaldi)
Gloria, Mass no 2 (Schubert)
Service of the word
Reading: first letter of the Holy Apostel Paul to the Christians of Corinthe 12,31-13,8
Psalm 33: O Gott, deine Liebe sei mit uns, sowie auch unsere Hoffnung
Laudate Dominum (Mozart)
Evangelium according to St John 2,1-1
Examination of the bridal couple and exchanging of consent
Exchanging of the rings
Signing the registers
Jésus que ma joie demeure (Bach)
Eucharistic order of service
Heilig, Deutsche Messe (Schubert)
Panis Angelicus (César Franck)
Ave Verum (Mozart)
Ave Maria (Gounod)
Prayer after the communion
Final chant: Grosser Gott (Schubert)
Mission and Blessing
Hallelujah, Messie (Händel)
When leaving the cathedral the guests queued behind a music band. Because of that it took quite a while before everybody had left the church. In the meantime bride and groom had already left by car for the short journey to the pastoral center behind the cathedral. The guests walked the short distance accompanied by music. When everybody was inside we went into a cafe to get something warm to drink, and returned when we saw some guests passing. That was the best decision we could have made. Many guests were willing to pose for us. The pastoral center was decorated inside with salmon, dark orange and bordeaux coloured amaryllis, lillies and three sorts of roses.
The bridal couple leaving the reception (Copyright: Netty Leistra)
Near the end of the reception bride and groom left through a cloud of rose leafs, thrown at them by family and friends. The couple extensively said goodbye to everyone, especially the family, before leaving in the car. And we watched the bride and groom kissing each other again, the same way as they had done when leaving the cathedral.
Count Rodolphe de Limburg Stirum was born at Brussels on 20 March 1979. His parents are Coun Christian and Countess Colienne de Limburg Stirum née Countess d'Oultremont. Count Christian de Limburg Stirum is the brother of the late Count Evrard de Limburg Stirum, husband of Princess Hélène of France. They live at the family estate at Huldenberg near Brussels. His paternal grandparents are Count Thierry de Limburg Stirum and Countess Marie née Princess Marie Immaculée de Croÿ. His maternal grandparents are Count Eugène d'Oultremont and Countess Madeleine née Countess de Liedekerke. As eldest of four children, Count Rodolphe has a sister, Marie, and two brothers, Philippe and François-Guillaume. He followed primary and secondary school in Huldenberg and near Brugge.
In 1996 he organised and took part in an humanitarian tour in Bosnia-Hercegovina, to help rebuilding houses that were destroyed during the war. In 1998 he led a group of 15 young Belgians in Mexico to help a local organisation building a nursing institution. In 2004 he finished a Bachelor education in International Affairs and Economics at the Vesalius College of the Free University Brussels. He started his carreer at a big Belgian company in Louvain, as marketing assistant, afterwards worked at Deloitte Consulting, and then entered Dexia in Paris. He now works for a big international banking company in Brussels.
He loves skiing, tennis and swimming. He speaks fluently Dutch, French, English and German.
Count Rodolphe de Limburg Stirum is founding member of Super Day, an organisation that engages itself in providing wonderful moments for poor children and that works together with Toiles Enchantées, a society that installs small cinemas in hospitals.
HI&RH Archduchess Marie-Christine of Austria was born in Brussels on 31 July 1983. She is the daughter of TRH Archduke Christian of Austria and Archduchess Marie-Astrid, Princess of Luxembourg and sister of Grand Duke Henri. Her paternal grandparents are Archduke Carl Ludwig of Austria and Archduchess Yolande née Princess de Ligne. Her grandmother will attend the wedding. Her grandfather died on 11 December 2007. His funeral took place at the cathedral of Vienna. He was buried at the Capucine Crypt next to his mother, Empress Zita. The husband of the latter, Emperor Karl of Austria-Hungary (great-grandfather of Marie-Christine) was beautified in 2004 by Pope John Paul II. Her maternal grandparents are TRH Grand Duke Jean (87) - who will attend the wedding - and Grand Duchess Joséphine Charlotte, sister of the late King Baudouin of Belgium and of King Albert II. Grand Duchess Joséphine Charlotte died in 2005. Archduchess Marie-Christine is the eldest of five children. She has three brothers, Imre, Christoph and Alexander, and one sister, Gabriella, 14, who will be bridesmaid.
After primary and secondary school in Genève, Switzerland, where her family lives since 20 years, she studied in England. She afterwards spent several months in Chile, to help in an humanitarian programme for poor people. Afterwards she studied psychology with as speciality psychomotricity at the Higher Institute Marie Haps in Brussels. During this education she had a five-month trainee-job in an institution for children with severe motricity problems. In 2007 she worked several weeks in Beirut (Lebanon) in an institution for handicapped children.
She loves sport, nature and travelling. She fluently speaks German, French, English and Spanish.