When Austria was ruled by Emperor Franz Joseph, his Empress, Elizabeth, was legendary for her beauty, and also for her love of the outdoors. She often took trips in the company of her lady-in-waiting, simply dressed so as to remain incognito.
One fine day, when out walking in the Tyrol, in the region of Campiglio, both ladies rested on a bench in the shade of a farmer’s cottage.
They soon observed that the inhabitants of the cottage, while dressed in their holiday best, seemed upset. Elizabeth discretely inquired as to the reason of the uneasiness, to which she received the answer,
“Well, M’am, our baby girl is to be baptized today, but the Godmother has not come…We are at a loss as to what to do…”
“I am a Catholic,” offered Elizabeth, “I would be glad to stand in as Godmother…”
Though simply dressed, Elizabeth’s appearance spelled high-born-lady at a glance, so the good people were pleased to accept.
And so queen and lady-in-waiting followed the family to the local church.
After introduction to the Curate, and explanations, the parents asked the God-mother-to-be her name, so they could name the little girl after her.
“O,” answered the princess evasively, “my name would not be usual in this part of the country, why don’t you give the little one the sweetest amongst all names to a Christian, that of Mary?”
And so “Mary” was the little girl baptized, and after many manifestations of thanks, the party dispersed. Astonished was the gray-haired parish priest when, studying the register closer, he recognized the signature of Elizabeth, Empress of Austria.
And more astonished was the family, when a few days later a liveried lackey delivered a costly gift from the empress to her godchild.
Reference: Based on Anecdotes and Examples for the Catechist by Rev. Francis Spirago