Saint Charles Borromeo, Bishop

Saint Charles Borromeo giving out alms to the poor

Celebrated 4 November

St. Charles Borromeo, son of Count Gilberto Borromeo, was born in a castle on the shores of Lake Maggiore at Arona, Lombardy, Italy, on October 2, 1538. 

He studied at the University of Pavia and earned a doctorate in civil and canon law. When his mother’s brother was elected pope (Pius IV) in 1559, Charles was called to Rome, and in 1560, when he was only twenty-two years of age, he was made a cardinal, and he was named Archbishop of Milan and head of the Secretariat of State. 

After his ordination in 1563, he lived a most austere life. When his uncle died in 1565, he made Milan his residence, and from then until his death he was an exemplary bishop. 

He convoked synods and councils to bring the diocese into line with the prescriptions of the Council of Trent, established seminaries and colleges, and built shelters for the homeless and homes for the abandoned, as well as orphanages and hospitals. 

When Milan suffered from a plague in 1576, he cared for the sick and buried the dead without a worry about himself, he even and sold even his bed for their support. 

He died on November 3, 1584. In life, the people considered him the ideal pastor and shepherd; in death, they venerated him as a saint. He was canonised by Pope Paul V in 1610. 

The prayers today recall St. Charles’s reforming activity in asking that the Church be continually renewed and in speaking of him as an example of virtue and concern for the pastoral ministry.
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