St. Charles Borromeo

saintc10Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Charles Borromeo, patron saint of seminarians and catechists. Charles also happens to be my favorite saint.

Saint Charles Borromeo was born on October 2, 1534 in the Castle of Arona to Giberto Borromeo and Margaret de Medici. When Charles was 12 years old, he received the tonsure and was sent to study at the archabbey of SS. Gratian and Felinus in Milan.

In 1559, Charles’ uncle, Cardinal Gian-Angelo de Medici, was elected in conclave as Pope Pius IV. During the early stages of the Pontificate of Pius IV, Charles was named the Vatican Secretary of State, Archbishop of Milan, and Protector of the orders of St. Francis, the Carmelites, the Knights of Malta, and the Knights of the Holy Cross of Christ.

In 1562, Charles played an instrumental role in convincing Pius IV to have the Council of Trent reconvened because of the great need for reform in the Church. When the Council ended in 1563, the Reformer, as he would come to be known, oversaw the compilation of the Catechism, the missal, and the breviary. In 1556, Charles finally moved back to Milan, taking the helm of the Archdiocese, and overseeing many drastic reforms. These reforms made the Archdiocese of Milan a model for the rest of the Church.

Throughout his time as Archbishop, Borromeo instituted reforms in the fields of the morals and ethics of clergy and established seminaries to educate future priests. In 1578, Charles founded the Oblates of St. Ambrose, which was later changed to the Oblates of St. Charles. Throughout his time as a Cardinal Archbishop, Charles called for multiple synods, preached the Gospel fervently, opposed the gains of Protestantism, and brought many former Catholics back to the Church.

Charles Borromeo died on November 3, 1584 in Milan. He was canonized a saint by Pope Paul V on November 4, 1610 and is the patron of catechists, seminarians, spiritual directors, bishops, and catechumens.

St. Charles Borromeo introduced to the Church multiple reforms that were desperately needed to combat the growing tide of Protestantism. For the modern world, Charles can teach us to always remain faithful to our values and to always act in a moral, ethical way. Charles can also teach us to always persevere in carrying out actions that we believe are ethical because he instituted so many reforms for the Church, something that was opposed by so many.


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