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Legatus Magazine

Cover Story
Brian Fraga | author
Nov 02, 2015
Filed under Saints
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Charles Borromeo (1538-1584)

Feast Day: November 4
Canonized: November 1, 1610

Charles Borromeo was born into the Milanese nobility and was related to the powerful Medici family. His uncle, Cardinal de Medici, was elected pope in 1559 as Pius IV, and he made Borromeo, who was still a layman, a cardinal and administrator of the Archdiocese of Milan. He was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 25 and consecrated bishop of Milan.

Charles Borromeo

Charles Borromeo

Borromeo was instrumental in having Pius V reconvene the Council of Trent in 1562. He is credited with keeping the council in session during difficult times and for helping craft the decrees of the third and final group sessions.

He was a leading figure during the Counter-Reformation, instituting sweeping reforms aimed at correcting abuses prevalent among clergy. In 1578, he instituted a society of secular priests now known as the Oblates of St. Charles. He devoted himself to charity, penance and preaching to bring back lapsed Catholics.

When plague and famine hit Milan in 1576, Borromeo ministered to the sick and dying and borrowed large sums of money to feed the city’s starving population. He is the patron of catechists, catechumens and seminarians — and a patron of learning and the arts.

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