St. Charles Borromeo (1538-84)

Charles Borromeo was born into a rich aristocratic northern Italian family. His uncle was Pope Pius IV. In those days, having the pope as your uncle was a sure way to get ahead. Only 23, Charles was made a cardinal and moved to Rome to be the pope’s Secretary of State.

But Charles wasn’t interested in a privileged life; he wanted a simple, holy life, and so he went to Milan as bishop and put all his strength into reforming the church then in decline and weakened by the Protestant Reformation.

A supporter of the Council of Trent, he backed especially its catechetical and liturgical reforms. He helped draft the Catechism of the Council of Trent and was a promoter of good liturgy and church music. He founded a Confraternity of Christian Doctrine and he himself went about his diocese tirelessly teaching its people and encouraging its priests. They say he had a bad speech impediment, but that didn’t stop him from preaching God’s word.

He was only 46 when he died, worn out by his efforts to bring the gospel to his people.

We pray for bishops like him for our church today. But how about us? Can we give an answer for the faith we believe in? It all starts from there. Do we know our faith and can we tell others about it?

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