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St. Charles Borromeo Nov. 4, 2004 Saint of the Day

Wednesday, November 03, 2004
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St. Charles pray for us and lead us to Christ!!
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St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584) was a member of a noble family and a nephew of Pope Pius IV. He was made a Cardinal at the age of 23 and assisted the Pope in administering the affairs of the Holy See and in governing the Church. Soon thereafter he was made Archbishop of Milan. His endeavors in behalf of the 19th Ecumenical Council of Trent (1545-1564) were especially meritorious and fruitful. He helped to direct and guide it and bring it to a successful conclusion. He then proceeded to enforce its decrees in the Archdiocese of Milan and thoroughly reformed Catholic life in his See. During a plague he walked barefooted in the public streets, carrying a cross, with a rope around his neck, offering himself as a victim to God for the transgressions of his people.

Before the reform of the Roman Calendar in 1969, this was the commemoration of Sts. Vitalis and Agricola, martyrs in Bologna. Their feastday is no longer on the Universal Roman Calendar, but has been transferred to particular calendars.

St. Charles Borromeo
St. Charles Borromeo, one of the glories of the Catholic Church in the sixteenth century, was noted for Church reform and care of souls in Milan. At first he labored at the side of his uncle, Pope Pius IV, to bring to a successful conclusion the Council of Trent; his pastoral instructions have remained classic to the present day. Born in 1538 of a noble Milanese family and dedicated to spiritual things at an early age, he became a cardinal at twenty-three (1560) and soon after, archbishop of Milan. His greatest concern was to put into effect throughout his province the decrees of the Council of Trent. Due to his reforming efforts there soon arose enemies and opponents of high civil and ecclesiastical rank.

He held synods and councils, established schools and religious communities, renewed the spirit of clergy and religious, and founded homes for orphans and the poor. His greatest work was the foundation of diocesan seminaries, and his regulations for them were the model for all those subsequently established.

St. Charles used the following strong language to the assembly of bishops during the convocation of the Synod:

Let us fear lest the angered judge say to us: If you were the enlighteners of My Church, why have you closed your eyes? If you pretended to be shepherds of the flock, why have you suffered it to stray? Salt of the earth, you have lost your savor. Light of the world, they that sat in darkness and the shadow of death have never seen you shine. You were apostles; who, then, put your apostolic firmness to the test, since you have done nothing but seek to please men? You were the mouth of the Lord, and you have made that mouth dumb. If you allege in excuse that the burden was beyond your strength, why did you make it the object of your ambitious intrigues?

Great was Charles' love of neighbor and liberality toward the poor. When the plague raged in Milan, he sold his household furniture, even his bed, to aid the sick and needy, and thereafter slept upon bare boards. He visited those stricken by the disease, consoled them as a tender father, conferred upon them the sacraments with his own hands. A true mediator, he implored forgiveness day and night from the throne of grace. He once ordered an atonement procession and appeared in it with a rope about his neck, with bare and bloody feet, a cross upon his shoulder--thus presenting himself as an expiatory sacrifice for his people to ward off divine punishment. He died, dressed in sackcloth and ashes, holding a picture of Jesus Crucified in his hands, in 1584 at the age of forty-six. His last words were, "See, Lord, I am coming, I am coming soon." His tomb in the cathedral of Milan is of white marble.

Patron: against ulcers; apple orchards; bishops; catechists; catechumens; colic; intestinal disorders; diocese of Monterey, California; seminarians; spiritual directors; spiritual leaders; starch makers; stomach diseases.

Symbols: Altar; chalice and host; rope around neck; casket and crucifix; cardinal's hat; word Humiltitas crowned.
Often Portrayed As: Bishop wearing a noose around his neck; cardinal wearing a noose around his neck.
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