Memorial of St Charles Borromeo

Today, we celebrate the life of St Charles Borromeo and Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Luke (14: 25-33) in which we hear about the cost of being a disciple of Jesus.

Fr Paul shares a little about St Charles, saying he was a leading figure of the Catholic Reformation. He was born in a castle in Northern Italy into a powerful family. He was related to the Medici through his mother’s side.

Charles, as the second son, was destined to work for the Church. He received a doctorate in Civil and Canon Law from the University and, then, when his uncle was elected pope (Pius IV), Charles was summoned to Rome to work with his uncle. While he was there, he played a large part in the diplomatic efforts that led to the reopening of the Council of Trent in 1562.

When Charles’ s eldest brother died his family and even his uncle expected that he would take over the family business, as was the custom but Charles was reluctant to do this.  Against the wishes of his family and his uncle, he was secretly ordained a priest in 1563. Not long after his ordination he was made Archbishop of Milan and,, yet he remained in Rome to continue his work.

Some of Charles’s notable achievements include:

  • He set up the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine to teach children the faith, which became known as the Sunday School movement
  • When famine struck, Charles fed 3000 people on a regular basis at his own expense.
  • He was always challenging corruption in the Church and was forever trying to weed it out.

Charles died at the age of 46.

As we celebrate his life, Fr Paul says, we might reflect today on ‘What is corrupt in my life? What is in need of reform?’ and ask, through the intercession of St Charles Borromeo, for the strength and courage to deal with these areas.