Borromeo, Saint Charles

born Oct. 1538, Arona, duchy of Milan
died Nov. 3, 1584, Milan; canonized 1610; feast day November 4

Archbishop of Milan and leading figure in the Counter-Reformation.

He earned a doctorate in canon and civil law at the University of Pavia in 1559. His uncle, Pope Pius IV, appointed him cardinal and archbishop of Milan in 1560. He was active in directing the Council of Trent, and he later helped execute its decrees and draw up the Roman catechism in 1566. He established seminaries and colleges in Milan and nearby cities and gained renown for his heroic behaviour during the plague of 1576–78.

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▪ Italian cardinal and archbishop
Italian  San Carlo Borromeo  
born Oct. 2, 1538, Arona, Duchy of Milan
died Nov. 3, 1584, Milan; canonized 1610; feast day November 4

      cardinal and archbishop who was one of the most important figures of the Counter-Reformation in Italy.

      Borromeo received a doctorate in civil and canon law from the university of Pavia in 1559. The following year his uncle, Pope Pius IV, appointed him a cardinal and archbishop of Milan. Chief among his curial functions was heading the Consulta, a position that made him secretary of state to Pius.

      The Pope leaned upon him heavily in directing the third convocation of the Council of Trent (Trent, Council of) (1562–63). When the council closed, Borromeo served in executing its decrees and was largely instrumental in bringing out the Roman catechism in 1566. Also at this time he was actively sponsoring the conversion of Swiss Protestants. Upon the death of his uncle, Borromeo took part in the conclave that elected Pius V (1566).

      Thereafter, he resided at Milan, where serious administrative problems confronted him. He regularly visited his more than 1,000 widely scattered parishes, which fell under the jurisdictions of King Philip II of Spain and also of Venice, Genoa, and Novara. Borromeo fostered clerical education by establishing seminaries and colleges at Milan and in the Italian cities of Inverigo and Celano. Colleges for lay students also were erected and entrusted to the Jesuits. The archbishop's last undertaking was the opening of the college at Ascona, Switz., in 1584.

      Political and other turmoils beset Borromeo. He became embroiled with the Milanese Senate and with Gov. Luis de Requesséns y Zúñiga as well as with the rebellious canons of Sta. Maria della Scala and the order of the Humiliati (The Humble Ones). Borromeo nevertheless had the support of many religious congregations, including his own Oblates of St. Ambrose. In 1569 one of the Humiliati, the priest Girolamo Donato Farina, attempted to assassinate Borromeo. Despite the archbishop's pleas for leniency, Farina and his accomplices were tortured and executed.

      Borromeo's heroic behaviour during the plague of 1576–78 won him much respect.

Additional Reading
G.P. Giussano, The Life of St. Charles Borromeo (Eng. trans. 1884); Louis M. Stacpoole-Kenny, St. Charles Borromeo (1911); Margaret Yeo, Reformer: St. Charles Borromeo (1938); Cesare Orsenigo, Life of St. Charles Borromeo (Eng. trans. 1947).

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Universalium. 2010.

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