SAINT CHARLES BORROMEO, CARDINAL ARCHBISHOP OF MILAN
Charles was born on 2nd October 1538 to Count Gilbert Borromeo and Margaret his wife. Charles, the second of two sons in a family of six, was born in the castle of Arona on Lake Maggiore. From his earliest days he showed himself to be a serious and devout student. At the age of twelve Charles went to live and study at the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Gratinian and Felinus, Arona. His stutter led some to underestimate his ability, yet he made good progress and was awarded his doctorate in theology at the age of twenty-two. Soon after Cardinal de Medici, his maternal uncle, was elected pope he asked Charles in 1559 to attend to the administration of the vacant see of Milan. Three years later he was ordained a priest and consecrated as Archbishop of Milan. During the first part of his episcopate his primary duty was to draw up the Catechism of the Council of Trent. However, with the death of his uncle, he was able to return to Milan in April 1566 and began a period of diocesan and seminary reform. He arranged retreats for his clergy and he himself went on retreat twice a year. It was his rule to go to Confession every morning before celebrating Mass. He was one of the foremost of the great pastoral theologians who arose in the Church to remedy the disorders caused by the breakdown of medieval Christian life. However, sometimes his reforms were not well received and he was the victim of an attempted assassination by one of his clergy. In the Spring of 1580 he entertained a dozen young English priests, who were preparing to return to England to minister to the persecuted Catholic faithful. One of these young men, Ralph Sherwin, would give his life for the faith at Tyburn some eighteen months later. Accounts of Charles’ care soon spread to the recusant community of England and they took this great clericr to their hearts and asked for his blessing. Charles died on 3rd November 1584 aged forty-six and was canonised in 1610. His life is best summed up in this quotation from his writings: “If we wish to make any progress in the service of God we must begin every day of our life with new eagerness.We must keep ourselves in the presence of God as much as possible and have no other view or end in all our actions"