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St. Charles Borromeo (November 4)

Charles was the son of Count Gilbert Borromeo and Margaret Medici, sister of Pope Pius IV. He was born into a nobel and aristocratic family in the castle of Arona on Lake Maggiore, Italy on October 2, 1538. He was educated at the Benedictine Abbey of Sts Gratinian and Felinus at Arona. He studied Latin at Milan and then attended the University of Pavia. He received his doctorate in 1559 and in 1560 at the age of 23, his uncle - Pope Pius IV - appointed him Secretary of State, and cardinal Deacon of Milan, entrusting him with many responsibilities in the service of the Church. Largely through Charles' efforts, the Council of Trent finished its work of Church reform in 1562.

 
Ordained a priest in 1563 and appointed Bishop of Milan shortly afterwards, Charles began a life-long labor to reform the ancient Christian city where he had been appointed bishop. Like his predecessor, St Ambrose, he fostered the education of clergy, established the Confraternity of Christian octrine for the religious education of children, and cared for the poor. He himself lived a simple and sparing life, without concern for his own comfort. 

 
When plague struck the area of Milan in 1576, Charles mobilized all the resources at his disposal to minister to the sick and the dying.  He cared for the plague-stricken with his own hands and comforted them in their anguish until the plague subsided in 1578.

 
During his ministry as bishop, Charles had enemies among the civil administration and his own clergy. In 1569, while he knelt at prayer in church, an assassin, Jerome Donati Farina, a Humiliati priest, tried to murder him, but the bullet fell harmlessly from the cloak on his back. On the evening of November 4, 1584, at the age of 46, he died in Milan after making his annual retreat at Monte Varallo.

 

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