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Saint Charles Borromeo

Charles Borromeo, patron of our Congregation, was born on October 2, 1538 in Arona, Lombardy. Already in 1559 he graduated from the University of Pavia as a doctor of civil and canon law.

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The following year, his maternal uncle, Gian Angelo Medici, was elected pope. He took the name Pius IV and called his nephew to Rome.

The 22-year-old Carlo was made a cardinal by his uncle and charged with the administration of the Papal State. The Pope also appointed him Archbishop of Milan, but refused to let him go to his diocese.


Cardinal Borromeo took part in the last session of the Council of Trent (1562-1563). There he was one of the great advocates of the Counter-Reformation and the fight against ecclesiastical abuses, such as superstition and ignorance among clergy. He also denounced nepotism (from the Latin nepos = grandson, nephew).

After the death of Pius IV in 1565, he was finally able to leave for Milan to fulfill his proper pastoral office of archbishop there. He visited all the parishes of his great diocese, even the most difficult to reach churches in the Alps.


Although Carlo Borromeo grew up in great opulence, owed his office to nepotism and lived in circles of the decadent nobility, he was nevertheless an example of humility, charity and justice. His great social commitment was still praised by friends and foes throughout his life.

Carolus died on November 3, 1584. He left all his possessions to the poor. He was buried in the crypt of the Milan Cathedral.

As early as 1610, Pope Paul V declared him a saint. His liturgical memorial is on November 4.

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