CHARLES, of the noble family of Borromeo, was born on October 2, 1538, in a castle of Aron, in Italy. He received a doctor's degree in law at twenty-one. Pius IV made him cardinal and nominated him archbishop of Milan, though he was only twenty-two.
Charles became a great reformer and, more than anyone else, helped the Church during the Reformation. His great work was the direction of the Council of Trent, and the carrying out of its decrees. He founded schools for the poor, seminaries for clerics, and his community of Oblates trained its priests to holiness of life. He instructed St. Aloysius Gonzaga, heard his confession, and gave him his first Holy Communion.
Charles started hospitals where he helped the sick. He slept on straw and ate black bread, chestnuts and dried figs. He gave away all his belongings and wore a patched cloak. The rope he wore was a sign of penance. He died in 1584.
O God, maintain in Your people that spirit with which You inspired Your Bishop, St. Charles, so that Your Church may be constantly renewed, conforming itself to Christ and manifesting Christ to the world.
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