St. Charles Borromeo
Feast Day: November 4
Born: 1538 :: Died: 1584
Charles was born at Aron in Italy. He was the son of a rich Italian count and the nephew of Pope Pius IV.
Like other wealthy young men, he went to the University of Pavia. But he was different from most of the students there and refused to take part in sinful activities.
He seemed to be a slow student because he was not a good speaker, but he really made good progress and became a lawyer at the age of twenty-one.
He was only twenty-three when his uncle, Pope Pius IV, gave him many important duties, which Charles managed to handle well. He was afraid that he might stray from God because of the many temptations around him so he denied himself many pleasures. He also made a great effort to be humble and patient.
As a priest and later the cardinal archbishop of Milan, St. Charles was a model for his people. He gave away great amounts of money to the poor. He had only one shabby cassock (long black habit) of his own.
But in public, he dressed grandly as a cardinal should and took great care to give dignity and respect to Church ceremonies.
In Milan, the people followed many bad practices and superstitions (wrong beliefs). By wise laws, gentle kindness and his own wonderful example, St. Charles made his diocese (the Churches under his care) a model for the whole Catholic Church.
He was never a good speaker - people could barely hear him but his words reached the hearts of the people.
When a terrible disease caused many deaths in Milan, Cardinal Borromeo spent all his time caring for his people. He prayed and did penance. He organized crews of attendants and borrowed money to feed the hungry. He even had altars set up in the streets so that the sick could assist at Mass from their windows.
This great man was never too busy to help simple people. He once stayed with a little shepherd boy until he had taught him the Our Father and the Hail Mary.
As he lay dying at the age of forty-six, St. Charles said peacefully, "Behold, I come!" He died on November 3, 1584.
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