Benedict XVI highlights feast of St. Charles Borromeo following General Audience
St. Charles Borromeo
St. Charles Borromeo

.- Concluding today’s weekly audience, Pope Benedict noted that today's feast day celebrates the life of St. Charles Borromeo, “an outstanding bishop of the diocese of Milan who, animated by ardent love for Christ, was a tireless master and guide to his brothers and sisters.”

St. Charles Borromeo, the son of a wealthy family in Italy, was instrumental in the reconvention of the Council of Trent, as well as in the creation of the decrees issued by the council. Born in 1538, St. Charles later became a priest and was appointed Bishop of Milan by his uncle, Pope Pius IV. However, before being sent to Milan, he initiated several reforms in the Diocese of Trent, which had been without a resident bishop for 80 years. Under his influence, Trent became a model diocese.

While Bishop of Milan, St. Charles oversaw many reforms of the clergy, the liturgy and of religious education. While he encountered much opposition, he was very active in preaching and ministry, and was famous for bringing back many lapsed Catholics to the Church.

Though he was a member of the wealthy and powerful Medici family, St. Charles did everything with humility and unselfishness, choosing not to rely on corruption to influence others. He gave Church money generously to charity, and he is famous for staying behind in Milan and ministering to the sick and dying while many, including the authorities, fled the city during famine and plague.

St. Charles died on November 3, 1584. He is the patron of catechists and catechumens.

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