November 4, 2010
+ St. Charles Borromeo
The history of the Church is filled with both darkness and light. The darkness is personified by those members who are unfaithful to Christ and to the Gospel. The light is personified by those members of the Church, both canonized and not canonized, who remain faithful to Christ and to the Gospel, they strive each day to live their Baptismal Vows even thought is very difficult.
And today we honor one of these: Charles Borromeo. He lived in the sixteenth century and was a member of a prominent Italian family from the Province of Lombardy. Charles laid aside his inherited title, entered the seminary and was ordained a priest. Later, he was appointed Papal Secretary of State and delegate to the Council of Trent.
In 1566, he arrived in Milan as the new Archbishop. Charles immediately set to work implementing the reforms of the Council. For his efforts, he was strongly opposed both by the ecclesiastical and civil authorities. At one point during this period, there was an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate him.
As part of the reforms, the new archbishop thoroughly cleaned and simplified the interiors of both the Duomo and the Archbishop’s Residence. Over the years, each had become a repository of costly but non-essential decorations which detracted from the purpose for which each was constructed.
Saint Charles used the money from the sale of these objects to buy medicine and food for the victims of the plague which struck the city of Milan in 1576 and continued unabated until 1578. In addition, Charles used his entire family inheritance to assist the poor. He died on November 4, 1584 at the age of 46.
The life and work of this extraordinary figure of the Catholic Restoration teaches us that, no matter the circumstances, good can be achieved by the personal example and witness of every member of the Church. Christ invites each of us to assist Him in maintaining and strengthening His church during that period of history in which we live.
May the intercession and example of St. Charles Borromeo help us to do this.