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Charles was born into a family both noble and devout and divided his early years between the family’s Castle of Arona on Lake Maggiore and their palace in Milan. At twelve he was admitted to minor clerical orders and received the revenues from a wealthy abbey nearby, but he showed his upright character by assigning the money to the poor except for those funds needed for his education. His college career paralleled that of St. Peter Canisius in that he avoided all circumstances and friendships that would compromise his purity of life. It differed, however, by receiving his doctorate in canon law at the University of Pavia.

Due to his extraordinary talent and seriousness, Charles took charge of all family business at the request of his father and older brother despite his youth. He even found time to restore the ancient monastic discipline in the abbey of which he was titular abbot. One week into his pontificate, Pius IV summoned him to Rome. Promotions and responsibilities soon followed, all leading to his appointment as Papal Secretary of State and Archbishop of Milan, although he was not permitted to reside in Milan during his uncle’s lifetime.

His thoroughness, modesty, and zeal for work had the effect of concealing his capacity for superior judgment in handling the affairs of both the Church and the State, especially when he refused to enrich himself in the manner of the Renaissance era prelates. Virtually all diplomatic correspondence passed through his hands, to the point that historians cannot determine which instructions originated with the Pope and which came from his young administrator. William T. Walsh believes the reform of the Church during Pius IV’s pontificate was chiefly accomplished through the effort of his nephew, whose body is incorrupt to this day.

Despite the uprightness of his life and self-sacrificing devotion to Church affairs, Charles did not practice the strict austerities and self-denial of his later years. He was exceptionally fond of hunting and paid much attention to the magnificence of his own household, which consisted of 150 servants. The improvement of his family’s circumstances also occupied much of his attention. His brother had married the daughter of the Duke of Urbina, a member of the illustrious della Rovere family, and his sisters made wealthy marriages with the Gonzaga and Colonna. Then with the family rising to the heights of the Farnese and de Medici, his brother died after a short illness at the age of twenty-seven.

Although a Cardinal and administrator of the vacant diocesan see of Milan, Papal Secretary of State, and entrusted with the government of the Papal States, as well as supervisor of the Franciscans, the Carmelites and the Order of Malta, Charles was still only a sub-deacon at the time, which nevertheless precluded marriage. Many of his more worldly-minded relatives thought that he would certainly seek a dispensation and pursue fame and fortune to maintain his family’s position. But his brother’s sudden death opened his eyes to the vanity of such ambitions and Charles resolved instead to embrace his ecclesiastical state entirely.

He was ordained a priest on September 4, 1563 and consecrated a bishop on December 7 the same year. He adopted a strict, ascetic life of prayer and fasting after making the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, now intent upon fulfilling the duties of his ecclesiastical office with dignity and without reserve.

Pope Pius IV had reopened the third and last period of the Council of Trent at the beginning of 1562 against strong opposition from numerous prelates who saw that their unwarranted privileges and incomes would be curtailed and many sovereigns who saw that their authority over Church matters would be contested. Yet the bark of Saint Peter steered through all the obstacles to bring the Council to a successful conclusion two years later.

Retained in Rome by the Pope and the heavy duties incumbent upon him by the work of the Council, Charles governed his diocese my means of personal representatives through whom he convoked a diocesan synod for the promulgation of the decrees of the Council. He began the much-needed reform of the clergy by fulfilling all things required in himself first, thus leading by example.

The widespread clerical abuses required skilful and tactful treatment. Ecclesiastical discipline and the education of youth were foremost in his thoughts but his pastoral solicitude encompassed every detail involved in the monumental work: repression of avaricious priests, the founding and staffing of seminaries for the proper formation of the clergy, liturgical ceremony and church music, the manner of preaching, the renewal of strict observance of rule in the convents, etc. This last mentioned brought down upon him the wrath and displeasure of some of his own relatives, two Dominican aunts, sisters of Pope Pius IV. Notwithstanding the opposition and difficulties, Charles persevered, sparing himself in nothing. The apostolic zeal and charity with which he reformed his own household bore fruit in the remarkable number of its members who became distinguished bishops and prelates. The austerities which he practiced amidst the incredible fatigues of his apostolic life seem almost excessive.

Doctrinal and disciplinary controversies and heated disputes of every kind, both ecclesiastical and temporal; complicated questions of spiritual and civil jurisdictions; fierce attacks upon the rights of the Church and life-threatening physical attacks upon himself; heresy, witchcraft, sorcery and wickedness of every sort, libelous personal accusations and epidemic plagues – he faced them all with a moral courage and equanimity that won the grudging admiration of even his most bitter enemies. Ravaged by relentless attacks from every side, the Church weathered the fierce storm of the pseudo-Reformation. From the bosom of the Church, God called forth great saints in that era and they rallied to Her defense like ardent lions – souls of grandeur, on fire with the love of God and zeal for souls. The Church and Faith under attack brought forth unparalleled sanctity. Among these great saints of the sixteenth century is St. Charles Borromeo.

Physically worn out by the crushing weight of his many duties and responsibilities, he seemed to know when death was at hand and yet was determined to work as long as he had strength left. Towards the end of 1584, his health took a definite turn. In October he began his annual retreat and began his preparation for death with a general confession. Plagued with recurrent bouts of high fever, he carried on: visitations, correspondence, consultations. Indefatigable to the end, his ardent soul wore out his frail body.

He died at Milan on November 3, 1584 at the age of forty-six. He was canonized in 1610 by Pope Paul V.

 


 Second Photo by: Sailko

 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for September 29, 2020

The wicked exist in this world either to be converted or tha...

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September 29

 

The wicked exist in this world
either to be converted
or that through them
the good may exercise patience.

St. Augustine of Hippo


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

Archangel St. Michael

The fight between St. Michael and Lucifer has not ceased but...

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Archangel St. Michael

St. Michael is the model of the Christian warrior because of the fortitude which he showed by casting into hell the legions of damned spirits. He is the warrior of God who will not tolerate the divine Majesty to be challenged or offended in his presence, and who is ready to wield the sword at any time in order to crush the enemies of the Most High. He teaches us that it is not enough for a Catholic to behave well: it is also his duty to fight evil. And not just an abstract evil, but evil as it exists in the ungodly and in sinners. For St. Michael did not cast evil into hell as a principle, a mere conception of the intellect, nor are principles and concepts susceptible to be burned by eternal fire. It was Lucifer and his minions that the Champion of the Almighty cast into hell, as he hated the evil that existed in them and which they loved.

We live at a time of profound religious liberalism. Few Christians have an inkling that they belong to a Church militant, as militant on earth as St. Michael and the faithful Angels were militant in heaven. We also should know how to crush the insolence of wickedness. We too must tenaciously counter the adversary by attacking him and rendering him powerless.

In this struggle, St. Michael should not just be our model but our help. The fight between St. Michael and Lucifer has not ceased but continues throughout the ages. He helps all Christians in the battles they wage against the power of darkness.

Archangel St. Gabriel

The Incarnation of the Word is the greatest act of power and...

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Archangel St. Gabriel

“And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.
Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

The message that St. Gabriel – which means “the strength of God” – took to Our Lady is a message that affirms the Incarnation of the Word and therefore the greatest act of power and domination that God could exercise upon the world. With the Incarnation of the Word, God was preparing to rescue the world. In doing this, He, who is king of the world by right, also became king by conquest. Thus, He – the second Person of the Blessed Trinity – entered the earth to conquer on the cross. In this special way, He established His kingship upon the world. From this, we can draw some applications for the prayers we can still address to him today. St. Gabriel announced the coming and triumph of the Messiah to Our Lady and thus to all men. We should ask that he now announce the recovery of God’s effective kingship upon the earth through the coming of the fulfillment of the Fatima message.

Today we are in a situation that is even worse than that of the ancient world before Our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, we can ask that Our Lord Jesus Christ reign once again, that He establish His reign on earth in Mary and through Mary, and that this period of darkness in which we find ourselves come to an end. He has done one thing, let Him do the other. He had the key to do it to close the era of antiquity, and thus opened a new epoch. Let Him close this era and open the Reign of Mary. Second: we should ask St. Gabriel for an enormous, superabundant devotion to Our Lady and that this devotion grow every instant until the end of our lives. Third: we should ask him for a most ardent, intransigent, vigilant and therefore most militant love of purity; and to have every form of revulsion and disdain for impurity in every way and degree. This is what we should ask him. May he thus protect us and bring us closer to Our Lady.

Archangel St. Raphael

St. Raphael appeared to Tobias disguised in human form and t...

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Archangel St. Raphael

St. Raphael is first mentioned in the Book of Tobit, where he appeared disguised in human form to Tobias, son of the blind man Tobit, and traveled with him from Nineveh to Media. While they were in Media, the Archangel told Tobias of Sarah, daughter of Raguel. Sarah had been married seven previous times, but each time, on the night of the wedding, her husband was abducted and slain by a demon. St. Raphael convinced Tobias to present himself as a husband to Sarah, who accepted him.

Sarah despaired that yet another of her husbands would be taken from her, and she prayed for her own death. Raphael banished the demon from her, and she and Tobias had a happy marriage. After the wedding feast, Tobias and Sarah return to Nineveh. There, Raphael cured Tobit’s blindness, revealed his true identity and returned to heaven.

Raphael's name means "God heals." This identity came about because of the biblical story which claims that he "healed" the earth when it was defiled by the sins of the fallen angels. He is also the patron of the blind, happy meetings, nurses, physicians and of travelers.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort...

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The Rosary, the Devil and the Queen

In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort relates that Blessed Thomas of St. John was a great devotee of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As such, he was known for his powerful, moving sermons on the Rosary, which led people to adopt this devotion to their great benefit.

Furiously jealous of the holy man’s success with souls, the devil began to so torture Thomas that he fell sick, and was so ill for so long that the doctors gave up on saving his life.

One night, when the poor man thought he was near death, the devil appeared to him in a hideous form, coward that he is, seeking to frighten Thomas into despair.

But, making an effort, the good priest turned to a beautiful picture of Our Lady near his bed crying out with all his heart and strength:

“Help me, save me, my sweet, sweet Mother!”

No sooner had he pronounced these words, the picture came alive and extending her hand, the heavenly Lady laid it reassuringly on the priest’s arm, saying:

“Do not be afraid, Thomas my son, here I am and I am going to save you. Get up now and go on preaching my Rosary as you did before. I promise to shield and protect you from your enemies.”

No sooner had Our Lady pronounced these words, than the devil fled in a hurry. Getting up, Thomas found that he was perfectly healed. 

Thanking the Blessed Mother with tears of joy, Blessed Thomas again went about preaching the Holy Rosary, now with renewed favor and gumption, and his apostolate and his sermons were enormously successful. 

St. Louis the Montfort concludes this story saying, “Our lady not only blesses those who say her Rosary, but also abundantly rewards those who, by their example, inspire others to say it as well.”

 


 

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In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort relates that Blessed Thomas of St. John was a great devotee of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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