New Catholic Dictionary – Saint Charles Borromeo

detail of a painting of Saint Charles Borromeo by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, c.1768; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Confessor. Cardinal-Priest of the title of Saint Prassede, and Archbishp of Milan, born Arona, Italy, 1538; died Milan, Italy, 1584. He was the son of Count Giberto Borromeo and Margherim de’ Medici, and nephew of Pope Pius IV. Charles received the tonsure at the age of 12, and later was made titular abbot of Saint Gratian and Saint Felinus at Arona; in 1552 he matriculated at the University of Pavia, where he received his doctorate in civil and canon law, 1559. Upon the election of Pius IV, he was summoned to Rome; the administration of all the papal states was intrusted to him; and he was made cardinaldeacon and administrator of the archdiocese of Milan though only 22 years old. He was legate of Bologna, Romagna, and the March of Ancona, and Protector of the Kingdom of Portugal, Lower Germany, and the Catholic cantons of Switzerland. Under his protection were placed the orders of Saint Francis, the Carmelites, the Humiliati, and the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross of Christ in Portugal. He founded at Rome the Vatican Academy for literary work; many of the contributions to the Academy are found in Saint Charles’s “Noctes Vaticanre.” As papal secretary of state he labored for the reassembling of the Council of Trent, which took place, 1562, and was active in enforcing its reforms, and in composing the Roman Catechism, embodying the teachings of the Council. Finding these worldly occupations too engrossing, he secretly took Holy Orders, 1563, and was consecrated bishop, 1564. In 1565, at his own request, he took up residence at his episcopal city which had fallen into disorder through the absence of a resident archbishop for a period of 80 years; he devoted the rest of his life to reforming his diocese, creating parishes and establishing monasteries. His simplicity and piety, his generosity. and self-sacrifice during the plague, 1576, and his able administration of the diocese made him beloved by his flock. His literary works are numerous and his large correspondence indicates the esteem in which he was held by the sovereigns of Europe. Patron of Lombardy. Emblems: Holy Communion and coat of arms bearing the word Humilitas; also represented curing the sick. Canonized, 1610. Relics in the Cathedral of Milan. Feast, Roman Calendar, 4 November.

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Charles Borromeo”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 August 2017. Web. 15 December 2019. <>