About St Charles Borromeo Image

St Charles Borromeo was an Archbishop and Cardinal who led the Church in the Counter-Reformation against the Protestant Revolt. He was Archbishop of Milan from 1564 to 1584.

Read the full St Charles Borromeo novena on the novena page. You can also learn more about novenas here.

Who Was Saint Charles Borromeo?

Charles (Carlo) Borromeo was born to a noble family on October 2nd, 1538, at the castle of Arona on Lake Maggiore near Milan, Italy.

At just twelve years old, he decided to give himself to Christ and His Church.

Gifted intellectually, Charles nonetheless was first thought dim witted, since he had a speech impediment. However, he excelled in school through hard work and meticulousness.

His father died, resulting in young Charles having responsibility over managing the family’s large estate.

Then his uncle because Pope Pius IV in 1559 and appointed Charles first cardinal-deacon, then Cardinal. This role required him to govern the Papal States and to oversee the Knights of Malta, the Franciscans, and the Carmelites.

He was still not yet a priest, but he believed that God wanted him to become one, since his life was dedicated to the Church.

St Charles Borromeo was ordained to the priesthood on September 4th, 1563.

Shortly thereafter, on December 7th of 1563, he was ordained bishop, and he became Archbishop of Milan on May 12th, 1564.

St Charles Borromeo worked hard to educate and form the clergy, in mind and in heart, so that they could combat the Protestant Revolution sweeping across Europe.

Borromeo stopped the practice of selling indulgences (an abusive practice, but note that indulgences are good and holy things and available to all Catholics then and now for free, to reduce or eliminate time in Purgatory).

Due to his reforms within the Church, a group tried to assassinate him but failed.

He personally aided countless people after a famine and plague struck. He traveled to Switzerland to combat the Protestant heretics there and was tireless in his corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

St Charles Borromeo died on November 3rd, 1584, at the age of 46.

St Charles Borromeo was beatified on May 12th, 1602 by Pope Paul V. St Charles Borromeo was canonized on November 1st, 1610, also by Pope Paul V.