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Saint Charles Borromeo - San Carlo Borromeo

Born on 2 October 1538 in the Castle of Arona, Duchy of Milan (now Italy)
Ordained on 4 September 1563
consecrated a Bishop on 7 December 1563
created a Cardinal on 31 January 1560
Died on 3 November 1584 & buried in Milan Cathedral
Beatified in 1602 & canonized on 1 November 1610 by Pope Paul V
Feast day - 4 November

Pope Saint Pius X wrote Editae Saepe, an encyclical on St Charles Borromeo, in 1910. Papa Benedict XVI wrote Lumen Caritatis in 2010, on the 400th anniversary of St Charles Borromeo's canonization.

Catechesis by Pope St John Paul II
Paul VI Hall, General Audience, Wednesday 4 November 1981 - also in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1.  Today, 4th November, the Church remembers, as (it does) every year, the figure of St Charles Borromeo, bishop and confessor. Given that/Since I received this saint's name in Baptism, I desire to dedicate today's general audience reflection to him, making reference to all the preceding reflections of the month of October. In them I have tried - after an interval of several months, caused by my stay in hospital - to share with you, dear brothers and sisters, those thoughts that were born in me under the influence of the event of 13th May. Today's reflection also fits into this principal plot/story. To all those who, on my patron saint's day, join me/unite themselves with me in prayer, I desire once again to repeat the words of the letter to the Ephesians, which I quoted/spoke about last Wednesday: pray "for all the saints, and also for me, because I let a frank word be given, to make known the mystery of the Gospel, of which I am an ambassador ... " (Eph 6, 18-20).

2. St Charles is precisely one of those saints, who was given the word "to make known the Gospel" of which he was "ambassador", having inherited his mission from the apostles. He accomplished this mission in a heroic way with the total dedication/surrender of his forces. The Church looked to him and he built it up/by looking at him, edified itself: at first, in the period of the Council of Trent, in whose works he actively participated from Rome, bearing the weight of a large correspondence, collaborating
to lead to a favourable outcome the collegial fatigue of the Conciliar Fathers, according to the needs of the People of God at the time. And they were pressing necessities. Later, the (same) Cardinal as Archbishop of Milan, successor of St Ambrose, became the tireless realizer of the resolutions of the Council, translating them into practice through various diocesan Synods.

To him the Church - and not only that of Milan - owes a radical renewal of the clergy, to which the institution of the Seminaries contributed, the beginning of which dates back precisely to the Council of Trent. And many other works, among them/which the institution of confraternities, of pious sodalities, of lay-oblates, which already prefigured Catholic Action, colleges, hospitals for the poor, and finally the foundation of the University of Brera
in 1572. The volumes of "Acta Ecclesiae Mediolanensis" and documents regarding his pastoral visits attest to this intense and far-sighted activity of St Charles, whose life could be synthesized in three magnificent expressions: he was a holy Shepherd, an illuminated/enlightened Teacher, a shrewd/prudent and sagacious Legislator.

When, several times in my life, I have had the occasion to celebrate the Most Holy Sacrifice in the crypt of Milan's Cathedral, where St Charles's body rests,
presented before my eyes was all his pastoral activity dedicated to the very end to the people to whom he was sent. This life ended in 1584, at the age of 46, after having rendered a heroic pastoral service to the victims of the plague that had struck/afflicted Milan.

3. Here are some words pronounced by St Charles, indicative of that total dedication to Christ and to the Church which inflamed the heart and entire pastoral work of the saint. Addressing the bishops of the Lombardy region, during the IV Provincial Council of 1576, he exhorted them: "These are the souls, for whose salvation God sent his Only Son Jesus Christ ... He also indicated to each of us/the Bishops, who are called to participate in the work of salvation, the most sublime motive of our ministry and taught that above all love must be the master of our apostolate, the love that He (Jesus) wants to express, through us to the faithful entrusted to us, with frequent preaching, with the healthy administration of the sacraments, with the examples of a holy life ... with ceaseless/incessant zeal" (cf Sancti Caroli Borromei, Orationes XII, Rome 1963" Oratio IV ").

That which/What he inculcated to/instilled in the bishops and priests, that which/what he recommended to the faithful, he first practiced in an exemplary way.

4. At Baptism I received the name of St Charles. It was given to me/I have been granted to live in the times of the Second Vatican Council, which, like the Council of Trent before, sought to show the direction of the Church's renewal according to the needs of our times. It was given to me to participate in this Council from the first day until the last. It was also given to me/I was also given - as to// my patron saint - to belong to the College of Cardinals. I have sought/tried to imitate him, introducing the teaching of the Second Vatican Council into the life of the Archdiocese of Krakow.

Today, on the day of Saint Charles, I meditate on the importance of Baptism, in which I received his very name. With Baptism, according to the words of St Paul, we are immersed in the death of Christ so as in this way
to receive participation in his resurrection. Here are the words that the apostle writes in the letter to the Romans: "Through Baptism we were therefore buried with him in death, because as Christ was resurrected/raised from the dead through/by the glory of the Father, so we too can walk in a new life. If in fact we have been completely united to him with a death similar to his, we will be so also with his resurrection" (Rom 6, 4-5).

Through Baptism each of us receives sacramental participation in that Life which - merited through the Cross - has been revealed in the resurrection of our Lord and Redeemer. At the same time, rooting ourselves with our whole human being in the mystery of Christ, we are in Him for the first time consecrated to the Father. The first and fundamental act of consecration is accomplished in us, through which the Father accepts man as his adopted son: man is given/surrenders himself to God, so that in this adoptive sonship he accomplishes/fulfills his will and becomes an ever more mature part of his Kingdom. The Sacrament of Baptism begins that "royal priesthood" in us, through which we participate in the mission of Christ himself, Priest, Prophet and King.

The Saint, from whom we receive our name/whose name we receive in Baptism, must render/make us constantly conscious/aware of this divine sonship that has become our part. He (or she) must also help/support each of us in shaping/forming the whole of our life by the measure of that which it has become through the work of Christ: through his death and resurrection. This is the role that St Charles plays in my life and in the lives of all those who bear his name.

5. The event of 13th May allowed me to look at life in a new way: this life, whose beginning is united/linked to the memory of my parents and at the same time to the mystery of Baptism with/and the name of St Charles Borromeo.

Did not Christ speak of the grain of wheat, which fallen to the earth dies, so as to bear much fruit (cf Jn 12, 24)?

Did not the Christ say: "Whoever wishes to save his own life will lose it; but whoever loses his own life for my sake will find it" (Mt 16, 25)?

And furthermore: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but do not have power to kill the soul; fear rather the one who has the power to destroy both the soul and the body in Gehenna/hell fire" (Mt 10, 28).

And again: "No one has a greater love than this: to give one's life for one's friends" (Jn 15, 13).

All these words allude to that interior/inner maturity, which faith, hope and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ make (us) reach in the human soul.

Looking at my life from the perspective of Baptism, looking at it through St Charles Borromeo's example, I thank all those who today, throughout the past and continuously even now, sustain me with prayer and at times even with great personal sacrifice. I hope that, thanks to this spiritual support, I will be able to reach that maturity which must become my part (as also the part of each one of us) in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, for the good of the Church and the salvation of my soul - as/in the same way that it became part of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and of many successors of Saint Peter in the Roman seat/See, to which, according to the words of St Ignatius of Antioch, it pertains/is due to "preside in charity" (St Ignatius of Antioch, Epistula ad Romanos Inscr.: Funk, Patres Apostolici, I, 252)."

Before the general audience in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father met in the Vatican Basilica with a great pilgrimage of sick people from Germany:

"Liebe Brüder und Schwestern! Mit Freude grüße ich alle deutschsprachigen Gruppen und Pilger hier am Grab des hl. Petrus. Einen besonders herzlichen Willkommensgruß richte ich an die große Behinderten - Wallfahrt des Malteser - Hilfsdienstes. Ich danke den Veranstaltern, Begleitern und Helfern, die diese Begegnung ermöglicht haben, und ermutige alle, die von Leid und Gebrechen heimgesucht sind.

Euch, liebe, behinderte Brüder und Schwestern, möchte ich noch einmal besonders eurer Besinnung und eurem Gebet anempfehlen, was ich vor fast genau einem Jahr während meines Deutschlandbesuchs in Osnabrück gesagt habe: "Wie immer sich der Wille Gottes uns dartun mag, er ist letztlich für uns stets eine frohe Botschaft, eine Botschaft zu unserem ewigen Heil. Das gilt auch, wenn ihr als schwerbehinderte Menschen von Christus zu einer besonderen Art der Nachfolge, zur Kreuzesnachfolge berufen seid. Christus lädt euch... ein, eure Gebrechen als sein Joch, als einen Weg in seinen Spuren, anzunehmen. ... Allein euer bereites "Ja" zum Willen Gottes, der sich oft unserem natürlichen Verstehen entzieht, kann euch selig machen und schenkt euch schon jetzt eine innere Freude, die durch keine Not von außen zerstört werden kann". Die Kraft und die Bereitschaft für solch ein inneres "Ja" zu eurer ganz persönlichen Berufung wünsche und erbitte ich euch von Herzen als besondere Gnade dieser eurer Romwallfahrt.

Der heutige Festtag lenkt sodann unsere Aufmerksamkeit auf den großen Bekennerbischof, den hl. Karl Borromäus, dessen Namen ich bei der Taufe empfangen habe. Allen, die sich am heutigen Namenstag mit mir im Gebet vereinen, möchte ich – wie schon am vergangenen Mittwoch – noch einmal die Worte des hl. Paulus im Epheserbrief wiederholen: "Betet... für alle Heiligen, und auch für mich: daß Gott mir das rechte Wort schenkt, wenn ich mich anschicke, mit freiem Mut das Evangelium zu verkünden...". Diesen Dienst am Evangelium Jesu Christi hat der hl. Karl auf heroische Weise mit dem Einsatz all seiner Kräfte verwirklicht. Sein pastoraler Eifer und unermüdlicher Einsatz für das ihm anvertraute Gottesvolk haben mir stets beispielhaft vor Augen gestanden.

Unser Namenstag erinnert uns zugleich an das Gnadengeschenk unserer Taufe, durch die wir mit Christus begraben wurden, um mit ihm auch von den Toten aufzuerstehen. Nur wenn wir bereit sind, mit Christus wie ein Weizenkorn in die Erde zu fallen und zu sterben, können wir wirklich Frucht bringen. Christus selbst hat uns verheißen: "Wer sein Leben retten will, wird es verlieren; wer aber sein Leben um meinetwillen verliert, wird es gewinnen". Erbitten wir uns gegenseitig diesen Glaubensmut, unser Leben für Christus und sein Reich zu wagen! Dazu erteile ich euch allen – mit besten Wünschen für schöne und gnadenreiche Tage in der Ewigen Stadt – von Herzen meinen Apostolischen Segen."


"Chers Frères et Sœurs, En accueillant ici de tout cœur les pèlerins de langue française, j’exprime ma gratitude à tous ceux qui m’ont soutenu de leur prière depuis l’attentat. Je les invite à continuer de prier pour moi, spécialement aujourd’hui, en cette fête de saint Charles Borromée, dont j’ai reçu le nom au baptême. Ce saint Pasteur, ce Maître éclairé, ce sage Législateur, qui a présidé comme Légat les travaux du Concile de Trente et en a mené à bien l’application dans son grand diocèse de Milan, est pour tous un exemple et un encouragement, spécialement pour moi qui ai participé au Concile Vatican II et ai cherché à le mettre en œuvre. Puisse-t-il me soutenir, à travers les épreuves et le don de ma vie, comme Pasteur de cette Eglise qui préside à la charité, et me permettre d’atteindre la pleine maturité dans le Christ crucifié et ressuscité!

Je souhaite la bienvenue aux divers groupes de pèlerins notamment aux religieuses, aux jeunes, aux familles. Je tiens à saluer spécialement les membres du Comité européen pour l’Enseignement catholique, en séance de travail à Rome. Chers amis, avec tous les Pasteurs de l’Eglise, notamment avec ceux qui sont affrontés à de plus grandes difficultés, je suis bien convaincu, et vous aussi, non seulement que l’école catholique apporte une contribution particulière pour soutenir la foi des chrétiens et en éclairer d’autres sur ce chemin, tout en donnant un enseignement profond et adapté dans les divers domaines, mais qu’elle appelle à témoigner du message évangélique dans les conditions nouvelles de la scolarité et face aux mutations du monde, et donc qu’elle a une place de choix parmi les autres écoles. Il est dès lors nécessaire que les responsables européens de l’Enseignement catholique, maintiennent l’unité de leur réflexion et de leur action, pour deux objectifs notamment: d’une part, défendre la liberté de l’enseignement qui fait partie des droits humains des personnes et des familles; d’autre part – car cet enseignement a ses exigences – définir un projet éducatif, inspiré de valeurs chrétiennes, qui prépare les jeunes aux responsabilités de la vie, et en même temps former des enseignants qui fassent équipe pour mettre effficacement en œuvre ce style éducatif dans les divers établissements primaires ou secondaires. Les parents, la société et l’Eglise demandent cette qualité. C’est en ce sens que vont les souhaits et les encouragements du Pape qui vous bénit de tout cœur.

I extend a warm welcome to all the English-speaking visitors from England and Wales, from Ireland, Sweden, Canada and the United States. My reflection today is about Saint Charles Borromeo, whose name I received in Baptism. He was a holy Bishop and a wise teacher, and he gives us the example of total dedication to Christ and the Church. As I look at my own life from the perspective of the consecration of my Baptism and through the example of my patron saint, I renew my thanks to all those who in the past months have sustained me by their prayers and sacrifices. I am profoundly grateful, and with your help I hope to attain to full maturity in the crucified and Risen Christ. Once again my greeting goes to the members of the Across Trust, with gratitude for their concern for the sick from Wales, all of whom I embrace today with great affection. Remember that our Lord Jesus Christ is with you in all your sufferings. He loves you deeply, and his Mother Mary is close to you.

Van ganser harte begroet ik de bisschop van Roermond in Nederland, Monseigneur Gijsen, alsmede de deelnemers aan de tweede bedevaart van dit jaar uit het bisdom Roermond en in het bijzonder de deelnemers aan de catechese-cursus voor volwassenen van het bisdom. Moge het bezoek dat u samen met uw bisschop brengt aan Rome en aan de plaatsbekleder van Christus uw geloof verlevendigen en uw trouw aan de kerk van Rome versterken. Mijn speciale apostolische zegen voor u allen en voor uw dierbaren in Nederland.

Quiero empezar estas palabras en lengua española dirigiendo un saludo cordial a cada persona, familia o grupo de dicha lengua aquí presentes, en especial al grupo procedente de Rosas (Gerona). Pido para todos la fidelidad a las exigencias del propio bautismo. Me invita a aludir a ese tema la fiesta de San Carlos, de quien recibí el nombre el día de mi bautismo. Con este sacramento nos convertimos en hijos de Dios, lo cual nos compromete a una vida coherente, de acuerdo con las enseñanzas de Cristo. Agradezco a todos sus plegarias. Con ellas confío llegar, también a través del sufrimiento que hube de experimentar tras el trece de mayo último, a una mayor madurez interior – que debe ser real en todos – en Cristo crucificado y resucitado.

Cordiais saudações aos peregrinos e ouvintes de língua portuguesa. Hoje, festa litúrgica de São Carlos, cujo nome recebi no Baptismo, acabo de fazer algumas reflexões sobre aquela grande figura da Igreja, enquadrando-as nas apresentadas durante o mês de Outubro. Com efeito, o acontecimento do dia treze de Maio permitiu-me ver a vida de um modo novo: esta vida, cujo início está ligado à memória de meus Pais e contemporaneamente ao mistério do Baptismo e ao nome de São Carlos. Disse o Senhor: "Não temais os que matam o corpo mas não podem matar a alma". Agradeço as vossas orações que me ajudam a chegar àquela madureza que deve ser a minha parte em Jesus Cristo Crucificado e Ressuscitado para o bem da Igreja e minha salvaçao. A todos vós e a quantos vos são queridos dou a Bênção Apostólica.

A udiencja dzisiejsza wypadła w dniu 4 listopada, kiedy Kościół cały święci św. Karola Boromeusza. Św. Karol Boromeusz jest moim patronem. Otrzymalem życie za sprawą moich rodziców, otrzymałem jego imię przy chrzcie świętym w parafii wadowickiej. To wszystko dzisiaj wspominam z wdzięcznością dla Boga i dla ludzi. A równocześnie to wszystko, przez co ukształtowało się moje ludzkie i chrześcijańskie życie, porównuję z całą skalą Bożych zamierzeń, która w mym życiu się stopniowo wyrażała i nadal wyraża. W szczególności mam tutaj na myśli wydarzenie z 13 maja, które wszystkim – a także oczywiście i mnie – dało wiele do myślenia: kazało mi spojrzeć na to moje ludzkie i chrześcijańskie życie jszecze bardziej w świetle Ewangelii, choćby w świetle tych słów o ziarnie, które musi obumrzeć, aby mogło przynosić owoc, albo w świetle tych słów: “Nie lękajcie się tych, którzy zabijają ciało, a duszy zabić nie mogą”.

To są refleksje dnia dzisiejszego, którymi dzieliłem się po kolei w różnych językach z uczestnikami dzisiejszej audiencii generalnej i dzielę się również z wami, moi drodzy rodacy. Dziękuję wam za waszą obecność, za wasze modlitwy. Polecam się nadal tym modlitwom. Polecam tym modlitwom moją posługę na rzymskiej stolicy św. Piotra – posługę w stosunku do całego Kościoła. Polecam też nadal tym modlitwom – w których sam uczestniczę jak najgoręcej – naszą umiłowaną Ojczyznę i jej sprawy. To powtórzcie, kiedy wrócicie, w waszych rodzinach, w waszych parafiach, w waszych wspólnotach, w całej Polsce i wsród Polonii na emigracji.

E’ presente a questa Udienza il numeroso pellegrinaggio organizzato dalla Congregazione delle Figlie del Sacro Cuore di Gesù, in occasione del CL anniversario di fondazione. Perciò saluto di cuore le Religiose qui presenti con la loro Superiora Generale ed il proprio Consiglio, insieme con le Insegnanti, le Alunne delle loro Scuole con i Genitori, ed anche i rappresentanti di gruppi parrocchiali ad esse collegati. Sono contento della vostra presenza e, mentre vi raccomando al Signore, tutti vi esorto ad una vita di sempre più luminosa testimonianza cristiana. Un particolare saluto va pure ai Religiosi del " Consiglio Plenario " dell’Ordine dei Frati Minori, accompagnati dal Ministro Generale, ed auspico dal Signore che il loro già benemerito impegno ecclesiale sulle orme di San Francesco diventi ancor maggiormente fecondo. Inoltre saluto tutti i giovani, dalle cui fresche energie mi aspetto sempre molto per il rinnovamento della Chiesa. Agli ammalati assicuro il mio particolare affetto ed il mio costante ricordo nella preghiera. Ed ai Novelli Sposi auguro una ininterrotta vita di amore e di gioia in comunione col Signore. Su tutti invoco le abbondanti grazie divine e tutti di cu ore benedico."

Benedict XVI's Message
on 400th anniversary of St Charles's Canonization
- in English, German, Italian & Portuguese


To my Venerable Brother, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Milan

Lumen caritatis. The light of charity of St Charles Borromeo has illumined the whole Church and, by renewing the miracles of the love of Christ, our Supreme and Eternal Pastor, has brought new life and new youthfulness to God’s flock, which was going through sorrowful and difficult times. For this reason I join with all my heart in the joy of the Ambrogian Archdiocese in commemorating the fourth centenary of the Canonization of this great Pastor on 1 November 1610.

1. The time in which Charles Borromeo lived was very delicate for Christianity. In it the Archbishop of Milan gave a splendid example of what it means to work for the reform of the Church. There were many disorders to sanction, many errors to correct and many structures to renew; yet St Charles strove for a profound reform of the Church, starting with his own life. It was in himself, in fact, that the young Borromeo promoted the first and most radical work of renewal. His career had begun promisingly in accordance with the canons of that time: for the younger son of the noble family Borromeo, a future of prosperity and success lay in store, an ecclesiastical life full of honours but without any ministerial responsibilities; he also had the possibility of assuming the direction of the family after the unexpected death of his brother Federico.

Yet Charles Borromeo, illumined by Grace, was attentive to the call with which the Lord was attracting him and desiring him to dedicate the whole of himself to the service of his people. Thus he was capable of making a clear and heroic detachment from the lifestyle characterised by his worldly dignity and dedication without reserve to the service of God and of the Church. In times that were darkened by numerous trials for the Christian community, with divisions and confusions of doctrine, with the clouding of the purity of the faith and of morals and with the bad example of various sacred ministries, Charles Borromeo neither limited himself to deploring or condemning nor merely to hoping that others would change, but rather set about reforming his own life which, after he had abandoned wealth and ease, he filled with prayer, penance and loving dedication to his people. St Charles lived heroically the evangelical virtues of poverty, humility and chastity, in a continuous process of ascetic purification and Christian perfection.

He was aware that a serious and credible reform had to begin precisely with Pastors if it was to have beneficial and lasting effects on the whole People of God. In this action of reform he was able to draw from the traditional and ever living sources of the Catholic Church: the centrality of the Eucharist, in which he recognized and proposed anew the adorable presence of the Lord Jesus and of his Sacrifice of love for our salvation; the spirituality of the Cross as a force of renewal, capable of inspiring the daily exercise of the evangelical virtues; assiduous reception of the Sacraments in which to accept with faith the action of Christ who saves and purifies his Church; the word of God, meditated upon, read and interpreted in the channel of Tradition; love for and devotion to the Supreme Pontiff in prompt and filial obedience to his instructions as a guarantee of full ecclesial communion.

The extraordinary reform that St Charles carried out in the structures of the Church in total fidelity to the mandate of the Council of Trent was also born from his holy life, ever more closely conformed to Christ. His work in guiding the People of God, as a meticulous legislator and a brilliant organizer was marvellous. All this, however, found strength and fruitfulness in his personal commitment to penance and holiness. Indeed this is the Church's primary and most urgent need in every epoch: that each and every one of her members should be converted to God. Nor does the ecclesial community lack trials and suffering in our day and it shows that it stands in need of purification and reform. May St Charles’ example always spur us to start from a serious commitment of personal and community conversion to transform hearts, believing with steadfast certainty in the power of prayer and penance. I encourage sacred ministers, priests and deacons in particular to make their life a courageous journey of holiness, not to fear being drunk with that trusting love for Christ that made Bishop Charles ready to forget himself and to leave everything. Dear brothers in the ministry, may the Ambrogian Church always find in you a clear faith and a sober and pure life that can renew the apostolic zeal which St Ambrose, St Charles and many of your holy Pastors possessed!

2. During St Charles’ episcopate, the whole of his vast diocese felt infected with a current of holiness that spread to the entire people. How did this Bishop, so demanding and strict, manage to fascinate and to win over the Christian people? The answer is easy: St Charles enlightened the people and enticed them with the ardour of his love. “Deus caritas est”, and where there is a living experience of love the profound Face of God who attracts us and makes us his own is revealed.

The love of St Charles Borromeo was first and foremost the love of the Good Shepherd who is ready to give his whole life for the flock entrusted to his care, putting the demands and duties of his ministry before any form of personal interest, amenity or advantage. Thus the Archbishop of Milan, faithful to the Tridentine directives, visited several times his immense Diocese even the most remote localities, and took care of his people, nourishing them ceaselessly with the Sacraments and with the word of God through his rich and effective preaching; he was never afraid to face adversities and dangers to defend the faith of the simple and the rights of the poor.

St Charles, moreover, was recognized as a true and loving father of the poor. Love impelled him to empty his home and to give away his possessions in order to provide for the needy, to support the hungry, to clothe and relieve the sick. He set up institutions that aimed to provide social assistance and to rescue people in need; but his charity for the poor and the suffering shone out in an extraordinary way during the plague of 1576 when the holy Archbishop chose to stay in the midst of his people to encourage them, serve them and defend them with the weapons of prayer, penance and love.

Furthermore it was charity that spurred Borromeo to become an authentic and enterprising educator: for his people with schools of Christian doctrine; for the clergy with the establishment of seminaries; for children and young people with special initiatives for them and by encouraging the foundation of religious congregations and confraternities dedicated to the formation of children and young people.

Charity was always the deep motive of the severity with which St Charles practiced fasting, penance and mortification. For the holy Bishop it was not only a matter of ascetic practices aiming for his own spiritual perfection but rather of a true ministerial means for expiating sins, for invoking the conversion of sinners and for interceding for his children’s needs.

Throughout his life, therefore, we may contemplate the light of evangelical charity, of forbearing, patient and strong love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:7). I thank God that the Church of Milan has always had a wealth of vocations especially dedicated to charity; I praise the Lord for the splendid fruits of love for the poor, of service to the suffering and of attention to youth of which it can be proud. May St Charles’ example of prayer obtain that you may be faithful to this heritage, so that every baptized person can live out in contemporary society that fascinating prophecy which, in every epoch, is the love of Christ alive in us.

3. However it is impossible to understand the charity of St Charles Borromeo without knowing his relationship of passionate love with the Lord Jesus. He contemplated this love in the holy mysteries of the Eucharist and of the Cross, venerated in very close union with the mystery of the Church. The Eucharist and the Crucified One immersed St Charles in Christ’s love and this transfigured and kindled fervour in his entire life, filled his nights spent in prayer, motivated his every action, inspired the solemn Liturgies he celebrated with the people and touched his heart so deeply that he was often moved to tears.

His contemplative gaze at the holy Mystery of the Altar and at the Crucified one stirred within him feelings of compassion for the miseries of humankind and kindled in his heart the apostolic yearning to proclaim the Gospel to all. On the other hand we know well that there is no mission in the Church which does not stem from “abiding” in the love of the Lord Jesus, made present within us in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Let us learn from this great Mystery! Let us make the Eucharist the true centre of our communities and allow ourselves to be educated and moulded by this abyss of love! Every apostolic and charitable deed will draw strength and fruitfulness from this source!

4. The splendid figure of St Charles suggests to me a final reflection which I address to young people in particular. The history of this great Bishop was in fact totally determined by some courageous “yeses”, spoken when he was still very young. When he was only 24 years old he decided to give up being head of the family to respond generously to the Lord’s call; the following year he accepted priestly and episcopal Ordination. At the age of 27 he took possession of the Ambrogian Diocese and gave himself entirely to pastoral ministry. In the years of his youth St Charles realized that holiness was possible and that the conversion of his life could overcome every bad habit. Thus he made his whole youth a gift of love to Christ and to the Church, becoming an all-time giant of holiness.

Dear young people, let yourselves be renewed by this appeal that I have very much at heart: God wants you to be holy, for he knows you in your depths and loves you with a love that exceeds all human understanding. God knows what is in your hearts and is waiting to see the marvellous gift he has planted within you blossom and bear fruit. Like St Charles, you too can make your youth an offering to Christ and to your brethren. Like him you can decide, in this season of life, “to put your stakes” on God and on the Gospel. Dear young people, you are not only the hope of the Church; you are already part of her present! And if you dare to believe in holiness you will be the greatest treasure of your Ambrogian Church which is founded on Saints.

Venerable Brother, I joyfully entrust these reflections to you and as I invoke the heavenly intercession of St Charles Borromeo and the constant protection of Mary Most Holy, I warmly impart to you and to the entire Archdiocese a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 1 November 2010, the fourth centenary of the canonization of St Charles Borromeo.


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