By Jean Marie Carey

Saint Charles Borromeo was born 2 October 1538 in Milan, the city where he became Archbishop in 1564 and died in 1584. Borromeo was one of the leaders of the Counter-Reformation. He influenced the third and last group of sessions of the Council of Trent, and founded an order of Oblates (modelled on the Jesuits), established seminars for the education of the clergy, and reorganized a Confraternity of Christian Doctrine for instructing children.

Borromeo is also known for being a patron of the arts and an admirer of polyphonic chant who committed many of his sermons and advisories to writing. He was beatified in 1602; his feast day is 4 November.

Reference: “Borromeo, St. Charles.” In The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, E.A. Livingstone, ed.: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Giovanni Lanfranco, Madonna and Child with Saints Charles Borromeo and Bartholomew, Museo e gallerie nazionali di Capodimonte, c. 1616-17. Scala Archives.

Orazio Borgianni, Saint Charles Borromeo in Adoration of the Trinity, Sacristy, S. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Rome, c. 1610-16. Scala Archives.

Church of St. Charles Borromeo (Karlskirche), Vienna, Austria. Architects: Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach; Painter: Daniel Gran. Building: 1716-1737; painting: 1736. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Photography Collection, No. 009.

Ludovico Mattioli, St. Charles Borromeo and Christ, c. 1730. The New York Public Library.

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Saint Charles Borromeo Meditating on the Crucifix, 1767. The Courtauld Gallery, London, Princes Gate; bequest; 1978; P.1978.PG.452.

Further Reading:

Marcia B. Hall and Tracy E. Cooper (eds). The Sensuous in the Counter-Reformation Church. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

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