Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Cardinal and Archbishop of Milan, cousin and successor of St. Charles Borromeo, born at Milan 16 August, 1564; died there, 22 September, 1631. He was the son of Giulio Cesare Borromeo and Margherita Trivulzio, members of the Milanese aristocracy. He studied successively at Bologna and Pavia, in which latter city he was the first pupil of the Borromeo College. Eater he went to Rome for higher studies and was there strongly influenced by St. Philip Neri , Cardinal Baronius, and Cardinal Bellarmine. In 1580 he began his ecclesiastical career under the guidance of St. Charles Borromeo . He was made cardinal at the age of twenty-three, in 1587, by Sixtus V ; and, in 1595, Archbishop of Milan by Clement VIII, who personally consecrated him to this high office. During thirty-six years he gave the world an example of episcopal virtue, zeal, and dignity. He was tireless in preaching and in instructing both clergy and people, was anapostle of religious education and persistent reformer of all abuses, both lay and ecclesiastical. An almost constant conflict with the local Spanish authorities, suspicious and haughty by nature, did not diminish his sweetness of temper nor his patience; the traditional immunities and authority of the ecclesiastical order were defended as an inheritance of his see that he dared not abandon. Von Reumont thinks that, though often right, he went at times too far, e.g. in the assertion of minute ceremonial rights ; it may be said, however, that in all probability it was the principle and substance of customary ecclesiastical rights that the fearless pastor ever intended to preserve and hand down. His affection for the people of Milan was made evident during the great famine and pest of 1627-28,when he fed daily 2,000 poor at the gates of his residence, and was personally an example of such absolute heroism that nearly one hundred of hisclergy (sixty-two parish priests and thirty-three vicars ) gave up their lives in attendance on the perishing multitudes. Allessandro Manzoni has immortalized this extraordinary devotion in his "I Promessi Sposi" (The Betrothed ). If Cardinal Borromeo shared the current excessive credulity in witchcraft and magic, he was in every other way far in advance of his time as a friend of the people and a promoter of intellectual culture and social refinement based on a practical religious life. He is the founder of the famous Ambrosian Library opened by him in 1609, as a college of writers, a seminary of savants, a school of fine arts , and after the Bodleian at Oxford the first genuinely public library in Europe. The cares of a thickly populated diocese did not prevent him from acquiring great ecclesiastical erudition or from composing some seventy-one printed andforty-six manuscript books written mostly in Latin that treat of variousecclesiastical sciences. The universal approbation of his own and later times is echoed in the following words from the above-mentioned work of Manzoni, engraved on the pedestal of the marble statue that the citizens of Milan erected in 1685 before the gates of the Ambrosiana Library ; "He was one of those men rare in every age, who employed extraordinary intelligence, the resources of an opulent condition, the advantages of privileged station, and an unflinching will, in the search and practice of higher and better things."


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59
8 Stephen was filled with grace and power and began ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 31:3-4, 6, 7, 8, 17, 21
3 You are my rock, my rampart; true to your name, ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 10:17-22
17 'Be prepared for people to hand you over to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 26th, 2014 Image

St. Stephen
December 26: Stephen's name means "crown," and he was the first ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter