Though Charles suffered all his life from a speech impediment, his intelligence and zeal made him an outstanding figure of the Catholic Reformation.
In 1560, he was named a cardinal and administrator of the Archdiocese of Milan by his uncle, Pope Pius IV, but was kept in Rome to assist with the reconvened Council of Trent. He helped draft the council’s catechism and liturgical books and, in 1563, was ordained a priest and bishop.
Finally, in 1566, he was allowed to go to Milan, where he worked tirelessly to reform priestly training and lay catechesis. He also exhausted his own funds to provide relief during periods of famine and plague.
St. Charles Borromeo is the patron of seminarians and catechists. He is also the patron saint of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Peoria.