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Feast of St. Charles Borromeo

Holy Masses 7.00 am - 8.00 am - 9.30 am - 11.00 am - 12.45 pm - 5.30 pm

FS 2018 Duomo Views Tomb 02
Mon, 4 November Nov 2019 0700 - 1900

- 5.30 pm Pontifical Mass celebrated by His Excellency Monsignor the Archbishop

Charles was born in Arona on 2 October 1538 into the noble family Borromeo. He received a thorough education in law studies. He was appointed Cardinal at the age of 22 years, and soon after became Archbishop of Milan. He played a major role in the performance and conclusion of the Council of Trent (1562-1563).
Having reached the Episcopal See in 1565, he totally consecrated himself to the pastoral mission. He attended with extraordinary energy to the reformation of the church, assiduously visited his immense Diocese and established Seminaries for the education of the clergy.
A man who stood apart for his admirable charity, during the plague he organised care for the sick, ensuring that they were administered the Holy Sacraments.
He died on 3 November 1584.

The “Scurolo” (thus called from the dialect term scuroeu, a poorly lighted environment) is the site that treasures the remains of St. Charles Borromeo.
Designed by Francesco Maria Richini in 1606, commissioned by Cardinal Federico Borromeo, the Scurolo is located under the presbytery of the Duomo, beside the Crypt (Winter Chapel). A tribute from the Milanese and their Archbishops to St. Charles, it seemed sufficiently completed and decorated in time for the Saint’s Canonisation (1 November 1610).
The small room has an octagonal floor plan, with alternately unequal sides: the Scurolo is preceded by a classical pseudo-pronaos that separates it from the Winter Chapel. The walls of the Scurolo are decorated with onyx-walnut bases, marble mirrors and broad squares of red and gold brocade, with the coat of arms of the Borromeo family and the family motto Humilitas. The resolution to create the decoration in embossed silver foil, which required more than fifty years of work, can be traced to 1619. The donors were Veneranda Fabbrica, who had allocated the monthly sum of six hundred Imperial Lire, Milanese jewellers, Count Borromeo, Cardinal Litta (Archbishop of Milan from 1652 to 1679) and many residents who supported the initiative.
The heart of the Scurolo is the crystal and silver urn, which treasures the body of St. Charles: designed by Cerano, the work was donated by Philip IV of Spain. The Saint’s body is attired with pontifical vestments: the face is covered by a silver mask, commissioned by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini (Pope Paul VI) during his episcopal ministry as Archbishop of Milan (1954 - 1963).

As every year, the 52 large canvases (Quadroni) of St. Charles are displayed along the Central Aisle and in the two transepts of the Duomo for the feast.
The first cycle of paintings, dedicated to the life and works of the Saint Archbishop, was ordered by Veneranda Fabbrica, by precise indication of Cardinal Federico Borromeo, between 1602 and 1610. Entrusted to some of the leading Lombard artists – among all Cerano – and to other minor artists, it was produced for the Beatification and Canonisation of Charles Borromeo. The original project comprising 20 canvases was later integrated and completed with additional 8 paintings in the years between 1660 and 1740. These works also include the 2 canvases portraying The birth and The glory of St. Charles. They are now permanently placed on the wooden organ cases.
The second pictorial cycle, made up of 26 smaller canvases than the previous ones, is dedicated to the Miracles of St. Charles and was, instead, produced starting from 1609.

The solemn Pontifical Mass celebrated by Archbishop Monsignor Mario Delpini was attended by the Metropolitan Chapter, the diocesan Seminary, managers of the official bodies of the Curia, the Presbyteral Council and the various diocesan representatives.

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