Andrea Ferrari was born in 1850 in Lalatta di Palanzano (Parma) into a very poor family. Ordained a priest in 1873, at the age of 27 he was appointed Rector of the Diocesan Seminary of Parma. Elected Bishop of Guastalla (1890) and of Como (1891), in 1894 he was appointed Cardinal and Archbishop of Milan. He then added the name Charles to his first name in honour of St. Charles Borromeo.
An exceptional pastor, he constantly sought occasions to meet his people during Pastoral Visits. He conveyed new energies into religious education and to Parish Rectories, and established several colleges for youth education. Very open to the progress of his time, he reconciled and strengthened the Catholic Press, and encouraged the faithful to take an active part in civic, social and political activities to communicate the values of the Gospel to society. He summoned three diocesan Holy Synods and one Provincial Council; promoted the National Eucharistic Congress, one on Sacred Music and another on Catechetics. He established the Catholic University and the social work association named after him. With untiring charity, he helped to relieve the distress of soldiers and of their families during World War I. The 1898 social riots, the anti-modernist fight and the participation of Catholics in public life deeply distressed the Cardinal and caused many misunderstandings but they highlighted his righteousness and kindness of heart. Having developed a terminal illness that deprived him of his voice, he died on 2 February 1921. He was proclaimed blessed by Pope John Paul II on 10 May 1987.