Born to a wealthy, noble family, the third of six children, son of Count Giberto II Borromeo and Margherita de' Medici. Nephew of Pope Pius IV. Suffered with a speech impediment. Studied in Milan, and at the University of Pavia, studying at one point under the future Pope Gregory XIII. Civil and canon lawyer at age 21. Cleric at Milan, taking the habit on 13 October 1547. Abbot commendatario of San Felino e San Graziano abbey in Arona, on 20 November 1547. Abbot commendatario of San Silano di Romagnano abbey on 10 May 1558. Prior commendatario of San Maria di Calvenzano abbey on 8 December 1558. Protonotary apostolic participantium and referendary of the papal court to Pope Pius IV on 13 January 1560. Member of the counsulta for the administration of the Papal States on 22 January 1560. Appointed abbot commendatario of Nonatola, San Gallo di Moggio, Serravalle della Follina, San Stefano del Corno, an abbey in Portugal, and an abbey in Flanders on 27 January 1560. Created cardinal on 31 January 1560 at 22.
Saint Charles spent his life and fortune in the service of the people of his diocese. He directed and fervently enforced the decrees of the Council of Trent, fought tirelessly for peace in the wake of the storm caused by Martin Luther, founded schools for the poor, seminaries for clerics, hospitals for the sick, conducted synods, instituted children's Sunday school, did great public and private penance, and worked among the sick and dying, leading his people by example. (courtesy of Aquinas & More and Patron Saint Index)