Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sun, Nov 4, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog: Seminary, Deuteronomy 6:2-6, Hebrews 7:23-28, Luke 14:1.7-11, Saint Charles Borromeo, Counter Reformation, Duomo di Milano Cathedral, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milan

Sunday, November 4, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog:
Seminary, Deuteronomy 6:2-6, Hebrews 7:23-28, Luke 14:1.7-11, Saint Charles Borromeo, Counter Reformation, Duomo di Milano Cathedral, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milan

Good Day Bloggers! 
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week!
Year of Faith - October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7.

We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Purgatory and/or Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


November 02, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:

"Dear children, as a mother I implore you to persevere as my apostles. I am praying to my Son to give you Divine wisdom and strength. I am praying that you may discern everything around you according to God’s truth and to strongly resist everything that wants to distance you from my Son. I am praying that you may witness the love of the Heavenly Father according to my Son. My children, great grace has been given to you to be witnesses of God’s love. Do not take the given responsibility lightly. Do not sadden my motherly heart. As a mother I desire to rely on my children, on my apostles. Through fasting and prayer you are opening the way for me to pray to my Son for Him to be beside you and for His name to be holy through you. Pray for the shepherds because none of this would be possible without them. Thank you."

October 25, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:

"Dear children! Today I call you to pray for my intentions. Renew fasting and prayer because Satan is cunning and attracts many hearts to sin and perdition. I call you, little children, to holiness and to live in grace. Adore my Son so that He may fill you with His peace and love for which you yearn. Thank you for having responded to my call." ~ Blessed Virgin Mary

October 02, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:

"Dear children; I am calling you and am coming among you because I need you. I need apostles with a pure heart. I am praying, and you should also pray, that the Holy Spirit may enable and lead you, that He may illuminate you and fill you with love and humility. Pray that He may fill you with grace and mercy. Only then will you understand me, my children. Only then will you understand my pain because of those who have not come to know the love of God. Then you will be able to help me. You will be my light-bearers of God’s love. You will illuminate the way for those who have been given eyes but do not want to see. I desire for all of my children to see my Son. I desire for all of my children to experience His Kingdom. Again I call you and implore you to pray for those whom my Son has called. Thank you."
~ Blessed Virgin Mary


Today's Word:  seminary  sem·i·nary  [sem-uh-ner-ee]

Origin:  1400–50; late Middle English:  seed plot, nursery < Latin sēminārium,  equivalent to sēmin-  (stem of sēmen ) seed, semen + -ārium -ary
noun, plural sem·i·nar·ies.
1. a special school providing education in theology, religious history, etc., primarily to prepare students for the priesthood, ministry, or rabbinate.
2. a school, especially one of higher grade.
3. a school of secondary or higher level for young women.
4. seminar (  def 1 ) .
5. a place of origin and propagation: a seminary of discontent.


Today's Old Testament Reading -  Deuteronomy 6:2-6

2 And hence, if, throughout your lives, you fear Yahweh your God and keep all his laws and commandments, which I am laying down for you today, you will live long, you and your child and your grandchild.
3 Listen then, Israel, keep and observe what will make you prosperous and numerous, as Yahweh, God of your ancestors, has promised you, in giving you a country flowing with milk and honey.
4 'Listen, Israel: Yahweh our God is the one, the only Yahweh.
5 You must love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength.
6 Let the words I enjoin on you today stay in your heart


Today's Epistle -  Hebrews 7:23-28

23 Further, the former priests were many in number, because death put an end to each one of them;
24 but this one, because he remains for ever, has a perpetual priesthood.
25 It follows, then, that his power to save those who come to God through him is absolute, since he lives for ever to intercede for them.
26 Such is the high priest that met our need, holy, innocent and uncontaminated, set apart from sinners, and raised up above the heavens;
27 he has no need to offer sacrifices every day, as the high priests do, first for their own sins and only then for those of the people; this he did once and for all by offering himself.
28 The Law appoints high priests who are men subject to weakness; but the promise on oath, which came after the Law, appointed the Son who is made perfect for ever.


Today's Gospel Reading - Mark 12:28-34 

When appearances take revenge on love…
The greatest commandment: love of God and of neighbour

28 One of the scribes who had listened to them debating appreciated that Jesus had given a good answer and put a further question to him, 'Which is the first of all the commandments?'
29 Jesus replied, 'This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one, only Lord,
30 and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.
31 The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.'
32 The scribe said to him, 'Well spoken, Master; what you have said is true, that he is one and there is no other.
33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice.'
34 Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken, said, 'You are not far from the kingdom of God.' And after that no one dared to question him any more.

1. Opening prayer

Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us to read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection.

Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.

2. Reading
a) A key to the reading:
In this Sunday’s Gospel one of the doctors of the Law, who were responsible for the teaching of religion, wants to know from Jesus, which is the greatest commandment. Today, too, many people want to know what is most important in religion. Some say it is baptism, others going to Mass or some other Sunday liturgy, others to love one’s neighbour! Some are only worried about externals or positions in the Church. Before reading Jesus’ reply, try to look into yourself and ask: “For me, what is the most important thing in religion and life?”
The text gives us the conversation between Jesus and the doctor of the Law. As you read, try to focus on the following: “What does Jesus praise in the doctors of the Law and what does he criticise in them?”

b) A division of the text to help with the reading:
Mark 12:28: The doctor of the Law’s question concerning the greatest commandment
Mark 12:29-31: Jesus’ reply
Mark 12:32-33: The doctor approves Jesus’ reply
Mark 12:34: Jesus confirms the Doctor

3. A moment of prayerful silence so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.

4. Some questions to help us in our personal reflection.
a) What struck you most in the text? Why?
b) What did Jesus criticise in the doctor of the Law and what did he praise?
c) How should our love of God be according to verses 29 and 30? What do the following words mean in these verses: heart, mind, strength? Do all these words point to the same thing?
d) What is the relationship between the first and second commandments? Why?
e) Are we today closer or further away from the Kingdom of God than the doctor who was praised by Jesus? What do you think?

5. For those who wish to go deeper into the theme

a) The context:
i) When Jesus began his missionary activity, the doctors in Jerusalem even went to Galilee to observe him (Mk 3:22; 7,1). They were disturbed by Jesus’ preaching and already accepted the calumny that said he was possessed by the devil (Mk 3:22). Now, in Jerusalem, again they start arguing with Jesus.

ii) In the 70’s, when Mark was writing his Gospel, there were many changes and persecutions, and so, the life of the Christian communities was precarious. In times of change and uncertainty there is always the risk or temptation to seek security, not to trust in the goodness of God towards us, but in the rigorous observance of the Law. Faced with this kind of thinking, Jesus insists on the practice of love that softens the observance of the Law and gives it its true meaning.

b) A commentary on the text:
Mark 12:28: The doctor of the Law’s question
Just before the doctors put the question to Jesus, Jesus had had a discussion with the Sadducees on the matter of faith in the resurrection (Mk 12:18-27). The doctor of the Law, who was present at the discussion, liked Jesus’ reply, and realized that here was someone very intelligent, so he makes most of the occasion and asks a question of his own for clarification: “Which is the greatest of all the commandments?” In those days, the Jews had very many laws to regulate the practice of the observance of the Ten Commandments of the Law of God. Some said: “All these laws carry the same weight, because they come from God. It is not up to us to make distinctions in the things of God”. Others replied: “No! Some laws are more important than others and so are more binding!” The doctor wants to know Jesus’ opinion: “Which is the first of all the commandments?” This matter was hotly debated in those days.

Mark 12:29-31: Jesus’ reply
Jesus replies by quoting from the Bible, which says the first commandment is “you must love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength!” (Dt 6:4-5). These words formed part of a prayer called the Shemá. In Jesus’ days, the Jews recited this prayer twice a day: in the morning and in the evening. It was as well known to them as the Our Father is to us today. Then Jesus adds, still quoting the Bible: “The second is this: ‘You will love your neighbour as yourself’ (Lev 19:18). There is no commandment greater than these”. A short and very deep answer! It is a summary of all that Jesus taught about God and life (Mt 7:12).

Mark 12:32-33: The doctor of the Law’s reply
The doctor agrees with Jesus and concludes: “Yes! To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice”. In other words, the commandment of love is more important than all the commandments that have to do with cult or sacrifices in the Temple. This statement comes from the prophets of the Old Testament (Hos 6:6; Ps 40:6-8; Ps 51:16-17). Today we would say: the practice of love is more important than novenas, vows, Masses, prayers and processions. Or rather, novenas, vows, Masses, prayers and processions must be the result of the practice of love and must lead to love.

Mark 12:34: A summary of the Kingdom
Jesus affirms the conclusion drawn by the doctor and says: “You are not far from the Kingdom!” Indeed, the Kingdom of God consists in recognising that the love of God and neighbour are the most important thing. And if God is Father, then we all are brothers and sisters and we must show this in practice by living in community. “On these two commandments hang the Law and the Prophets!” (Mt 22:40) Jesus’ disciples must engrave this great law on their memory, their intellect, their heart: only thus can we attain God in the total gift of self to the neighbour!

Mark 12:35-37: Jesus criticises the teaching of the doctors of the Law on the Messiah
The official propaganda of the state and of the doctors of the Law stated that the messiah would come as Son of David. This was meant to teach that the messiah would be a glorious, strong and dominating king. This is what the crowd shouted on Palm Sunday: "Blessed is the coming kingdom of David, our Father!" (Mk 11:10). The blind man from Jericho also cried out: “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” (Mk 10:47). But here Jesus questions this teaching of the doctors. He quotes a psalm of David: “The Lord said to my lord, take your seat at my right, till I make your enemies your footstool!” (Ps 110:1) Then Jesus goes on: “If David himself says my Lord, how can the Messiah be his son?” This means that Jesus did not agree with the idea of a glorious king Messiah, who would come to dominate and impose his reign on all his enemies. Jesus prefers being the servant Messiah proclaimed by Isaiah (Is 42:1-9). He says: “The Son of man himself came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45).

Mark 12:38-40: Jesus criticises the doctors of the Law
Jesus then draws the disciples’ attention to the tendentious and hypocritical attitude of some of the doctors of the Law. These liked to walk about in squares wearing long tunics, being greeted by people, taking first place in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets. They liked going into the homes of widows and preach long sermons so as to get money! Then Jesus ends by saying: “The more severe will be the sentence they receive!” It would be good for us also to make an examination of conscience based on this text to see whether we can see ourselves mirrored in there!

C) Further information:
The greatest commandment
The greatest and first commandment is and ever will be “love God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mk 12:30). At the times when the people of God, throughout the centuries, deepened their understanding of and gave importance to the love of God, then they became aware that the love of God would be real only when it becomes concrete in the love of neighbour. That is why the second commandment to love the neighbour, is similar to the first to love God (Mt 22:39; Mk 12:31). “Anyone who says “I love God’ and hates his brother, is a liar” (1 Jn 4:20). “On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets too” (Mt 22,40). At first, it was not clear what the love of neighbour entailed. 

Concerning this point, there was an evolution in three stages in the history of the people of God:
1st Stage: “Neighbour” is kindred of the same race
The Old Testament already taught the obligation to “love your neighbour as yourself!” (Lv 19:18). In those long distant days, the word neighbour was synonymous with kindred. They felt obliged to love all those who were members of the same family, clan tribe and people. As for foreigners, that is, people who did not belong to the Jewish people, Deuteronomy says: “you may exploit, but you must remit whatever claim you have on your brother (kindred, neighbour)!” (Dt 15:3).

2nd Stage: “Neighbour is anyone I approach or who approaches me
Gradually, the concept of neighbour grew. Thus, in Jesus’ time there was a great discussion as to “who is my neighbour?” Some doctors said that the concept of neighbour had to be extended beyond the limits of race. Others, however, would not hear of this. That is why a doctor went to Jesus with the debated question: “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus replied with the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:29-37), where the neighbour was not a relative, nor a friend, nor a nobleman, but the one who approached you, independent of religion, colour, race, sex or language. You must love him!

3rd Stage: The measure of our love of “neighbour” is to love as Jesus loves us
Jesus had said to the doctor of the Law: "You are not far from the kingdom of God!" (Mk 12:34). The doctor was already close to the Kingdom because in fact the Kingdom consists in uniting the love of God with the love of neighbour, as the doctor had solemnly declared in Jesus’ presence (Mk 12:33). But to enter the Kingdom he still needed one more step. The criterion for loving the neighbour as taught in the Old Testament was “as yourself”. Jesus stretches this criterion and says: “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you! No one can have greater love than to lay down his life for his friends!” (Jn 15:12-13). The criterion in the New Testament then is: “To love one’s neighbour as Jesus has loved us!”. Jesus gave the true interpretation of the Word of God and showed the sure way to attain a more just and fraternal way of life.

6. Praying with Psalm 46 (45)
God, revealed in Jesus, is our strength!
God is both refuge and strength for us,
a help always ready in trouble;
so we shall not be afraid though the earth be in turmoil,
though mountains tumble into the depths of the sea,
and its waters roar and seethe,
and the mountains totter as it heaves.
There is a river whose streams bring joy to God's city,
it sanctifies the dwelling of the Most High.
God is in the city, it cannot fall;
at break of day God comes to its rescue.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms are tumbling,
when he raises his voice the earth crumbles away.
Yahweh Sabaoth is with us,
our citadel, the God of Jacob.
Come, consider the wonders of Yahweh,
the astounding deeds he has done on the earth;
he puts an end to wars over the whole wide world,
he breaks the bow,
he snaps the spear,
shields he burns in the fire.
'Be still and acknowledge that I am God,
supreme over nations, supreme over the world.'
Yahweh Sabaoth is with us,
our citadel, the God of Jacob.

7. Final Prayer
Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practice the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.

Personal questions
• In your relationship of friendship with others does the calculation of interest and the expectation to receive something in exchange, prevail?
• In the relationship with others, in the centre of attention is there always and everywhere your “I”, even when you do something for the brothers and sisters? Are you ready to give yourself in what you are?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  Saint Charles Borromeo

Feast Day:  November 4
Patron Saint  learning and the arts

St Charles Borromeo
Charles Borromeo (Italian: Carlo Borromeo, Latin: Carolus Borromeus, 1538–1584) was the cardinal archbishop of Milan from 1564 to 1584. He was a leading figure during the Counter-Reformation and was responsible for significant reforms in the Catholic Church, including the founding of seminaries for the education of priests. He is honoured as a saint in the Catholic Church and his feast day is November 4.

The son of Gilberto II Borromeo, conte (count) of Arona, and Margherita de' Medici (sister of Pope Pius IV), Carlo Borromeo was born on October the 2nd, 1538 at the castle of Arona on the shores of Lago Maggiore in northern Italy. The aristocratic Borromeo family's coat of arms included the Borromean rings, sometimes taken to symbolize the Holy Trinity.

When Borromeo was about twelve years old, his uncle Giulio Cesare Borromeo, resigned to him an abbacy (the office and dignity of an abbot). Borromeo applied the revenue from this position in charity to the poor. He studied civil and canon law at Pavia. In 1554 his father died, and although he had an elder brother, Count Federigo, he was requested by the family to take the management of their domestic affairs. After a time, he resumed his studies, and in 1559 he took his doctoral degree. In 1560 his uncle, Cardinal Angelo de' Medici, was raised to the pontificate as Pope Pius IV.

Pius IV named Borromeo as protonotary apostolic (secretary of state), entrusted with both the public and the privy seal of the ecclesiastical state. He then named Borromeo to the post of Cardinal of Romagna and the March of Ancona, and supervisor of the Franciscans, Carmelites and Knights of Malta.

Archbishop of Milan

At age twenty-two, Borromeo was highly trusted at the papal court. Soon afterwards Pius IV raised him to the archbishop of Milan. In compliance with the pope's desire, Borromeo lived in splendor to represent the glory of the church. He established an academy of learned persons, the Academy of the Vatican Nights, and published their memoirs as the Noctes Vaticanae.

About the same time, Borromeo founded and endowed a college at Pavia, today known as Almo Collegio Borromeo, which he dedicated to Saint Justina of Padua. On the death of his elder brother Federigo, his family urged Borromeo to quit the church to marry and have children, so that the family name would not become extinct.

Borromeo declined the proposal. He worked even harder for the welfare of the church. Owing to his influence over Pius IV, he facilitated the final deliberations of the Council of Trent. He took a large share in the creation of the Tridentine Catechism (Catechismus Romanus).

Reform Program (Acta Ecclesiae Mediolanensis)

After the death of his uncle, Pius IV (1566), Borromeo contributed materially to suppressing the cabals of the conclave. Subsequently he devoted himself wholly to the reformation of his diocese. It had deteriorated in practice owing to the 80-year absence of previous archbishops. Borromeo made numerous pastoral visits, and restored dignity to divine service.

In conformity with the decrees of the Council of Trent, which suggested simplifying church interiors, Borromeo cleared the cathedral of ornate tombs, rich ornaments, banners, and arms. He did not even spare the monuments of his own relatives. He divided the nave of the church into two compartments to separate the sexes at worship.

Painting by Francesco Caccianiga showing an angel tending to Charles Borromeo
He extended his reforms to the collegiate churches, monasteries and even to the Confraternities of Penitents, particularly that of St. John the Baptist. This group was to attend to prisoners and those condemned to death, to give them help and support.

Borromeo believed that abuses in the church arose from ignorant clergy. Among his most important actions, he established seminaries, colleges and communities for the education of candidates for holy orders. His emphasis on Catholic learning greatly increased the preparation of men for priesthood and benefited their congregations.

In addition, Borromeo founded the fraternity of Oblates of St. Ambrose, a society of secular men who did not take orders, but devoted themselves to the church and followed a discipline of monastic prayers and study. They provided assistance to parishes where ordered by the church.

Suppression of witchcraft and heresy

Though the Diet of Ilanz of 1524 and 1526 had proclaimed freedom of worship in the Republic of the Three Leagues, Saint Charles repressed Protestantism in the Swiss valleys. The Catholic Encyclopedia relates: “In November [1583] he began a visitation as Apostolic visitor of all the cantons of Switzerland and the Grisons, leaving the affairs of his diocese in the hands of Monsignor Owen Lewis, his vicar-general. He began in the Mesoleina Valley; here not only was there heresy to be fought, but also witchcraft and sorcery, and at Roveredo it was discovered that the provost, or rector, was the foremost in sorceries.” During his pastoral visit to the region, the Cardinal had about a hundred people arrested for practising witchcraft. Ten women and the provost were condemned to “the flaming death”. They were put to death by being placed head-first in the fire.

Reacting to the pressure of the Protestant Reformation, Borromeo encouraged the Golden League formed in 1586 by Ludwig Pfyffer in Switzerland. Based in Lucerne, the organization (also called the Borromean League) linked activities of several Swiss Catholic cantons of Switzerland, which became the centre of Catholic Counter-Reformation efforts. This Inquisition-type organization was determined to expel heretics and burned some people at the stake. It created severe strains in the civil administration of the confederation, and it caused the break-up of Appenzell canton along religious lines.

In 1576, when Milan suffered an epidemic of the bubonic plague, Borromeo led efforts to accommodate the sick and bury the dead. He avoided no danger and spared no expense. He visited all the parishes where the contagion raged, distributing money, providing accommodation for the sick, and punishing those, especially the clergy, who were remiss in discharging their duties.

Controversy and last days

Borromeo met with much opposition to his reforms. The governor of the province, and many of the senators, addressed complaints to the courts of Rome and Madrid. They were apprehensive that the cardinal's ordinances would encroach upon the civil jurisdiction.

Borromeo also faced staunch opposition of several religious orders, particularly that of the Humiliati (Brothers of Humility). Some members of that society formed a conspiracy against his life, and a shot was fired at him in the archiepiscopal chapel. His survival was considered miraculous.

He successfully attacked his Jesuit confessor, Giovanni Battista Ribera who, with other members of the college of Milan, was found to be guilty of unnatural offenses. This action increased Borromeo's enemies within the church.

Borromeo's manifold labors and austerities appear to have shortened his life. He was seized with an intermittent fever, and died at Milan on November the 3rd, 1584. He was canonized in 1610, and his feast is celebrated on 4 November each year in the Roman Catholic Rite.


Crypt of Charles Borromeo, in the Duomo di Milano.
  • Besides the Noctes Vaticanae, to which he appeared to have contributed, Borromeo's written legacy consisted only of some homilies, discourses and sermons, with a collection of letters. Borromeo's sermons have been translated into many languages.
  • Contrary to Borromeo's last wishes, the Duomo di Milano created a memorial crypt to him in the church.
  • His relative Federico Borromeo and admirers commissioned a statue 20 m high that was erected on the hill above Arona, as they regarded him an important leader of the Counter-Reformation.
  • The famous church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane in Rome was dedicated in his honor.
  • His nephew, Federico Borromeo (1564–1631), was archbishop of Milan from 1595 and, furthering Charles' support for Catholic learning, in 1609 founded the Ambrosian Library in that city. He donated a tremendous collection of art and literature to the library.
  • Borromeo's emblem is the Latin word humilitas (humility), which is a portion of the Borromeo shield. He is usually represented in art in his robes, barefoot, carrying the cross as archbishop; a rope round his neck, one hand raised in blessing, thus recalling his work during the plague.
  • Borromeo is one of only four people mentioned at the beginning of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, citing them as responsible for the Council of Trent, which gave way to the modern day catechism. The others mentioned are St. Peter Canisius, St. Turibius of Mongrovejo and St. Robert Bellarmine.
  • The city and county of St. Charles, Missouri are named for Borromeo. Also, a Brazilian city was named after him, named in Portuguese São Carlos.
  • The Parish of St. Charles, Louisiana is named for Borromeo.



People's devotion to Borromeo as a saint arose quickly and continued to grow. The Milanese celebrated his anniversary as though he were already canonized. Supporters collected documentation for his canonization. They began the process at Milan, Pavia, Bologna and other places.

In 1602 Pope Paul V beatified Borromeo. In 1604 his case was sent on to the Congregation of Rites. On 1 November 1610, Paul V canonized Charles Borromeo. Three years later, the church added Borromeo's feast to the Roman Catholic calendar of saints for celebration on 4 November, which is still his feast. Along with Anselm of Lucca, he was one of only two cardinal-nephews to have been canonized.

The position which Charles Borromeo held in Europe was indeed remarkable. He is venerated as a saint of learning and the arts. The mass of correspondence both to and by him testifies to the way in which his opinion was sought. The popes under whom he served sought his advice. The Catholic sovereigns of Europe: Henry III of France, Philip II of Spain, Mary, Queen of Scots and others showed how they valued his influence.

Depiction of Charles Borromeo in a stained glass window.
His brother cardinals wrote in praise of his virtues. Cardinal Valerio of Verona said of him that Borromeo was "to the well-born a pattern of virtue, to his brother cardinals an example of true nobility." Cardinal Baronius styled him "a second Ambrose, whose early death, lamented by all good men, inflicted great loss on the Church."

Late in the sixteenth or at the beginning of the seventeenth century, Catholics in England circulated among themselves a "Life of St. Charles". Saint Edmund Campion, a Jesuit who visited Borromeo at Milan in 1580 on his way to England, likely took his influence with him. Campion visited with Borromeo for eight days, when they would talk at length every night after dinner. Borromeo had also been involved in English affairs when he assisted Pius IV. He had a great veneration for the portrait of Bishop Fisher.

Borromeo also worked closely with Francis Borgia, General of the Jesuits, and with Andrew Avellino of the Theatines, who gave great help to his work in Milan.

Karlskirche, Vienna, Austria; Carolus Borromeuskerk, Antwerp, Belgium; Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California; Cathedral of San Carlos Borromeo in nearby Monterey, California; the city of Saint Charles, Missouri, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, were all named in his honor.

Roman Catholic schools and parishes are named after him in Toronto, CanadaTacoma, Washington;Kettering, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Bloomington, Indiana; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Bayport, Minnesota; Paisley, Scotland; Brooklyn, New York, Staten Island, New York; Syracuse, New York; London, England; New York; Woonsocket, Rhode Island; Cinnaminson, New Jersey; Montgomery, New Jersey; Peoria, Arizona; Orlando, Florida; Port Charlotte, Florida; San Francisco, California; Livermore, California; Sacramento, California; Bloomington, California; Columbus, Ohio; Lima, Ohio; Cassville, Wisconsin;Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin; Hartland, Wisconsin; Pikesville, Maryland; Arlington, Virginia; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Cheboygan, Michigan; Ahoskie, North Carolina; Newport, Michigan; Ryde, New South Wales, Australia; Waverley, New South Wales, Australia; Portland, Oregon; Cleveland, Ohio; Cebu City, Philippines. The San Carlos Seminary of the Archdiocese of Manila in Makati City, Philippines, San Carlos Major Seminary of the Archdiocese of Cebu, University of San Carlos in Cebu City, Philippines, the Priestly Seminary of St. Charles Borromeo (Kňazský Seminár sv. Karola Boromejského) in Košice, Slovakia,[5] the seminary of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Colegio San Carlos in Bogotá, Colombia, the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso, Texas, are all named after him. Also, a castle (fortress) in Margarita Island, Venezuela is named after him.


  • The Life of St. Charles Borromeo, Confessor and Archbishop of Milan
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  • A Sala, Documenti circa la vita e la gesta di Borromeo (4 vols., Milan: 1857–1859)
  • Chanoine Silvain, Histoire de St Charles Borromeo (Milan: 1884)
  • A Cantono, "Un grande riformatore del secolo XVI" (Florence: 1904); "Borromus" in Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopädie (Leipzig: 1897).
  • University of San Carlos, Cebu City, Philippines Official Site
  • Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, Archdiocese of Philadelphia
  • Pietro Canetta, "Biography of Carlo Borromeo" (in Italian), Magazzeno Storico Verbanese
  • "St. Charles Borromeo", Catholic Encyclopedia
  • "St. Charles Borromeo, Cardinal, Archbishop of Milan, Confessor", Butler's Lives of the Saints


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    Today's  Snippet  I:  Counter Reformation

    The Counter-Reformation (also the Catholic Revival or Catholic Reformation) was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent (1545–1563) and ending at the close of the Thirty Years' War (1648), which is sometimes considered a response to the Protestant Reformation. The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort composed of four major elements:
    1. Ecclesiastical or structural reconfiguration
    2. Religious orders
    3. Spiritual movements
    4. Political dimensions
    Such reforms included the foundation of seminaries for the proper training of priests in the spiritual life and the theological traditions of the Church, the reform of religious life by returning orders to their spiritual foundations, and new spiritual movements focusing on the devotional life and a personal relationship with Christ, including the Spanish mystics and the French school of spirituality. It also involved political activities that included the Roman Inquisition.

    Council of Trent

    A session of the Council of Trent, from an engraving.
    Pope Paul III (1534–1549) initiated the Council of Trent (1545–1563), a commission of cardinals tasked with institutional reform, addressing contentious issues such as corrupt bishops and priests, indulgences, and other financial abuses. Paul had been appointed Pope as a genuine convert to and lover of Catholicism, in the hope that he would represent a movement away from what had become a Papal monarchy which had caused violent struggles for power in the years preceding - epitomised by the Sack of Rome in 1527. Paul had proposed a general Church council be held as early as 1536 but was unable to hold it until 1545 due to the vulnerability of the Papacy. The support of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, was needed for any such initiative, but he was occupied with the Hapsburg-Valois Conflict in Milan until the Peace of Crépy in 1544. This fundamental political weakness is historically considered the reason why the outcome of the Council of Trent was so conservative - the papacy could not afford to surrender power, and that power was in part sustained by the very abuses of the Church that the Council sought to redress.

    The Council upheld the basic structure of the Medieval Church, its sacramental system, religious orders, and doctrine. It rejected all compromise with the Protestants, restating basic tenets of the Roman Catholic faith. The Council upheld salvation appropriated by grace through faith and works of that faith (not just by faith, as the Protestants insisted) because "faith without works is dead", as the Epistle of St. James states (1 22:26). Transubstantiation, during which the consecrated bread and wine were held to be transformed wholly and substantially into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, was also reaffirmed, along with the other six Sacraments of the Catholic Church. Other practices that drew the ire of Protestant reformers, such as pilgrimages, the veneration of saints and relics, and the veneration of the Virgin Mary were strongly reaffirmed as spiritually commendable practices. The Council officially accepted the Vulgate listing of the Old Testament Bible which included the deuterocanonical works (also called the Apocrypha, especially by Protestants) on a par with the 39 books customarily found in the Masoretic Text and the Protestant Old Testament. This reaffirmed the previous Council of Rome and Synods of Carthage (both held in the 4th century, A.D.) which had affirmed the Deuterocanon as Scripture. The Council also commissioned the Roman Catechism, which still serves as authoritative Church teaching (the Catechism of the Catholic Church).

    While the basic structure of the Church was reaffirmed, there were noticeable changes to answer complaints that the Counter-Reformers were, tacitly, willing to admit were legitimate. Among the conditions to be corrected by Catholic reformers was the growing divide between the clerics and the laity; many members of the clergy in the rural parishes, after all, had been poorly educated. Often, these rural priests did not know Latin and lacked opportunities for proper theological training (addressing the education of priests had been a fundamental focus of the humanist reformers in the past). Parish priests were to be better educated in matters of theology and apologetics, while Papal authorities sought to educate the faithful about the meaning, nature and value of art and liturgy, particularly in monastic churches (Protestants had criticised them as "distracting"). Notebooks and handbooks became more common, describing how to be good priests and confessors.

    Thus, the Council of Trent attempted to improve the discipline and administration of the Church. The worldly excesses of the secular Renaissance Church, epitomized by the era of Alexander VI (1492–1503), intensified during the Reformation under Pope Leo X (1513–1522), whose campaign to raise funds in the German states to rebuild St. Peter's Basilica by supporting use of indulgences served as a key impetus for Martin Luther's 95 Theses. But the Catholic Church would respond to these problems by a vigorous campaign of reform, inspired by earlier Catholic reform movements that predated the Council of Constance (1414–1417): humanism, devotionalism, legalism and the observantine tradition.

    The Council, by virtue of its actions, repudiated the pluralism of the secular Renaissance which had previously plagued the Church: the organization of religious institutions was tightened, discipline was improved, and the parish was emphasized. The appointment of Bishops for political reasons was no longer tolerated. In the past, the large landholdings forced many bishops to be "absent bishops" who at times were property managers trained in administration. Thus, the Council of Trent combated "absenteeism," which was the practice of bishops living in Rome or on landed estates rather than in their dioceses. The Council of Trent also gave bishops greater power to supervise all aspects of religious life. Zealous prelates such as Milan's Archbishop Carlo Borromeo (1538–1584), later canonized as a saint, set an example by visiting the remotest parishes and instilling high standards.

    Religious Orders

    New religious orders were a fundamental part of the reforms. Orders such as the Capuchins, Ursulines, Theatines, Discalced Carmelites, the Barnabites, and especially the Jesuits worked in rural parishes, and set examples of Catholic renewal.

    The Theatines undertook to check the spread of heresy and contributed to a regeneration of the clergy. The Capuchins, an offshoot of the Franciscan order notable for their preaching and for their care for the poor and the sick, grew rapidly. Capuchin-founded confraternities took special interest in the poor and lived austerely. Members of orders active in overseas missionary expansion expressed the view that the rural parishes often needed Christianizing as much as the heathens of Asia and the Americas.

    The Ursulines focused on the special task of educating girls. Devotion to the traditional works of mercy exemplified the Catholic Reformation's reaffirmation of salvation through faith and works, and repudiation of the maxim sola scriptura emphasized by Protestants sects. Not only did they make the Church more effective, but they also reaffirmed fundamental premises of the Medieval Church.

    The Jesuits were the most effective of the new Catholic orders. An heir to the devotional, observantine, and legalist traditions, the Jesuits organized along military lines. The worldliness of the Renaissance Church had no part in their new order. Loyola's masterwork Spiritual Exercises showed the emphasis of handbooks characteristic of Catholic reformers before the Reformation, reminiscent of devotionalism. The Jesuits became preachers, confessors to monarchs and princes, and humanist educators, and their efforts are largely credited with stemming Protestantism in Poland, Bohemia, Hungary, southern Germany, France, and the Spanish Netherlands.

    Jesuits participated in the expansion of the Church in the Americas and Asia, by their missionary activity. Loyola's biography contributed to an emphasis on popular piety that had waned under political popes such as Alexander VI and Leo X. After recovering from a serious wound, he took a vow to "serve only God and the Roman pontiff, His vicar on earth." The emphasis on the Pope is a reaffirmation of the medieval papalism, while Council of Trent defeated Conciliarism, the belief that general councils of the church collectively were God's representative on earth, rather than the Pope. Taking Pope as an absolute ruler, the Jesuits contributed to the Counter-Reformation Church along a line harmonized to the Vatican.

    Spiritual movements

    The Battle of Lepanto, Veronese 1571
    The Catholic Reformation was not only a political and Church policy oriented movement, it included major figures such as Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Ávila, John of the Cross, Francis de Sales and Philip Neri, who added to the spirituality of the Catholic Church. Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross were Spanish mystics and reformers of the Carmelite Order whose ministry focused on interior conversion to Christ, the deepening of prayer and commitment to God's will. Teresa was given the task to develop and write about the way to perfection in her love and unity with Christ. Her publications, especially her autobiography The Life of Theresa of Jesus had multiple effects. It's to be placed besides the Confessions of Augustine. Thomas Merton called John of the Cross the greatest of all mystical theologians. An important clarification about the word "mystical" is necessary here. When one considers its definition or the nature of "mysticism," a common misunderstanding exists that if one is to become a mystic they are required to seclude themselves physically from the outside world to have this kind of experience. Although such seclusion can, indeed, be the only apostalate (vocation) to which some are called to a life of prayer, there are others who have dual apostalates. In fact, John of the Cross himself served as both confessor/spiritual director within the confines of the clositered communities that he and Teresa of Ávila worked vigorously to establish, but he also literally helped build a number of those convents and monasteries. It is true that Ignatius of Loyola and Francis de Sales were called to a more active spirituality or apostalate, but their vocations were not "the opposite" of Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross as this article previously indicated. Returning to Ignatius of Loyola, "to see God in all things" was a typical expression of Ignatius and a main theme of his Spiritual Exercises. The spirituality of Filippo Neri, who lived in Rome at the same time as Ignatius, was practically oriented too, but totally opposed to the Jesuit approach. Said Filippo: "If I have a real problem, I contemplate what Ignatius would do ... and then I do the exact opposite". As a recognition of their joint contribution to the spiritual renewal within the Catholic reformation, Ignatius of Loyola, Filippo Neri and Teresa of Ávila were canonized on the same day, March 12, 1622.

    The victory at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 was accredited to the Virgin Mary and signified the beginning of a strong resurgence of Marian devotions". During and after the Catholic Reformation, Marian piety experienced unforeseen growth with over 500 pages of mariological writings during the 17th century alone. The Jesuit Francisco Suárez was the first theologian to use the Thomist method on Marian theology. Other well known contributors to Marian spirituality are Lawrence of Brindisi, Robert Bellarmine, and Francis of Sales.

    Art and the Reformation

    The Protestant Reformation during the 16th century in Europe ushered in a new artistic tradition that embraced the Protestant agenda and diverged drastically from the southern European tradition and the humanist art produced during the high Renaissance. In turn, the Catholic Counter-Reformation both reacted against and responded to Protestant criticisms of art in Roman Catholicism to produce a more stringent style of Catholic art. Protestant religious art both embraced Protestant values and assisted in the proliferation of Protestantism, but the amount of religious art produced in Protestant countries was hugely reduced. Artists in Protestant countries diversified into secular forms of art like history painting, landscape painting, portrait painting and still life.

    The Reformation was a religious movement that occurred in Western Europe during the 16th century that resulted in a divide in Christianity between Roman Catholics and Protestants. This movement “created a North-South split in Europe, where generally Northern countries became Protestant, while Southern countries remained Catholic.”

    The Reformation produced two main branches of Protestantism; one was the Evangelical churches, which followed the teachings of Martin Luther, and the other the reformed churches, which followed the ideas of John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli. Out of these branches grew four main sects, Lutheran, Calvinist, Anabaptist, and Anglican, which caused even more fragmentation within the Christian tradition.

    Protestant theology centered on the individual relationship between the worshipper and the divine. The movement’s focus on the individual’s personal relationship with God was reflected in the number of common people and day-to-day scenes that were depicted in art. Protestantism taught that since God created man in his own image, humanity is perfection. Art that did seek to portray religious figures or scenes followed Protestant theology by seeking to portray people and stories that emphasized salvation through divine grace and not through personal deeds or by intervention of church bureaucracy. In terms of subject matter, iconic images of Christ and scenes from the Passion became less frequent, as did portrayals of the saints and clergy. Narrative scenes from the Bible, and, later, moralistic depictions of modern life were preferred. Some scenes showed sinners accepted by Christ, in accordance with the Protestant view that salvation comes only through the grace of God.

    The Protestant Reformation induced a wave of iconoclasm, or the destruction of religious imagery. All forms of Protestantism showed a degree of hostility to religious images, as idolatry, especially sculpture and large paintings. Book illustrations and prints were more acceptable, because they were smaller and more private. Protestant leaders, especially Huldrych Zwingli and John Calvin, actively eliminated imagery from churches within the control of their followers, and regarded the great majority of religious images as idolatrous, even plain crosses. Martin Luther, in Germany, initially more hostile, finally allowed, indeed encouraged, the display of a restricted range of religious imagery in churches so long as viewers were reminded that images are symbolic of the divine, and are not holy in themselves (in fact the Catholic position also). The use of images was one of the issues where Luther strongly opposed the more radical Andreas Karlstadt. For a few years Lutheran altarpieces like the Last Supper by the younger Cranach were produced in Germany, especially by Luther's friend Lucas Cranach, to replace Catholic ones, often containing portraits of leading reformers as the apostles or other protagonists, but retaining the traditional depiction of Jesus. Stories even grew up of "indestructible" images of Luther, that had survived fires, by divine intervention, it was suggested; on the other hand reformers pointed out how often crosses and crucifixes were struck by lightning.

    The destruction was often extremely divisive and traumatic within communities, an unmistakable physical manifestation, often imposed from above, that could not be ignored. It was just for this reason that reformers favoured a single dramatic coup, and many premature acts in this line sharply increased subsequent hostility between Catholics and reformers in communities - for it was generally at the level of the city, town or village that such actions occurred, except in England and Scotland. But reformers often felt impelled by strong personal convictions, as shown by the case of Frau Göldli, on which Zwingli was asked to advise. She was a Swiss lady who had once made a promise to Saint Apollinaris that if she recovered from an illness she would donate an image of the saint to a local convent, which she did. Later she turned Protestant, and feeling she must reverse what she now saw as a wrong action, she went to the convent church, removed the statue and burnt it. Prosecuted for blasphemy, she paid a small fine without complaint, but flatly refused to pay the additional sum the court ordered be paid to the convent to replace the statue, putting her at risk of serious penalties. Zwingli's letter advised trying to pay the nuns a larger sum on condition they did not replace the statue, but the eventual outcome is unknown. By the end of his life, after iconoclastic shows of force became a feature of the early phases of the French Wars of Religion, even Calvin became alarmed and criticised them, realizing that they had become counter-productive.

    Subjects prominent in Catholic art other than Jesus and events in the bible, such as Mary and saints were given much less emphasis or disapproved of in Protestant theology. As a result in much of northern Europe, the church virtually ceased to commission figurative art, placing the dictation of content entirely in the hands of the artists and lay consumers. Calvinism even objected to non-religious funerary art, such as the heraldry and effigies beloved of the Renaissance rich.

    After a few decades Lutheran commissions for new altarpieces effectively ceased, and Lutherans often had to struggle to defend their existing art from a new wave of Calvinist-on-Lutheran iconoclasm in the second half of the century, as Calvinist rulers or city authorities attempted to impose their will on Lutheran populations in the "Second Reformation" of about 1560-1619. The beeldenstorm, a large and very disorderly wave of mob destruction of images and church fittings that spread through the Low Countries in the summer of 1566 was the largest outbreak of this sort, with drastic political repercussions. Similar patterns to the German actions were seen in England in the English Civil War and English Commonwealth in the next century, when more damage was done to art in medieval parish churches than during the English Reformation.

    A major theological difference between Protestantism and Catholicism is the question of transubstantiation, or the literal transformation of the Communion wafer and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Protestant churches that were not participating in the iconoclasm often selected as altarpieces scenes depicting the Last Supper. This helped the worshippers to recall the symbolic meaning behind the Eucharist, as opposed to Catholic churches, which often chose crucifixion scenes for their altarpieces to remind the worshippers of the literal transformation of the Eucharist.

    The Protestant Reformation also capitalized on the popularity of printmaking in northern Europe. Printmaking allowed images to be mass produced and widely available to the public at low cost. This allowed for the widespread availability of visually persuasive imagery. The Protestant church was therefore able, as the Catholic Church had been doing since the early 15th century, to bring their theology to the people, and religious education was brought from the church into the homes of the common people, thereby forming a direct link between the worshippers and the divine.

    There was also a violent propaganda war fought partly with popular prints by both sides; these were often highly scurrilous caricatures of the other side and their doctrines. On the Protestant side, portraits of the leading reformers were popular, and the likenesses were sometimes shown as Apostles and other figures in Biblical scenes such as the Last Supper.

    Art and the Counter-Reformation

    Scipione Pulzone's Lamentation, a typical Counter-Reformation work
    During the time of the Reformation a great divergence arose between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformers of the north regarding the content and style of art work. The Catholic Church viewed Protestantism and its iconoclasm as a threat to the church and in response came together at the Council of Trent to institute some of their own reforms. The church felt that much religious art in Catholic countries (especially Italy) had lost its focus on the religious subject-matter, and became too interested in decorative qualities. The council came together periodically between 1545 and 1563. “The decrees of the Council of Trent stipulated that art was to be direct and compelling in its narrative presentation, that is was to provide an accurate presentation of the biblical narrative or saint’s life, rather than adding incidental and imaginary moments, and that it was to encourage piety." The reforms that resulted from this council are what set the basis for what is known as the Counter-Reformation.

    When looking at the reforms of Catholic art instituted during the Counter-Reformation it can be seen how greatly Catholic religious art differed from Protestant. While the Protestants largely removed public art from religion and Protestant societies moved towards a more “secular” style of art which embraced the concept of glorifying God through the portrayal of the “natural beauty of His creation and by depicting people who were created in His image,” the Church of the Counter-Reformation continued to promote art with “sacred” or religious content. Art for the church was strictly to be religious art for the purpose of glorifying God and Catholic traditions, including the sacraments and the saints. “The Holy Council prohibits placing in churches any image inspired by false doctrine that might mislead the simple… To eliminate all lures of impurity and lasciviousness, images must not be decked in shameless beauty… To enforce this decision the Holy Council prohibits setting up in any place or church, no matter what its exemptions, any irregular image unless authorized by the bishop." Scipione Pulzone's (1550–1598) painting of the Lamentation which was commissioned for the Gesu Church in 1589 is a work that gives a clear demonstration of what the holy council was striving for in the new style of religious art.  With the focus of the painting giving direct attention to the crucifixion of Christ, it complies with the religious content of the council and shows the story of the passion while keeping Christ in the image of the ideal human.

    Paolo Veronese's Last Supper (The Feast in the House of Levi)
    On the other hand when looking at Paolo Veronese's (1528–1588) painting first called the Last Supper, and subsequently renamed as the less doctrinally-central Feast in the House of Levi, one can see what the Council regarded as inappropriate. Veronese was summoned before the Inquisition on the basis that his composition, for the refectory of a monastery, was indecorous. It does indeed show a fantasy version of a Venetian patrician feast, with, in the words of the Inquisition: "buffoons, drunken Germans, dwarfs and other such scurrilities" as well as, extravagant costumes and settings, and a great crowd of people at the Last Supper. Veronese was told that he must change his painting within a three month period - in fact he just changed the title to The Feast in the House of Levi. No doubt any Protestant authorities would have been equally disapproving. The pre-existing decline in "donor portraits" (those who had paid for an altarpiece or other painting being placed within the painting) was also accelerated; these become rare after the Council.

    Repentance of Peter by El Greco, 1580–1586.
    Some subjects were given increased prominence to reflect Counter-Reformation emphases. The Repentance of Peter, showing the end of the episode of the Denial of Peter, was not often seen before the Counter-Reformation, when it became popular as an assertion of the sacrament of Confession against Protestant attacks. This followed an influential book by the Jesuit Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621). The image typically shows Peter in tears, as a half-length portrait with no other figures, often with hands clasped as at right, and sometimes "the cock" in the background; it was often coupled with a repentant Mary Magdalen, another exemplar from Bellarmine's book.

    As the Counter-Reformation grew stronger and the Catholic Church felt less threat from the Protestant Reformation, Rome once again began to assert its universality to other nations around the world. The religious order of the Jesuits or the Society of Jesus, sent missionaries to the Americas, parts of Africa, India and eastern Asia and used the arts as an effective means of articulating their message of the Catholic Church's dominance over the Christian faith. The Jesuits' impact was so profound during their missions of the time that today very similar styles of art from the Counter-Reformation period in Catholic Churches are found all over the world.

    Despite the differences in approaches to religious art, stylistic developments passed about as quickly across religious divisions as within the two "blocs". Artistically Rome remained in closer touch with the Netherlands than with Spain

    Council Of Trent Decrees on Art

    The Last Judgement, Michelangel 1537
    The Last Judgment, a fresco in the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo (1534–41), came under persistent attack in the Counter-Reformation for, among other things, nudity (later painted over for several centuries), not showing Christ seated or bearded, and including the pagan figure of Charon.

    Italian painting after 1520, with the notable exception of the art of Venice, developed into Mannerism, a highly sophisticated style, striving for effect, that concerned many churchmen as lacking appeal for the mass of the population. Church pressure to restrain religious imagery affected art from the 1530s and resulted in the decrees of the final session of the Council of Trent in 1563 including short and rather inexplicit passages concerning religious images, which were to have great impact on the development of Catholic art. Previous Catholic councils had rarely felt the need to pronounce on these matters, unlike Orthodox ones which have often ruled on specific types of images.

    The decree confirmed the traditional doctrine that images only represented the person depicted, and that veneration to them was paid to the person, not the image, and further instructed that:
    ...every superstition shall be removed ... all lasciviousness be avoided; in such wise that figures shall not be painted or adorned with a beauty exciting to lust... there be nothing seen that is disorderly, or that is unbecomingly or confusedly arranged, nothing that is profane, nothing indecorous, seeing that holiness becometh the house of God. And that these things may be the more faithfully observed, the holy Synod ordains, that no one be allowed to place, or cause to be placed, any unusual image, in any place, or church, howsoever exempted, except that image have been approved of by the bishop ...
    Ten years after the decree Paolo Veronese was summoned by the Holy Office to explain why his Last Supper, a huge canvas for the refectory of a monastery, contained, in the words of the Holy Office: "buffoons, drunken Germans, dwarfs and other such scurrilities" as well as extravagant costumes and settings, in what is indeed a fantasy version of a Venetian patrician feast. Veronese was told that he must change his painting within a three month period – in fact he just changed the title to The Feast in the House of Levi, still an episode from the Gospels, but a less doctrinally central one, and no more was said. But the number of such decorative treatments of religious subjects declined sharply, as did "unbecomingly or confusedly arranged" Mannerist pieces, as a number of books, notably by the Flemish theologian Molanus, Saint Charles Borromeo and Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti, and instructions by local bishops, amplified the decrees, often going into minute detail on what was acceptable. Much traditional iconography considered without adequate scriptural foundation was in effect prohibited, as was any inclusion of classical pagan elements in religious art, and almost all nudity, including that of the infant Jesus. According to the great medievalist Émile Mâle, this was "the death of medieval art",but it paled in contrast to the Iconclasm present in some Protestant circles & did not apply to secular paintings. Some Counter Reformation painters and sculptors include Pieter Paul Rubens, Guido Reni, Anthony van Dyck and Bartolome Esteban Murillo.

    Church music

    Reforms before the Council of Trent

    The Council of Trent is believed to be the apex of the Counter-Reformation’s influence on church music in the 16th century. However, the council’s pronouncements on music were not the first attempt at reform. The Catholic Church had spoken out against a perceived abuse of music used in the mass before the Council of Trent ever convened to discuss music in 1562. The manipulation of the Credo and using non-liturgical songs was addressed in 1503, and secular singing and the intelligibility of the text in the delivery of psalmody in 1492. The delegates at the Council were just a link in the long chain of church clergy who had pushed for a reform of the musical liturgy reaching back as far as 1322. Probably the most extreme move at reform came late in 1562 when, instructed by the legates, Egidio Foscarari bishop of Modena and Gabriele Paleotti began work on reforming cloisters of nuns and their practices involving the liturgy. In fact, the reforms proscribed to the cloisters, which included omitting the use of an organ, prohibiting professional musicians, and banishing polyphonic singing, were much more strict than any of the Council’s edicts or even those to be found in the Palestrina legend.

    Fueling the cry for reform from many ecclesial figures was the compositional technique popular in the 15th and 16th centuries of using musical material and even the accompanying texts from other compositions such as motets, madrigals, and chansons. Several voices singing different texts in different languages made any of the text difficult to distinguish from the mixture of words and notes. The parody mass would then contain melodies (usually the tenor line) and words from songs that could have been, and often were, on sensual subjects. The musical liturgy of the church was being more and more influenced by secular tunes and styles. The Council of Paris, which met in 1528, as well as the Council of Trent were making attempts to restore the sense of sacredness to the church setting and what was appropriate for the mass. The councils were simply responding to issues of their day.

    Reforms during the 22nd session

    The Council of Trent met sporadically from December 13, 1545 to December 4, 1563 to reform many parts of the Catholic Church. The 22nd session of the council, which met in 1562, dealt with church music in Canon 8 in the section of “Abuses in the Sacrifice of the Mass” during a meeting of the council on September 10, 1562.

    Canon 8 states that "Since the sacred mysteries should be celebrated with utmost reverence, with both deepest feeling toward God alone, and with external worship that is truly suitable and becoming, so that others may be filled with devotion and called to religion: . . . Everything should be regulated so that the Masses, whether they be celebrated with the plain voice or in song, with everything clearly and quickly executed, may reach the ears of the hearers and quietly penetrate their hearts. In those Masses where measured music and organ are customary, nothing profane should be intermingled, but only hymns and divine praises. If something from the divine service is sung with the organ while the service proceeds, let if first be recited in a simple, clear voice, lest the reading of the sacred words be imperceptible. But the entire manner of singing in musical modes should be calculated not to afford vain delight to the ear, but so that the words may be comprehensible to all; and thus may the hearts of the listeners be caught up into the desire for celestial harmonies and contemplation of the joys of the blessed." 

    Canon 8 is often quoted as the Council of Trent’s decree on church music but that is a glaring misunderstanding of the canon; it was only a proposed decree. In fact, the delegates at the Council never officially accepted canon 8 in its popular form but bishops of Granada, Coimbra, and Segovia pushed for the long statement about music to be attenuated and many other prelates of the Council joined enthusiastically. The only restrictions actually given by the 22nd session was to keep secular elements out of the music making polyphony implicitly allowed. The issue of textual intelligibility did not make its way into the final edicts of the 22nd session but were only featured in preliminary debates. The 22nd session only prohibited “lascivious” and “profane” things to be intermingled with the music but Paleotti, in his Acts, brings to equal importance the issues of intelligibility.

    The idea that the Council called to remove all polyphony from the church is widespread but there is no documentary evidence to support that claim. It is possible, however, that some of the Fathers had proposed such a measure. The emperor Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor has been attributed to be the “saviour of church music” because he said polyphony ought not to be driven out of the church. But Ferdinand was most likely an alarmist and read into the Council the possibility of a total ban on polyphony. The Council of Trent did not focus on the style of music but on attitudes of worship and reverence during the mass.

    The Saviour-Legend

    The crises regarding polyphony and intelligibility of the text and the threat that polyphony was to be removed completely, which was assumed to be coming from the Council, has a very dramatic legend of resolution. The legend goes that Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (ca. 1525/26–1594), a church musician and choirmaster in Rome, wrote a mass for the Council delegates in order to demonstrate that a polyphonic composition could set the text in such a way that the words could be clearly understood and that was still pleasing to the ear. Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli (Mass for Pope Marcellus) was performed before the Council and received such a welcoming reception among the delegates that they completely changed their minds and allowed polyphony to stay in use in the musical liturgy. Therefore Palestrina came to be named the "saviour of church polyphony". This legend, though unfounded, has long been a mainstay of histories of music. The saviour-myth was first spread by an account by Aggazzari and Banchieri in 1609 who said that Pope Marcellus was trying to replace all polyphony with plainsong. Palestrina’s “Missa Papae Marcelli” was, though, in 1564, after the 22nd session, performed for the Pope while reforms were being considered for the Sistine Choir. On another occasion in 1565, as recorded by the secretary of the Sistine Chapel, Cardinal Vitelli invited two Eminences to his house where two masses were performed and compared for textual intelligibility. However, what masses were performed, who composed them, and how the Eminences reacted has been swallowed up by history. The Pope Marcellus Mass, in short, was not important in its own day and did not help save church polyphony. What is undeniable is that despite any solid evidence of his influence during or after the Council of Trent, no figure is more qualified to represent the cause of polyphony in the Mass than Palestrina. Pope Pius IV upon hearing Palestrina’s music would make Palestrina, by Papal Brief, the model for future generation of Catholic composers of sacred music.

    Reforms following the Council of Trent

    Like his contemporary Palestrina, the Flemish composer Jacobus de Kerle (1531/32–1591) was also credited with giving a model of composition for the Council of Trent. His composition in four-parts, Preces, marks the "official turning point of the Counter Reformation's a cappella ideal.” Kerle was the only ranking composer of the Netherlands to have acted in conformity with the Council. Another musical giant on equal standing with Palestrina, Orlando di Lasso (1530/32–1594) was an important figure in music history though less of a purist than Palestrina. He expressed sympathy for the Council’s concerns but still showed favor for the “Parady chanson Masses.”

    Despite the dearth of edicts from the Council regarding polyphony and textual clarity, the reforms that followed from the 22nd session filled in the gaps left by the Council in stylistic areas. In the 24th session the Council gave authority to “Provincial Synods” to discern provisions for church music. The decision to leave practical application and stylistic matters to local ecclesiastical leaders was important in shaping the future of Catholic church music. It was left then, up to the local church leaders and church musicians to find proper application for the Council’s decrees. Though originally theological and directed towards the attitudes of the musicians, the Council’s decrees came to be thought of by church musicians as a pronouncement on proper musical styles. This understanding was most likely spread through musicians who sought to implement the Council's declarations but did not read the official Tridentine pronouncements. Church musicians were probably influenced by order from their ecclesiastical patrons. Composers who reference the Council’s reforms in prefaces to their compositions do not adequately claim a musical basis from the Council but a spiritual and religious basis of their art.

    The Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, Charles Borromeo, was a very important figure in reforming church music after the Council of Trent. Through Borromeo was an aide to the pope in Rome and was unable to be in Milan, he eagerly pushed for the decrees of the Council to be quickly put into practice in Milan. Borromeo kept in contact with his church in Milian through letters and eagerly encouraged the leaders there to implement the reforms coming from the Council of Trent. In one of his letters to his vicar in the Milan diocese, Nicolo Ormaneto of Verona, Borromeo commissioned the master of the chapel, Vincenzo Ruffo (1508–1587), to write a mass that would make the words as easy to understand as possible. Borromeo also suggested that if Don Nicola, a composer of a more chromatic style, was in Milan he too could compose a mass and the two be compared for textural clarity. Borromeo was likely involved or heard of the questions regarding textual clarity because of his request to Ruffo.

    Ruffo took Borromeo’s commission seriously and set out to compose in a style that presented the text so that all words would be intelligible and the textual meaning be the most important part of the composition. His approach was to move all the voices in a homorhythmic manner with no complicated rhythms, and to use dissonance very conservatively. Ruffo’s approach was certainly a success for textual clarity and simplicity, but if his music was very theoretically pure it was not an artistic success despite Ruffo’s attempts to bring interest to the monotonous four-part texture. Ruffo’s compositional style which favored the text was well in line with the Council’s perceived concern with intelligibility. Thus the belief in the Council’s strong edicts regarding textual intelligibility became to characterize the development of sacred church music.

    The Council of Trent brought about other changes in music: most notably developing the Missa brevis, Lauda and "Spiritual Madrigal" (Madrigali Spirituali).

    Unintentional start of the Scientific Revolution

    James Burke argued that some of the directives initiated in the Counter-Reformation had consequences that created challenges to the Catholic Church's authority. Specifically, efforts to reform the Julian calendar may have led to the Scientific Revolution, and the Church's confrontation with Galileo Galilei.

    More celebrations of holidays and similar events raised a need to have these events followed closely throughout the dioceses. But there was a problem with the accuracy of the calendar: by the sixteenth century the Julian calendar was almost ten days out of step with the seasons and the heavenly bodies. Among the astronomers who were asked to work on the problem of how the calendar could be reformed was Nicolaus Copernicus, a canon at Frombork (Frauenburg). In the dedication to De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (1543), Copernicus mentioned the reform of the calendar proposed by the Fifth Council of the Lateran (1512–1517). As he explains, a proper measurement of the length of the year was a necessary foundation to calendar reform. By implication, his work replacing the Ptolemaic system with a heliocentric model was prompted in part by the need for calendar reform.

    An actual new calendar had to wait until the Gregorian calendar in 1582. At the time of its publication, De revolutionibus passed with relatively little comment: little more than a mathematical convenience that simplified astronomical references for a more accurate calendar. Physical evidence suggesting Copernicus's theory regarding the Earth's motion was literally true promoted the apparent heresy against the religious thought of the time. As a result, Galileo Galilei was placed under house arrest for publishing heretical writings and the Pope condemned heliocentric theory and temporarily banned its teaching in 1633.


    • David Rostand, Painting in Sixteenth-Century Venice: Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto, 2nd ed 1997, Cambridge UP ISBN 0-521-56568-5
    • ^ Blunt Anthony, Artistic Theory in Italy, 1450–1660, chapter VIII, especially pp. 107–128, 1940 (refs to 1985 edn), OUP, ISBN 0-19-881050-4
    • James Hall, A History of Ideas and Images in Italian Art, 1983, John Murray, London, ISBN 0-7195-3971-4
    • Michalski, Sergiusz. Reformation and the Visual Arts: The Protestant Image Question in Western and Eastern Europe, Routledge, 1993, ISBN 0-203-41425-X, 9780203414255 Google Books
    • Roy Strong; Art and Power; Renaissance Festivals 1450-1650, 1984, The Boydell Press;ISBN 0-85115-200-7
    • Trevor-Roper, Hugh; Princes and Artists, Patronage and Ideology at Four Habsburg Courts 1517-1633, Thames & Hudson, London, 1976, ISBN 0-500-23232-6


      Today's  Snippet  II:  Duomo di Milano and Diocese of Milan

      Duomo di Milano
      Milan Cathedral (Italian: Duomo di Milano; Lombard: Domm de Milan) is the cathedral church of Milan, Italy. Dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente (Saint Mary Nascent), it is the seat of the Archbishop of Milan, currently Cardinal Angelo Scola. The Gothic cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. It is the fourth largest cathedral in the world and the largest in the Italian state territory.

      Milan's layout, with streets either radiating from the Duomo or circling it, reveals that the Duomo occupies what was the most central site in Roman Mediolanum, that of the public basilica facing the forum. Saint Ambrose's 'New Basilica' was built on this site at the beginning of the 5th century, with an adjoining basilica added in 836. The old baptistery (Battistero Paleocristiano, constructed in 335) still can be visited under the Milan Cathedral, it is one of the oldest Christian buildings in Europe. When a fire damaged cathedral and basilica in 1075, they were later rebuilt as the Duomo.

      In 1386, Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo began construction of the cathedral. Start of the construction coincided with the accession to power in Milan of the archbishop's cousin Gian Galeazzo Visconti, and was meant as a reward to the noble and working classes, who had suffered under his tyrannical Visconti predecessor Barnabò. Before actual work began, three main buildings were demolished: the palace of the Archbishop, the Ordinari Palace and the Baptistry of St. Stephen at the Spring, while the old church of Sta. Maria Maggiore was exploited as a stone quarry. Enthusiasm for the immense new building soon spread among the population, and the shrewd Gian Galeazzo, together with his cousin the archbishop, collected large donations for the work-in-progress. The construction program was strictly regulated under the "Fabbrica del Duomo", which had 300 employees led by first chief engineer Simone da Orsenigo. Orsenigo initially planned to build the cathedral from brick in Lombard Gothic style.

      Visconti had ambitions to follow the newest trends in European architecture. In 1389, a French chief engineer, Nicolas de Bonaventure, was appointed, adding to the church its Rayonnant Gothic, a French style not typical for Italy. He decided that the brick structure should be panelled with marble. Galeazzo gave the Fabbrica del Duomo exclusive use of the marble from the Candoglia quarry and exempted it from taxes. Ten years later another French architect, Jean Mignot, was called from Paris to judge and improve upon the work done, as the masons needed new technical aid to lift stones to an unprecedented height. Mignot declared all the work done up till then as in pericolo di ruina ("peril of ruin"), as it had been done sine scienzia ("without science"). In the following years Mignot's forecasts proved untrue, but anyway they spurred Galeazzo's engineers to improve their instruments and techniques. Work proceeded quickly, and at the death of Gian Galeazzo in 1402, almost half the cathedral was complete. Construction, however, stalled almost totally until 1480, due to lack of money and ideas: the most notable works of this period were the tombs of Marco Carelli and Pope Martin V (1424) and the windows of the apse (1470s), of which those extant portray St. John the Evangelist, by Cristoforo de' Mottis, and Saint Eligius and San John of Damascus, both by Niccolò da Varallo. In 1452, under Francesco Sforza, the nave and the aisles were completed up to the sixth bay.

      Giovanni Antonio Amadeo on the "Amadeo's Little Spire".
      In 1500 to 1510, under Ludovico Sforza, the octagonal cupola was completed, and decorated in the interior with four series of 15 statues each, portraying saints, prophets, sibyls and other characters of the Bible. The exterior long remained without any decoration, except for the Guglietto dell'Amadeo ("Amadeo's Little Spire"), constructed 1507-1510. This is a Renaissance masterwork which nevertheless harmonized well with the general Gothic appearance of the church.

      During the subsequent Spanish domination, the new church proved usable, even though the interior remained largely unfinished, and some bays of the nave and the transepts were still missing. In 1552 Giacomo Antegnati was commissioned to build a large organ for the north side of the choir, and Giuseppe Meda provided four of the sixteen pales which were to decorate the altar area (the program was completed by Federico Borromeo). In 1562, Marco d' Agrate's St. Bartholomew and the famous Trivulzio candelabrum (12th century) were added.

      Accession of  St Charles Borromeo

      Plan of the Cathedral in the 16th century
      After the accession of Carlo Borromeo to the archbishop's throne, all lay monuments were removed from the Duomo. These included the tombs of Giovanni, Barnabò and Filippo Maria Visconti, Francesco I and his wife Bianca, Galeazzo Maria and Lodovico Sforza, which were brought to unknown destinations. However, Borromeo's main intervention was the appointment, in 1571, of Pellegrino Pellegrini as chief engineer— a contentious move, since to appoint Pellegrino, who was not a lay brother of the duomo, required a revision of the Fabbrica's statutes.

      Borromeo and Pellegrini strove for a new, Renaissance appearance for the cathedral, that would emphasise its Roman / Italian nature, and subdue the Gothic style, which was now seen as foreign. As the façade still was largely incomplete, Pellegrini designed a "Roman" style one, with columns, obelisks and a large tympanum. When Pellegrini's design was revealed, a competition for the design of the façade was announced, and this elicited nearly a dozen entries, including one by Antonio Barca

      This design was never carried out, but the interior decoration continued: in 1575-1585 the presbytery was rebuilt, while new altars and the baptistry were added in the nave. Wooden choir stalls were constructed by 1614 for the main altar by Francesco Brambilla. In 1577 Borromeo finally consecrated the whole edifice as a new church, distinct from the old Santa Maria Maggiore and Santa Tecla (which had been unified in 1549 after heavy disputes).

      Duomo in 17th century

      The cathedral as it appeared in 1745.
      At the beginning of the 17th century Federico Borromeo had the foundations of the new façade laid by Francesco Maria Richini and Fabio Mangone. Work continued until 1638 with the construction of five portals and two middle windows. In 1649, however, the new chief architect Carlo Buzzi introduced a striking revolution: the façade was to revert to original Gothic style, including the already finished details within big Gothic pilasters and two giant belfries. Other designs were provided by, among others, Filippo Juvarra (1733) and Luigi Vanvitelli (1745), but all remained unapplied. In 1682 the façade of Santa Maria Maggiore was demolished and the cathedral's roof covering completed.

      In 1762 one of the main features of the cathedral, the Madonnina's spire, was erected at the dizzying height of 108.5 m. The spire was designed by Francesco Croce and sports at the top a famous polychrome Madonnina statue, designed by Giuseppe Perego that befits the original stature of the cathedral. Given Milan's notoriously damp and foggy climate, the Milanese consider it a fair-weather day when the Madonnina is visible from a distance, as it is so often covered by mist.

      Duomo Completion (Six Centuries)

      The Cathedral in 1856.
      On May 20, 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte, about to be crowned King of Italy, ordered the façade to be finished. In his enthusiasm, he assured that all expenses would fall to the French treasurer, who would reimburse the Fabbrica for the real estate it had to sell. Even though this reimbursement was never paid, it still meant that finally, within only seven years, the Cathedral had its façade completed. The new architect, Felice Soave, largely followed Buzzi's project, adding some neo-Gothic details to the upper windows. As a form of thanksgiving, a statue of Napoleon was placed at the top of one of the spires. Napoleon was crowned King of Italy at the Duomo.

      In the following years, most of the missing arches and spires were constructed. The statues on the southern wall were also finished, while in 1829-1858, new stained glass windows replaced the old ones, though with less aesthetically significant results. The last details of the cathedral were finished only in the 20th century: the last gate was inaugurated on January 6, 1965. This date is considered the very end of a process which had proceeded for generations, although even now, some uncarved blocks remain to be completed as statues. The Duomo's main façade went under renovation from 2003 to early 2009: as of February 2009, it has been completely uncovered, showing again the colours of the Candoglia marble.

      Duomo Architecture and Art

      The famous "Madonnina" atop the main spire of the cathedral, a baroque gilded bronze statue
      The plan consists of a nave with four side-aisles, crossed by a transept and then followed by choir and apse. The height of the nave is about 45 meters, the highest Gothic vaults of a complete church (less than the 48 meters of Beauvais Cathedral, which was never completed).

      The roof is open to tourists (for a fee), which allows many a close-up view of some spectacular sculpture that would otherwise be unappreciated. The roof of the cathedral is renowned for the forest of openwork pinnacles and spires, set upon delicate flying buttresses.

      The cathedral's five broad naves, divided by 40 pillars, are reflected in the hierarchic openings of the façade. Even the transepts have aisles. The nave columns are 24.5 metres (80 ft) high, and the apsidal windows are 20.7 x 8.5 metres (68 x 28 feet). The huge building is of brick construction, faced with marble from the quarries which Gian Galeazzo Visconti donated in perpetuity to the cathedral chapter. Its maintenance and repairs are very complicated.  Milan’s cathedral has recently developed a new lighting system, based on LED lights.

      Aesthetic judgements

      The cathedral was built over several hundred years in a number of contrasting styles and the quality of the workmanship varies markedly. Reactions to it have ranged from admiration to disfavour. The Guida d’Italia: Milano 1998 (Touring Club Editore, p. 154) points out that the early Romantics tended to praise it in “the first intense enthusiasms for Gothic.” As the Gothic Revival brought in a purer taste, condemnation was often equally intense.

      John Ruskin commented acidly that the cathedral steals "from every style in the world: and every style spoiled. The cathedral is a mixture of Perpendicular with Flamboyant, the latter being peculiarly barbarous and angular, owing to its being engrafted, not on a pure, but a very early penetrative Gothic … The rest of the architecture among which this curious Flamboyant is set is a Perpendicular with horizontal bars across: and with the most detestable crocketing, utterly vile. Not a ray of invention in a single form… Finally the statues all over are of the worst possible common stonemasons’ yard species, and look pinned on for show. The only redeeming character about the whole being the frequent use of the sharp gable … which gives lightness, and the crowding of the spiry pinnacles into the sky.” (Notebooks[M.6L]). The plastered ceiling painted to imitate elaborate tracery carved in stone particularly aroused his contempt as a “gross degradation”.

      While appreciating the force of Ruskin’s criticisms, Henry James was more appreciative: “A structure not supremely interesting, not logical, not … commandingly beautiful, but grandly curious and superbly rich. … If it had no other distinction it would still have that of impressive, immeasurable achievement … a supreme embodiment of vigorous effort.”

      Main monuments and artworks

      San Bartolomeo
      The interior of the cathedral includes numerous monuments and artworks. These include:
      • At the left of the altar is located the most famous statue of all the Cathedral, the San Bartolomeo Flayed (1562), by Marco d'Agrate, the saint shows the leather thrown over his shoulders like a stole.
      • The Archbishop Alberto da Intimiano's sarcophagus, which is overlooked by a Crucifix in copper laminae (a replica).
      • The sarcophagi of the archbishops Ottone Visconti and Giovanni Visconti, created by a Campionese master in the 14th century.
      • The sarcophagus of Marco Carelli, who donated 35,000 ducati to accelerate the construction of the cathedral.
      • The three magnificent altars by Pellegrino Pellegrini, which include the notable Federico Zuccari's Visit of St. Peter to St. Agatha jailed.
      • In the right transept, the monument to Gian Giacomo Medici di Marignano, called "Medeghino", by Leone Leoni, and the adjacent Renaissance marble altar, decorated with gilt bronze statues.
      • The presbytery is a late Renaissance masterpiece composing a choir, a Temple by Pellegrini, two pulpits with giant atlantes covered in copper and bronze, and two large organs. Around the choir the two sacristies' portals, some frescoes and a fifteenth-century statue of Martin V by Jacopino da Tradate) can be seen.
      • The transepts house the Trivulzio Candelabrum, which is in two pieces. The base (attributed to Nicolas of Verdun, 12th century), characterized by a fantastic ensemble of vines, vegetables and imaginary animals; and the stem, of the mid-16th century.
      • In the left aisle, the Arcimboldi monument by Alessi and Romanesque figures depicting the Apostles in red marble and the neo-Classic baptistry by Pellegrini.
      • A small red light bulb in the dome above the apse marks the spot where one of the nails reputedly from the Crucifixion of Christ has been placed. The Holy Nail is retrieved and exposed to the public every year, during a celebration known as the Rite of the Nivola.
      • In November–December, in the days surrounding the birthdate of Saint Charles Borromeo, a series of large canvases, the Quadroni are exhibited along the nave.
      • The 5-manual, 225-rank pipe-organ, built jointly by the Tamburini and Mascioni Italian organbuilding firms on Mussolini's command, is currently the largest organ in all of Italy

      Duomo in Literature

      Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley used to read literature inside the Duomo. Alfred, Lord Tennyson enjoyed the view of the Alps from the Duomo roof.

      The American writer and journalist Mark Twain visited Milan in the summer of 1867. He dedicated chapter 18 of Innocents Abroad to the Milan Cathedral, including many physical and historical details, and a now uncommon visit to the roof. He describes the Duomo as follows:
      What a wonder it is! So grand, so solemn, so vast! And yet so delicate, so airy, so graceful! A very world of solid weight, and yet it seems ...a delusion of frostwork that might vanish with a breath!... The central one of its five great doors is bordered with a bas-relief of birds and fruits and beasts and insects, which have been so ingeniously carved out of the marble that they seem like living creatures-- and the figures are so numerous and the design so complex, that one might study it a week without exhausting its interest...everywhere that a niche or a perch can be found about the enormous building, from summit to base, there is a marble statue, and every statue is a study in itself...Away above, on the lofty roof, rank on rank of carved and fretted spires spring high in the air, and through their rich tracery one sees the sky beyond. ... (Up on) the roof...springing from its broad marble flagstones, were the long files of spires, looking very tall close at hand, but diminishing in the distance...We could see, now, that the statue on the top of each was the size of a large man, though they all looked like dolls from the street... They say that the Cathedral of Milan is second only to St. Peter's at Rome. I cannot understand how it can be second to anything made by human hands.
      Oscar Wilde visited Milan in June 1875. In a letter to his mother he wrote: "The Cathedral is an awful failure. Outside the design is monstrous and inartistic. The over-elaborated details stuck high up where no one can see them; everything is vile in it; it is, however, imposing and gigantic as a failure, through its great size and elaborate execution."

      In Italian Hours Henry James describes “a certain exhibition that I privately enjoyed of the relics of St. Charles Borromeus. This holy man lies at his eternal rest in a small but gorgeous sepulchral chapel … and for the modest sum of five francs you may have his shrivelled mortality unveiled and gaze at it with whatever reserves occur to you. The Catholic Church never renounces a chance of the sublime for fear of a chance of the ridiculous--especially when the chance of the sublime may be the very excellent chance of five francs. The performance in question, of which the good San Carlo paid in the first instance the cost, was impressive certainly, but as a monstrous matter or a grim comedy may still be. The little sacristan, having secured his audience, … lighted a couple of extra candles and proceeded to remove from above the altar, by means of a crank, a sort of sliding shutter, just as you may see a shop-boy do of a morning at his master's window. In this case too a large sheet of plate-glass was uncovered, and to form an idea of the étalage you must imagine that a jeweller, for reasons of his own, has struck an unnatural partnership with an undertaker. The black mummified corpse of the saint is stretched out in a glass coffin, clad in his mouldering canonicals, mitred, crosiered and gloved, glittering with votive jewels. It is an extraordinary mixture of death and life; the desiccated clay, the ashen rags, the hideous little black mask and skull, and the living, glowing, twinkling splendour of diamonds, emeralds and sapphires. The collection is really fine, and many great historic names are attached to the different offerings. Whatever may be the better opinion as to the future of the Church, I can't help thinking she will make a figure in the world so long as she retains this great fund of precious "properties," this prodigious capital decoratively invested and scintillating throughout Christendom at effectively-scattered points.”

      Duomo In popular culture

      • The 1934 song "O mia bela Madunina" by Giovanni d'Anzi about the golden Madonna statue on the spire can be considered today an unofficial "city anthem" of Milan.
      • Luchino Visconti's 1960 film Rocco e i suoi fratelli, set in Milan, has a scene which takes place on the roof of the cathedral.
      • Many Milanese dialect speakers, due to the centuries needed to complete the Duomo, use the "Fabbrica del Duomo" ("Fabrica del Dom" in the dialect) as an adjective (sometimes humorously, sometimes not) to describe an extremely long, too complex task, maybe even impossible to complete.
      • The Italian phrase "mangiare a ufo", stemming from the Milanese dialect mangià a uf meaning "being paid for a job not done", comes from the fact that the goods used to build the Duomo wore the inscription "A.U.F.", shorthand for Latin "Ad Usum Fabricae" (to be used for the construction) and were exempt from taxation.
      • A souvenir model of the cathedral was thrown at the nose of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi during an attack on December 13, 2009.
      • In the song "In Every Age" from the musical Titanic the building is compared with the Pyramids and the Titanic as one of the greatest feats of architecture.
      • Several lavish shots of the Duomo are featured in the Italian film I Am Love (2009).
      • In the novel "The Wary Transgressor" by James Hadley Chase the main protagonist is seen working as an unofficial guide at the Duomo.

      Archdiocese of Milan

      The Archdiocese of Milan (Latin: Archidioecesis Mediolanensis) is a metropolitan see of the Catholic Church in Italy which covers the areas of Milano, Monza, Lecco and Varese. It has long maintained its own Latin liturgical rite, the Ambrosian rite, which is still used in most of its extension. Among its past archbishops the more known are Saint Ambrose, Saint Charles Borromeo and Pope Paul VI.

      The Archdiocese of Milan is the metropolitan see of the ecclesiastical province of Milan which includes the suffragan dioceses of of Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Crema, Cremona, Lodi, Mantova, Pavia, and Vigevano.


      According to the legend, the Gospel was brought to Milan by St. Barnabas, and the first Bishop of Milan, St. Anathalon, was a disciple of that apostle. But a diocese cannot have been established there before 200, and possibly not until much later, for the list of the bishops of Milan names only five predecessors of Mirocles, who participated at the Lateran council held in 313 in Rome. During the persecutions of the third and early forth century, several Christians suffered martyrdom and were venerated at Milan: among them Gervasius and Protasius (first persecution of Diocletian), Victor, Nabor and Felix, and Nazarius and Celsus. The persecutions ended in 313 when the Emperors Constantine I and Licinius issued the Edict of Milan which proclaimed the religious toleration in the Roman Empire.

      Historically the Milanese church has been in full communion with the Papacy. Among its bishops should be named Eustorgius I and Dionysius, who firmly opposed apostasy imposed by the Roman Emperor Constantius II. Dionysus was exiled to Cappadocia (355), while the Romans put Auxentius on the episcopal throne of Milan. At the death of Auxentius, the great Saint Ambrose was elected bishop by the people of Milan (374-97). Among his successors, Simplicianus, Senator and Dacius (530-52), who lived almost always in exile at Constantinople on account of the Gothic War.

      During the Lombards invasion many things happened to the church in Milan. The Schism of the Three Chapters guaranteed autonomy of the Milanese Church for 38 years, since the Lombards were enemies of the Byzantines. At the siege of Milan by the Lombard Alboin, the Bishop Honoratus (568) sought refuge in Genoa, with a great number of his clergy, which returned to Milan only 70 years later under John the Good.
      In the 10th-century the archbishops of Milan became feudatory of the Emperor extending his jurisdiction to all North-West Italy. The most distinguished of these was Ariberto da Intimiano (1018-45). As the power of the burghers grew, that of the archbishops waned, and with it the imperial authority which the prelate represented, and since the 12th century Milan became a Guelph town who fought the Emperor. The archbishop Ottone Visconti in the 13th-century caused himself to be proclaimed perpetual lord, thus putting an end to the Republic of Milan and establishing the power of the House of Visconti who ruled the Duchy of Milan from 1277 to 1447.

      The figure who marked the modern history of the church of Milan was Saint Charles Borromeo, archbishop of Milan from 1564 to 1584, who was a leading figure during the Counter-Reformation and was responsible for significant reforms in the Catholic Church. His pastoral efforts were followed also by his successors, such as Federico Borromeo (died 1631) and Giuseppe Pozzobonelli (died 1783).

      In the 20th century, two Cardinal Archbishops of Milan were elected to the papacy: in 1922, Cardinal Ambrogio Damiano Ratti was elected as Pope Pius XI, and in 1963 Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini was elected as Pope Paul VI. The church of Milan was governed from 1979 to 2002 by Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, S.J., who had been a favorite of the Catholic left.


      • Benigni, Umberto (1913). "Archdiocese of Milan". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
      • Cazzani, Eugenio (1996). Vescovi e arcivescovi di Milano. Milano: Massimo. ISBN 88-7030-891-X.(Italian)