Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Saint Carlo Borromeo

Today, Election Day in the US, is also the day of Saint Carlo Borromeo. That is, November 4th is. It is important to remember that November 4th has belonged to Carlo Borromeo for a while now (he was canonized in 1610). But that it should fall on Election Day, that is just sweet.

Carlo Borromeo was from a poor/rich family in Milan. His father was a Count, his mother a de'Medici. Every article I can find bends over backwards to make sure we are all clear she was a de'Medici from Milan & not one of those Florentine poisoners. Her younger brother was also a pope, Pius XI, but the similarity ends there I am sure. Also, CB is only one of only a handful of cardinal-nephews to be canonized, so nepotism could not have played a role.

Carlo Borromeo is one of the better documented saints I have come across. Michael Chabon could take his life story & make quite the swashbuckler a'la Gentlemen of the Road. CB was very big on 'reforming' or 'counter-reforming'. I get confused: which came first the reform or the reform? Anyway, his reforming gave him many adventures.

I think my favorite reform was creating the Golden or Borromean League. The function of this group was to expel heretics, by armed force if necessary. Coincidentally, one of his allies in this league made his living supplying mercenaries to the pope. Gotta love those reformers.

His reforms were not always widely welcomed. He was shot at by the Brothers of Humility. Apparently the humble were armed, even in the 16th century.

I truly do not know where to go from here. The links abound, but they all turn back in on themselves so maybe I will just move on to his patronage. He is the man you call upon for help with all manner of stomach ailments, ulcers, colic, intestinal disorders, etc. although the only vaguely health reference I found in my very cursory search was that he had a speech impediment. How this ties into the whole digestive tract thing I really could not say.

He is also patron of apple orchards, which was a new one on me, lots of church admin-type stuff & starch makers. I think maybe this guy is just too well documented. Some where in the masses of material there is no doubt a story that loosely connects to an orchard-dwelling starch-maker with irritable bowel syndrome, but I do not have the time to read everything that has been written about him. Also, it is either all the same or all false or both or neither & I cannot tell which. The only thing I know for sure is he had a profile only Goya could love.

This overload of information, misinformation & myth reminds me of something, but my head hurts & I cannot think what that might be.

Happy Election Day.

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