The Chancel Windows

St. Paul & St. Charles Borromeo

Photograph by Bill Blanchard

"This set of six windows was donated by Reverend Joseph H. Meehan" is inscribed beneath the scroll naming the saints.


Paul is shown holding a sword, a reminder of his death by beheading in Rome. "Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).


Charles Borromeo is pictured in the robes of a cardinal, a rank to which he was raised by his uncle, Pope Pius IV, in 1559, at the age of 22, while still a layman.


Paul, whose Jewish name was Saul, was born in Tarsus in Asia Minor of a Hellenistic-Jewish family probably between A.D. 1 and 5. Paul described himself as a Pharisee (Phillippians 3:5). He persecuted the early Christian community but, on his way to Damascus, he experienced what he described as a revelation of the risen Jesus (Galatians 1:15-16). Paul interpreted this experience as a call to preach Christ to the Gentiles. After spending three years in the area of Damascus (35-38), he embarked on his first missionary journey through Syria and Asia Minor (38-48). The center for his second missionary journey (49-52) was Corinth in Greece. The center for the third third missionary journey (53-57) was Ephesus in Asia Minor. In 57, he returned to Jerusalem, where he was imprisoned for two years. In 59, exercising his prerogative as a Roman citizen to appeal his case to Caesar, he was sent to Rome (59-60), where he was held under house arrest for approximately two years. Sometime between 62 and 67, he was executed in Rome. Of the thirteen Epistles attributed to Paul in the New Testament, acholars agree that seven were written by Paul.


His feast days are January 29 (Conversion) and June 29 (Peter and Paul). He is the patron of lay persons and of missionaries. Charles Borromeo was born to an aristocratic family in Arona on Lake Maggiore in 1538. His mother was a member of the aristocratic and wealthy Florentine Medici family. Named cardinal by his uncle, Pope Pius IV (1559-1565), at age 22, he was also appointed Archbishop of Milan, although he had not been ordained. During the papacy of his uncle, he served in the Roman Curia. During the final session of the Council of Trent, he made significant contributions. In 1563, Charles was ordained priest and shortly after consecrated bishop. After his uncle died, he returned to Milan where he undertook the pastoral care of the diocese. He was a voice of reform and implemented the directives of the Council of Trent, opening seminaries, challenging clergy to live more moral lives, establishing a confraternity of Christian doctrine for children and, often with his own funds, and attending to the poor and the sick, particularly during the plague in 1576. He died in 1584 and was canonized in 1610.


His feast day is November 4. He is the patron of learning and the arts.