The ultimate admonishment was a call for the heroism of holiness: “Do not be so forgetful of your priesthood as to prefer a late death to a holy one.” With such a holy and heroic leader, the priests began to rally to his side and to the sides of the thousands of sick and dying Milanese. The secular priests were the first to rally but the Capuchins were perhaps the most heroic, devoting themselves to working with the afflicted souls in the leperhouse. Astonishingly, none of the Archbishop’s companions caught the plague and the only religious house stricken with it was one which held aloof, in spite of the Archbishop’s pleas, refusing to help. As for Charles’ own heroism, we have the testimony of a Capuchin, Brother James:
He often goes to the lazar house [i.e. leperhouse] to console the sick … into huts and private houses to speak to the sick and comfort them, as well as providing for all their needs. He fears nothing. It is useless to try and frighten him. It is true that he exposes himself much to danger but as so far he has been preserved by the special grace of God, he says he cannot do otherwise. Indeed the city has no other help and consolation.
The seminary of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is named after him. Someone should remind the current Archbishop.