Mass of preceding Sunday
Charles was born in Denmark, only son of King Canute IV (Saint Canute) and Adela of Flanders. His father was assassinated in Odense Cathedral in 1086, and Adela fled back to Flanders, taking the very young Charles with her. Charles grew up at the comital court of his grandfather Robert I and uncle Robert II. In 1092 Adela went to southern Italy to marry Roger Borsa, duke of Apulia, leaving Charles in Flanders.
In 1111 Robert II died, and Charles' cousin Baldwin VII became count. Charles was a close advisor to the new count (who was several years younger), who around 1118 arranged Charles' marriage to the heiress of the count of Amiens, Margaret of Clermont. The childless count Baldwin was wounded fighting for the king of France in September 1118, and he designated Charles as his successor before he died on the 19th of July 1119.
Charles was noted for his kindness and generosity towards the poor, and during a time of famine he distributed bread to them. He also took action to prevent grain from being hoarded and sold at excessively high prices. Prodded by his advisors, he also began proceedings to reduce the influential Erembald family, which was heavily engaged in this activity, to the status of serfs. As a result, Fr. Bertulf FitzErembald, provost of the church of St. Donatian, the most important church in Bruges, masterminded a conspiracy to assassinate Charles and his advisors.
On the morning of March 2, 1127, as Charles knelt in prayer in the church of St. Donatian, a group of knights answering to the Erembald family entered the church and hacked him to death with broadswords. The brutal and sacrilegious murder of the popular count provoked a massive public outrage, and he was almost immediately regarded popularly as a martyr and saint, although not formally beatified until 1884.
The Erembalds, who had planned and carried out the murder of Charles, were arrested and tortured to death by the enraged nobles and commoners of Bruges and Ghent. King Louis VI of France, who had supported the revolt against the Erembalds, used his influence to select his own candidate, William Clito, as the next Count of Flanders.