SAINT AMBROSE of MILAN (c.340-397), bishop and Doctor of the Church – Patron saint of Milan, Italy, bee keepers, candlemakers and students
Today, the universal Church honors Saint Ambrose, one of the most illustrious Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and who influenced the conversion of Saint Augustine.
Born about the year 340 in Trier in southern Gaul (modern Germany), Ambrose descended from an ancient and powerful Roman family, and was educated by his mother and sister after his father’s death. He soon became well versed in Greek learning and philosophy, and studied law before being appointed governor of Milan, Italy by the emperor. He was also noted as a poet and orator.
In the year 374, and during the process of his conversion to the Catholic faith and preparing for Baptism, the bishop of Milan died. A chaotic crowd formed outside the cathedral to elect a bishop, and Ambrose, who had gone out to the crowd to implore them to quiet down, was unanimously acclaimed bishop of Milan after a child cried out “Ambrose for bishop! Ambrose for bishop!”
Ambrose resisted at first, claiming that he was not worthy, but to prevent further violence, he acquiesced; and on December 7, 374, he was thus baptized, confirmed, ordained a deacon, priest, and consecrated as bishop – all on the same day! He immediately gave away his wealth to the Church and the poor, both for the good it did and as an example to his flock.
Bishop Ambrose became famous for his sermons and his teaching, especially on the Sacraments. It was his sublime preaching and life of holiness, along with his considerable efforts in defending the orthodox teachings of the Church through his writings and actions against the heresy of Arianism, which eventually captured the attention of the young Augustine who was seeking to know God in his own life.
Ambrose served as the bishop of Milan from 374 until his death. He is one of the four Great Latin Doctors of the Church, and is perhaps most famous for his role in the conversion of Saint Augustine.
Bishop Ambrose died on April 4, 397 of natural causes in Milan. His remains are interred in the Basilica of Saint Ambrose (La Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio) in the city of Milan, Italy.
We commemorate his feastday on December 7.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saint Ambrose)
“Lord, You made Saint Ambrose an outstanding teacher of the Catholic faith and gave him the courage of an Apostle. Raise up in Your Church more leaders after Your own Heart, to guide us with courage and wisdom.
“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”