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The Life of Saint Ambrose

The Life of Saint Ambrose

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Mosaic of St. Ambrose in the Basilica in Milan

Although St. Ambrose is a great saint in his own right—he had a brilliant mind, was a political star of his time, and is one of the original four of the thirty-six doctors of the Church—he is perhaps best remembered for prompting the conversion of the great St. Augustine of Hippo.

He was born to a Roman family of nobility and was the youngest of 3 siblings His sister Marcellina and brother Satyrus. are also canonized saints. He was educated in Rome and became known as an eloquent and convincing speaker.

He was trained in the law and was noticed by important politicians in Rome. He was appointed the governor of Milan, one of the most important offices in the empire, before he was 35 years old.

Milan’s bishop died and a controversy arose as to who should succeed him. The dispute threatened violence, so Ambrose went to plead with the crowds himself. While he was speaking, a voice shouted, “Ambrose, bishop!” and the whole crowd took up the cry. Both sides of the dispute unanimously proclaimed him bishop of Milan, even though Ambrose was not yet baptized.

Ambrose tried to escape the election by appealing to the emperor, who simply said that he was pleased to appoint governors worthy of being also bishops. Ambrose next tried hiding in the home of a friend who was a senator but was given up. Finally, on November 30, 374, he yielded and was baptized. A week later, on December 7th, he was ordained a bishop.

 

He gave up all of his belongings to the poor, as an example to the people of Milan and so that he could focus on his duties as bishop. He was famous as a teacher of the faith and a scholar of the Bible. His preaching drew crowds, including a young and noncommittal St. Augustine whom Ambrose taught and later baptized.

Ambrose preached often against the Arian heresy. Ambrose's learning and preaching earned him the title "Doctor of the Church," an honorific given to thirty-six saints who are known for elucidating the faith by their words or example. His relics can be viewed in the reliquary chapel in the Basilica di Sant’ Ambrogio in Milan.

St. Ambrose is the Patron Saint of: Beekeepers, beggars, learning and Milan and the Patron of our Parish and his feast day is December 7th.

St. Ambrose, who’s preaching drew Christians into a deeper life of faith—pray for us!

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