St Ambrose, Bishop – Feast Day – December 7 2023

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St Ambrose was also known as Aurelius Ambrosius.

He was the Bishop of Milan from 374 AD to 397 AD.

He was born around 339 AD in Augusta Treverorum now in modern-day Trier, Germany, and died on April 4 397 in Mediolanum, Italia, now in modern-day Milan, Italy.

We celebrate his feast day on December 7 every year in the Catholic Church.

St Ambrose, Bishop Biography
St Ambrose, Bishop - Feast Day - December 7
St Ambrose, Bishop – Feast Day – December 7 2023
Date of Birth 339 AD
Place of Birth Trier, Germany
Profession Bishop of Milan
Place of Work Italy
Date of Death April 4 397
Place of Death Milan, Italy
Feast Day December 7
Canonization Pre-congregation
Patron Saint of Beekeepers, Beggars, Learners, Milan

St Ambrose’s Life History

St. Ambrose, born into the Roman nobility as the second son of the prefect (imperial viceroy) of Gaul, had a distinguished upbringing.

Educated in law, literature, rhetoric, the classics, Greek, and philosophy in Rome, Italy, he was born in the official residence at Augusta Treverorum (now Trier, Germany).

Following his father’s death, Ambrose was raised in Rome, residing in a palace visited by the clergy, alongside his widowed mother and his elder sister Marcellina, who was a nun.

Promoted to the governorship of Aemilia-Liguria around 370 AD, Ambrose resided in Milan. In 374 AD, to his surprise, the people of Milan acclaimed him as their bishop after the former bishop’s death.

Attending the election to prevent conflicts between the Nicene Church and the Arians, Ambrose, though not baptized or trained in theology, was unexpectedly urged by the assembly to assume the role of the next bishop.

Initially resistant, Ambrose attempted to evade the responsibility by running and hiding, but he was ultimately revealed by a colleague.

Within a week, he underwent baptism, ordination, and consecration as the Bishop of Milan on December 7, 374.

Despite his origins in a well-connected yet obscure senatorial family, Ambrose, as the bishop of Milan, wielded significant influence over the cultural and political landscape of his time.

St. Ambrose tirelessly fulfilled all the responsibilities of a pastor, displaying abundant sympathy and charity.

He was gentle and accommodating in matters of lesser significance but resolute and unwavering in matters of principle.

In his role as a bishop, St. Ambrose generously contributed all his land and money to assist the poor, garnering widespread popularity and at times yielding more political influence than even the emperor.

In 384 AD, he successfully opposed a plea for tolerance from pagan members of the Roman senate, led by his relative Quintus Aurelius Symmachus.

Between 385 and 386 AD, St. Ambrose fearlessly confronted Emperor Valentinian II and Empress Justina, thwarting their impious attempt to allocate one of the churches in Milan to the Arians.

The growing influence of the Arians posed challenges for Ambrose, as a significant number of individuals, including clergy, laity, and military personnel, had embraced Arianism.

Facing orders to appear before a council, St. Ambrose adamantly refused and eloquently defended the Church, expressing, “If you demand my person, I am ready to submit: carry me to prison or to death, I will not resist, but I will never betray the church of Christ. I will not call upon the people to succor me; I will die at the foot of the altar rather than desert it. The tumult of the people I will not encourage: but God alone can appease it.”

As a bishop, Ambrose convened and presided over numerous theological councils focused on combating heresy. He also provided refuge to Saints Ursus and Alban of Mainz, aiding their escape from Arian persecution in Naxos and facilitating their mission to evangelize in Gaul and Germany.

Despite opposition from the imperial court due to his religious principles, Ambrose was sought after to intervene and dissuade Magnus Maximus from invading Italy, achieving success in this diplomatic endeavor.

In 388 AD, he rebuked Emperor Theodosius for punishing a bishop who had burned a Jewish synagogue. Additionally, in 390 AD, Ambrose imposed public penance on Theodosius for his role in the massacre of citizens during a riot in Thessalonica.

He engaged in theological studies under Simplician, a presbyter in Rome. Armed with his newfound knowledge, coupled with proficiency in Greek, he dedicated time to exploring the Old Testament and Greek literature.

Incorporating these insights into his preaching, St. Ambrose’s eloquence left a lasting impression on St Augustine of Hippo, who had previously held a low opinion of Christian preachers.

A source of solace and friendship, Ambrose supported and consoled St. Monica through all her trials.

Monica regarded Ambrose as “an angel of God” who transformed her son, Augustine, guiding him towards a deep conviction in Christ. In 387 AD, Ambrose baptized Augustine, marking a profound transformation in the latter’s life.

Ambrose’s unique interventions were tempered by his steadfast loyalty and diplomatic acumen, notably demonstrated in official visits to the usurper Maximus at Trier in 383 AD and 386 AD.

Despite the disapproval of the imperial court regarding Ambrose’s religious principles, he was sought after to mediate and dissuade Magnus Maximus from invading Italy, and he achieved success in this diplomatic endeavor.

St. Ambrose died on April 4, 397, and Simplician succeeded him as the bishop of Milan. St. Ambrose’s relics rest in the Church of St. Ambrogio in Milan, alongside the remains of Saints Gervase and Protase.

Known for his generosity to the poor, St. Ambrose treated them on par with the wealthy, viewing such acts as a fair distribution of God’s resources intended for everyone.

He brought about reforms in the structure and conduct of public worship, emphasizing flexibility in liturgy.

His guidance to St. Augustine of Hippo, advising adherence to local liturgical customs, gave rise to the popular phrase, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” St. Ambrose exemplified this principle, sharing that he fasted on Saturdays in Rome but not in Milan.

St. Ambrose authored numerous significant writings and hymns, credited with composing the Ambrosian chant and beautiful hymns like “Aeterne rerum Conditor” (“Framer of the earth and sky”) and “Deus Creator omnium” (“Maker of all things, God most high”). In 1298, he was declared a great Doctor of the Latin Church by Pope Boniface VIII.

He is recognized as the patron saint of beekeepers, candle makers, chandlers, honey cake bakers, schoolchildren, students, security personnel, and wax melters in the Archdiocese of Milan, Italy.

Various artistic symbols represent St. Ambrose, including

  • A baby with bees on his mouth
  • A beehive at his feet
  • A bishop holding a church
  • Bones (linked to the relics of Saints Gervase and Protase revealed in a vision)
  • A dove
  • A man arguing with a pagan
  • An ox
  • A pen
  • A lash or whip with three thongs (symbolizing the Trinity defeating the Arian heresy)
  • Depictions with Saint Gregory the Great, St Jerome, and Augustine of Hippo.
  • Scenes at the grave of Saint Martin of Tours and with Saints Protase and Gervase (who appeared in a vision to lead Ambrose to their lost relics) also represent aspects of his life and contributions.

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About Laban Thua Gachie 10762 Articles
The founder of Catholicreadings.org is Laban Thua Gachie. I am a Commissioned Lector, a commissioned Liturgy Minister, and a Commissioned member of the Catholic Men Association. We at Catholic Daily Readings, operate the catholicreadings.org, a Catholic Church-related website and we pride ourself in providing you, on a daily basis the following; 1. Catholic Daily Mass Readings 2. Reflections on those Daily Readings 3. Daily prayers 4. Bible Verse of the Day 5. Saint of the Day