- The Honey Tongued Doctor
- 7 December (anniversary of his ordination)
- 4 April (Old Catholics; Lutherans; Milan, Italy for the memorial of his death)
- 20 December (Orthodox)
Born to the Roman nobility. Brother of Saint Marcellina and Saint Satyrus. Educated in the classics, Greek, and philosophy at Rome, Italy. Poet and noted orator. Convert to Christianity. Governor of Milan, Italy.
When the bishop of Milan died, a dispute over his replacement led to violence. Ambrose intervened to calm both sides; he impressed everyone involved so much that though he was still an unbaptized catechumen, he was chosen as the new bishop. He resisted, claiming that he was not worthy, but to prevent further violence, he assented, and on 7 December 374 he was baptized, ordained as a priest, and consecrated as bishop. 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.
Noted preacher and teacher, a Bible student of renown, and writer of liturgical hymns. He stood firm against paganism and Arians. His preaching helped convert Saint Augustine of Hippo, whom Ambrose baptized and brought into the Church. Ambrose’s preaching brought Emperor Theodosius to do public penance for his sins. He called and chaired several theological councils during his time as bishop, many devoted to fighting heresy. Welcomed Saint Ursus and Saint Alban of Mainz when they fled Naxos to escape Arian persecution, and then sent them on to evangelize in Gaul and Germany. Proclaimed a great Doctor of the Latin Church by Pope Boniface VIII in 1298.
The title Honey Tongued Doctor was initially bestowed on Ambrose because of his speaking and preaching ability; this led to the use of a beehive and bees in his iconography, symbols which also indicate wisdom. This led to his association with bees, beekeepers, chandlers, wax refiners, etc.
- bee keepers
- candle makers
- domestic animals
- French Commissariat
- honey cake bakers
- police officers
- security personnel
- wax melters
- wax refiners
- Milan, Italy, archdiocese of
- Alassio, Italy
- Bologna, Italy
- Lombardy, Italy
- Lonate Pozzolo, Italy
- Milan, Italy
- Monte San Savino, Italy
- Stresa, Italy
- Vigevano, Italy
- baby with bees on his mouth
- bishop holding a church
- bones, referring to the relics of Saint Gervase and Saint Protase which were revealed to him in a vision
- man arguing with a pagan
- lash, whip or scourge, usually with three thongs; represents the doctrine of the Trinity which defeated the Arian
- with Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Jerome and Saint Augustine of Hippo
- beehive at his feet
- at the grave of Saint Martin of Tours (Ambrose saw his burial in a vision)
- with Saint Protase and Saint Gervase (they appeared to Ambrose in a vision to lead him to their lost relics)
No one heals himself by wounding another. – Saint Ambrose
Our own evil inclinations are far more dangerous than any external enemies. – Saint Ambrose
The Church of the Lord is built upon the rock of the apostles among so many dangers in the world; it therefore remains unmoved. The Church’s foundation is unshakable and firm against assaults of the raging sea. Waves lash at the Church but do not shatter it. Although the elements of this world constantly beat upon the Church with crashing sounds, the Church possesses the safest harbor of salvation for all in distress.
There is a stream which flows down on God’s saints like a torrent. There is also a rushing river giving joy to the heart that is at peace and makes for peace.
He who read much and understands much, receives his fill. He who is full, refreshes others. So Scripture says: “If the clouds are full, they will pour rain upon the earth.”
Therefore, let your words be rivers, clean and limpid, so that you may charm the ears of people. And by the grace of your words win them over to follow your leadership. Solomon says: “The weapons of the understanding are the lips of the wise”; and in another place he says: “Let your lips be bound with wisdom.” That is, let the meaning of your words shine forth, let understanding blaze out. Let no word escape your lips in vain or be uttered without depth of meaning. – from a letter by Saint Ambrose
To avoid dissensions we should be ever on our guard, more especially with those who drive us to argue with them, with those who vex and irritate us, and who say things likely to excite us to anger. When we find ourselves in company with quarrelsome, eccentric individuals, people who openly and unblushingly say the most shocking things, difficult to put up with, we should take refuge in silence, and the wisest plan is not to reply to people whose behavior is so preposterous. Those who insult us and treat us contumeliously are anxious for a spiteful and sarcastic reply: the silence we then affect disheartens them, and they cannot avoid showing their vexation; they do all they can to provoke us and to elicit a reply, but the best way to baffle them is to say nothing, refuse to argue with them, and to leave them to chew the cud of their hasty anger. This method of bringing down their pride disarms them, and shows them plainly that we slight and despise them. – Saint Ambrose,
- “Saint Ambrose of Milan“. CatholicSaints.Info. 15 April 2017. Web. 25 April 2017. <>