Book of Saints – Ambrose – 7 December

detail of a painting of Saint Ambrose of Milan; date and artist unknown; Vatican Museum, Vatican City, Rome, Italy; swiped with permission from the flickr account of Father Lawrence Lew, OPArticle

(Saint) Bishop, Doctor of the Church. (December 7) (4th century) One of the four great Fathers and Doctors of the Western Church. Aries, Lyons and Treves dispute the honour of being his birthplace. On the death of his father, his mother with her family, consisting of her three children, Saint Marcellina, her daughter, who devoted herself to the upbringing of her brothers, and the two boys, Ambrose and Satyrrus. The former, early distinguished by his talents, soon attracted the attention of the governing powers, and had scarcely reached man’s estate when he was made Prefect of Liguria, that is, Governor of Northern Italy. The death soon after of the Archbishop of Milan, whose Diocese was torn in pieces by rival factions, necessitated the intervention of the Prefect to ensure an orderly election of a successor. It is said that in the midst of the tumult the voice of a child was heard crying out ” Ambrose for Bishop,” and the cry, at once taken up by the multitude, was later endorsed by the Emperor Valentinian III. Ambrose, however, was as yet only a catechumen, preparing for Baptism. Nevertheless, all objections made by him were overruled. He was quickly baptised, confirmed, ordained priest, and consecrated Bishop (December 7, A.D. 374). Divesting himself of all his wealth in favour of the Church and of the poor, he applied himself assiduously to his pastoral duties and to the study of the Holy Scriptures. Arianism was rampant in his Diocese, and in his efforts to eradicate it he experienced many a fierce and bitter struggle. He was the champion of religious liberty in an age of usurpation of authority in spirituals by the secular powers. His courage in reproving and excluding from the church services even the Emperor Theodosius the Great, guilty of the cruel massacre of Thessalonica, is one of the most remarkable examples of Christian heroism recorded in history. His writings are voluminous, and in matters of religious doctrine still constantly appealed to. They bear eloquent testimony to his virtues and learning. He is a prominent figure in all histories of the fourth century. He died April 4, A.D. 397, and was buried by the side of the Martyrs Saints Gervase and Protase, whose relics he had enslirined at Milan. In Saint Peter’s in Rome, his statue is represented as holding up, together with those of Saints Augustine (whom he had converted and baptised), Athanasius and Chrysostom, the Chair of the Prince of the Apostles.

MLA Citation

  • Monks of Ramsgate. “Ambrose”. Book of Saints, 1921. CatholicSaints.Info. 15 April 2017. Web. 11 May 2021. <>