New Catholic Dictionary – Saint Ambrose

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, OPDerivation

    Greek: immortal


(340397) Father and Doctor of the Church, bishop of Milan, born in Gaul, his father being Prefect of Gaul (modern France, Britain, Spain, and part of Africa), Ambrose distinguished himself as a lawyer and as consular governor of Liguria and Æmilia, with residence in Milan. When striving to hold an orderly election of a bishop to that see in 374, the people acclaimed him, although, out of reverence for Baptism, he was still only a catechumen preparing for it. Baptized, he was ordained priest, and consecrated bishop, 7 December 374. He gave his personal property to the poor, his landed possessions to the Church, studied the Scriptures and the Fathers, and preached every Sunday, frequently on virginity. His popularity enabled him to withstand the fierce Arian heretics and the encroachments of the secular powers on the Church. His influence over the rulers was such that when Theodosius had caused the massacre of thousands of citizens at Thessalonica, Ambrose insisted on his doing public penance. He was instrumental in the conversion of Saint Augustine. Ambrose left many writings on Scripture, priesthood, virginity, and doctrinal subjects; he composed many hymns and is one of the founders of Christian hymnology; Ambrosian Chant, Hymnography, and the Milanese Rite are named after him. So also was the Order of Saint Ambrose, founded at Milan in the 14th century, several Oblate congregations, and the Ambrosian Library, founded by Cardinal Federigo Borromeo. Patron of wax-chandlers. Emblems: bees, dove, human bones, ox, pen. Relics in Milan. Feast, 7 December.

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Ambrose”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 23 October 2010. Web. 22 September 2021. <>