Saint of the Day – 7 December – St Ambrose (c 340-397) – Father and Doctor of the Church

Saint of the Day – 7 December – St Ambrose (c 340-397) – Father and Doctor of the Church

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the memory of St Ambrose, the brilliant Bishop of Milan who influenced St Augustine’s conversion and was named a Doctor of the Church.

Like Augustine himself, the older Ambrose (born around 340) was a highly educated man who sought to harmonise Greek and Roman intellectual culture with the Catholic faith. Trained as a lawyer, he eventually became the governor of Milan.  He manifested his intellectual gifts in defence of Christian doctrine even before his ambrose

While Ambrose was serving as the governor of Milan, a bishop named Auxentius was leading the diocese.   Although he was an excellent public speaker with a forceful personality, Auxentius also followed the heresy of Arius, which denied the divinity of Christ.   Although the Council of Nicaea had reasserted the traditional teaching on Jesus’ deity, many educated members of the Church – including, at one time, a majority of the world’s bishops – looked to Arianism as a more sophisticated and cosmopolitan version of Christianity.   Bishop Auxentius became notorious for forcing clergy throughout the region to accept Arian creeds.

At the time of Auxentius’ death, Ambrose had not yet even been baptised.   But his deep understanding and love of the traditional faith were already clear to the faithful of Milan.   They considered him the most logical choice to succeed Auxentius, even though he was still just a catechumen.   With the help of Emperor Valentinan, who ruled the Western Roman Empire at the time, a mob of Milanese Catholics virtually forced Ambrose to become their bishop against his own will.   Eight days after his baptism, Ambrose received episcopal consecration on 7 December 374.   The date would eventually become his liturgical feast.

St. Ambrose ordained as Bishop. Painting by Juan de Valdés.
St Ambrose consecrated as Bishop

Bishop Ambrose did not disappoint those who had clamoured for his appointment and consecration.   He began his ministry by giving everything he owned to the poor and to the Church.   He looked to the writings of Greek theologians like St Basil for help in explaining the Church’s traditional teachings to the people during times of doctrinal confusion.

Like the fathers of the Eastern Church, Ambrose drew from the intellectual reserves of pre-Christian philosophy and literature to make the faith more comprehensible to his hearers.   This harmony of faith with other sources of knowledge served to attract, among others, the young professor Aurelius Augustinus – a man Ambrose taught and baptised, whom history knows as St Augustine of Hippo.

St Augustine and St Ambrose

Ambrose himself lived simply, wrote prolifically and celebrated Mass each day.   He found time to counsel an amazing range of public officials, pagan inquirers, confused Catholics and penitent sinners.   The people of Milan never regretted their insistence that the reluctant civil servant should lead the local church.   His popularity, in fact, served to keep at bay those who would have preferred to force him from the diocese, including the Western Empress Justina and a group of her advisers, who sought to rid the West of adherence to the Nicene Creed.   Ambrose heroically refused her attempts to impose heretical bishops in Italy, along with her efforts to seize churches in the name of ambrose 1435

Ambrose also displayed remarkable courage when he publicly denied communion to the Emperor Theodosius, who had ordered the massacre of 7,000 citizens in Thessalonica. The chastened emperor took Ambrose’s rebuke to heart, publicly repenting of the massacre and doing penance for the murders.

“Nor was there afterwards a day on which he did not grieve for his mistake,” Ambrose himself noted when he spoke at the emperor’s funeral.   The rebuke spurred a profound change in Emperor Theodosius.   He reconciled himself with the Church and the bishop, who attended to the emperor on his deathbed.

St. Ambrose died in 397.   His 23 years of diligent service had turned a deeply troubled diocese into an exemplary outpost for the faith.   His writings remained an important point of reference for the Church, well into the medieval era and ambrose

At the Catholic Church’s Fifth Ecumenical Council – which took place at Constantinople in 553, and remains a source of authoritative teaching for both Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians – the assembled bishops named Ambrose, along with this protege St Augustine, as being among the foremost “holy fathers” of the Church, whose teaching all bishops should “in every way follow.4 original latin fathes - jerome, gregory, ambrose, augustine - 3 sept 2018




Passionate Catholic. Being a Catholic is a way of life - a love affair "Religion must be like the air we breathe..."- St John Bosco Prayer is what the world needs combined with the example of our lives which testify to the Light of Christ. This site, which is now using the Traditional Calendar, will mainly concentrate on Daily Prayers, Novenas and the Memorials and Feast Days of our friends in Heaven, the Saints who went before us and the great blessings the Church provides in our Catholic Monthly Devotions. This Site is placed under the Patronage of my many favourite Saints and especially, St Paul. "For the Saints are sent to us by God as so many sermons. We do not use them, it is they who move us and lead us, to where we had not expected to go.” Charles Cardinal Journet (1891-1975) This site adheres to the Catholic Church and all her teachings. PLEASE ADVISE ME OF ANY GLARING TYPOS etc - In June 2021 I lost 95% sight in my left eye and sometimes miss errors. Thank you and I pray all those who visit here will be abundantly blessed. Pax et bonum! 🙏

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