Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Feast of St. Ambrose, Doctor & Bishop of Milan

St. Ambrose, by Francisco de Zurburan

Today, 7 December, is the feast of the great Latin Doctor of the Church and Bishop of Milan, St. Ambrose (+397)

His election as Bishop of Milan, Italy, in 374 was a surprising turn of events for a mere catechumen, but the wisdom of the decision was certainly vindicated.  The able civil administrator proved a diligent, erudite, and competent bishop and a bulwark against the Arian heresy.  On 7 December 374, he was installed as bishop, and exercised his episcopal duties until his death in 397.

St. Ambrose is rightly famous for two events, in particular, aside from his election:
In 387, he baptized a brilliant convert to Christianity, St. Augustine of Hippo, at the Easter Vigil.  These two of the four original Latin Doctors of the Church will forever be linked for the brilliant of their writings and sanctity of their lives as bishops.

St. Ambrose barring Theodosius from Milan Cathedral by Anthony van Dyck

The second event came in 390, and pictured above.  An imperial governor had been murdered in Thessalonica, and the Emperor Theodosius "the Great," a baptized Catholic, massacred a stadium full (7,000) of  in revenge.  The Bishop of Milan, St. Ambrose rebuked the emperor, requiring him to do months of public penance before being readmitted to Holy Communion.  In a great contrast to what might have happened at the beginning of the century, this Emperor heeded the correction and repented!  It is reported that Theodosius said of Ambrose: "I know of no bishop worthy of the name, except Ambrose."

For more on this great bishop and doctor, you might note:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Ambrose of Milan

Catholic Saints Info: St. Ambrose of Milan

This site offers the full texts of some of his works, in English translation.  You find him in his alphabetical place: NewAdvent: Fathers of the Church

For a bit on the Ambrosian liturgy of Milan, you might note: Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Ambrosian Liturgy and Rite and Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Ambrosian Chant

One of this blogger's favorite churches in Rome, Italy, is named for St. Ambrose, along with another, later, Bishop of Milan, St. Charles Borromeo: Santi Ambrogio e Carlo al Corso: Archconfraternity of Saints Ambrose and Charles

Live well!

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