St. Ambrose – Table of Contents
St. Ambrose: Overview
- Birth: 340 AD
- Location: Milan, Italy
- Death: 397 AD
- Beatification: N/A (Before the Congregation for the Causes of Saints)
- Canonized: Unknown (Before the Congregation for the Causes of Saints)
- Feast Day: December 7th
- Patron Saint of: Milan, beekeepers, bees, and candlemakers
Who was Saint Ambrose? Theologian, Statesman, and Doctor of the Church
Saint Ambrose of Milan was one of the Fathers and Doctors of the Early Church. Born around 340 AD in modern-day Germany to an affluent Christian family, Ambrose was educated in Rome, where he studied law.
After his father’s death, he returned to Germany and entered public service. He helped shape the Church’s doctrine, and he played a significant role in the Christianization of the Roman Empire. Later known as the “Honey-Tongued Doctor,” he is remembered as a wise and compassionate leader who used his gift of divine preaching to serve God and His people.
Once, he moderated a heated conflict between Arians and Catholics, and the people immediately chose him for their bishop, even though he hadn’t yet been baptized.
Ambrose was finally baptized and just eight days later was ordained the bishop of Milan. Having no prior familiarity with the Bible, Ambrose faithfully practiced lectio divina and prayerfully read God’s Word.
Defender Against Arianism
The Arian controversy was a major theological dispute in the early Christian Church that lasted from the fourth to the sixth century. The Arians believed that Jesus Christ was not fully divine. They argued that Jesus was created by God the Father, and that he was therefore subordinate to God.
Ambrose, who was the bishop of Milan at the time, was a strong defender of the orthodox faith, which holds that Jesus Christ is both fully human and fully divine. He argued that Jesus was co-eternal with God the Father, and that He was therefore of the same substance as God.
Influence on the Development of the Early Church
Ambrose’s defense of the orthodox faith was so instrumental in the defeat of Arianism, that In 381, the First Council of Constantinople declared that Jesus Christ is “of one substance with the Father”. This statement of faith, known as the Nicene Creed, became the standard of orthodoxy in the Christian Church.
His role in the Arian controversy was a major turning point in the history of Christianity. His defense of the orthodox faith helped to ensure that the Church would remain united in its belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ.
Ambrose also played a significant role in other areas of Christian doctrine. He wrote on a variety of theological points, including the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Atonement. His writings helped to shape the development of early Christian thought.
St. Ambrose was a gifted writer and speaker, later known as the “Honey-Tongued Doctor” and patron saint of bees, beekeepers, and candlemakers. He tirelessly preached that Jesus is everything for us. He believed this so much that it is reflected in his generosity to the poor. He donated all of his land and possessions until he had nothing but basic provisions.
Ambrose is famous for being a spiritual father to St. Augustine of Hippo, whom he mentored and baptized into the faith. He died in 397 on Holy Saturday, after receiving the Eucharist for the last time.
“Let your door stand open to receive [God], unlock your soul to Him, offer Him a welcome in your mind, and then you will see the riches of simplicity, the treasures of peace, the joy of grace. Throw wide the gate of your heart, stand before the sun of the everlasting light.”
St. Ambrose, pray for us!
St. Ambrose Prayers
Prayer before Mass
Remember, Lord, your creature, whom You have redeemed with Your Blood. I repent my sins, and I long to put right what I have done. Merciful father, take away all my offenses and sins; purify me in body and soul, and make me worthy to taste the holy of holies. May Your Body and Blood, which I intend to receive, although I am unworthy, be for me the remission of my sins, the washing away of my guilt, the end of my evil thoughts, and the rebirth of my better instincts. May it incite me to do the works pleasing to you and profitable to my health in body and soul, and be a firm defense against the wiles of my enemies. Amen.
O Lord, who has mercy upon all, take away from me my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore You, a heart to delight in You, to follow and enjoy You, for Christ’s sake. Amen
St. Ambrose Quotes
- “It is a better thing to save souls for the Lord than to save treasures.”
- “The devil tempts that he may ruin; God tests that he may crown.”
- “No one is good but God alone. What is good is therefore divine, what is divine is therefore good.”
- St. Ambrose Catholic Parish (Albion, RI)
- St. Ambrose University
- St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church (Tucson, Ariz.)
- Ambrose Academy (Madison, Wis.)
- St. Ambrose Catholic Church (Little Hocking, Ohio)