Saint Ambrose

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Saint Ambrose (ăm´brōz), 340?–397, bishop of Milan, Doctor of the Church, b. Trier, of Christian parents. Educated at Rome, he became (c.372) governor of Liguria and Aemilia—with the capital at Milan. He was highly regarded as governor and popular pressure resulted in his appointment (374) as bishop, although he was reluctant and lacked religious training. After much study he became the chief Catholic opponent of Arianism in the West. He was adviser to Emperor Gratian, whom he persuaded to outlaw (379) all heresy in the West. He firmly refused the demands of Justina and the young Emperor Valentinian II to surrender a church of his diocese to the Arians. "The Emperor," he preached, "is in the Church, not above it." He excommunicated Theodosius I for the massacre at Salonica (390) and imposed a heavy public penance on him before reinstating him. Ambrose's eloquent preaching spurred the conversion of St. Augustine. His writings have come down to us largely from his hearers. They reveal wide classical learning, knowledge of patristic literature, and a Roman bent toward the ethical and practical. Of his formal works, On the Duties of the Clergy (De officiis ministrorum) shows the influence of Cicero; On the Christian Faith (De fide) was written at Gratian's request. Ambrose's method of biblical interpretation was allegorical, following Philo and Origen. About 386 he arranged hymns and psalms for the congregation to sing antiphonally. A plainsong called Ambrosian chant is attached to his name. His hymns, written in the iambic dimeter that became standard in Western hymnody, were widely imitated. Only a few are extant. The Ambrosian Rite used in Milan today is probably a development of a liturgy Ambrose introduced. Feast: Dec. 7.

See biography by A. Paredi (1964); C. Morino, Church and State in the Teaching of St. Ambrose (1969).

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Ambrose, St (c.339–97). Bishop of Milan. He was trained in rhetoric and law, and assumed the see in c.374, after having been civil governor. He was famous as a preacher and champion of orthodoxy (e.g. against the Arians). He was a strong advocate of monasticism, writing on asceticism, and also interpreting Eastern theology for the West. He is one of the four original Doctors of the W. Church. Feast day, usually 7 Dec.

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Ambrose, St (c.339–97), Doctor of the Church and bishop of Milan. A champion of orthodoxy, he also encouraged developments in church music. He was partly responsible for the conversion of St Augustine of Hippo, and forced the emperor Theodosius to do public penance for a massacre carried out on his orders at Thessalonica; for this Ambrose is sometimes shown with a scourge.

In the Confessions of St Augustine, he is noted as reading silently to himself rather than aloud: ‘When he was reading, he drew his eyes along over the leaves, and his heart searched into the sense, but his voice and tongue were silent.’

According to legend, when he was a child a swarm of bees settled on his mouth, symbolizing his future eloquence. His emblems are a beehive and a scourge, and his feast day is 7 December.

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Ambrose, Saint (c.339–97) Roman cleric who, as Bishop of Milan from 374, resisted demands to surrender Milan's churches to the Arians and refused to compromise his orthodox position. He was the author of works on theology and ethics that greatly influenced the thought of the Western Church. His feast day is December 7. See also Arianism