Readings & Reflections: Thursday of the First Week in Advent & St. Ambrose, December 7,2017

Readings & Reflections: Thursday of the First Week in Advent & St. Ambrose, December 7,2017

Ambrose was born in Trier around 340 A.D. Having won acclaim as a lawyer, Ambrose was appointed as Roman governor, residing in Milan. When a new bishop was to be elected at the cathedral, contention broke out between Arians and Christians. Ambrose rose to quell the raucous crowd. Suddenly, a little child cried out, “Ambrose, bishop!” The multitude joined in acclamation. Only a catechumen at the time, Ambrose was installed on December 7, a mere eight days after his baptism as bishop of Milan at age thirty-five. He immediately divested himself of all worldly possessions and threw himself into the study of the Church Fathers, learning their writings in order to teach. An eloquent preacher, he was especially noted for his homilies on virginity. So convincing were his discourse that some mothers refrained from sending their daughters to his Sunday Mass, for fear of losing them to the Church. A young Augustine was moved toward the Christian faith by the power of Ambrose’s words. In homilies and moral works, he extolled the virginity of Mary and defended the divinity of Christ against the Arian heresy. He died in 397 A.D. with his arms outreached in the sign of the cross. He is one of the four Latin Doctors of the Church.

Advent is the time to rebuild our house – “solidly on rock.” “For the Lord is an eternal Rock.” Amidst the relentless flooding and buffeting of life, the Father sets up “ramparts to protect us” – the arms of his Son. Advent urges us to “trust in the Lord forever!” Our “firm purpose” is to surrender ourselves to Jesus Christ. He will keep us in peace.


Opening Prayer

“Lord, you are the only foundation that can hold us up when trials and disaster threaten us. Give me the wisdom, foresight, and strength of character I need to do what is right and good and to reject whatever is false and contrary to your will   May I be a doer of your word and not a hearer only.”  Let your will be my very own. In your Mighty Name, I pray. Amen.

Reading I
Is 26:1-6

On that day they will sing this song in the land of Judah:

“A strong city have we; he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.
Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps faith.
A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace; in peace, for its trust in you.”

Trust in the LORD forever! For the LORD is an eternal Rock. He humbles those in high places, and the lofty city he brings down; He tumbles it to the ground, levels it with the dust. It is trampled underfoot by the needy,by the footsteps of the poor.

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 118:1 and 8-9, 19-21, 25-27a

R. (26a) Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
R. Alleluia.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.
R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
R. Alleluia.

Open to me the gates of justice;
I will enter them and give thanks to the LORD.
This gate is the LORD’s;
the just shall enter it.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my savior.
R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
R. Alleluia.

O LORD, grant salvation!
O LORD, grant prosperity!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD;
we bless you from the house of the LORD.
The LORD is God, and he has given us light.
R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

R. Alleluia.

Alleluia Is 55:6

R.Alleluia, alleluia.
Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call him while he is near.
R.Alleluia, alleluia.

Mt 7:21, 24-27

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’  will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.  The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house.  But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them
will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.  And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – A faithful follower of Christ

What will make us a faithful follower of Christ?  It is not verbal commitment to our Lord that counts but doing His will. Being one with our Lord in thought, word and deed, in our deepest desires and motivations, is one adequate expression of our love relationship with our God and our commitment to His cause. Doing His will with a cheerful heart despite the difficulties and trials that may have cramped our lives is a sign of an authentic follower of Christ.

Who will enter the heavenly kingdom of our Father? Jesus Himself said: “only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

To do the will of the Father is to be like Jesus and live as He lived. To be like Jesus, we have to walk the talk just as Jesus did. We should be totally dependent upon God and our lives and all that relate to our being should reflect God’s character, His will and plan for us.

In John 4:34, Jesus said: “doing the will of Him who sent me and bringing his work to completion is my food.”  Doing God’s will was so satisfying to Jesus as a good meal is to most of us. Doing God’s will should be our food if we have to experience satisfaction.  When we include God in our lives and make Him part of us, we are only bound to experience fulfilled lives which can nourish and refresh us and bring us the peace and serenity that we always long for. God’s will is good, totally acceptable and perfect and can only bring us joy and contentment even in our most bitter and difficult situations.

God wants us to have the opportunity to be one with us and He is waiting for us to respond to his call. God may bring with Him “somethings” which we never planned for in the past but we have to receive them as our own and carry them. When we respond to God in this manner, we give Him the right to work out His will in our lives and be God for all of us.   But if we fail to be one with our Lord and set Him aside in our lives, we get stuck in being god of our lives.

Doing God’s will is picking up our cross and carrying it in His Name. Doing God’s will is dying to self, our pride and arrogance and always asking God for the grace to submit to Him, “yet not what I will but what thou has willed.”


God’s will for us is an expression of His infinitely perfect plan and it certainly demands our obedience.


Heavenly Father, give me the grace to be fully committed to your Word, your will and perfect plan for me. In Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Reflection 2 – Who shall enter the kingdom of heaven?

What’s the best security against disaster and destruction? In the ancient world a strong city, an impregnable fortress, and a secure house were built on solid rock because they could withstand the forces of nature and foe alike. Isaiah speaks of God as an “everlasting rock” (Isaiah 26:4). He is the rock of refuge and deliverance (Psalm 18:2) and the rock in whom there is no wrong (Psalm 92:15). Scripture warns that destruction will surely come to those who place their security in something other than God and his kingdom. Jesus’ parables invite us to stake our lives on the coming of his kingdom or face the consequences of being unprepared when the day of testing and destruction will surely come.

The only foundation that can keep us safe
When Jesus told the story of the builders he likely had the following proverb in mind: “When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm for ever” (Proverbs 10:25). What’s the significance of the story for us? The kind of foundation we build our lives upon will determine whether we can survive the storms that are sure to come. Builders usually lay their foundations when the weather and soil conditions are at their best. It takes foresight to know how a foundation will stand up against adverse conditions. Building a house on a flood plain, such as a dry river-bed, is a sure bet for disaster! Jesus prefaced his story with a warning: We may fool humans with our speech, but God cannot be deceived. He sees the heart as it truly is – with its motives, intentions, desires, and choices (Psalm 139:2).

There is only one way in which a person’s sincerity can be proved, and that is by one’s practice. Fine words can never replace good deeds. Our character is revealed in the choices we make, especially when we must choose between what is true and false, good and evil. Do you cheat on an exam or on your income taxes, especially when it will cost you? Do you lie, or cover-up, when disclosing the truth will cause you pain or embarrassment? A true person is honest and reliable before God, neighbor, and oneself. Such a person’s word can be taken as trustworthy.

Christ is the only rock that can save us
What can keep us from falsehood and spiritual disaster? If we make the Lord Jesus and his word the rock and foundation of our lives, then nothing can shake us nor keep us from God’s presence and protection. Is the Lord Jesus and his word the one sure foundation of your life?

“Lord Jesus, you are the only foundation that can hold us up when trials and disaster threaten us. Give me the wisdom, foresight, and strength of character I need to do what is right and good and to reject whatever is false and contrary to your will. May I be a doer of your word and not a hearer only.” – Read the source:


Reflection 3 – Will obedience get us to heaven?

Today’s Gospel reading answers the question: “Can people lose their salvation?” Many Protestants believe in the theology of “once saved always saved” and that heaven is forever guaranteed on the day of conversion when a person says yes to the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus.

Catholic teaching, however, acknowledges that a conversion might not be sincere or complete, and that deliberate, terrible sins will turn an unrepentant sinner away from Christ forever (we call such sins “mortal”, because they kill the soul).

Knowing this can happen, many good Catholics fear that someday they might choose to turn away from Christ.

Salvation is more than knowing who Jesus is. Many know who he is without knowing him. He is more than a who. Demons know who he is and even obey his commands. Obedience alone does not get anyone into heaven.

Jesus is more than an authority we must obey. To know Jesus is to know what he’s all about (his purpose, his love, and his life). When we honestly choose to trust in the “what” about Jesus, we naturally want to be just like him. We want to follow him, doing what he does, all the way to heaven.

People can believe in Jesus and yet remain in the darkness of sin and eternal death. To live in the light of Christ and remain there, we must not only believe that he is God. We must not only believe that he is Savior. We must also believe in everything — oh yes, everything! — that he taught by word and by deed.

We birth Jesus into the world (guiding others toward heaven) and we ensure our own place in heaven by listening to his words and acting upon them. Salvation is more than our words of belief. It’s our actions, which we do because we believe. We act the way Jesus acted and we do what Jesus did, and this is how Jesus is born again and again from us — through our behavior.

Today’s Gospel reading ends the Sermon on the Mount, which started with Matthew’s fifth chapter. Read this entire sermon to find out how well you are sharing Christ with the people around you. We birth Christ into the world, for example, when we love our enemies, or when we forgive, or (as he said earlier in this sermon) when we do more than what is asked of us by going the extra mile.

Obedience is merely the minimum. To carry Christ into the world, we have to embrace the way he carried the cross, caring so much for others that we gladly make sacrifices. And although the cross looks like the antithesis of Christmas, it is the reason that Christmas exists. Isn’t this why Christmas is the biggest gift-giving holiday of the year?

Love is what motivates us to do more than the minimum. If we love, we cannot help but want to do more, because unconditional, sacrificial love is the nature of Jesus. When we love others, he is loving them through us, and thus we are united to him and will most certainly go to heaven with him. – Read the source:


Reflection 4 – On rock or sand

Everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. –Matthew 7:26

Japan’s second-largest airport is sinking into the ocean. When Kansai International near Osaka was constructed on an artificial island, designers and builders knew that it would settle. They built hydraulic jacks into the structures to correct any tilt that occurred. But during its first 6 years, several key portions of the airport have reached or exceeded their 50-year sinking projection. They say there is no reason to be alarmed, but local residents are not so sure.

Most of us will never design or build an airport, but we are all in the process of constructing a life. There is no more crucial decision than choosing the foundation upon which we build.

Jesus used the metaphor of building on sand to describe the person who hears His words but does not put them into practice. “The floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house,” Jesus said, “and it fell. And great was its fall” (Matthew 7:27). Merely hearing what Jesus says is not enough.

In contrast, Jesus likened the person who hears and keeps His teachings to a wise man who builds his house on the rock (v.24). Not even the fiercest storm can bring it down.

Solid rock or sinking sand? On what foundation are we choosing to build today?    — David C. McCasland

If you want life’s truest treasures
Do not build on sinking sand;
Build upon the Rock of Ages,
Trust in God’s almighty hand. —Jarvis

With God’s word as your foundation, you can build a godly life (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 5 – The Storm

Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock. —Matthew 7:24

Neal Beidleman survived the ill-fated 1996 expedition in which eight climbers died on Mount Everest. Some of them had paid $65,000 for a chance to scale the world’s highest peak. In assessing what went wrong, Beidleman said, “Tragedies and disasters . . . are not the result of a single decision, a single event, or a single mistake. They are the culmination of things in your life. Something happens and it becomes a catalyst for all the things you’ve had at risk.”

On Everest, that “something” was a raging blizzard. According to journalist Todd Burgess, “If not for the storm, the climbers may have gotten away with taking so many risks. But the storm exposed their weaknesses.”

The things at risk in our lives today—matters of spiritual indifference or disobedience—can overwhelm us when the storms come. Jesus told a story of the wise and foolish builders to stress the importance of obedience to His words (Matthew 7:24-27). He said, “Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (v.24).

Obedience to Christ doesn’t eliminate the tempests of life, but it does determine whether we fall or stand in the storm.  — David C. McCasland

Living for the Lord, fearing Him each day,
Best prepares the soul for the stormy way;
Then as trials come, tempting to despair,
We can rest secure, safe within His care. —D. De Haan

The storms of life reveal the strength of our faith (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 6 – How To Build A House

Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock. –Matthew 7:24

I am not an expert carpenter, but I did build my own house (at least most of it). In the process, I learned that I needed a detailed blueprint and the help of someone who had building experience.

The construction project referred to in Matthew 7:24-29 makes mine look like child’s play. What Jesus said applies to the lifelong process of building godly character. The detailed instructions are outlined in the Sermon on the Mount. Here are some of them: We must go the extra mile (5:41), bless those who curse us (5:44), and treat others as we would want them to treat us (7:12).

As we try to put Jesus’ instructions into practice, we face the challenge of building. No sooner do we seek to obey than we see our need for the help of someone who is wiser and stronger than we are. Jesus, the Master Builder, is that One. He lived a perfect life and died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. When we receive Him as our Savior, we receive the One who was tempted just as we are, yet He was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). And He will never leave us (13:5-6).

Study the plan carefully and seek the wisdom of Jesus always. Only He can help you to build a house that is strong enough to withstand the storms of life.  — Dennis J. De Haan

The wise man builds his house on rock
Instead of sinking sand
By doing what the Builder says
And following His plan. —Sper

To build a godly life, let God be the architect and His Word the blueprint (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 7 – A Rock-Solid Foundation

No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. —1 Corinthians 3:11

As Christians we can become so preoccupied with our earthly affairs that we shift our confidence from Jesus Christ to faith in our own intellect. Then something happens to shake the foundation on which we had been building.

Phillip E. Johnson, a gifted lawyer and primary spokesman for the Intelligent Design movement, suffered a stroke and was likely to have another. Plagued by frightening thoughts during those first few days after his stroke, he was profoundly touched when a friend came and sang, “On Christ, the solid rock, I stand—all other ground is sinking sand.”

Johnson writes, “What was the solid rock on which I stood? I had always prided myself on being self-reliant, and my brain was what I had relied on. Now the self with its brain was exposed as the shaky instrument it had always been. I was a Christian, even an ardent one in my worldly fashion, but now all the smoke was blown away, and I saw Truth close up.” He resolved to keep Jesus at the center of his life and is now a different man.

How quickly we rely on our intellect and reasoning, only to find that it is a “shaky instrument.” Let’s never forget that Jesus is the only rock-solid foundation of truth on which we can always depend.
— Herbert Vander Lugt

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name. —Mote

Build your life on the solid foundation—Jesus Christ (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 8 – St. Ambrose (340?-397 A.D.)

One of Ambrose’s biographers observed that at the Last Judgment people would still be divided between those who admired Ambrose and those who heartily disliked him. He emerges as the man of action who cut a furrow through the lives of his contemporaries. Even royal personages were numbered among those who were to suffer crushing divine punishments for standing in Ambrose’s way.

When the Empress Justina attempted to wrest two basilicas from Ambrose’s Catholics and give them to the Arians, he dared the eunuchs of the court to execute him. His own people rallied behind him in the face of imperial troops. In the midst of riots, he both spurred and calmed his people with bewitching new hymns set to exciting Eastern melodies.

In his disputes with the Emperor Auxentius, he coined the principle: “The emperor is in the Church, not above the Church.” He publicly admonished Emperor Theodosius for the massacre of 7,000 innocent people. The emperor did public penance for his crime. This was Ambrose, the fighter, sent to Milan as Roman governor and chosen while yet a catechumen to be the people’s bishop.

There is yet another side of Ambrose—one which influenced Augustine of Hippo, whom Ambrose converted. Ambrose was a passionate little man with a high forehead, a long melancholy face, and great eyes. We can picture him as a frail figure clasping the codex of sacred Scripture. This was the Ambrose of aristocratic heritage and learning.

Augustine found the oratory of Ambrose less soothing and entertaining but far more learned than that of other contemporaries. Ambrose’s sermons were often modeled on Cicero, and his ideas betrayed the influence of contemporary thinkers and philosophers. He had no scruples in borrowing at length from pagan authors. He gloried in the pulpit in his ability to parade his spoils—“gold of the Egyptians”—taken over from the pagan philosophers.

His sermons, his writings and his personal life reveal him as an otherworldly man involved in the great issues of his day. Humanity, for Ambrose, was, above all, spirit. In order to think rightly of God and the human soul, the closest thing to God, no material reality at all was to be dwelt upon. He was an enthusiastic champion of consecrated virginity.

The influence of Ambrose on Augustine will always be open for discussion. TheConfessions reveal some manly, brusque encounters between Ambrose and Augustine, but there can be no doubt of Augustine’s profound esteem for the learned bishop.

Neither is there any doubt that St. Monica loved Ambrose as an angel of God who uprooted her son from his former ways and led him to his convictions about Christ. It was Ambrose, after all, who placed his hands on the shoulders of the naked Augustine as he descended into the baptismal fountain to put on Christ.


Ambrose exemplifies for us the truly catholic character of Christianity. He is a man steeped in the learning, law and culture of the ancients and of his contemporaries. Yet, in the midst of active involvement in this world, this thought runs through Ambrose’s life and preaching: The hidden meaning of the Scriptures calls our spirit to rise to another world.


“Women and men are not mistaken when they regard themselves as superior to mere bodily creatures and as more than mere particles of nature or nameless units in modern society. For by their power to know themselves in the depths of their being they rise above the entire universe of mere objects…. Endowed with wisdom, women and men are led through visible realities to those which are invisible” (Vatican II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, 14–15, Austin Flannery translation).

Patron Saint of: Bee keepers, Learning

Read the source:

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

“St. Ambrose” redirects here. For the university, see Saint Ambrose University. For other uses, see Ambrose (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Ambrosius Aurelianus, Romano-British war leader also known as Aurelius Ambrosius.
Archbishop of Milan

Early mosaic of Ambrose that might be an actual portrait.
SEE MediolanumDiocese of Milan
TERM ENDED April 4, 397
SUCCESSOR Simplician
CONSECRATION December 7, 374
BORN c. 340 AD
Augusta Treverorum,
Gallia BelgicaRoman Empire
(present-day Germany)
DIED April 4, 397
Italia annonariaRoman Empire
(present-day Italy)
FEAST DAY December 7[1]
VENERATED IN Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Oriental Orthodoxy
Anglican Communion
Lutheran Church
TITLE AS SAINT Confessor and Doctor of the Church
ATTRIBUTES Beehive, a child, whip, bones
PATRONAGE bee keepers; bees; candle makers; domestic animals; French Commissariat; learning; Milan; students; wax refiners
SHRINES Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio

Aurelius Ambrosius, better known in English as Saint Ambrose (/ˈæmbrz/; c. 340 – 4 April 397), was a bishop of Milan who became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He was consular prefect ofLiguria and Emilia, headquartered in Milan, before being made bishop of Milan by popular acclamation in 374. Ambrose was a staunch opponent of Arianism, and has been accused of fostering persecutions of Arians, Jews, and pagans.

Traditionally, Ambrose is credited with promoting “antiphonal chant”, a style of chanting in which one side of the choir responds alternately to the other, as well as with composing Veni redemptor gentium, a Advent hymn.

Ambrose was one of the four original doctors of the Church, and is the patron saint of Milan. He is notable for his influence on St. Augustine.


Early life[edit]

Ambrose was born into a Roman Christian family about 340 AD and was raised in Trier.[2] His father was Aurelius Ambrosius,[3][4] the praetorian prefect of Gaul;[1][page needed] his mother was a woman of intellect and piety. Ambrose’s siblings, Satyrus (who is the subject of Ambrose’s De excessu fratris Satyri) and Marcellina, are also venerated as saints.[5] There is a legend that as an infant, a swarm of beessettled on his face while he lay in his cradle, leaving behind a drop of honey. His father considered this a sign of his future eloquence and honeyed tongue. For this reason, bees and beehivesoften appear in the saint’s symbology.

After the early death of his father, Ambrose followed his father’s career. He was educated in Rome, studying literature,law, and rhetoric.[6] Praetorian prefect Probus first gave him a place in the council and then in about 372 made himconsular prefect or “Governor” of Liguria and Emilia, with headquarters at Milan, which was then (beside Rome) the second capital in Italy.[1][page needed]

Ambrose was the Governor of Aemilia-Liguria in northern Italy until 374 when he became the Bishop of Milan. He was a very popular political figure, and since he was the Governor in the effective capital in the Roman West, he was a recognizable figure in the court of the Emperor Valentinian I. Ambrose never married.

Bishop of Milan[edit]

The body of Ambrose (with white vestments) in the crypt of Sant’Ambrogio basilica.

In the late 4th century there was a deep conflict in the diocese of Milan between the Catholics and Arians.[7][8] In 374the bishop of Milan, Auxentius, an Arian, died, and the Arians challenged the succession. Ambrose went to the church where the election was to take place, to prevent an uproar, which was probable in this crisis. His address was interrupted by a call “Ambrose, bishop!”, which was taken up by the whole assembly.[8]

Ambrose was known to be Catholic in belief, but also acceptable to Arians due to the charity shown in theological matters in this regard. At first he energetically refused the office, for which he was in no way prepared: Ambrose was neither baptized nor formally trained in theology.[1] Upon his appointment, Ambrose fled to a colleague’s home seeking to hide. Upon receiving a letter from the Emperor Gratian praising the appropriateness of Rome appointing individuals evidently worthy of holy positions, Ambrose’s host gave him up. Within a week, he was baptized, ordained and duly consecrated bishop of Milan.

As bishop, he immediately adopted an ascetic lifestyle, apportioned his money to the poor, donating all of his land, making only provision for his sister Marcellina (who later became a nun),[2] and committed the care of his family to his brother. This raised his popularity even further, giving him considerable political leverage over even the emperor. Ambrose also wrote a treatise by the name of “The Goodness of Death”.


According to legend, Ambrose immediately and forcefully stopped Arianism in Milan. He studied theology with Simplician, a presbyterof Rome. Using his excellent knowledge of Greek, which was then rare in the West, to his advantage, he studied the Old Testament and Greek authors like PhiloOrigenAthanasius, and Basil of Caesarea, with whom he was also exchanging letters.[9] He applied this knowledge as preacher, concentrating especially on exegesis of the Old Testament, and his rhetorical abilities impressed Augustine of Hippo, who hitherto had thought poorly of Christian preachers.

In the confrontation with Arians, Ambrose sought to theologically refute their propositions, which were contrary to the Nicene creedand thus to the officially defined orthodoxy. The Arians appealed to many high level leaders and clergy in both the Western and Eastern empires. Although the western Emperor Gratian supported orthodoxy, the younger Valentinian II, who became his colleague in the Empire, adhered to the Arian creed.[10] Ambrose did not sway the young prince’s position. In the East, Emperor Theodosius Ilikewise professed the Nicene creed; but there were many adherents of Arianism throughout his dominions, especially among the higher clergy.

In this contested state of religious opinion, two leaders of the Arians, bishops Palladius of Ratiaria and Secundianus of Singidunum, confident of numbers, prevailed upon Gratian to call a general councilfrom all parts of the empire. This request appeared so equitable that he complied without hesitation. However, Ambrose feared the consequences and prevailed upon the emperor to have the matter determined by a council of the Western bishops. Accordingly, a synodcomposed of thirty-two bishops was held at Aquileia in the year 381. Ambrose was elected president and Palladius, being called upon to defend his opinions, declined. A vote was then taken, when Palladius and his associate Secundianus were deposed from their episcopal offices.

Nevertheless, the increasing strength of the Arians proved a formidable task for Ambrose. In 385[10] or 386 the emperor and his mother Justina, along with a considerable number of clergy and laity, especially military, professed Arianism. They demanded two churches in Milan, one in the city (the Basilica of the Apostles), the other in the suburbs (St Victor’s), to the Arians.[10] Ambrose refused and was required to answer for his conduct before the council.[1][page needed] He went, his eloquence in defense of the Church reportedly overawing the ministers of Valentinian, so he was permitted to retire without making the surrender of the churches. The day following, when he was performing divine service in the basilica, the prefect of the city came to persuade him to give up at least the Portian basilica in the suburbs. As he still refused, certain deans or officers of the court were sent to take possession of the Portian basilica, by hanging up in it imperial escutcheons[10] to prepare for the arrival of the emperor and his mother at the ensuing festival of Easter.

In spite of Imperial opposition, Bishop Ambrose declared:

If you demand my person, I am ready to submit: carry me to prison or to death, I will not resist; but I will never betray the church of Christ. I will not call upon the people to succour me; I will die at the foot of the altar rather than desert it. The tumult of the people I will not encourage: but God alone can appease it.

Imperial relations[edit]

The imperial court was displeased with the religious principles of Ambrose, however his aid was soon solicited by the Emperor. When Magnus Maximus usurped the supreme power in Gaul, and was meditating a descent upon Italy, Valentinian sent Ambrose to dissuade him from the undertaking, and the embassy was successful.

A second later embassy was unsuccessful. The enemy entered Italyand Milan was taken. Justina and her son fled but Ambrose remained at his post and did good service to many of the sufferers by causing the plate of the church to be melted for their relief.

In 385 Ambrose, backed by Milan’s populace, refused Valentinian II‘s imperial request to hand over the Portian basilica for the use of Arian troops. In 386 Justina and Valentinian received the Arian bishop Auxentius the younger, and Ambrose was again ordered to hand over a church in Milan for Arian usage. Ambrose and his congregation barricaded themselves inside the church, and the imperial order was rescinded.[11]

Theodosius I, the emperor of the East, espoused the cause of Justina, and regained the kingdom. Theodosius wasexcommunicatedby Ambrose for the massacre of 7,000 people at Thessalonica in 390, after the murder of the Roman governor there by rioters.[1][page needed] Ambrose told Theodosius to imitate David in his repentance as he had imitated him in guilt — Ambrose readmitted the emperor to the Eucharist only after several months of penance. Ambrose also forced Theodosius to retreat from compensating a Jewish community in Mesopotamia when a synagogue was burnt down by militant Christians.[12][13] These incidents show the strong position of a bishop in the Western part of the empire, even when facing a strong emperor — the controversy of John Chrysostom with a much weaker emperor a few years later in Constantinople led to a crushing defeat of the bishop.

In 392, after the death of Valentinian II and the acclamation of Eugenius, Ambrose supplicated the emperor for the pardon of those who had supported Eugenius after Theodosius was eventually victorious.

painting of St. Ambrose

Saint Ambrose with scourge and book, a painting in the church of San Giuseppe alla Lungara, Rome

Attitude towards Jews[edit]

In his treatise on Abraham, Ambrose warns against intermarriage with pagans, Jews, or heretics.[14] In 388, EmperorTheodosius the Great was informed that a crowd of Christians, led by their bishop, had destroyed the synagogue at Callinicum on the Euphrates. He ordered the synagogue rebuilt at the expense of the bishop.[15]Ambrose wrote to him, pointing out that he was thereby “exposing the bishop to the danger of either acting against the truth or of death”; in the letter “the reasons given for the imperial rescript are met, especially by the plea that the Jews had burnt many churches”.[16] In the course of the letter Ambrose speaks of the clemency that the emperor had shown with regard to the burning of other buildings and then adds: “There is, then, no adequate cause for such a commotion, that the people should be so severely punished for the burning of a building, and much less since it is the burning of a synagogue, a home of unbelief, a house of impiety, a receptacle of folly, which God Himself has condemned. For thus we read, where the Lord our God speaks by the mouth of the prophet Jeremiah: ‘And I will do to this house, which is called by My Name, wherein ye trust, and to the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh, and I will cast you forth from My sight, as I cast forth your brethren, the whole seed of Ephraim. And do not thou pray for that people, and do not thou ask mercy for them, and do not come near Me on their behalf, for I will not hear thee. Or seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah?’[17] God forbids intercession to be made for those.”[16][18] In his exposition of Psalm 1, Ambrose says: “Virtues without faith are leaves, flourishing in appearance, but unproductive. How many pagans have mercy and sobriety but no fruit, because they do not attain their purpose! The leaves speedily fall at the wind’s breath. Some Jews exhibit purity of life and much diligence and love of study, but bear no fruit and live like leaves.”[19]

Attitude towards pagans[edit]

Under Ambrose’s major influence, emperors GratianValentinian IIand Theodosius I carried on a persecution of Paganism.[20][21][22][23]Under Ambrose’s influence, Theodosius issued the 391 “Theodosian decrees,” which with increasing intensity outlawed Pagan practises,[21][24] and the Altar of Victory was removed by Gratian. Ambrose prevailed upon Gratian, Valentinian and Theodosius to reject requests to restore the Altar.

Later years and death[edit]

In April 393 Arbogastmagister militum of the West and his puppet Emperor Eugenius marched into Italy to consolidate their position in regard to Theodosius I and his son, Honorius, whom Theodosius had appointed Augustus to govern the western portion of the empire. Arbogast and Eugenius courted Ambrose’s support by very obliging letters; but before they arrived at Milan, he had retired to Bologna, where he assisted at the translation of the relics of SS. Vitalis and Agricola. From there he went to Florence, where he remained until Eugenius withdrew from Milan to meet Theodosius in the Battle of the Frigidus in early September 394.[25]

Soon after acquiring the undisputed possession of the Roman empire, Theodosius died at Milan in 395, and two years later (April 4, 397) Ambrose also died. He was succeeded as bishop of Milan by Simplician. Ambrose’s body may still be viewed in the church of S. Ambrogio in Milan, where it has been continuously venerated — along with the bodies identified in his time as being those of Sts. Gervase and Protase.


Drawing based on a statue of St. Ambrose

Many circumstances in the history of Ambrose are characteristic of the general spirit of the times. The chief causes of his victory over his opponents were his great popularity and the reverence paid to the episcopal character at that period. But it must also be noted that he used several indirect means to obtain and support his authority with the people.

He was generous to the poor; it was his custom to comment severely in his preaching on the public characters of his times; and he introduced popular reforms in the order and manner of public worship. It is alleged, too, that at a time when the influence of Ambrose required vigorous support, he was admonished in a dream to search for, and found under the pavement of the church, the remains of two martyrsGervasius and Protasius. The saints, although they would have had to have been hundreds of years old, looked as if they had just died. The applause of the people was mingled with the derision of the court party.


Ambrose ranks with AugustineJerome, and Gregory the Great, as one of the Latin Doctors of the Church. Theologians compare him withHilary, who they claim fell short of Ambrose’s administrative excellence but demonstrated greater theological ability. He succeeded as a theologian despite his juridical training and his comparatively late handling of Biblical and doctrinal subjects.

Ambrose’s intense episcopal consciousness furthered the growing doctrine of the Church and its sacerdotal ministry, while the prevalentasceticism of the day, continuing the Stoic and Ciceroniantraining of his youth, enabled him to promulgate a lofty standard of Christian ethics. Thus we have the De officiis ministrorumDe viduisDe virginitate and De paenitentia.

Ambrose displayed a kind of liturgical flexibility that kept in mind that liturgy was a tool to serve people in worshiping God, and ought not to become a rigid entity that is invariable from place to place. His advice to Augustine of Hippo on this point was to follow local liturgical custom. “When I am at Rome, I fast on a Saturday; when I am at Milan, I do not. Follow the custom of the church where you are.”[26][27] Thus Ambrose refused to be drawn into a false conflict over which particular local church had the “right” liturgical form where there was no substantial problem. His advice has remained in the English language as the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

One interpretation of Ambrose’s writings is that he was a Christian universalist.[28] It has been noted that Ambrose’s theology was significantly influenced by that ofOrigen and Didymus the Blind, two other early Christian universalists.[28] One quotation cited in favor of this belief:

Our Savior has appointed two kinds of resurrection in the Apocalypse. ‘Blessed is he that hath part in the first resurrection,’ for such come to grace without the judgment. As for those who do not come to the first, but are reserved unto the second resurrection, these shall be disciplined until their appointed times, between the first and the second resurrection.[29]

One could interpret this passage as being another example of the mainstream Christian belief in a general resurrection (both for those in heaven and for those in hell). Several other works by Ambrose clearly teach the mainstream view of salvation. For example:

The Jews feared to believe in manhood taken up into God, and therefore have lost the grace of redemption, because they reject that on which salvation depends.[30]

Giving to the poor[edit]

Ambrose considered the poor not a distinct group of outsiders, but a part of the united, solidary people. Giving to the poor was not to be considered an act of generosity towards the fringes of society but as a repayment of resources that God had originally bestowed on everyone equally and that the rich had usurped.[31]


St. Ambrose, byFrancisco de Zurbarán

The theological treatises of Ambrose of Milan would come to influence Popes DamasusSiricius and Leo XIII. Central to Ambrose is thevirginity of Mary and her role as Mother of God.[32]

  • The virgin birth is worthy of God. Which human birth would have been more worthy of God, than the one, in which the Immaculate Son of God maintained the purity of his immaculate origin while becoming human?[33]
  • We confess, that Christ the Lord was born from a virgin, and therefore we reject the natural order of things. Because not from a man she conceived but from the Holy Spirit.[34]
  • Christ is not divided but one. If we adore him as the Son of God, we do not deny his birth from the virgin… But nobody shall extend this to Mary. Mary was the temple of God but not God in the temple. Therefore, only the one who was in the temple can be worshipped.[35]
  • Yes, truly blessed for having surpassed the priest (Zechariah). While the priest denied, the Virgin rectified the error. No wonder that the Lord, wishing to rescue the world, began his work with Mary. Thus she, through whom salvation was being prepared for all people, would be the first to receive the promised fruit of salvation.[36]

Ambrose viewed virginity as superior to marriage and saw Mary as the model of virginity.[37]


In matters of exegesis he is, like Hilary, an Alexandrian. In dogma he follows Basil of Caesarea and other Greek authors, but nevertheless gives a distinctly Western cast to the speculations of which he treats. This is particularly manifest in the weightier emphasis which he lays upon human sin and divine grace, and in the place which he assigns to faith in the individual Christian life.

  • De fide ad Gratianum Augustum (On Faith, to Gratian Augustus)
  • De Officiis Ministrorum (On the Offices of Ministers, an ecclesiastical handbook modeled on Cicero’s De Officiis.[38])
  • De Spiritu Sancto (On the Holy Ghost)
  • De incarnationis Dominicae sacramento (On the Sacrament of the Incarnation of the Lord)
  • De mysteriis (On the Mysteries)
  • Expositio evangelii secundum Lucam (Commentary on the Gospel according to Luke)
  • Ethical works: De bono mortis (Death as a Good); De fuga saeculi(Flight From the World); De institutione virginis et sanctae Mariae virginitate perpetua ad Eusebium (On the Birth of the Virgin and the Perpetual Virginity of Mary); De Nabuthae (On Naboth); De paenitentia (On Repentance); De paradiso (On Paradise); De sacramentis (On the Sacraments); De viduis (On Widows); De virginibus (On Virgins); De virginitate (On Virginity); Exhortatio virginitatis(Exhortation to Virginity); De sacramento regenerationis sive de philosophia (On the Sacrament of Rebirth, or, On Philosophy [fragments])
  • Homiletic commentaries on the Old Testament: the Hexaemeron(Six Days of Creation); De Helia et ieiunio (On Elijah and Fasting); De Iacob et vita beata (On Jacob and the Happy Life); De AbrahamDe Cain et AbelDe Ioseph (Joseph); De Isaac vel anima(On Isaac, or The Soul); De Noe (Noah); De interpellatione Iob et David (On the Prayer of Job and David); De patriarchis (On the Patriarchs); De Tobia (Tobit); Explanatio psalmorum (Explanation of the Psalms);Explanatio symboli (Commentary on the Symbol).
  • De obitu TheodosiiDe obitu ValentinianiDe excessu fratris Satyri(funeral orations)
  • 91 letters
  • A collection of hymns on the Creation of the Universe.
  • Fragments of sermons
  • Ambrosiaster or the “pseudo-Ambrose” is a brief commentary on Paul’s Epistles, which was long attributed to Ambrose.

Church music[edit]

Saint Ambrose in His Study, ca. 1500. Spanish, Palencia. Wood with traces of polychromy. Metropolitan Museum of Art,New York City.

Main article: Ambrosian Hymnography

Ambrose is traditionally credited but not actually known to have composed any of the repertory of Ambrosian chant also known simply as “antiphonal chant“, a method of chanting where one side of the choir alternately responds to the other. (The later pope St. Gregory I the Great is not known to have composed any Gregorian chant, the plainsong or “Romish chant“.) However, Ambrosian chant was named in his honor due to his contributions to the music of the Church; he is credited with introducing hymnody from the Eastern Church into the West.

Catching the impulse from Hilary and confirmed in it by the success of Arian psalmody, Ambrose composed several original hymns as well, four of which still survive, along with music which may not have changed too much from the original melodies. Each of these hymns has eight four-line stanzas and is written in strict iambic dimeter (that is 2 x 2 iambs). Marked by dignified simplicity, they served as a fruitful model for later times.

In his writings, Ambrose refers only to the performance of psalms, in which solo singing of psalm verses alternated with a congregational refrain called an antiphon.

St. Ambrose was also traditionally credited with composing the hymn Te Deum, which he is said to have composed when he baptised St. Augustine of Hippo, his celebrated convert.


Ambrose was Bishop of Milan at the time of Augustine’s conversion, and is mentioned in Augustine’s Confessions.


In a passage of Augustine’s Confessions in which Augustine wonders why he could not share his burden with Ambrose, he makes a comment which bears on the history of celibacy:

Ambrose himself I esteemed a happy man, as the world counted happiness, because great personages held him in honor. Only his celibacy appeared to me a painful burden.[39]


In this same passage of Augustine’s Confessions is a curious anecdote which bears on the history of reading:

When [Ambrose] read, his eyes scanned the page and his heart sought out the meaning, but his voice was silent and his tongue was still. Anyone could approach him freely and guests were not commonly announced, so that often, when we came to visit him, we found him reading like this in silence, for he never read aloud.[39]

This is a celebrated passage in modern scholarly discussion. The practice of reading to oneself without vocalizing the text was less common in antiquity than it has since become. In a culture that set a high value on oratory and public performances of all kinds, in which the production of books was very labor-intensive, the majority of the population was illiterate, and where those with the leisure to enjoy literary works also had slaves to read for them, written texts were more likely to be seen as scripts for recitation than as vehicles of silent reflection. However, there is also evidence that silent reading did occur in antiquity and that it was not generally regarded as unusual.[40][41][42]

In popular culture[edit]

In the 2012 film Restless Heart: The Confessions of Saint Augustine, Bishop Ambrose is portrayed by Italian actor Andrea Giordana.



  • Hexameron, De paradiso, De Cain, De Noe, De Abraham, De Isaac, De bono mortis – ed. C. Schenkl 1896, Vol. 32/1 (In Latin)
  • De Iacob, De Ioseph, De patriarchis, De fuga saeculi, De interpellatione Iob et David, De apologia prophetae David, De Helia, De Nabuthae, De Tobia – ed. C. Schenkl 1897, Vol. 32/2
  • Expositio evangelii secundum Lucam – ed. C. Schenkl 1902, Vol. 32/4
  • Expositio de psalmo CXVIII – ed. M. Petschenig 1913, Vol. 62; editio altera supplementis aucta – cur. M. Zelzer 1999
  • Explanatio super psalmos XII – ed. M. Petschenig 1919, Vol. 64; editio altera supplementis aucta – cur. M. Zelzer 1999
  • Explanatio symboli, De sacramentis, De mysteriis, De paenitentia, De excessu fratris Satyri, De obitu Valentiniani, De obitu Theodosii – ed. Otto Faller 1955, Vol. 73
  • De fide ad Gratianum Augustum – ed. Otto Faller 1962, Vol. 78
  • De spiritu sancto, De incarnationis dominicae sacramento – ed. Otto Faller 1964, Vol. 79
  • Epistulae et acta – ed. Otto Faller (Vol. 82/1: lib. 1-6, 1968); Otto FallerM. Zelzer ( Vol. 82/2: lib. 7-9, 1982); M. Zelzer ( Vol. 82/3: lib. 10, epp. extra collectionem. gesta concilii Aquileiensis, 1990); Indices et addenda – comp. M. Zelzer, 1996, Vol. 82/4

English translations

  • H. Wace and P. Schaff, eds, A Select Library of Nicene and Post–Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, 2nd ser., x [Contains translations of De Officiis (under the title De Officiis Ministrorum), De Spiritu Sancto (On the Holy Spirit), De excessu fratris Satyri (On the Decease of His Brother Satyrus), Exposition of the Christian FaithDe mysteriis (Concerning Mysteries), De paenitentia (Concerning Repentance), De virginibus (Concerning Virgins), De viduis(Concerning Widows), and a selection of letters]
  • St. Ambrose “On the mysteries” and the treatise on the sacraments by an unknown author, translated by T Thompson, (London: SPCK, 1919) [translations of De sacramentis and De mysteriis; rev edn published 1950]
  • S. Ambrosii De Nabuthae: a commentary, translated by Martin McGuire, (Washington, D.C. : The Catholic University of America, 1927) [translation of On Naboth]
  • S. Ambrosii De Helia et ieiunio: a commentary, with an introduction and translation, Sister Mary Joseph Aloysius Buck, (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America, 1929) [translation of On Elijah and Fasting]
  • S. Ambrosii De Tobia: a commentary, with an introduction and translation, Lois Miles Zucker, (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America, 1933) [translation of On Tobit]
  • Funeral orations, translated by LP McCauley et al., Fathers of the Church vol 22, (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1953) [by Gregory of Nazianzus and Ambrose],
  • Letters, translated by Mary Melchior Beyenka, Fathers of the Church, vol 26, (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America, 1954) [Translation of letters 1-91]
  • Saint Ambrose on the sacraments, edited by Henry Chadwick, Studies in Eucharistic faith and practice 5, (London: AR Mowbray, 1960)
  • Hexameron, Paradise, and Cain and Abel, translated by John J Savage, Fathers of the Church, vol 42, (New York: Fathers of the Church, 1961) [contains translations of Hexameron, De paradise, and De Cain et Abel]
  • Saint Ambrose: theological and dogmatic works, translated by Roy J. Deferrari, Fathers of the church vol 44, (Washington: Catholic University of American Press, 1963) [Contains translations of The mysteries, (De mysteriisThe holy spirit, (De Spiritu Sancto), The sacrament of the incarnation of Our Lord, (De incarnationis Dominicae sacramento), and The sacraments]
  • Seven exegetical works, translated by Michael McHugh, Fathers of the Church, vol 65, (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1972) [Contains translations of Isaac, or the soul, (De Isaac vel anima), Death as a good, (De bono mortis), Jacob and the happy life, (De Iacob et vita beata), Joseph, (De Ioseph), The patriarchs, (De patriarchis), Flight from the world, (De fuga saeculi), The prayer of Job and David, (De interpellatione Iob et David).]
  • Homilies of Saint Ambrose on Psalm 118, translated by Íde Ní Riain, (Dublin: Halcyon Press, 1998) [translation of part of Explanatio psalmorum]
  • Ambrosian hymns, translated by Charles Kraszewski, (Lehman, PA: Libella Veritatis, 1999)
  • Commentary of Saint Ambrose on twelve psalms, translated by Íde M. Ní Riain, (Dublin: Halcyon Press, 2000) [translations of Explanatio psalmorum on Psalms 1, 35-40, 43, 45, 47-49]
  • On Abraham, translated by Theodosia Tomkinson, (Etna, CA: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 2000) [translation of De Abraham]
  • De officiis, edited with an introduction, translation, and commentary by Ivor J Davidson, 2 vols, (Oxford: OUP, 2001) [contains both Latin and English text]
  • Commentary of Saint Ambrose on the Gospel according to Saint Luke, translated by Íde M. Ní Riain, (Dublin: Halcyon, 2001) [translation of Expositio evangelii secundum Lucam]
  • Ambrose of Milan: political letters and speeches, translated with an introduction and notes by JHWG Liebschuetz, (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2005) [contains Book Ten of Ambrose’s Letters, including the oration on the death of Theodosius I; Letters outside the Collection (Epistulae extra collectionem); Letter 30 to Magnus Maximus; The oration on the death of Valentinian II (De obitu Valentiniani).]

Several of Ambrose’s works have recently been published in the bilingual Latin-German Fontes Christiani series (currently edited by Brepols).

Several religious brotherhoods which have sprung up in and around Milan at various times since the 14th century have been called Ambrosians. Their connection to Ambrose is tenuous

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up to:a b c d e f Attwater & John 1993.
  2. Jump up to:a b Wikisource-logo.svg St. Ambrose“. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
  3. Jump up^ Greenslade, Stanley Lawrence (1956), Early Latin theology: selections from Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, and Jerome, Library of Christian classics 5, Westminster: John Knox Press, p. 175
  4. Jump up^ Paredi 1964, p. 380: “S. Paulinus in Vit. Ambr. 3 has the following: posito in administratione praefecturae Galliarum patre eius Ambrosio natus est Ambrosius. From this, practically all of Ambrose’s biographers have concluded that Ambrose’s father was praetorian prefect in Gaul. This is the only evidence we have, however, that there ever was an Ambrose as prefect in Gaul.”
  5. Jump up^ Santi Beati (in Italian), IT
  6. Jump up^ Smith, Philip (1867). “St. Ambrosius”. In Smith, WilliamDictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 1. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. pp. 139–40.
  7. Jump up^ Wilken, Robert (2003), The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, New Haven: Yale University Press, p. 218
  8. Jump up to:a b Butler 1991, p. 407.
  9. Jump up^ Schaff (ed.), Letter of Basil to Ambrose, Christian Classics Ethereal library, retrieved 2012-12-08
  10. Jump up to:a b c d Butler 1991, p. 408.
  11. Jump up^ The Cambridge Ancient History, p. 106
  12. Jump up^ MacCulloch, Diarmaid (2009), Christianity, Viking, p. 300
  13. Jump up^ Ambrose of Milan (August 388). “News”AMBROSE OF MILAN, “Letters about a Synagogue Burning” (August, 388). Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian relations. Retrieved September 25,2013if I were pleading according to the law of nations, I could tell how many of the Church’s basilicas the Jews burnt in the time of the Emperor Julian: two at Damascus, one of which is scarcely now repaired, and this at the cost of the Church, not of the Synagogue; the other basilica still is a rough mass of shapeless ruins. Basilicas were burnt at Gaza, Ascalon, Beirut, and in almost every place in those parts, and no one demanded punishment. And at Alexandria a basilica, which alone surpassed all the rest, was burnt by pagans and Jews. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  14. Jump up^ De Abraham, ix. 84, xiv. 451
  15. Jump up^ A.D. Lee, From Rome to Byzantium AD 363 to 565(Oxford University Press 2013 ISBN 978-0-74866835-9)
  16. Jump up to:a b Philip Schaff (editor), Ambrose: Select Works and Letters, Letter XL
  17. Jump up^ Jeremiah 7:14
  18. Jump up^ Council of Centers on Jewish–Christian Relations, “Ambrose of Milan, ‘Letters about a Synagogue Burning’ (August 388)”
  19. Jump up^ Ambrose, Enarrationes in XII Psalmos Davidicos, “In Psalmum Primum Enarratio”, coll. 987–988
  20. Jump up^ Byfield (2003) pp. 92–4: ‘In the west, such [anti-Pagan] tendencies were less pronounced, although they had one especially powerful advocate. No one was more determined to destroy paganism than Ambrose, bishop of Milan, a major influence upon both Gratian and Valentinian II. [p. 94] The man who ruled the ruler — Whether Ambrose, the senator-bureaucrat-turned-bishop, was Theodosius’s mentor or his autocrat, the emperor heeded him — as did most of the fourth-century church’.
  21. Jump up to:a b MacMullen (1984) p. 100: ‘The law of June 391, issued by Theodosius […] was issued from Milan and represented the will of its bishop, Ambrose; for Theodosius—recently excommunicated by Ambrose, penitent, and very much under his influence43 — was no natural zealot. Ambrose, on the other hand, was very much a Christian. His restless and imperious ambition for the church’s growth, come what might for the non-Christians, is suggested by his preaching’. See also note 43 at p. 163, with references to Palanque (1933), Gaudemet (1972), Matthews (1975) and King (1961)
  22. Jump up^ Roldanus (2006) p. 148
  23. Jump up^ Hellemo (1989) p. 254
  24. Jump up^ King (1961) p. 78
  25. Jump up^ Butler, Alban. “St. Ambrose, Bishop and Confessor, Doctor of the Church”, Lives of the Saints, Vol. XII, 1866
  26. Jump up^ of Hippo, Augustine, Epistle to Januarius, II, section 18
  27. Jump up^ of Hippo, Augustine, Epistle to Casualanus, XXXVI, section 32
  28. Jump up to:a b Hanson, JW (1899), “18. Additional Authorities”, Universalism: The Prevailing Doctrine of The Christian Church During Its First Five Hundred Years, Boston and Chicago: Universalist Publishing House, retrieved 2012-12-08
  29. Jump up^ The Church Fathers on Universalism, Tentmaker, retrieved December 5, 2007
  30. Jump up^ Ambrose (1907), “Exposition of the Christian Faith, Book III”, The Catholic Encyclopedia, New York: Robert Appleton Co, retrieved February 24, 2009 from New Advent.
  31. Jump up^ Brown, Peter (2012). Through the Eye of the Needle – Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD. Princeton University Press. p. 133.
  32. Jump up^ “St. Ambrose”, Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese
  33. Jump up^ Ambrose of Milan CSEL 64, 139
  34. Jump up^ Ambrose of Milan, De Mysteriis, 59, PG 16, 410
  35. Jump up^ Ambrose of Milan, De Spiritu Sancto, III, 11,79-80
  36. Jump up^ Ambrose of Milan, Expositio in Lucam 2, 17; PL 15, 1640
  37. Jump up^ De virginibus (On Virgins); De virginitate
  38. Jump up^ Tierney, Brian; Painter, Sidney (1978). “The Christian Church”. Western Europe in the Middle Ages, 300–1475 (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Alfred A Knopf. p. 35.ISBN 0-394-32180-4.
  39. Jump up to:a b Augustine. Confessions Book Six, Chapter Three.
  40. Jump up^ Fenton, James (July 28, 2006). “Read my lips”The Guardian (London).
  41. Jump up^ Gavrilov, AK (1997), “Techniques of Reading in Classical Antiquity”Classical Quarterly 47: 56–73, esp. 70–71, doi:10.1093/cq/47.1.56
  42. Jump up^ Burnyeat, MF (1997), “Postscript on silent reading”Classical Quarterly 47: 74–76, doi:10.1093/cq/47.1.74


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  • von Campenhausen, Hans; Hoffman, Manfred, trans. (1964), Men Who Shaped the Western Church, New York: Harper and Row.
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  • Gilliard, Frank D. (1984), “Senatorial Bishops in the Fourth Century”, Harvard Theological Review 77 (2): 153–75, doi:10.1017/s0017816000014279.
  • King, N. Q. (1960), The Emperor Theodosius and the Establishment of Christianity, Philadelphia: Westminster Press.
  • MacCulloch, Diarmaid (2009), Christianity, London: Viking Penguin
  • McLynn, Neil B. (1994), Ambrose of Milan: Church and Court in a Christian Capital, The Transformation of the Classical Heritage 22, Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Paredi, Angelo; Costelloe, Joseph, trans. (1964), Saint Ambrose: His Life and Times, Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.
  • Paulinus; Lacy, John A., trans. (1952), Life of St. Ambrose by Paulinus., New York: Fathers of the Church.
  • “Ambrose”, Patron Saints Index, SPQN, retrieved 2012-12-08.