St Ambrose of Milan

Who Is Ambrose of Milan?

Outline

  1. Augustinian Vocations
    • The Saint Who Converted Saint Augustine
  2. Wikipedia
    • Ambrose

Resources

Augustinian Vocations

The Saint Who Converted Saint Augustine

Ambrose became the Archbishop of Milan in present-day Italy in the year 374. In addition to giving to the poor and reforming the liturgy of his diocese, he focused on converting many in his diocese back to the Catholic, Christian Church. He was particularly effective given that he had a great gift for rhetoric and public speaking. He was author renowned for his academic and spiritual contributions to writings on Christian doctrine.

What Was Ambrose’s Relationship to Saint Augustine

At the age of 31, Augustine was teaching in Milan.  He was also constantly seeking for Truth in his life.  He was raised Christian but fell away from the faith in his late teenage years.  He explored a variety of different faiths throughout his twenties.  His curiosity piqued, though, when he encountered Ambrose

Both Augustine and Ambrose had exceptional oratory skills.  In fact, one of the reasons Augustine had approached Ambrose was because of his interest in his public speaking skills.  And yet, the more intently that Augustine listened to Ambrose’s arguments, the more Augustine began to reconsider his own doubts about Christianity.

In the summer of 386, Augustine had a miraculous conversion.  While outdoors one day, he heard the voices of children singing, “Tolle lege!  Tolle lege!” or, “Take up and read!  Take up and read!”  He first dismissed the chant as some sort of children’s game but eventually realized that this may instead be a call from God.  Augustine picked up a bible and read the first passage he saw:

[Not] in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. — Romans 13:13-34 

Augustine later explained that from that passage alone, he did not need to read any further for “all the darkness of doubt was dispelled.” On Easter Vigil the following year — on April 24, 387 — Ambrose baptized Augustine in Milan.

Wikipedia

Link

Giving to the poor

He was also interested in the condition of contemporary Italian society. 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 a repayment of resources that God had originally bestowed on everyone equally and that the rich had usurped.

Augustine

Ambrose was Bishop of Milan at the time of Augustine’s conversion, and is mentioned in Augustine’s Confessions. It is commonly understood in the Christian Tradition that Ambrose baptized Augustine.

In a passage of Augustine’s Confessions in which Augustine wonders why he could not share his burden with Ambrose, he comments: “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.”

Reading

In this same passage of Augustine’s Confessions is an 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.

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.

Videos

  1. Ryan Reeves
    • Ambrose and Jerome
      • Profile
        • Who was St Ambrose of Milan? This video tells the story. On 7 December 374, Ambrose was ordained bishop of Milan. This short video tells the story of St. Ambrose, how he converted Augustine to the faith, and excommunicated Emperor Theodosius I.
      • Videos
        • Video
          Channel:- Ryan Reeves
          Date Published On:- 2015-March-1st
          Link
    • Who was St Ambrose of Milan?
      • Profile
        • Who was St Ambrose of Milan? This video tells the story. On 7 December 374, Ambrose was ordained bishop of Milan. This short video tells the story of St. Ambrose, how he converted Augustine to the faith, and excommunicated Emperor Theodosius I.
      • Videos
        • Video
          Channel:- Ryan Reeves
          Date Published On:- 2016-December-7th
          Link
  2. St. Paul Center
    • St. Ambrose: A Giant of the Faith with Matthew Leonard and Mike Aquilina
      • Profile
        • St. Ambrose is one of the greatest Fathers in the history of the Catholic faith. A statesman turned bishop, he laid the foundation for the proper relationship between Church and State. A supremely holy man of God, Ambrose was very concerned with the spiritual growth of the laity and was the catalyst for the conversion of the great St. Augustine. All this from a man who was baptized only a short time before becoming bishop! Join Matthew Leonard and Fathers of the Church expert Mike Aquilina as they explore the history and impact of St. Ambrose of Milan.
      • Videos
        • Video
          Channel:- St. Paul Center
          Date Published On:- 2012-December-6th
          Link

 

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