Ambrose

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Saint

Ambrose
Archbishop of Milan
AmbroseOfMilan.jpg
Early mosaic of Ambrose that might be an actual portrait.
See Mediolanum
AppointedAD 374
Term ended4 April 397
Predecessor Auxentius
Successor Simplician
Orders
Consecration7 December 374
Personal details
Birth nameAurelius Ambrosius
Bornc.337–340
Augusta Treverorum,
Gallia Belgica, Roman Empire
(now Trier, Germany)
Died4 April 397(397-04-04) (aged 56–57)
Mediolanum,
Roman Italy, Roman Empire
(now Milan, Italy)
Sainthood
Feast dayDecember 7 [1]
Venerated in Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Oriental Orthodoxy
Anglican Communion
Lutheranism
Title as SaintConfessor and Doctor of the Church
AttributesBeehive, a child, whip, bones
PatronageBee keepers; bees; bishops; candle makers; domestic animals; French Commissariat; geese; learning; livestock; Milan; police officers; students; wax refiners
Shrines Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio
Ambrose of Milan
Nationality Ancient Roman
Notable work
Veni redemptor gentium
Theological work
Tradition or movement Trinitarianism
Main interests Mariology
Notable ideas Filioque [2] , anti-paganism, mother of the Church [3]

Aurelius Ambrosius [lower-alpha 1] (c.340–397), better known in English as Ambrose ( /ˈæmbrz/ ), was a Archbishop of Milan who became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He was the Roman governor of Liguria and Emilia, headquartered in Milan, before being made bishop of Milan by popular acclamation in 374. Ambrose was a staunch opponent of Arianism.

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milan archdiocese

The Archdiocese of Milan is a metropolitan see of the Catholic Church in Italy which covers the areas of Milan, Monza, Lecco and Varese. It has long maintained its own Latin liturgical rite, the Ambrosian rite, which is still used in the greater part of the diocesan territory. Among its past archbishops, the better known are Saint Ambrose, Saint Charles Borromeo, Pope Pius XI and Saint Pope Paul VI.

4th century Century

The 4th century was the time period which lasted from 301 to 400. In the West, the early part of the century was shaped by Constantine the Great, who became the first Roman emperor to adopt Christianity. Gaining sole reign of the empire, he is also noted for re-establishing a single imperial capital, choosing the site of ancient Byzantium in 330 to build the city soon called Nova Roma ; it was later renamed Constantinople in his honor.

Roman governor Position

A Roman governor was an official either elected or appointed to be the chief administrator of Roman law throughout one or more of the many provinces constituting the Roman Empire. A Roman governor is also known as a propraetor or proconsul.

Contents

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 Augustine of Hippo.

Doctor of the Church one of the early Christian theologians regarded as especially authoritative in the Western Church

Doctor of the Church is a title given by the Catholic Church to saints recognized as having made significant contribution to theology or doctrine through their research, study, or writing.

Patron saint saint regarded as the tutelary spirit or heavenly advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person

A patron saint, patroness saint, patron hallow or heavenly protector is a saint who in Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism or Eastern Orthodoxy, is regarded as the heavenly advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family or person.

Augustine of Hippo Early Christian theologian, philosopher and Church Father

Augustine of Hippo was a Roman African, early Christian theologian and Neoplatonic philosopher from Numidia whose writings influenced the development of the Western Church and Western philosophy, and indirectly all of Western Christianity. He was the bishop of Hippo Regius in North Africa and is viewed as one of the most important Church Fathers of the Latin Church for his writings in the Patristic Period. Among his most important works are The City of God, De doctrina Christiana, and Confessions.

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 , an Advent hymn.

"Veni redemptor gentium" is a Latin Advent or Christmas hymn by Ambrose of Milan in iambic dimeter. The hymn is assigned to the Office of Readings for Advent, from December 17 through December 24, in the Liturgy of the Hours. John Mason Neale and Thomas Helmore saw it as an Evening hymn for the period from Christmas to the eve of Epiphany.

Advent Christian church season

Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas and the return of Jesus at the Second Coming. The term is a version of the Latin word meaning "coming". The term "Advent" is also used in Eastern Orthodoxy for the 40-day Nativity Fast, which has practices different from those in the West.

Life

Early life

Ambrose was born into a Roman Christian family about 340 and was raised in Gallia Belgica, the capital of which was Augusta Treverorum. [4] His father is sometimes identified with Aurelius Ambrosius, [5] [6] a praetorian prefect of Gaul; [1] but some scholars identify his father as an official named Uranius who received an imperial constitution dated 3 February 339 (addressed in a brief extract from one of the three emperors ruling in 339, Constantine II, Constantius II, or Constans, in the Codex Theodosianus , book XI.5). [7] [8] [9]

Roman Empire Period of Imperial Rome following the Roman Republic (27 BC–476 AD)

The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome, consisting of large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean sea in Europe, North Africa and West Asia ruled by emperors. From the accession of Caesar Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, it was a principate with Italy as metropole of the provinces and its city of Rome as sole capital. The Roman Empire was then ruled by multiple emperors and divided into a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when it sent the imperial insignia to Constantinople following the capture of Ravenna by the barbarians of Odoacer and the subsequent deposition of Romulus Augustus. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.

Christians people who adhere to Christianity

Christians are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The words Christ and Christian derive from the Koine Greek title Christós (Χριστός), a translation of the Biblical Hebrew term mashiach (מָשִׁיחַ).

Gallia Belgica Roman province

Gallia Belgica was a province of the Roman empire located in the north-eastern part of Roman Gaul, in what is today primarily France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, along with parts of the Netherlands and Germany.

His mother was a woman of intellect and piety [10] and a member of the Roman family Aurelii Symmachi, [11] and thus Ambrose was cousin of the orator Quintus Aurelius Symmachus. He was the youngest of three children, who included Marcellina and Satyrus (who is the subject of Ambrose's De excessu fratris Satyri), also venerated as saints. [12] There is a legend that as an infant, a swarm of bees settled 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 beehives often appear in the saint's symbology.

Quintus Aurelius Symmachus consul of the Roman Empire 391, orator

Quintus Aurelius Symmachus was a Roman statesman, orator, and man of letters. He held the offices of governor of proconsular Africa in 373, urban prefect of Rome in 384 and 385, and consul in 391. Symmachus sought to preserve the traditional religions of Rome at a time when the aristocracy was converting to Christianity, and led an unsuccessful delegation of protest against Gratian, when he ordered the Altar of Victory removed from the curia, the principal meeting place of the Roman Senate in the Forum Romanum. Two years later he made a famous appeal to Gratian's successor, Valentinian II, in a dispatch that was rebutted by Ambrose, the bishop of Milan. Symmachus's career was temporarily derailed when he supported the short-lived usurper Magnus Maximus, but he was rehabilitated and three years later appointed consul. Much of his writing has survived: nine books of letters; a collection of Relationes or official dispatches; and fragments of various orations.

Saint Marcellina Sister of Saint Ambrose of Milan

Saint Marcellina was born in Trier, Gaul the daughter of the Praetorian prefect of Gaul, and was the older sister of Saint Ambrose of Milan. She devoted her life to the practice of prayer and asceticism. Her feast day is July 17.

Satyrus of Milan saint

Saint Satyrus of Milan was the confessor and brother of Saints Ambrose and Marcellina. He was born around 331 at Trier, Germany, moved to Rome with his family and was subsequently trained as a lawyer.

After the early death of his father, Ambrose went to Rome where he studied literature, law, and rhetoric. He then followed in his father's footsteps and entered public service. Praetorian Prefect Sextus Claudius Petronius Probus first gave him a place in the council and then in about 372 made him governor of Liguria and Emilia, with headquarters at Milan. [1] In 286 Diocletian had moved the capital of the Western Roman Empire from Rome to Mediolanum (Milan).

Literature Written work of art

Literature, most generically, is any body of written works. More restrictively, literature refers to writing considered to be an art form or any single writing deemed to have artistic or intellectual value, often due to deploying language in ways that differ from ordinary usage.

Law System of rules and guidelines, generally backed by governmental authority

Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been defined both as "the science of justice" and "the art of justice". Law regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.

Rhetoric Art of discourse

Rhetoric is the art of persuasion. Along with grammar and logic, it is one of the three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the capacities of writers or speakers needed to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. Aristotle defines rhetoric as "the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion" and since mastery of the art was necessary for victory in a case at law or for passage of proposals in the assembly or for fame as a speaker in civic ceremonies, calls it "a combination of the science of logic and of the ethical branch of politics". Rhetoric typically provides heuristics for understanding, discovering, and developing arguments for particular situations, such as Aristotle's three persuasive audience appeals: logos, pathos, and ethos. The five canons of rhetoric or phases of developing a persuasive speech were first codified in classical Rome: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery.

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 Valentinian I.

Bishop of Milan

In the late 4th century there was a deep conflict in the diocese of Milan between the Nicene Church and Arians. [13] [14] In 374 the 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. [14]

Ambrose was known to be Nicene Christian 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 had become a nun). This raised his popularity even further, giving him considerable political leverage over even the emperor. Upon the unexpected appointment of Ambrose to the episcopate, his brother Satyrus resigned a prefecture in order to move to Milan, where he took over managing the family's affairs. [4]

Arianism

Statue of Saint Ambrose with a scourge in Museo del Duomo, Milan. Unknown Lombard author, early 17 century. Museo del Duomo - Milan - St Ambrose of Milan - Unknown Lombard author (early 17 century).jpg
Statue of Saint Ambrose with a scourge in Museo del Duomo, Milan. Unknown Lombard author, early 17 century.

Ambrose studied theology with Simplician, a presbyter of Rome. [10] Using to his advantage his excellent knowledge of Greek, which was then rare in the West, he studied the Old Testament and Greek authors like Philo, Origen, Athanasius, and Basil of Caesarea, with whom he was also exchanging letters. [15] 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 creed and 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. [16] Ambrose did not sway the young prince's position. In the East, Emperor Theodosius I likewise professed the Nicene creed; but there were many adherents of Arianism throughout his dominions, [10] 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 council from 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 synod composed 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 and Palladius and his associate Secundianus were deposed from their episcopal offices. [10]

Nevertheless, the increasing strength of the Arians proved a formidable task for Ambrose. In 385 [16] 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), be allocated to the Arians. [16] 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 [16] to prepare for the arrival of the emperor and his mother at the ensuing festival of Easter. [17]

In spite of Imperial opposition, 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." [17]

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. [18]

Imperial relations

Saint Ambrose barring Theodosius from Milan Cathedral by Anthony van Dyck. National Gallery, London. Anthonis van Dyck 005.jpg
Saint Ambrose barring Theodosius from Milan Cathedral by Anthony van Dyck. National Gallery, London.

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. [17]

A second later embassy was unsuccessful. The enemy entered Italy and 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. [17]

Theodosius I, the emperor of the East, espoused the cause of Justina, and regained the kingdom. Theodosius was excommunicated by Ambrose for the massacre of 7,000 people at Thessalonica in 390, [17] 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, [17] and he readmitted the emperor to the Eucharist only after several months of penance. This shows 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 fall of Eugenius, Ambrose supplicated the emperor for the pardon of those who had supported Eugenius after Theodosius was eventually victorious. [17]

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

Attitude towards Jews

In his treatise on Abraham, Ambrose warns against intermarriage with pagans, Jews, or heretics. [19] In 388, Emperor Theodosius 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, [20] but Ambrose persuaded Theodosius to retreat from this position. [21] He wrote to the Emperor, 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". [22] Ambrose, referring to a prior incident where Magnus Maximus issued an edict censuring Christians in Rome for burning down a Jewish synagogue, warned Theodosius that the people in turn exclaimed "the emperor has become a Jew", implying that if Theodosius attempted to apply the law to protect his Jewish subjects he'd be viewed similarly. [23] In the course of the letter Ambrose speaks of the clemency that the emperor had shown with regard to the many houses of wealthy people and churches that had been destroyed by unruly mobs, with many then still not restored 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?' [24] God forbids intercession to be made for those." [22] [25] Yet, Ambrose did not oppose punishing those who were directly responsible for destroying the synagogue.

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." [26]

Attitude towards pagans

Under his influence, emperors Gratian, Valentinian II and Theodosius I carried on a persecution of paganism; [27] [28] [29] [30] Theodosius issued the 391 "Theodosian decrees," which with increasing intensity outlawed pagan practices. [28] [31] 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

Embossed silver urn with the body of Ambrose (with white vestments) in the crypt of Sant'Ambrose, with the skeletons of Gervase and Protase. Sant'Ambrogio Cript in Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio, Milan.jpg
Embossed silver urn with the body of Ambrose (with white vestments) in the crypt of Sant'Ambrose, with the skeletons of Gervase and Protase.

In April 393 Arbogast, magister 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 Saints 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. [32]

Soon after acquiring the undisputed possession of the Roman Empire, Theodosius died at Milan in 395, and two years later (4 April 397) Ambrose also died. He was succeeded as bishop of Milan by Simplician. [17] Ambrose's body may still be viewed in the church of Saint Ambrogio in Milan, where it has been continuously venerated  – along with the bodies identified in his time as being those of Saints Gervase and Protase.

Character

Drawing based on a statue of Saint Ambrose AmbroseStatue.png
Drawing based on a statue of Saint 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. [17]

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 martyrs, Gervasius 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. [17]

Theology

Ambrose joins Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great as one of the Latin Doctors of the Church. Theologians compare him with Hilary, 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. [17]

Ambrose's intense episcopal consciousness furthered the growing doctrine of the Church and its sacerdotal ministry, while the prevalent asceticism of the day, continuing the Stoic and Ciceronian training of his youth, enabled him to promulgate a lofty standard of Christian ethics. Thus we have the De officiis ministrorum, De viduis, De virginitate and De paenitentia. [17]

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." [33] [34] 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. [35] It has been noted that Ambrose's theology was significantly influenced by that of Origen and Didymus the Blind, two other early Christian universalists. [35] One quotation cited in favor of this belief is:

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. [36]

One could interpret this passage as being another example of the mainstream Christian belief in a general resurrection (that both those in heaven and in hell undergo a bodily resurrection), or an allusion to purgatory (that some destined for heaven must first undergo a phase of purification). 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." [37]

Giving to the poor

He was also interested in the condition of contemporary Italian society. [38] 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. [39]

Mariology

The theological treatises of Ambrose of Milan would come to influence Popes Damasus, Siricius and Leo XIII. Central to Ambrose is the virginity of Mary and her role as Mother of God. [40]

Ambrose viewed celibacy as superior to marriage and saw Mary as the model of virginity. [45]

Writings

Divi Ambrosii Episcopi Mediolanensis Omnia Opera (1527) Divi Ambrosii Episcopi Mediolanensis Omnia Opera.tif
Divi Ambrosii Episcopi Mediolanensis Omnia Opera (1527)

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. [17]

Church music

Saint Ambrose in His Study, c. 1500. Spanish, Palencia. Wood with traces of polychromy. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. Saint Ambrose in His Study 1.jpg
Saint Ambrose in His Study, c.1500. Spanish, Palencia. Wood with traces of polychromy. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

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 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 of Arles 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 tetrameter (that is 4 x 2 syllables, each iamb being two syllables). Marked by dignified simplicity, they served as a fruitful model for later times. [17]

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 .

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

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." [47]

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. [47]

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. [48] [49] [50]

Bibliography

Latin

English translations

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

Notes

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Theodosius I, also known as Theodosius the Great, was a Roman Emperor from 379 to 395, and the last emperor to rule over both the Eastern and the Western halves of the Roman Empire. On accepting his elevation, he campaigned against Goths and other barbarians who had invaded the Empire. His resources were not sufficient to destroy them or drive them out, which had been Roman policy for centuries in dealing with invaders. By treaty, which followed his indecisive victory at the end of the Gothic War, they were established as foederati, autonomous allies of the Empire, south of the Danube, in Illyricum, within the Empire's borders. They were given lands and allowed to remain under their own leaders, a grave departure from Roman hegemonic ways. This turn away from traditional policies was accommodationist and had grave consequences for the Western Empire from the beginning of the century, as the Romans found themselves with the impossible task of defending the borders and dealing with unruly federates within. Theodosius I was obliged to fight two destructive civil wars, successively defeating the usurpers Magnus Maximus in 387–388 and Eugenius in 394, though not without material cost to the power of the Empire.

The 380s decade ran from January 1, 380, to December 31, 389.

Year 381 (CCCLXXXI) was a common year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Syagrius and Eucherius. The denomination 381 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

The 370s decade ran from January 1, 370, to December 31, 379.

Year 380 (CCCLXXX) was a leap year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Augustus and Augustus. The denomination 380 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

Gratian Roman emperor

Gratian was Roman emperor from 367 to 383. The eldest son of Valentinian I, Gratian accompanied, during his youth, his father on several campaigns along the Rhine and Danube frontiers. Upon the death of Valentinian in 375, Gratian's brother Valentinian II was declared emperor by his father's soldiers. In 378, Gratian's generals won a decisive victory over the Lentienses, a branch of the Alamanni, at the Battle of Argentovaria. Gratian subsequently led a campaign across the Rhine, the last emperor to do so, and attacked the Lentienses, forcing the tribe to surrender. That same year, his uncle Valens was killed in the Battle of Adrianople against the Goths. He favoured Christianity over traditional Roman religion, refusing the office of Pontifex maximus and removing the Altar of Victory from the Roman Senate.

Valentinian II Roman Emperor

Valentinian II, was Roman Emperor from AD 375 to 392.

Saint Meletius was a Christian bishop of Antioch from 360 until his death in 381. He was opposed by a rival bishop named Paulinus and his episcopate was dominated by the schism, usually called the Meletian schism. As a result, he was exiled from Antioch in 361–362, 365–366 and 371–378. One of his last acts was to preside over the First Council of Constantinople in 381.

Aelia Flaccilla Roman empress

Aelia Flavia Flaccilla, was a Roman empress and first wife of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I. She was of Hispanian Roman descent. During her marriage to Theodosius, she gave birth to two sons – future Emperors Arcadius and Honorius – and a daughter, Aelia Pulcheria. She was titled Augusta, as her coinage shows.

Justina was the second wife of the Roman Emperor Valentinian I and the mother of Valentinian II, Galla, Grata and Justa.

Religious persecution in the Roman Empire

As the Roman Republic, and later the Roman Empire, expanded, it came to include people from a variety of cultures, and religions. The worship of an ever increasing number of deities was tolerated and accepted. The government, and the Romans in general, tended to be tolerant towards most religions and cults. Some religions were banned for political reasons rather than dogmatic zeal, and other rites which involved human sacrifice were banned.

Flavius Arbogastes, or Arbogast, was a Frankish general in the Roman Empire. It has been stated by some ancient historians that he was the son of Flavius Bauto, Valentinian II's former magister militum and protector before Arbogast, but modern scholars largely discount this claim.

Flavia Galla was an empress of the Roman Empire and a princess of the Western Roman Empire. She was the second empress consort of Theodosius I. She was the daughter of Valentinian I and his second wife Justina.

Decline of Greco-Roman polytheism

Religion in the Greco-Roman world at the time of the Constantinian shift mostly comprised three main currents:

The Edict of Thessalonica, issued on 27 February AD 380 by three reigning Roman Emperors, made Nicene Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire.

The Council of Aquileia in 381 AD was a church synod which was part of the struggle between Arian and orthodox ideas in Christianity. It was one of five councils of Aquileia.

Secundianus of Singidunum was bishop of Singidunum. Little is known of his life; except that he was condemned for heresy at the Council of Aquileia in 381.

Persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire

The persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire began late during the reign of Constantine the Great, when he ordered the pillaging and the tearing down of some temples. The first anti-pagan laws by the Christian state started with Constantine's son Constantius II, who was an opponent of paganism; he ordered the closing of all pagan temples, forbade pagan sacrifices under pain of death, and removed the traditional Altar of Victory from the Senate. Under his reign ordinary Christians began to vandalise pagan temples, tombs and monuments. This persecution had proceeded after a period of persecution of Christians in the Empire.

Anti-paganism influenced by Saint Ambrose

Saint Ambrose influenced the anti-paganism policy of several late Roman emperors including Gratian, Valentinian II and Theodosius I. Under the influence of Saint Ambrose, Theodosius issued, in the year 391, the "Theodosian decrees," a declaration of war on paganism, and the Altar of Victory was removed by Gratian. Ambrose prevailed upon Gratian, Valentinian and Theodosius to reject requests to restore the Altar.

Flavius Claudius Antonius was a Roman politician under the reigns of Valentinian I, Gratian and Theodosius I. He was appointed consul in AD 382 alongside Flavius Afranius Syagrius.

References

Citations

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Attwater & John 1993.
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  3. International Theological Commission, Vol II: 1986-2007 edited by Michael Sharkey and Thomas Weinandy (Aug 21, 2009) ISBN   1586172263 page 208
  4. 1 2 Loughlin, James. "St. Ambrose." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907.
  5. 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
  6. Paredi & Costelloe 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."
  7. Barnes, T. D., "The Election of Ambrose of Milan", in: Johan Leemans (ed), Episcopal Elections in Late Antiquity, de Gruyter, 2011, pp. 39–60.
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  11. Leemans, Johan; Nuffelen, Peter Van; Keough, Shawn W.J.; Nicolaye, Carla (2011). Episcopal Elections in Late Antiquity. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN   978-3110268607.
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  17. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Grieve 1911, p. 799.
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  19. De Abraham, ix. 84, xiv. 451
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  22. 1 2 "NPNF2-10. Ambrose: Selected Works and Letters - Christian Classics Ethereal Library". www.ccel.org. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  23. David Nirenberg, Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition (New York: W.W. Norton 2013), 117-18
  24. Jeremiah 7:14
  25. "Council of Centers on Jewish–Christian Relations, "Ambrose of Milan, 'Letters about a Synagogue Burning' (August 388)"". Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  26. Ambrose, Enarrationes in XII Psalmos Davidicos, "In Psalmum Primum Enarratio", coll. 987–988
  27. Byfield (2003) pp. 92–94: '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'.
  28. 1 2 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)
  29. Roldanus (2006) p. 148
  30. Hellemo (1989) p. 254
  31. King (1961) p. 78
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  34. of Hippo, Augustine, Epistle to Casualanus, XXXVI, section 32
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  38. About his concern of society see Maciej Wojcieszak, Obraz społeczeństwa Italii w listach Ambrożego z Mediolanu, "Christianitas Antiqua" 6 (2014), s. 177–187. ISSN   1730-3788.
  39. 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.
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  41. Ambrose of Milan CSEL 64, 139
  42. Ambrose of Milan, De Mysteriis, 59, pp. 16, 410
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  44. Ambrose of Milan, Expositio in Lucam 2, 17; PL 15, 1640
  45. De virginibus (On Virgins); De virginitate
  46. 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   978-0-394-32180-6.
  47. 1 2 Augustine. Confessions Book Six, Chapter Three.
  48. Fenton, James (28 July 2006). "Read my lips". The Guardian. London.
  49. Gavrilov, AK (1997), "Techniques of Reading in Classical Antiquity", Classical Quarterly, 47 (1): 56–73, esp. 70–71, doi:10.1093/cq/47.1.56, JSTOR   639597
  50. Burnyeat, MF (1997), "Postscript on silent reading", Classical Quarterly, 47 (1): 74–76, doi:10.1093/cq/47.1.74, JSTOR   639598

Works cited

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "St. Ambrose"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton.

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Auxentius
Archbishop of Milan
374–397
Succeeded by
Simplician