Today is the both the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the feast day of Saint Ambrose. Saint Ambrose’s life testifies to the fact that everything can change in a moment’s notice, and that God has greater plans for us than we could ever fathom for ourselves. He was born in Roman nobility and proceeded to receive an excellent education. By the age of 33 Ambrose was living the life every Roman dreamed of. He was a successful lawyer and the governor of Milan. Suddenly and without warning everything would change.
In about 374 A.D. the bishop of Milan died. This was a major problem because at this time Milan was full of both Catholics and Arians. Arians believed that Christ was not divine and the former bishop of Milan was an Arian. After the bishop’s death, a huge riot proceeded in the cathedral and it seemed that bloodshed was imminent. Ambrose came on the scene and gave a powerful speech for peace which resulted in the crowd’s decision that Ambrose, a catechumen who was yet to be baptized, ought to be the new bishop. St. Amborse resisted as much as he could, but he eventually gave up because he knew that he had to accept in order to keep the peace. St. Ambrose was then baptized and ordained all in the same day.
St. Ambrose then began his career as a bishop, preacher, and negotiator. Saint Ambrose sold all of his possessions and gave them to the poor and the church. He preached passionately against the Arian heresy and was educated in theology by St. Simplician. As a negotiator he was commissioned by the emperor to convince Maximus and his armies not to invade on numerous occasions. Here is my favorite St. Ambrose quote which certainly points to the kind of man he was:
“It is a better thing to save souls for the Lord than to save treasures. He who sent forth his apostles without gold had not need of gold to form his Church. The Church possesses gold, not to hoard, but to scatter abroad and come to the aid of the unfortunate.”
Saint Ambrose was unsurprisingly famous for selling gold vessels of the Church in order to tend to the poor and free captives of neighboring barbarians. St. Ambrose also baptized and preached to Saint Augustine of Hippo. St. Ambrose is clearly one of the most impressive saints who had a real heart for the poor. One of the best ways to remember Saint Ambrose is through a St. Ambrose medal. Saint Ambrose is the patron saint of students and learning, perhaps a St. Ambrose medal would make a great gift for the student in your life or for yourself. What is it about Saint Ambrose that impresses you the most?