St. Ambrose was a learned man of letters. Trained in literature, law, rhetoric, and ancient languages, St. Ambrose was educated specifically to become a political leader.
He was vivacious, action-oriented, and armed with a sharp intellect. Shortly into his political career, he became the governor of Liguria and Emilia, with headquarters in the influential hub of Milan, Italy. But God had other plans for this statesman…
Although St. Ambrose was unbaptized, he was drawn to the truth of Christian doctrine. Forming himself in the traditions of Aristotle, St. Ambrose began to study the philosophical and theological basis of the Faith, putting aside his political ambitions to publicly share his learnings and defend the Faith.
In a country of many clergy, this unbaptized man became one of the most effective defenders and teachers of the Faith. As those leaders around him came under the influence of the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Jesus, St. Ambrose ardently defended the beautiful reality of Christ’s two Natures: human and divine.
When Auxentius, the bishop of Milan and a leading figure promoting the Arian heresy, passed away, the search for a new bishop began. Milan found its best candidate in the local governor, the unbaptized layman Ambrose.
Emperor Valentinan II, the ruler of the Western Roman Empire, strongly supported the movement to appoint Ambrose bishop. Humbly, Ambrose discerned God’s will, was baptized, and agreed to ascend to the bishopric. Eight days after his baptism, Ambrose received episcopal consecration on December 7th, 374.
St. Ambrose would become one of the greatest bishops in the history of Milan. Among those he influenced was a certain Augustine of Hippo, who would go on to become a Father and Doctor of the Church and one of the Church’s most beloved saints.
You can read more about St. Ambrose and his role in both the defeat of the Arian heresy and the conversion of St. Augustine in St. Augustine’s beloved work, The Confessions. Following the wild youth and dramatic conversion of one of the Church’s greatest saints, this book is a spiritual force and an essential read for every Catholic. Available today at The Catholic Company!