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Ambrose, Saint

church milan bishop life

Saint Ambrose is one of the four Latin *Doctors of the Church. Born in Trier, educated in Rome, he became a successful lawyer and was appointed a provincial governor, based in Milan. Upon the *death of the Arian bishop of Milan in 374, Ambrose was unwillingly but unanimously elected by the people as the next bishop, which position he held until his death. Extremely involved with contemporary politics and a fierce critic of the Arian heresy, Ambrose is also credited with eloquent *preaching and with Page 10  inspiring Saint *Augustine’s return to Christianity. Directed by a vision, he discovered the *relics of Saints *Gervase and Protase and installed them in a church which he dedicated in Milan. His writings include treatises on Christian ethics, hymns, letters, sermons, instructional works, commentaries on scripture, texts on the ascetic and monastic life, and the Athanasian Creed (a profession of faith used in the western church). His life was recorded by his secretary Paulinus and later elaborated in the * Golden Legend . He is depicted in art garbed as a bishop (with mitre and *cross, or a scourge with three knots symbolizing the *Trinity and his fight against heresy); he may also be shown with a beehive (from the tradition that a swarm of bees descended over his mouth when he was an infant in his cradle, symbolizing his future gift for public speaking). In the ninth century, his life was notably illustrated in relief sculpture on the golden altar for the church of Sant’ Ambrogio, Milan.

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