Saint Ambrose: Latin Doctor of the Church

Nowadays, there is a somewhat hazy division between the government and church. While some of the decisions of the government affect the church, not all of the decisions the government makes is affected by the church. Back in the 4th century, this was not the case. The government and church were intertwined. The ruler of the government religious beliefs were what framed the entire area that government ruled. This is how St. Ambrose influenced Milan with the Catholic Church’s teachings.

St. Ambrose was born somewhere in between 337 and 340, and he was raised in Trier. His father was a huge political figure, but he died at an early age. St. Ambrose went to school in Rome to learn literature, law and rhetoric.
He started his political career as a council member, and quickly became counsular prefect. Counsular prefect was another name for Governor. He was Governor of Liguria and Emilia.

This political status led him to be recommended for Bishop of Milan. St. Ambrose did not want to take this offer because he felt he was not right for it since he was not baptized. St. Ambrose hid from the emperor of the time, Emperor Gratian. He hid in a home, but the host uncovered him when a letter was sent from Emperor Gratian commending him of all he had done. After about a week, St. Ambrose was baptized, ordained, and became bishop of Milan. Unfortunately, he became bishop during a very frightening time in the diocese of Milan. There was a great conflict between Catholics and Arians.

He is known to have calmed down the conflict arising from the Arians, and integrating Catholicism into the area much more than it was. He also is known for being highly generous to the poor. He gave all of his money to the poor, and gave up all of his land. His sister, Marcellina was also religious and became a nun. He would care for her also with the money he made.
Due to St. Ambrose’s education and influence, he was named as a Doctor of the Church. This is quite an honor because it signifies his great contribution to the church in its formation.

What We Can Learn from Saint Ambrose

Saint Ambrose wanted peace in the land. While he did not reject Arians, he did want to calm the conflict between them and Catholics, which is what he did. In that, he was able to show Arians the power of God, and what He can do for them.
Through his example of generousity, St. Ambrose taught many people the importance of what it means to give to the poor. When we give to the poor, we do what God does all the time – we provide them comfort. Many people become poor not because of their own doing, but because of poor situations. It’s just like someone becoming ill. We should help them, and make their life less of a struggle because that is what God wants for them.

Even if people become poor because their own doing, it’s important to know that God forgives, and helps people get back on their feet. You can do God’s work by helping them.