St. Ambrose was a fourth-century bishop of Milan. He was born in Rome and served as a popular Roman Governor in northern Italy. In 374, the bishop of Milan died, and there was contention over who would succeed him. When Governor Ambrose stepped in to ease the situation, the gathered crowd demanded that he be made bishop, though he was not yet baptized and had not studied theology. Though he originally refused, he was soon baptized, ordained, and consecrated bishop. Ambrose became a great theologian and leader in the church is considered one of the four original Doctors of the Church (along with Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great). The young Augustine was influenced by Ambrose’s sermons, and it was Ambrose who baptized Augustine. According to legend, when Ambrose was a baby a swarm of bees descended on his cradle and left behind a single drop of honey on his face — a sign of the “honeyed tongue” he would demonstrate as a preacher of the Good News. He is often pictured with bees or beehives. His feast day is December 7.
Questions for Reflection:
- Ambrose received a surprising call to ministry in the church, although he was not yet technically a member of it yet. Have you ever received a surprising call? How did you respond?
- In answering that call, Ambrose grew to fully develop his gifts and talents in service of the people of God. Where might God to calling you to grow and use your own gifts in your life right now?