Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110
Feast day: December 7
ever been asked to do something you weren't sure you could do? This
happened to Saint Ambrose.
The new bishop of Milan was to be elected by the people. Ambrose, who
was governor, attended the election for two reasons. He knew there might
be disagreements and felt responsible for keeping the peace. Since
Ambrose was preparing for Baptism, he was also interested in who would
be bishop. During the election, fighting broke out. No one could agree
on who the bishop should be. Ambrose stood and pleaded for peace in the
assembly. During his speech a voice cried out, “Ambrose for bishop!”
Ambrose was shocked. The crowd took up the cry, shouting, “Ambrose for
bishop!” Ambrose begged them not to elect him, but he could not silence
them. Over the next several months, Ambrose was baptized, ordained, and
Ambrose was well prepared for the office of bishop. He came from a
wealthy Roman family. His father was a chief officer in the Roman
military. Not only had Ambrose received the finest education in Rome, he
had been raised in a good Christian household. His sister became a nun.
Ambrose had followed in his father's footsteps when he entered political
life. In 370 he became governor, with his headquarters in Milan, Italy.
Ambrose administered strict and fair justice. He was a courageous
leader. He was also strong in his Christian faith and prepared to be
baptized as an adult.
After his election as bishop, Ambrose turned his attention from
political government to church government. Immediately he gave a share
of his family's money to the poor and encouraged others to do so. He
simplified the bishop's household and freed the place of expensive
finery. He took a firm stand in controversial matters of Church and
state. When conflicts arose with the ruling family, Ambrose told the
people, “The emperor is in the Church, not above it.” Even the rulers
must obey the laws of God.
Later Emperor Theodosius, to get revenge for the murder of several
officers, had a town of 7,000 people destroyed. Ambrose warned
Theodosius that he would be excommunicated if he did not do public
penance. People were astounded that Ambrose would do this. They were
speechless when Theodosius knelt at Ambrose's feet, humbly accepting
When Ambrose died at age 60, he was mourned by the people. He had been a
zealous pastor, a champion of the poor, a teacher of the faith, and a
practical, fatherly priest. Ambrose had been like Christ, a good