FEast: Dec. 7th
Beekeepers, homelessness, learning, Milan, domestic animals. wax and candles
As patron saint of housing insecurity, be with those of us and our neighbors who are suffering from experiencing this. Keep them safe and healthy, and may you pray that no one ever need to leave, be cast out, or deprived of a home in the first place. Let us work to discover and end the causes of the suffering, while aiding those already affected. Amen.
Authoritatively looking away while maintaining an approachable and honest style and expression, I wanted St. Ambrose to appear scholarly, dignified, concerned, and hopeful. He has pens in his pocket ready to go, a scarf to stay warm after giving away his jackets, and bees on his shirt representative of his patronage.
St. Ambrose was born to a Roman family in an area that is now Germany. It is said that soon after he was born, a swarm of bees landed on his face, leaving behind a drop of honey. His father interpreted this to mean that Ambrose would be a great speaker someday.
His father did not live to see this happen, though, as he passed away when Ambrose was still very young. His family moved to Rome, where he was taken care of by his mother and older sister Marcellina who was a nun. He was formally educated and studied law. He soon was appointed governor, and not long after, nominated to be bishop of Milan.
Ambrose was not yet even baptized at this point, and without any training in theology, either, he refused the position and tried to hide with a friend! The council had chosen him because the area was very divided between two types of belief systems - Arian and Nicene - and Ambrose, though Nicene, was known to have good, middle-ground ideas that Arians would listen to. After receiving a letter from the Emperor Theodosius himself begging Ambrose to accept, the family he was staying with gave him up, and within a week, he was baptized and consecrated bishop!
Upon accepting the position, Ambrose immediately gave away all his possessions and only made provisions to take care of Marcellina. This made him very popular and, combined with apparent leadership skills, soon gave him more leverage than the governor himself.
Soon, the Emperor and his mother who were of the Arian belief demanded that Ambrose give them two churches to be used for Arians. He refused, believing that it would mean to corrupt the religion, and he told them that he would rather die before surrender the churches. He and his followers even barricaded themselves to the building, successfully defending the structures from being taken over.
However, when the city was attacked by outside forces, Ambrose was willing to melt down and sell church possessions to feed and lessen the sufferings of the people.
When the Emperor returned to the city after a massacre he had committed, Ambrose demanded he perform public penance for months to atone.
Ambrose also inspired St. Augustine, and was the one to baptize him after he converted from his old ways. St. Monica, Augustine's mother, was known to have a deep respect and fondness for St. Ambrose as well.
Ambrose was not only incredibly popular for his ideas and leadership, but also for introducing new music to the Church. He himself wrote four songs, but also introduced Eastern melodies and chants into worship services.
He was also known for his public preaching against several pubic figures of the time, and for giving much to the poor and homeless without regarding them as people at all different from the rest of society. He saw giving not as a form of generosity but as re-paying people what God had meant for them to have before the rich in the society had selfishly hoarded more money and property than were needed.
After his death, Ambrose was canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church - one of the four original saints to bear that title.